Tag Archives: E-learning

“Digital development” – the last 100 metres
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Tech-solutionism is fairly common in the development sector; we regularly hear that a new widget or (increasingly) the latest app is going to transform some aspect of service delivery or save innumerable hours of time. The same thinking has swamped much discussion on higher education (HE) in the last few years, an issue typified by recent talk about MOOCs. And, as the development sector looks increasingly at the role that higher education has to play in transforming societies and economies, the streams run together. Of course technology plays and has played a vital role in development – in medicine or agriculture for example – and technology and online learning offer huge possibilities for HE. But sometimes it feels like we’re caught in our own hype. Undoubtedly, better broadband connectivity, greater mobile penetration, more students with smartphones and laptops – these are all changing the possibilities for learning, and for the way universities … Continue reading

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An eventful year of online courses
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After a successful pilot phase in 2011, e-learning became a formal part of AuthorAID at INASP in July 2012 with the launch of our Moodle system. Last year, we conducted two online courses in research writing, which were completed by 58 researchers from about 20 developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. They were among 68 researchers who enrolled in the courses following an application and selection stage. Encouraged by the high completion and participation rates (see this post for more details), we began our first collaboration to develop and run a customized course in research writing. Our partner in this effort was Blacksmith Institute, a US-based nonprofit focused on solving pollution problems. Sandy Page-Cook and Anne Riederer from Blacksmith’s Journal of Health and Pollution helped us customize the course to make it relevant to researchers working in environmental health.

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Key themes from the eLearning in Africa conference
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I recently attended the eLearning in Africa conference in Windhoek, Namibia to meet with others active in my field and hear about some of the new developments taking place.  The event was host to some very interesting people and presentations. I particularly enjoyed the closing debate with Dr Adele Botha’s illustrations of African innovations which have ensured sustainability — such as repairing and using old cell phones (the very early Nokia versions, known as “bricks”) and housing a community computer in a drum for protection from the weather. There were a number of themes that caught my eye, particularly given the recent ‘Moocs and educational development’ series of blogs by Ravi Murugesan. In his previous post (part 4), Ravi mentioned “separate” learners who prefer to rely on authoritative sources of information and “connected” learners who like to learn from discussions with others. Presenters at the conference  generally concluded that learning is stronger … Continue reading

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Talking about Moodling
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Moodle is a popular virtual learning environment (VLE) that’s used in many universities in the UK and abroad. Moodle is not only a great VLE but it’s free, open-source software. I’ve been using Moodle for over four years as a teacher and administrator. When the AuthorAID team at INASP was considering e-learning last year, I made a case for using Moodle because it has many features for creating an active learning experience. That decision paid off: the pilot e-learning course that we conducted was successful, with about 90% of the learners completing the course and giving very positive feedback. The 28 learners were early career researchers at the National University of Rwanda, and they took the course over a period of 6 to 8 weeks towards the end of last year.

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