Panel description: Computer-supported collaborative learning and ODL for informal groups

Kodhandaraman Balasubramanian, Development Consultant and Catalyst

The Lifelong Learning for Farmers (L3 Farmers) Project of COL in Tamil Nadu, India, focuses on enhancing the self-directed personal strategic learning as an important strategy in ODL for informal groups. ICT plays a key role. The project has emphasized the importance of mobilization phase, manifesting the principle of participation of various stakeholders through organized and systematic actions. Mobilization involves mutual conscientization in which various stakeholders understand each other’s agenda.

Collaboration assumes importance and L3 Farmers shows that Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning is a key factor in the ODL for Informal Groups. Collaboration, which is a coordinated, synchronous activity that is the result of a continued attempt to construct and maintain a shared conception of a problem, is the characteristic of a learning community. Other major social and structural differences impede collaboration and diffuse the learning community. Hence development programmes have to lay major emphasis on the process of mobilization.

Computers can enhance collaboration through four types of interactions:
- at the computers
- around computers
- related to computer applications, and
- through computers.

This study analyses the role of synchronous and asynchronous computer-mediated collaborations in five villages. The study throws new light on the theoretical perspectives of ODL for informal groups and offers a roadmap for building alternative strategies for reaching the unreached.

Panel Members:

Professor Surabhi Banerjee, Vice-Chancellor, Netaji Subhas Open University (NSOU), India

Mr. Peter Fenrich, Project Leader/Instructional Multimedia Designer, British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), Canada

Dr. Terrence Philips, Fisheries Management and Development Manager, Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), Guyana

Mr. John Dada, Executive Director, FANTSUAM Foundation, Nigeria

Ms Jennipher Kere, Managing Trustee, Women In Fishing Industry Programme (WIFIP), Kenya

Dr. Collins Osei, Crops Research Institute, Ghana

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