The Community Systems Strengthening for Equitable Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (COSYST-MNCH) project is funded by Irish Aid/ Higher Education Authority (of Ireland). It involves a collaboration between higher education institutions and non-governmental (NGO) partners in in Ireland and Malawi to undertake research as well as develop a blended learning M.Sc in Community Systems Health Research.
This abstract outlines our approach as we dive into the development and implementation of our first blended learning programme. The challenges of collaboratively crafting a post graduate degree to take account of the needs and capacities of multiple stakeholders and the technology-enhanced learning (TEL) strategies of all the higher education partners whilst avoiding the wipe-out of local technical infrastructure limitations are discussed. This lack of Internet connectivity, especially in rural areas, is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome for successful programme deployment in Africa (Elletson and Mackinnon, 2014).
The sea of technology options available to the team and the Digital Interventions Model developed to help the team understand how best to use learning technologies is discussed. The blended learning design was predicated on providing an active and engaging environment, along with providing detailed student feedback and support (Gedik, Kiraz and Ozden, 2013). The purposefully selected tools of Articulate for online learning development and the use of Moodle, wikis, micro-blogging and other Web 2.0 tools to scaffold collaborative activities will be outlined.
The selected tools were introduced online and used in the face-to-face training for the launch of the MSc programme in March 2014. This approach allowed students to dip their toes into TEL by providing a limited toolkit at the beginning of the programme and scaffolding their use with targeted training sessions. Technology anxiety was thus lessened allowing them to wade deeper as their digital literacies increased. A key aim of the programme continues to be improving student and faculty confidence and competencies with learning technologies.
The rising tide of support for incorporating elearning solutions is a continually motivating factor for the programme. The skills gained and lessons learned are transferable throughout the programme offerings of participating institutions.
This interactive session will showcase discovery learning. The journey presented is but one approach that could be taken to launch a blended learning M.Sc programme. The strategic positions taken throughout the development of the programme will be presented and at each decision point delegates of the conference will have the opportunity to dive in and make their own choices as options are provided onscreen via online polling software. This will enable the audience to virtually collaborate and build a suite of alternative approaches. Comparisons can then be drawn with the actual path chosen by the COSYST-MNCH team and evaluation of the strength of the methods employed.
Gedik, N., Kiraz, E., & Ozden, Y. (2013). “Design of a blended learning environment: Considerations and implementation issues,” Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 29(1), 1-19
Elletson, H. and MacKinnon, A. (eds) (2014),” The eLearning Africa Report 2014”, ICWE: Germany
|Affiliation||Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland|
lisadonaldsondcu posted an update in the session A surfing safari from Ireland to Africa – A first dip in the elearning ocean (545) 6 years ago
The presentation notes are now up on Slideshare – http://www.slideshare.net/lisadonaldson/a-surfing-safari-from-ireland-to-africa. Happy to chat to anyone about the session at dubdonaldson or email@example.com.
Thanks to all to got involved in the polling!