Taking training online: Computer and internet help in cyberspace
By Frederick Noronha for APCNews
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, 22 May 2007
What happens when eight progressive information and communication technology (ICT) organisations come together to share their expertise in computer and internet training in the so-called ‘developing world’? It results in ItrainOnline.
ItrainOnline tries to be a "single source on the web" for what it calls "difficult to locate high quality and appropriate information that is suited to the ways development organisations and civil society groups in the global South learn about and use ICTs [information and communication technologies]".
Ann Tothill, who has been working on the project explains that "ItrainOnline’s goal is capacity building in a development context.” At the moment, the project has two main aspects: It has a portal -an information gateway to learning resources, which can be both used by trainers and individual users. The second part of the ITrainOnline Multimedia Training Kit (MMTK) is a collection of purpose-built training resources, all using a common and easy-to-use modular format, all released under a shareable Creative Commons (CC) licence.
"Our plans for the future are to carry on with this, to develop more training material, to develop the portal. But we also want to develop communities of practice around trainings. The first community of trainers were launched in Anglophone Africa last year. Our plans are to launch in Francophone Africa, Latin America and so on", explains Tothill.
ITrainOnline covers a wide range of subjects. What they have in common is their format. “For instance,” says Tothill, “there are subjects ranging from training for systems administrators to wireless, to basic material on how to search the internet.” Content available covers a wide area, but all generally in the sector of information and communication technologies for development (ICTD).
What are the challenges she sees?
"Mainly that of a sustainability, both in financial terms, and by way of continuation to get material. We want people to contribute, adapt and give back. But we know the materials are used and there has been very positive feedback about them", she adds.
So, what has the response been like?
"This project has been going for five years. We have had very positive responses from users. We had a successful evaluation last year. What we are looking more for is user-contribution", says Tothill.
Currently there are some 66 training units up on ITrainOnline and that, in many languages. Materials and annotated links come in English, Spanish, French and other languages, "on topics ranging from computer and internet basics to highly technical areas and the ways that civil society and development organisations can increase their impact using these tools".
Its content and editorial partners include APC’s member in Québec, Alternatives, AMARC International, APC’s Women’s Networking Support Programme, Making IT Work for Volunteers (Canada), The Panos Institute in West Africa, APC’s members in Argentina (Wamani) and South Africa (Women’sNet) and Radio for Development out of the United Kingdom.
ItrainOnline believes in sharing its resources. Its information and annotations is free, and can be reproduced, translated, and disseminated without restriction.
ItrainOnline content has been funded in part by infoDev, DFID, DGIS, IDRC and OSI.