A new IMARK website was launched in September 2014 with features allowing users to download e-learning courses online for free. Eight courses relevant to information, communication, and knowledge management were introduced online. Since 2014, the website has attracted increasing numbers of course followers online and seen marked increase in download of courses.
To adequately respond to increasing demands from learners for online courses, members of IMARK's Steering Group (SG) agreed to speed up the process of making IMARK materials available as IMARK OERs. Being released as OERs also makes them available through a Google search and accessible online. This decision was taken during the 2016 IMARK SG meeting held in Paris on 7 June 2016 at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Headquarters.
Through a DSpace repository, new self-learning courses "will be made available online by the end of July", said Federico Sancho of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA). In 2014, IMARK SG announced plans to make OERs open access. Since then, much effort has been driven towards improving access. "By addressing the copyright issues, IMARK courses have now been packaged for open access online as learners notes," added Krishan Bheenick, Senior Programme Coordinator, Knowledge Management at CTA.
CTA and eight other members of IMARK SG discussed strategies to take advantage of advancements in technologies to enhance learning, including the use of social media, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), and other online tools. At the 2016 meeting, members also noted the increasing number of learners accessing IMARK materials online via the IMARK platform.
Leading the discussions for CTA was Thierry Doudet, Programme Manager, Knowledge Management and Communication. Among the developments discussed during the meeting, were three CTA-led initiatives: the Mobile Services for Development course (currently being developed), the Experience Capitalisation course, and the Web 2.0 and Social Media learning opportunities (Web2forDev). Through the collaborative effort of IMARK SG members, with extensive experience in creating and extending online educational resources, IMARK courses will be available online in varied formats and languages (English, French, and Spanish).
Member organisations that attended the 2016 meeting were:
− United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) (Sueli Giorgetta)
− Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le Développement (Cirad) (Marie-Claude Deboin)
− Groupe de recherche et d'échanges technologiques (GRET) (Marie-Christine Lebret)
− Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) (Federico Sancho)
− Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) (Krishan Bheenick and Thierry Doudet)
− United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (Davide Storti)
− Association of Progressive Communication (APC) (Karel Novotny virtually)
− Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) (Pier Luigi Rossi)
− Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) (Cristina Petracchi)
IMARK is a partnership-based e-learning initiative created in 2001, which aims to improve the capabilities of people involved with information management and knowledge sharing. IMARK is a consortium of 13 members and CTA has been an active member since its creation. Targeted at information professionals in developing countries, IMARK consists of a suite of free e-learning courses available online, on CD-ROM and as a downloadable package. The e-learning courses are being developed using the latest pedagogical models and methodologies, and provide an interactive environment for self-paced learning.
Each IMARK curriculum is designed through a consultative process with subject matter experts, field practitioners and representatives from the target audience from around the world. Learners, especially in developing countries use IMARK developed courses and trainings to develop skills and knowledge.
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