mHealth and humanitarian mapping: a brand new learning format

New topics and a new methodology is allowing people to study everywhere and at their learning pace. Compared to the “traditional” formula used, with live streaming lessons and pre scheduled sessions, followed by exercises to be carried out autonomously between one session and the other, we have now launched a new blended formula that combines the advantages of e-learning without losing the added value of the direct relationship with the lecturer. The two new training courses proposed are dedicated to the use of GIS for Humanitarian Mapping and the use of mobile technologies in the health sector, mHealth for International Cooperation.

by Anna Filippucci

For more than 10 years, at Ong 2.0 we have developed an online training methodology based on the direct exchange between lecturers and participants. Over the years, this approach has been applied to over 20 courses and has allowed over 1100 participants to successfully be trained on various topics related to International Development Cooperation and Digital Communication for Non-profit organizations.

Alongside this methodology, this year we have decided to develop a new training path that integrates the advantages of e-learning with the essential direct relationship with teachers. It’s a whole new format, able to better respond to the needs of an audience that is gradually becoming wider and more international. The new course is based on asynchronous learning that allows more flexible management of time and provides a test system to evaluate progress.

A new learning formula that better fits the needs of professionals

Greater flexibility in terms of time is essential especially for aid workers, who need to combined different time zones and work duties and that, in the past, were struggling in respecting fixed scheduling and learning pace.

Topics themselves have been selected for professionals who need to acquire practical and advanced skills on specific tools. The online courses offer the possibility of experimenting with some “open” tools ready to be used in the field.

Moreover, two live workshops ensure direct interaction between lecturers and course participants for clarifying questions, share experiences and work on practical examples and challenges experienced by the participants.

What the lecturers say about this new approach to online learning

Giuliano Ramat, one of the lecturers of the GIS Open Tools for Humanitarian Mapping, explains: “the course aims to provide participants with information about the most important open source tools concerning Humanitarian Mapping mainly focusing on the Openstreetmap products, working groups and experiences.” 

Paola Fava, head of mHealth for International Cooperation, describes her course as “the opportunity to get a general overview of the use of mhealth in developing contexts. Its applications in the health sector are the most varied: from health surveys, to remote monitoring, to educational applications and to disease detection systems, to name just a few. The course therefore provides examples and case studies in this regard to stimulate the use of these technologies to improve and integrate new health projects “.

Regarding the new course format, Ramat states that ” the adopted e-learning formula makes participants free to attend lessons at any time they want and the division of the classic 90 minutes lesson into smaller “chapters” of 30 minutes each increases the capacity of concentration on “smaller” but well-defined topics.”

Paola Fava confirms: “flexibility and the possibility to manage our own time are key requirements nowadays, that’s why I believe this type of ‘formula’ matches people’s needs and time availability compared to more traditional webinars. However, both confirm the importance and value of the moments of interaction between lecturers and participants: “connection with the lecturer or other students is however granted by the moodle forum as well as some live sessions”.

Why English? According to Ramat, “English being the language mainly used in international cooperation, professionals who intend to work in the sector must necessarily get used to the idea of interacting with colleagues in a foreign language. In this regard, the opportunity to immediately acquire sector-specific English-speaking terminology is certainly an advantage for future workers“.

In this regard, Paola Fava concludes, “the idea is to reach a broader audience and I believe that the English language fits more into this purpose. We also had requests from previous people attending similar courses and found the Italian language a possible limit. Furthermore, the topic is related to a sector that has seen a growing interest particularly outside the Italian context and with field experiences in foreign countries where the English language is widely spread”.

Master ICT4D: students’ feedback

In march we took part at the master ICT4D crash course, activated by NGO 2.0. During the master we saw students attending at the lessons, learning and working in groups. We have already talked about the crash course in this previous article. Now we want to talk with students to collect impressions, and experiences.

We couldn’t talk with each students, so we interviewed Tommaso and Giulia. Tommaso has already joined the cooperation world, while Giulia is a new entry, because of her recent graduation.

Why did you choose that master?

The master has a flexible formula, and responds to student-worker’s needs. As Tommaso have said the master is fully compatible with workers, who need to attend at the lesson and work.

One of the most important thing when you choose a master is the clarity of objectives. NGO 2.0 has activated the master creating a clear idea of the class goals and aims. Actually the master is a good match between social good an ICT.

Another key point is represented by the teacher. When Tommaso wanted to seek more information, he asked to a teacher.

“The lecturer of the master was very nice and friendly. He answered to my questions and helped me to contact NGO 2.0 to join the master class.”

Online Lecture

When you work or when you have just finished university, you need to expand your knowledge. Master is what you need.

However time is of the essence and you can’t waste it. The online lecture are a great compromise. Unlike MOC where you attend to recorded lessons, here you can interact, ask questions and work in groups.

As underlined by Tommaso, you can follow everywhere even if you are working abroad. You just need an internet access and a laptop. NGO 2.0 want to promote a smart use of ICT for Social Good, introducing a tech oriented approach.

Anyway NGO 2.0 has dedicated a week for an offline meeting, due to allow the students to meet each other.

Teacher

Although teacher are very important, they are the structure of a class. To understand how much is important we asked to Giulia what did she expect from the teacher of the master.

“Is very important to be prepared. ICTs are a very complex field, so you need to be up-to-date indeed. When you have to interact through a monitor is easy to bore the audience. However our expectations have been satisfied. Our teacher are well prepared, they use innovative methods to engage students. The Platform we use is a key tool that allow us to work in groups even if we are online”

Social good

The master is about the usage of ICTs for social good. The main topic is the implementation of technologies in that field that seems to lack of technological innovation.  Tommaso and Giulia reported they have really appreciate the way NGO 2.0 has blended Social Good with ICTs.

“nowadays social good needs a kick to jump in the future. This Master is on the right way to pick up the digital transformation and carry the international cooperation in the future.”

What about the future

Is very important to  understand where students want to go after the master. So we asked to Tommaso and Giulia about their future career.

Giulia has talked about the certification and apossible diplomatic career.

“A good master needs a certification recognized by the University. The prestige of the university of Turin is a great guarantee. It is also useful for signaling, and UN career indeed.”

“I like my job and I think I will remain in that field. Thanks to this master  I’ve learned to implement ICTs in social good and it is very important for me and my education” said Tommaso before leaving.