The Fourth Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF4)
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Anouk Janssens-Bevernage

Facilitated e-learning in sub-Saharan Africa

Anouk Janssens-Bevernage
The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand

Roger Stern
University of Reading

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     Last modified: October 20, 2006
     Presentation date: 10/31/2006 2:15 PM in ST Windsor A
     (View Schedule)

This paper describes an e-learning initiative made possible by improved electronic communications and computer skills of staff in Africa, and not just in the capital city.
The analysis of climatic data is important in many development sectors including agriculture, food security, health, water supply, building and flood prevention. National Meteorological Services in Africa are decentralising their climatic activities, a change made possible by the wide availability of computers and improved communications infrastructure. The staff in the individual Met stations need training in data analysis, as do the many potential users of climatic data.
A training course, called SIAC, Statistics in Applied Climatology, is designed to support producers and users of climatic data to develop their skills in the analysis of the historical records. Since 2005, part of this training has been given as a facilitated e-learning course. The paper describes the importance of a "virtual community of practice" for sustained learning and how an online platform can offer the opportunity and space to engage with other climatologists across the continent. It narrates the challenges of an online course for professional development in Africa and the positive impact of e-SIAC on motivation and collaborative on-line problem solving.

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