Why on-line learning in cooperation for development projects and organizations
The best way to understand how can online learning benefit nonprofits is looking at it from the point of view of the educational/training needs and the main reasons why these actions are not carried on: lack of time, lack of financial resources, geographical barriers or commuting difficulties to attend onsite training, impossibility to expatriate the trainer, etc.
Online learning allows, in most cases, overcome these barriers:
- Making possible training: when other models have proved non-viable, plenty of times virtuallity is the only option
- Training without boundaries of time or space (asynchrony and ubiquity). This also implies a huge increase in the accessibility of training (economies of scope), which might be of a special importance for rural communities or nonprofits with a big decentralized network of headquarters, offices and expatriates
- Possibility to adapt and customize the educational action, incorporating south-south collaborations, more interculturallity, sensitivity towards local socioeconomical reality, etc.
- Turn economies of scale possible, thus making training sustainable in the medium run or for a greater number of people, possibiliting the increase of these trainees with a lesser effort and easing the replicability of the educative action
- Enhance the feedback and virtuous circles of the process: through training for trainers, the once trainees then become trainers, positively feedbacking the process by bringing local knowledge. Feedback, at the end of the project, becomes a powerful tool for the empowerment of the target community
What for on-line learning in cooperation for development projects and organizations
Training of the cooperation for development agents
NGO’s – and nonprofits in general – consist of people on staff, volunteers, expatriates, punctual collaborators… All of the need some training and specific skills to carry on with their responsibilities.
Courses about cooperation for development, humanitarian law, volunteering management, cooperation projects management, accountancy, ofimatics, foreign languages, etc. can be imparted and followed through the Internet, thus easing the training receivers to follow the courses comfortably and also enabling the organization to include as trainers those who are the real experts in the subject – not the ones just available –, besides the concerns about communing or assisting onsite sessions.
There’re some organizations whose aim or mission is just let people know about or report human rights violations, unequal wealth distribution situations, etc. It is then a key for success to reach the major number of people. The same effort invested in a determinate action can be focused to a virtual action where the potential target will be the whole world – or, at least, the ones with connectivity to the network and understanding the language of the action. Indeed, the learning materials and the exchange of experiences could be reused for future training editions or by people interested in one specific area of interest.
Capacitation for development
Once the technology has reached developing and underdeveloped countries – and this is becoming more and more feasible thanks to huge infrastructure programs to foster ICTs – it is easier to let their less favored communities get reached by knowledge, a transmission of knowledge that, until now, was only possible through expensive travel and mobilization of experts or people to be trained.
Energy resources management, setting up of water systems, microcredit, self entrepreneurship, cooperativism, digital literacy, infectious diseases prophylaxis and treatment, and a long etcetera of possibilities that, sometimes, they require presence, but that in many others can just be solved virtually or be extremely eased by virtualizing a part of the whole training project.
If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:
Peña-López, I. (2005) “Online training for development” In ICTlogy,
#18, March 2005. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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