Ten years of Global Campus 21
Ten years of GC21 – a good reason to look back and let the people who gave life to this international learning and communication platform have their say. From this day forward, we are publishing an eight-part series of articles on this topic.
10 years of GC21 – review and outlook
Our special series devoted to the 10th anniversary of Global Campus 21 finds its conclusion with a contribution by Jan Grabowski and Günter Podlacha, who have been responsible for managing the platform during these ten years.
We thank all authors for their inputs. At the same time, we present you an extensive version of the article series as a brochure for down-load, with a preface by the managing director and a timeline of history of GC21!
Review and Outlook. Part 1: What lies behind us?
By Jan Grabowski und Günter Podlacha
Our team, the e-learning centre, together with many partners and the users, have had the exciting task of shaping Global Campus 21 in the ten years since it was established. It was a challenging yet also satisfying time!
From vision to trial
1999 was the year of visions and concepts. A project team the organisations CDG and DSE discussed plans for a “virtual follow-up contact forum”. Even during this phase, highly ambi-tious concepts for e-learning and e-collaboration were being developed, which, in conceptual terms, anticipated the development of the future learning platform.
2000 to 2001 was the time for testing and trying. Developing courses was still very expensive and there were very few qualified specialists in e-learning development and tutoring. With a few partners we began to develop minimum standards and training materials for using the platform, and to set up a user support system.
The development of a brand
From 2002 to 2005 use of GC21 picked up pace. Many training programmes started to make use of Global Campus 21. The online courses on HIV and AIDS for experts in the health sector and other target groups became the model of success. This was where the specific profile for e-learning at InWEnt took shape. It is characterised by participative and collaborative methods as well by practical and skills-oriented content. It is user-oriented and flexible and is based on technology that is affordable and simple to use. This approach was later recognised by the nomination of the HIV course series as a finalist for the European e-learning award (eureleA).
Many scholarship programmes, such as the Fachhochschul-Programm from the Federal Min-istry for Education and Research (BMBF), switched to communicating with their participants via GC21 forums. In “Ch@t der Welten” (Ch@t of the worlds), a programme for education on development politics, GC21 was used to enable direct communication between German school groups and environmental actors in developing countries.
That was a time which really tested the stamina of the platform and our small team. Very soon it became clear that we needed to make considerable further developments to the system and its administration in order to keep up the momentum. New language versions (French, Russian) needed to be implemented and the design options for the learning environments had to be expanded. A course authoring tool, “Content Solution”, was installed, allowing a standard for online courses on GC21 to be established.
An entire “industry” of small companies and freelance workers specialising in content devel-opment, tutoring, design and programming developed around GC21 and was provided by us with information and training.
A globally operating centre of excellence
The e-learning centre itself developed from a “service point” into a centre of excellence for e-learning methods. At annual specialist conferences we brought together e-learning experts from capacity building organisations to share experiences.
From 2002 we developed a cross-sectoral and cross-regional training programme on e-learning methods. From this, a complete curriculum of courses on designing e-learning pro-grammes and setting up and running e-learning capacities emerged, which has since been used successfully in several regions around the world and has been adapted by our partners.
Aside from qualifications in courses, we also wanted to support the partners in setting up the programmes and developing their own capacities in their institutions, and enable them sharing experiences in online networks. Jointly with them we contributed to e-learning conferences.
Today, the network of e-learning centres and expert groups covers 40 countries in Africa Asia, Latin America and Southeast Europe. Many colleagues at the e-learning centre played a part in this; most of the credit, however, belongs to our unforgettable friend Til Schönherr.
Assessment and further development
In 2006 InWEnt decided to have the acceptance, the level of development and the capabilities of its learning platform analysed by assessors. The potential analysis “GC21 – fit for 2010″ produced a wealth of suggestions and requirements that we had to take on board in order for the level of our services to remain in line with user expectations and technological and methodical advances.
Our daily activities, however, left us hardly any time to stop for breath. Adter a comprehensive software upgrade in 2006, growth in the use of Global Campus 21 continued at a relentless pace. Every year, a good 9,000 new users were registered. Practically all of the current InWEnt programmes are now represented on Global Campus 21. Complex course projects are carried out jointly with German and overseas universities. The GC21 also proves itself in projects on behalf of third parties, for example the EU, UN organisations, overseas development agencies and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
We implemented new standards for authoring working environments and courses. The user support system was made more professional. In 2009 wikis, blogs and photo galleries The live collaboration system, Saba Centra, were added.
Another consequence of the analysis was the setting up of a modular system of online courses for various uses in capacity building programmes, in alumni training and for paying customers. The foundation of this system was our “Management Skills Suite”, which offered established courses on all-round skills for managers. Through further extension, standardisation and modernisation, the suite finally turned into the GC21 E-Academy, which was officially opened in April 2010. The E-Academy offers a continuous range of courses, either through self-paced learning or supported by tutors, on various topics relating to sustainable development.
By Jan Grabowski und Günter Podlacha
Where are we on the eve of GIZ being established?
Global Campus 21 has influenced the history of our organisation. It has not only become a trademark of InWEnt, but also an important tool in the modernisation of our operational port-folio. It actively supported our partnership-based capacity building concept, our competence-oriented didactic principles, transnational and transregional programmes, the creation of networks and the continual cooperation with experts in the cooperating countries.
Today, InWEnt is introducing the tried and tested tools of Global Campus 21 and the GC21 E-Academy into the new German development cooperation agency, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
This step naturally brings with it increasing demands. We are proud of what we have achieved in ten years; however we also know that success is not measured against the past, but rather against the opportunities of the present and the future.
1. The new company, and also its service portfolio, is much more complex than InWEnt. Through a persuasive offer of services, we have to win the necessary support under the cri-teria of the new company.
2. Our partners in developing countries and countries in transition can use the tools of GC21 increasingly easily, as more and more of them are familiar with the opportunities that the Internet brings. Yet, it is because of this that their demands also increase. With regard to the variety of options that are currently available to our users, we now have to define our profile more precisely, develop it methodically and then present it with conviction.
3. The establishment of the GC21 academy is a step towards the development of such a pro-file. But here too, we aren’t unrivalled. In the GIZ we need to ask ourselves which e-learning portfolio best meets the future needs of our programmes and which can be used to make the vital German contribution to global capacity development. We also urgently need to further develop the methods and technologies for course development.
4. Global Campus 21 is already a brand name of German development cooperation and should remain so. However, what is hidden behind this brand name must be changed. Our technologies for course development, and (from 2011) also the technologies for course ap-plication, i.e. the learning and communication platform, have to be put to the test.
Shaping the change
The development of Global Campus 21 has shown what huge potential was able to be ex-ploited here for capacity building. What we have also learnt in these ten years is that it is not the technologies that are the real driving forces behind it all. Rather, it is the people them-selves, who introduce the technologies and broaden their methods and didactic approaches for teaching and learning as a result.
The challenge therefore lies not only in providing up-to-date technology, but above all in de-veloping the relevant competences. This means being able to acquire necessary information and knowledge using the tools, being cooperative and interculturally aware despite the ab-sence of boundaries in virtual worlds, and through this, continually adapting and broadening your own ways of learning.
About the authors
Dr. Jan Grabowski advised the preparatory team of Global Campus 21 through his role as IT leader of the DSE. In 2001 the e-learning centre was established in his department. In 2003 he took over the management of the department for e-learning and international knowl-edge communities in the new InWEnt organisation. Since 2005 he has been the team and project leader of the e-learning centre.
Dr. Günter Podlacha came to the DSE in 2001 and took over the management of the e-learning centre. In 2005 he was appointed department leader for e-learning, international knowledge communities and documentation.
Since 2001 both authors have been responsible for the running and development of GC21, for strategy, method and capacity development for e-learning at InWEnt, for advising customers and for supporting global cooperation partners. Hide me.
By Iván López
I came in touch with the virtual platform GC21 for the first time in Bogotá, Colombia, in 2001. It was in the context of a training concerning the use of tools necessary for the creation of virtual forums. Among the participants there were many colleagues from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. I remember that, back then a server called „Ghandi“ was used for implementing these first forums. It was the beginning of a new era, because until that time alumni had been communicating with each other only via e-mail. The introduction of virtual pin boards and forums substantially facilitated exchange among users.
The modelling of exchange forums, the creation and formatting of graphics including the production of contents, all these duties were in my hands. This fact caused me many sleepless nights and a huge consume of coffee. But it was very satisfying to see how participants were logging in to the platform and reading their first news on the pin board. We were actually able to feel their excitement during their first chats. And we saw that they were very grateful about this new experience.
An important milestone concerning the development of GC21 was the creation of “Campo Latino” in year 2000. It was the first thematic platform for Latin Americans sponsored by Inwent. The target group of Campo Latino are specialists, experts and consultants, working in the field of development aid. The platform´s goal is to implement learning communities in Latin America, enhance self-help and train development aid workers with the help of virtual communications tools.
National borders have to be crossed
Even for member countries of the Alumni Network RE@L, founded in 2004, GC21 platform is the right tool. Because it allows an intensive exchange and offers relevant information to different topics. Every member country of RE@L has got its own virtual forum where alumni can post articles, upload documents and communicate with each other.
Concerning training and dialogue offers for technical staff and managers, all Blended Learning courses supported by Inwent have helped to promote the communication on the subject of Watershed Management. The courses are supposed to strengthen organisations that are active in this area. An additional aim is to bring continuity in their work in a virtual way in order to promote the development of programmes for the prevention of disasters, securing food resources, conflict management, and economic and social development. All this is to be done within an integrated Catchment Management.
In the context of projects and programmes – implemented by Inwent in this region – the regional office in Lima is organising Blended Learning Courses and Online Courses for alumni with different occupations and subject areas. Soon we will offer more courses concerning topics such as “Cambio Climatico” (Climate Change) and “Gestión de Cambio” (Change Management). These courses will be supplied on the portal of the E-Academy.
Even if we make only a modest contribution, our hard work is worth the effort because our platform brings together people from different continents. Especially because some of the courses are specific to inhabitants and needs of rural areas, so that we can even reach people in outlying regions of the world. I made the experience that therefore GC21 does not only contribute to the achievements of learning efforts, capacity building and the spread of knowledge but also to the integration of alumni round the networks and “Communities of Practice”. This causes a feeling of togetherness among participants and gives them an additional and precious benefit during their professional training.
About the writer
Iván López was born in Lima. There he studied journalism and then participated in further education trainings in Germany offered by DSE and Inwent. In 2001 he came in touch with GC21. From 2004 to 2010 he has been working as coordinator for alumni in Latin America in Inwent’s regional office in Lima. There he even played a central role concerning several collaborative projects, for example Campo Latino. Furthermore Iván López is one of the founders of the RE@L Networks. Today he is working as ITC-coordinator at Inwent’s regional office in Lima.
I joined Inwent’s capacity building family in late 2002 when I was offered a scholarship to undertake an advanced training course on “Business related-IT consultancy” in Germany, which was provided under a bilateral cooperation between Inwent and Open Forum of Cambodia NGO. Through this scholarship, I sought expertise on “How e-Learning can be implemented in Cambodia” as my e-business project.
I continued to sharpen my knowledge on e-learning and techniques by joining Inwent’s online courses provided through GC21 on various subjects such as content development, technology, online tutoring and project management Thereby I strengthened my multi-professional competence and extended my understanding of cross cultural communication. So my dream that e-learning is doable and achievable remained energetic.
In September 2006 I founded the Open Institute NGO with three other founders. My main idea is how Cambodia can develop and maintain e-learning skills, so that more and more e-learning projects can be created and well managed by local resources. Having participated in various e-learning courses of Inwent, I contacted Inwent for cooperation . So I created the concept of an Open Learning Program for the Open Institute. This project was also jointly implemented with the ICT office in Education of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport.
Bridging knowledge gaps
In our development phase, we strictly opted to use high quality Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) for e-learning technology, since propriatary software would not be feasible for Cambodia in terms of having a full ability to manage and maintain the system, economic cost and open knowledge. After a careful research, Moodle as a course management system and eXeLearning as an authoring tool were chosen for localization to include Cambodian language. These two systems in Cambodian language are now freely and legally correct to use by educational institutions in Cambodia and beyond. Our next mission was to adapt Inwent’s e-Learning Development and Implementation modules into Cambodian language.
To date, we have provided e-learning trainings to approximately 20 institutions and reached about 100 trainees in Cambodia. We also established an e-learning network with approximately 200 members who can receive updated issues of global e-Learning development and discuss e-Learning issues. This project also led to a significant result of developing an e-Learning policy framework for Cambodia, requested by the Ministry of Education, which is in progress
This Open Learning Program is also a family member of Inwent’s global e-Learning network in Asia, Africa and Latin America,. All together we are the e-Learning family – a network for sustainable e-Learning knowledge and practice, sharing a common vision of e-Learning development for their countries.
The e-Learning program and the Global Campus 21 of Inwent has played a very important role in bridging the knowledge gap, making knowledge accessible beyond borders, empowering their partners to take control of their own development projects, and building networks of networks. I continue to enjoy what GC21 has to offer to me and spread these benefits to other Cambodians as well. So that our family can keep expanding and warmly welcoming new members.
About the writer
Kong Sidaroth is a young Cambodian expert in applications of information and communication technology. In InWEnt´s eLDI programme she acquired an additional qualification for e-learning methods. She is one of the initiators of the Open Learning Programme, an initiative to promulgate e-learning resources in Cambodia. An Australian Scholarship (Australian Leadership Award) allowed her to take part in a master’s programme for Development Studies at the University of Melbourne.
I fell in like with GC21 in 2002 when I took two online courses on Management Skills. I was impressed to see how this platform was able to connect people across the globe, and how online tutors managed the courses. Since then, my concept of capacity building had never been the same.
In 2004 my relationship with GC21 became more serious.
I participated in an 8-month blended course on e-Learning Development and Implementation (eLDI), because I wanted to learn how ICT would enhance the capacity building programmes of our university. In this course I met Maggy Beukes-Amiss from Namibia, later a coordinator of NolNet and the most active mover of our global cooperation.
eLDI was a great experience of collaborative learning despite the distance and differences in culture and language. There were forums and chats to look forward to. The tasks were also daunting, but constant communication and motivation were always there. GC21 served as a common ground for participants and tutors. It was the silent witness to all the challenges, sadness, fears, excitement and joy we experienced during those 8 months.
And then I was offered to be a part of the tutorial team for the next batch of participants. And I gladly said yes to this engagement. It was when I met Dr. Til Schönherr, InWEnt´s Project Manager and our unforgettable friend, who was later called by the Filipino term of endearment “Tatay Til” (Father Til) by the whole e-learning family.
My co-tutor was Ana Láscaris from Costa Rica, who later worked as an “umbrella tutor” for the Latin American network.
The following year I worked in the tutoring team for the first “eLDI Africa” course with Unami Mpofu from South Africa. It was a wonderful experience to work with experts from different continents and learn from them. Many of the early eLDI participants played important roles in their respective networks later on: Tsetseg Ulzii-Yadamsuren from Mongolia, Carmen Macavei from Romania, Yulia Stakyan from Armenia…, to name a few.
2007 was a busy year with 50 eLDI participants from Asia and Africa. It was a sharing of south-south experience, knowledge and culture. Virtual African Coffee and Asian tea were served during online chats. The course spawned many good tutors for Asia, like Evelyn Laurito, Janaka Jayalath, and Dai Remmei.
Expansion and Networking
In 2008, InWEnt organised a workshop in Zschortau, Germany, as an opportunity for members of all regional groups to meet. We learned about the activities of our colleagues on other continents. The Africans were already running their own courses called e-Learning in Practice (eLIP) while the Latin American group (Educ@l) was translating the courses into Spanish.
Our small Asian team was asked: What are you planning to do? We decided to form the Asia e-Learning Network (AseLNet). We laid down what we wanted to do. At the end of the workshop Til gave gifts to all network members. On my gift were written the words: “Mama ist die Beste” (Mom is the best). He later explained that he had been sure that our network would succeed with the guidance from its mama, referring to me. Indeed, it had been a huge responsibility but a fulfilling one.
In the same year AseLNet’s first programme was laid out in Berlin, during the ONLINE EDUCA conference week with the help of Til. However, shortly after that we received the painful news about the passing of our “Tatay” Til. Surely his legacy will always be remembered by the whole e-learning family. There is no other way to honour him but by making sure that we continue with what he started.
Since its foundation – AseLNet – had successfully perpetuated the capacity building approach adopted from InWEnt’s programme, we have been able to effectively implement courses for our Asian target groups. Within two years we trained 42 participants in eLDI and 238 participants in e-Learning skills, in training modules from 20 different countries.
The modules were additionally enhanced by introducing new tools like e-portfolio, the ECB Check quality assurance system, Facebook, Twitter, and others. This way we would be able to transfer our experience to other regions such as the Caucasus where I used to work as a workshop facilitator.
With the help of GC21 we have been able to build and sustain global tutoring and learning communities and connect people not only locally, but also at regional and international levels.
About the writer
Juvy Lizette Gervacio is an expert in public management. She is Assistant Professor at the University of the Philippines Open University. She is the coordinator of eLDI / eSkills Asia programme which has been conducted regularly with the help of InWEnt. She is also president of ASeLNet, the network of Asian e-learning groups.
GC 21 has been a medium used for HIV and AIDS training in “Teaching and the AIDS Pandemic”, a course offered by the University of the Western Cape in South Africa and funded by InWEnt Capacity Building International, Germany. In this article, I would like to articulate my experience on how GC21 had been used in the course, as one of the course participants and also one of the course tutors/experts.
The training activities for the course started with the first cohort in 2006 with a one-week face-to-face session at the University of the Western Cape where among other things participants were introduced to course objectives and the possibility of taking the course online. After the face-to-face session all course activities had been taken on-line for about six months.
The online arrangements for taking the course were mastered perfectly, which facilitated the participation of those with minimal computer skills. The idea of having an online tutor to whom participants would lean on in times of technical difficulties was excellent, and the communication between tutor and participants – formidable.
Variety of tools
This online training course had been very successful in imparting knowledge, skills and proper attitudes towards HIV and AIDS to participants because of the tools which had been developed on GC21 during the course and made both participants and experts active in the process of learning. One of the used tools was the “journal approach” where participants keep an online journal to record their reflections. The journal approach helped participants and encouraged them to read the assigned readings and reflect on what they have learned, their own teaching practice and themselves.
Another interesting tool was “asking the right question” where participants were motivated to ask questions about HIV and AIDS but focussing on what they had read in the course. It helped participants to seriously and critically reflect on the pandemic. A question of a fellow participant would also help other participants identify more achievable objectives, which proved that an online training course could be interactive.
A well-known problem
However, one would ask, what challenges did participants face in taking such an online course? To answer this question, one should appreciate that InWEnts´ course – “Teaching and the AIDS Pandemic” – targeted teacher educators from Southern Sub-Saharan Africa where internet had not yet advanced well enough. So one of the challenges participants had been facing was a slow internet. This challenge made most participants go online at night or during weekends when internet was a bit faster.
The second challenge was the frequent power failure in some countries which made participants unable to meet all deadlines. Because of these challenges, participants had been downloading and printing course materials so that they would be able to work even when the electricity was off or the internet was down. These and other challenges should motivate online course designers to be more flexible on deadlines otherwise some participants may be left out of a session because of a problem which is not of their own making.
In conclusion, who said that online courses cannot be interactive? Global Campus 21 (GC21) has made it through the course “Teaching and the AIDS Pandemic.” Participants’ involvement had been very active and reflective. Participants had been able to creatively present their ideas and comment on each others’ postings. This lively structured online course had been engaging to all participants, experts and even tutors. Course activities appealed to critical faculties, which helped initiate change in the way we look at HIV and AIDS today.
Therefore, E-learning is possible and important in Africa.
About the writer
Dr. Samson MacJessie-Mbewe is a senior lecturer in Sociology of Education and Educational Policy & Leadership at the University of Malawi, Chancellor College in Zomba. He is a Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Education, a National Coordinator and initiator of Network of Teacher Educators Responding to AIDS (NTERA), Malawi Chapter, and also an alumnus and expert of the course „Teaching and the AIDS Pandemic“.
Today we are celebrating ten years of GC21. It has been a time full of intensive work and interesting projects. In our department, “Business Development and Infrastructure”, we have been using GC21 for a long time in the context of many programmes, we also have been developing programme pages for this platform and uploading news, documents and links into a countless number of working spaces.
Why all the engagement? Surely not only because of an existing requirement saying that all International Leadership Training (ILT) Programmes and their corresponding working spaces have to be represented in GC21 portal. No! We have been convinced of the advantages of Global Campus 21 ourselves.
Ten years ago the professional and private use of the Internet became more and more common. E-mails sent to people from the Southeast of Asia, who applied for the ILT-programme “Training for Regional Investment Promotion”, were answered almost immediately.
It was a signal that even our fellow partners from different countries were using the Internet in a more and more common way.
Compared to us some of the participants working for private firms were one step ahead, this we understood later. In one word, we had found ideal conditions to use the virtual possibilities of our programme work.
Especially in the field of Business Development this possibility was quite interesting. Without using the Internet, the promotion of capital investment and export would not have worked much longer even in African countries. Even ten years ago, online experience was as important for professional success as good English language skills. So we came to the conclusion that nowadays online know-how is self-evident.
While over the past years participants had to be briefed on how to use a working space, today briefings are not necessary anymore: One-third of the participants of our EPA-Caribic Programme admitted to absolving a training in the promotion of export are entering GC21 work space within half an hour and continue exploring its possibilities.
New food for thoughts
What makes GC21 so attractive? There are a number of reasons for that. For example, participants – like those of the ILT “Sustainable Management” – receive our training contents, corresponding links and appropriate eLearning programme before a workshop has started. By getting preliminary information at the beginning of the training, all participants have the same level of knowledge, that is, an equal start.
During training, participants place written tasks on an online working space so that their specialist partners would be able to leave annotations, recommendations, additions and corrections. By doing so, even practical training reports and transfer projects can be made accessible for everyone. That way other group members get new food for thoughts. At the same time specialist partners can easily upload lesson material, background papers, presentations and links on the working space. During a two-week practical training participants meet every day in a chat room, at the end of the working day.
Advantages are evident. All team members have the same level of information all the time, for this reason accumulative mails belong to the past. Thanks to the clear structure of the working space everyone has a good overview, and that is the time-saving element.
Finally I would like to underline how important for us was the change of the portal sites format into the new FLEX format. A continuous support of contents is much easier that way. For example, when a colleague from our regional office in Pretoria sends us available data for the next workshop of CHANCE programme, a tutor can open a special window and insert the contents like they do in a word document. All contents immediately appear on the corresponding internet page.
Keep it up, Global Campus 21, and Happy Birthday!
About the writer
Irene Froehlich is a long-term project manager at Inwent. She is responsible for Inwent ´s programmes for Economic Development and Infrastructure and is one of our GC21-activists. As early as 2001 , in the context of “Asia Trip”-programme, Mrs. Froehlich began with the systematic use of Global Campus 21 for the purpose of programme support, and gave thus an excellent example of a practice that then spread throughout the department and far beyond.
Since I have worked for Inwent and its previous organisation, Carl Duisenberg Society, for a long time, I have been able to observe the development of GC21 from its start. At the beginning I used to examine our new instrument – GC21 – very critically. I wanted to find out whether we could use GC21 for the Manager Training Programme that Inwent department “New Independent States” created together with Russia and the Ukraine. In order to do so, we asked our programme participants to what extent they had access to the internet and how often they used it.
The first results were disappointing: Only 15 percent of our participants used the internet regularly. For this reason GC21 was not an appropriate instrument at that time, and we postponed its use.
However, Eastern Europe developed very fast, especially in the field of IT. Therefore we had to rethink the possibility of incorporating GC21 in our programme work. In 2004, we developed a new concept about integrating GC21 in our programme work and offered various proposals to our participants. In October 2004 we went online.
Very soon we had to face a new challenge: language comprehensibility. We came to the conclusion that we were reaching very few participants because of existing linguistic barriers. It was due to the fact that most participants in our Manager Training Programme had language skills either in German or English. Only few participants completed their advanced training in Russian or with the help of a translator. There was not a standard language for this platform so that many participants had problems getting on with GC21. For that reason we translated the whole portal structure into Russian.
Today, I can proudly say that our portal has become the top programme portal of GC21. In 2009, 170.000 users accessed our public page, and 340.000 – our locked page (which can be visited only by registered participants). Today, a total of 4.500 Manager Training participants are registered on our page. The portal consists of dozens of public rooms which can be accessed even by unregistered users as well as 182 locked group work spaces.
CG21 accompanies the whole programme flow: Before training start, our participants register on GC21 in order to get programme information at an early stage and be able to communicate in forums or chats. During their training in Germany participants find detailed information about workshop content in group spaces and get workshop material as well as useful advice on their recreational activities.
After programme ending, participants stay in contact with each other via GC21 until the preparation of the follow-up seminars. Some countries even use our portal for their alumni work.
Meanwhile, managers from 14 countries – all of who are Manager Training participants – are linked by GC21 platform. On a so-called Market Place they can offer or look for products or services and post employment ads or applications. Our duty is to provide GC21 with numerous downloads so that former participants will have professional input even after finishing their training, whereas our aim is that they remain connected to us.
Our latest accomplishment is a virtual cooperation platform on GC21, which brings participants and German companies together. Here and in managers´ virtual networking – where countries frontiers play no role – lies GC21´s biggest potential for the future. We are convinced that the virtual networking will cause a great leap forward concerning the quality of our programme work.
Therefore we are constantly working on the enhancement of GC21 because only by introducing innovations, this platform will stay attractive for years to come. Ultimately, GC21 has become an essential instrument for our work.
About the writer
Isolde Heinz is a leading project manager at Inwent´s department “New Independent States”. For many years, she has worked for the Manager Training Programme of GC21 where, among other things, she was responsible for the Ukraine. In addition, Mrs Heinz has coordinated the integration of GC21 into the programme work of the department for several years. Today, Isolde Heinz manages Inwent ´s programme office in Moscow.
The development of e-Learning applications on Global Campus 21 (GC21), which began ten years ago, was not an individual merit, but rather the result of a learning process and active participation of various experts of the InWEnt staff.
The first “successful hits” were not complete e-learning courses, but so-called “shared workspaces”. In addition to the classroom training these virtual workspaces offered specialised content and programme information. Participants were able to interact and work together in a much more intensive way. This “sandwich-principle” proved of value: online phases were established on GC21 before and after presence training.
In 2002 the health department of the German Foundation for International Development (DSE) invited me for the first time to advise the development of an e-Learning course on “HIV and AIDS”. As a teacher I brought didactic-methodological knowledge from curriculum development, presence learning and experience with various e-Learning scenarios. I also mastered the use of the learning platform and was able to do the programming and technical support of the participants.
Interactive exercises and regular exchange
In the 1990s the issue of HIV and AIDS in the field of medical education was not paid much attention. Therefore, the DSE developed training activities with blended learning approach for medical professionals from Africa and Asia: at the end of the course all participants met for one week to develop projects for the fight against the HIV pandemic. To do so they obtained the necessary knowledge during online phases. The participants remained in contact with each other using GC21 as a communication platform.
Because of their strong interest on the topic and work experience they already had, we wanted to take all participants seriously. Therefore, we wanted our online phase to allow not only an individual knowledge acquisition but also an interactive learning completed by an exchange of experience among participants as well as with our experts. Common conceptual work between experts, e-Learning experts and InWEnt staff showed following: Learning materials have to be practice-oriented and inspire learning, rather than provide information only. We have also noticed that participants are often inexperienced in dealing with IT and do not have equal access to Internet.
What we did to make things better: We created a modular course design that was not SCORM-compliant back then, with an online based introductory phase and a presence period at the end. Practical relevance was reached by fictional case studies and projects in the professional practice of the participants. Interactive exercises, group work and regular exchange in discussion forums and via chats supplemented our offered range. Participants who had difficulties with their Internet connection were able to send their contributions to a tutor via e-mail, but only few did so.
A new category of blended e-Learning courses
Important for the collaborative learning and its development was a systematic monitoring during all courses, which involved all participants as well as team members. Course evaluation was essential so we have persistently been conducting evaluation studies ever since. Because of that, our contents are always up-to-date, participants´ suggestions are taken in consideration and courses have constantly been optimised.
After our first successful course on HIV and AIDS many others courses followed, addressed to other target groups. One of those courses, whose content I was allowed to co-develop, for example, was created for teacher trainers from Southern Africa. This was the start of a new category of blended e-Learning courses that I have dealt with over the past few years. The universities of Southern countries are equally involved in the development of courses for a period of ten to twelve months. This strengthens the institutional e-Learning capacities in the universities and also allows participants to benefit from this process.
About the writer
Dr. Karin Pries, with her company INCCAS, has been a long-standing partner of Inwent in developing applications of Global Campus 21. She served as our consultant right from the concept phase of the platform, and with her team she developed numerous online and blended learning courses which gained worldwide popularity. She is our trainer for foundations of e-didactics and supervisor of the User Support Centre.
All began in 1992, at the World Summit on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. The Summit proclaimed its Agenda 21, an action plan for sustainable development in the 21st century. It covered nearly all issues of development, from poverty alleviation to protection of climate and species, from gender equity to political participation of social groups.
Agenda 21 dynamised international cooperation. The emergence of World Wide Web fostered the spirit of optimism. New technologies made way for a simpler communication and cooperation.
In Germany, two government-related institutions of development cooperation, Carl Duisberg Society (CDG) and the German Foundation for International Development (DSE), were strongly involved in the process of advancing sustainable development in the spirit of Agenda 21, by training activities and dialogue events.
At that time CDG and DSE were looking back on decades of successful work as training institutions with learners from all over the world. Keeping contact with learners was seen as an important instrument. For this purpose we used paper mail, alumni journals, and follow-up workshops. In addition, we supported local alumni associations by helping organise their own training events. Life long learning was a popular idea.
Foresight and imagination
At the end of the 1990s, the first technical solutions for web based e-learning, online coooperation and e-business came up. However, the global allocation of their benefits was extremely disproportionate. It required foresight and imagination to conceive the potential of these new technologies for our work.
On August 3, 1999, the management of CDG in Cologne green-lighted the project „Global Forum“, also called our „WWW workshop“, and we pushed it forward diligently with the help of the internet pioneers of DSE. Together we defined the requirements and chose the software that was going to be used. We were looking for an attractive name for our platform, and we finally found it: “GLOBAL CAMPUS 21″, resembling the Agenda 21 initiated at Rio de Janeiro Summit.
The development of our first e-learning courses began simultaneously. They were based on materials of well proven and frequently demanded face-to-face courses. Our first course topics were “Change Management”, “Knowledge Management” and “Environmental Management” – topics that can still be found on our course portfolio, of course, with an updated content
Success at EXPO 2000
And then came “EXPO 2000″, the world exhibition in Hannover. German organisations for development cooperation and their partners had their own pavilion: a Global House. It was an ideal location for the official opening of Global Campus 21. The launching event in September 2000 was a great success. A group of exhibition staff from many different world regions were among the first promotors of Global Campus 21.
By the end of 2000 there were already 600 users registered on GC21, who interacted with each other in 30 virtual working environments. Seven online courses were ready for use. GC21 was already available in three different languages (German, English and Spanish). The shifting of alumni communication from traditional to online media was ready to begin. The year 2001 marked the beginning of systematic utilisation of GC21 in the programmes of CDG and DSE. An E-learning Center as a support and consultancy unit was established.
And when, at the end of 2003, another global conference, the World Summit of Information Society in Geneva, proclaimed its action plan for overcoming the “Digital Gap”, we – the GC21 team – were proud to look back on three years of practical work towards this same goal.
About the writers
Gerd Hönscheid-Gross used to be a leading project manager at Carl Duisberg Society and the one who was responsible for the creation of GC21. Renate Mengler used to be a member of the project team. Until recently both promoted the use of GC21. Today Gerd Hönscheid-Gross is responsible for „Alumni Portal Germany“ and Renate Mengler for the development of the training format „International Leadership Training“.