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Global Campus 21 supports a wide variety of applications: online courses, programme-related websites, virtual project working rooms, web conferences, contact fora and more.
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New opportunities, hand in hand with CSR

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is transforming Latin American companies; according to Pedro Lins, business consultant based in Sao Paulo, Brazil and Alumni of the CSR course offered as part of the CSR Mercosur programme organised by the GIZ between 2006 and 2010, the change in mentality has reached company managers in remote areas of the region. A total of 1.161 people from Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay received training through this course; as multipliers, it is now their turn to offer and apply the course, which is still available in the Global Campus 21, the GIZs e-learning platform, in their own countries.

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This programme was no isolated effort, and such initiatives are leaving behind small achievements to accompany the gradual increase in citizen concern for environmental and social responsibility issues generalised in recent years. An attitude that is already affecting consumer purchasing and investment decisions, while companies are becoming more and more sensible to this social responsibility.

Content comes from the companies

On the corporate side, CSR programmes are integrating sustainable social and environmental development criteria to profit making into all company practices. As a management style, CSR is characterized by the company´s ethical and transparent relationship with all the actors it interacts with. So CSR is, according to Alberto WIlli, professor at the IAE Business School in Argentina, “an umbrella concept, it only provides a framework for action, each company fills it with its own content.”

CSR should therefore be analysed in context – the context of the company, the sector it belongs to, the society in which the business takes place. But the underlying fact is, when companies grow in size, they start gaining power, “and should thus assume a larger responsibility regarding their impact upon society”, in words of Lins.

But beyond a responsibility that companies must assume, CSR is beginning to be associated with opportunities. As a way to enrich a company’s activity and the society in which it is embedded, for example. Lins refers to the Brazilian case, where “there is a vast group of entrepreneurs who have learned that CSR issues can help them maintain, increase and consolidate their businesses.” In this country, CSR is considered a factor in terms of positioning and competition for the global market, a way for products to differentiate themselves from the Asians that compete with low prices, thus enabling Brazilian companies to target more mature markets like the USA or Europe where responsibility is already part of consumers’ buying decisions.

CSR as a strategy

But CSR is also posing “an opportunity to review a company’s relationship with its surroundings, to rethink the real meaning of a company”, Lins points out. Basically, CSR is a company’s return of to the community, based on the idea that it is the people that are part of the company that are responsible, not the companies. In cases where these practices are more extended, CSR goes a step further, introducing a new corporate culture, together with an ethics code and a values management system to be implemented within the company. Companies are not only aiming at quality and competitiveness, they want to offer something more. “Worldwide, CSR is often seen as philanthropic activity, but for us who are closely working on it, it is strategic and long term action,” explains Willi. In Latin America, a region marked by an elevated poverty index, CSR acquires an outstanding dimension, as it can significantly help solve social problems. Such is the case in Argentina, where, in accordance to public opinion polls – in answer to what they would do with resources, most people would opt to help the poor- CSR is usually translated into social action, typically in the education or health sectors.

Amongst the most frequent practices are measures to promote care or consciousness for the environment, to support local community through health, educational or sport-oriented activities, and volunteer programs. Restricting providers who do not comply with sustainability or responsibility requirements is another line of action. Working in CSR implies planning and generating actions that hold some relation to the company´s field of activity. For example, Cargill, a food industry company, invests in developing projects to promote good eating habits, to reduce the incidence of obesity and diabetes.

Promoters play an important role in the implementation of CSR in the region. In Argentina this role has been taken over by the big companies -CSR is spread through the practices imported by the multinational subsidiaries-, while in Brazil the main promoter is the national government. But above all things the guarantee to a good CSR plan lies in the articulation between all actors involved– the public governmental, the corporate and the NGO sectors-, and this is the key to the success of CSR in Brazil, as well. In this country, the three actors agreed on the central importance of CSR and consequently adopted a common agenda. An example of their joint effort is the Ethos Institute, which brings together a large number of companies from across the country, offering them services related to CSR practices; the institute has become an international reference on the subject. As Lins says, the socio-environmental responsibility cannot be taken over solely by the private sector; it must be worked upon together with the public and social sectors, building bridges between these. Neither does “the private sector replace the government, nor can we leave all responsibility on their hands; [CSR] implies co-participation and co-responsibility”.

GIZ plays an important role

In Argentina this articulation is missing, as work on CSR is fragmented – a lot of individual impulses, a large number of civil organizations do not manage to achieve real impact; the government has stayed out of the field for the moment. For this reason, if Brazil is a “world class” example in terms of CSR, Argentina is lagging a step behind, according to Willi. CSR is a new movement pushed by big business; for the small and medium enterprises -90% of the Argentina´s companies– this is a difficult transition: they still see it as a place to reach. Many of them consider CSR a luxury – a view that reflects the general state of CSR in the rest of the region.

In face of this reality, the GIZ CSR program made significant contributions to promoting the introduction of CSR in the Mercosur region: since the beginning of the programme, more than 1000 people completed a course which continues to be offered, and which has allowed for people from different countries to come together in a CSR and sustainability network. With the goal to promote competitive action on CSR and to help create a favourable environment for sustainable business, the GIZ (back then InWEnt and the GTZ), together with the Mercosur Germany Alliance, an assemblage of the German chambers of commerce in the region, created the Centro de Competência Mercosul para RSE in the year 2006. Currently and until 2014, the GIZ is carrying out another regional programme on CSR, “Corporate Responsibility in the context con climate change” in the region. And, the GIZ still continues to help connect the multipliers amongst themselves; it is them, according to Lins, who “have a great opportunity and the essential task to spread these issues in their regions, in order to help their countries become more sustainable and competitive.”

 

With a mouse click to new business partners from all over the world: Successful Manager Training Programme with new collaboration exchange

Kateryna Murachowska is working as a manager for Foreign Trade at a Ukrainian company named Poltawa-Ski. The medium-sized company is planning and constructing ski centres in Ukraine, and is even undertaking the assembly, delivery and maintenance of the chair lifts used in its own installations. In order to find new cooperation partners in Germany Murachowska took part in the Manager Training Programme of the Federal Ministry of Economy and Technology.

In doing so, the young woman got to know Bavarian company Loipolder Seilbahn-Technik and was able to get in contact with Kässbohrer Geländefahrzeug AG.

Today, Poltawa-Ski is cooperating with several German producers of chair and surface lifts, and is distributing their products in Ukraine. Furthermore, the company is a general distributor of Kässbohrer PistenBully and is taking care of their vehicles.

A successful international cooperation that German and foreign companies benefit from is what Manager Training Programme is aiming for. Through this new kind of collaboration exchange even companies that are not taking part in the programme are able to establish important business contacts without having to pay for the service.

The Manager Training Programme wants to open new doors across borders, in a fast, effective and unconventional way. Every year about 800 young leaders, coming from 13 different countries in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Asia, and working at companies of all branches and sizes, take part at one or three-month trainings in Germany. Most of the participants are coming from Russia or Ukraine, but even companies from China or India are very much in demand. There are lots of medium-sized companies among the participating firms, mostly dealing with machine-building.

“An important prerequisite of taking part (in this programme) is that the participating firms are interested in doing business with German companies“, says Daniel Strube, who is in charge for the programme marketing at GIZ; GIZ coordinates and organizes the Manager Training Programme on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Economy and Technology.

Within the very broad programme spectrum participants have training courses concerning different topics such as intercultural management or negotiation training. They have the possibility to go directly to the companies they find interesting. Daniel Strube: “In these companies, for example, they deal with a possible cooperation, learn how to build up a quality department, or how to certify a product.”

Eleven training centres all over Germany are organizing the programme content that has to be custom-tailored to the needs of the participants. GIZ is supervising the whole training process, as usual. The training centres are responsible for a certain number of training participants. One group usually consists of 20 persons. Together they are visiting as many companies as possible during their stay in Germany, and sometimes these are up to 60 firms within their radius.

“Single meetings are possible too, as an optional extra, even with firms that are far away”, says Strube. The first contact between organisers and participants takes place via Internet, in the Global Campus of the Manager Training Programme. Here, every single visitor has their own profile. “We have created a virtual market place that is accessible only for participants, so that they can network together”, explains Strube.

Global Campus´ data base keeps growing every year and contains a huge number of visitors. Now even German companies can profit from our data bank, drawing from this fund of potential international business partners and using our newly established online collaboration exchange.

It focuses on German firms which want to have business relations with the countries taking part in the programme. Via collaboration exchange German companies can contact participants they are interested in. “We are bringing our participants directly into the companies, and that is the big difference between our and other exchanges of this kind”, says Daniel Strube.

For example, if a German constructor wants to meet someone from Russia´s building industry they only have to go online and mark with a cross the country and sector they are interested in. In addition, the company can invite one or several participants to come to visit or offer them a two-month internship.

“If that’s the case we are prepared to quickly integrate such requests and offers into the current Manager Training Programme in order to make personal meetings with participants who are about to come to Germany possible.”

Normally, the whole group of participants – supervised by one training centre – takes part in these personal meetings. But, as already mentioned, even meetings with a single person are possible. “Due to data protection reasons German companies do not receive the contact information of the participants before the meeting. Thus, personal meetings are always necessary.”

Companies can use this uncomplicated placement service for free. Even training centres benefit from the new collaboration exchange because it is an easier way to find firms for their participants to visit. “The advantage for German companies is clear: They can build international connections in a fast and uncomplicated way, and are able to find reliable cooperation partners”, says Strube.

“With the Manager Training Programme we give our participants a solid preparation for doing business with German companies. Although they could be successful on their local markets in their home countries, when it comes to international business all participants need to increase their know-how eventually.”

Project working in Eastern Europe and Asia is different from project working in Germany. “Business people from Ukraine or India do not always determine their objectives, and do not have a detailed project preparation”, explains Strube. “In many cases they are quite discouraged noticing that German companies present their concept formulated in great detail.” And vice versa: it is important for German companies to know that this behaviour is not a neglect, but is rather culturally founded.”

The new collaboration exchange is available under http://www.giz.de/gc21/mp-wirtschaftskontakte.

Media-supported learning at any time and any place: concept and technical realisation of the new M-Portal

Learning at any time and any place: GIZ’s new learning platform for mobile phones and tablet computers makes it possible. E-academy’s new M-Portal was launched May this year. Volker Lichtenthäler, M-Learning project manager at GIZ, explains platform’s conceptual approach. Volker Wolf, specialist for programming of educational games and multimedia development, gives an insight into the challenges concerning the technical realisation.

What’s new in Mobile Learning?

Volker Lichtenthäler: First of all I have to say that Micro Learning is not something new. Many of us have learned vocabulary or formula using file cards. It is a little-step method for in between, quick applicable with an immediate feedback. That’s where Mobile Learning, learning by portable, mobile media and devices like Smartphones, turns out to be an important substitute to eLearning with one decisive factor: it makes learning at any time and any place possible. For us mLearning consequently develops and supplements eLearning that is based on the learning platform GC21. Of course learners are searching for a special kick, a visual, maybe even audio supported one and surely much more playful way of learning in tiny and mouth-sized portions.

What devices has M-Portal been made for?

Volker Wolf: It is made mainly for mobile devices like Smartphones, Notebooks or Pads, respectively Tablet-PCs. But of course M-Portal runs also on a PC. Due to a fluid layout the screen view matches the screen width. We have especially prepared the portal for Smartphones and Pads. In particular that means that contents must be easily readable on a little screen and users only have to scroll down and not sideways. Furthermore the resolution has to match the device display because the Smartphone screens vary very much in size.

Was this a challenge?

Volker Wolf: Yes, because we had to find a form that all mobile devices could use. This kind of device class uses different variations of software like the well-known Apple iPhone, iPad or Android, Windows 7 and others. Each provider and each platform are focused on their own work. Therefore we came to the conclusion to offer our contents using a web browser. So we are talking about mobile Internet.

Does this mean that you go on the Internet with your Smarthphone?

Volker Wolf: Yes, you’re calling an Internet address by using the browser of your Smartphone and then, like on your PC, a Homepage opens. There you find a main menu from which you continue to navigate via touch screen choosing different menu items.

Where exactly does the connection to the learning platform, to GC21 lie?

Volker Lichtenthäler: The M-portal is a part of Management Skills Group (MSG), a special area of Global Campus 21. Via M-portal and their mobile phone members of this Community of Practice, which are normally graduates of our online courses and GIZ scholars, are able to activate the latest news, contents or members of MSG to see what kind of member information and contact data has been stored there. This is why our portal is useful not only for teaching learning contents but also for promoting information, discussion and networking and therefore serves the sustainability of our eLearning.

Via this new learning platform you also provide contents of Management Skills Group, is that right?

Volker Lichtenthäler: Yes, sure, because only MSG-members have access to the M-Learning sector. The idea behind it is that especially in developing countries many people have a better access to Smartphones than to internet, and Smartphones are easier to use. At least mobile phones have a better internet connection. In these countries Smartphones work as a real substitute for a PC. On the other side learning contents are created especially for this medium. Therefore the main part of the new portal is extremely interesting because it provides so called Knowledge-nuggets.

What exactly are knowledge-nuggets?

Volker Lichtenthäler: These are little knowledge snippets. The participants can create their own nuggets and then we edit their contributions. Or they can make proposals for the creation of knowledge nuggets and we create them. They deal with different topics like Global Affairs, Organisational Management, Leadership, Career and more. One nugget consists of maximally three mobile pages. We decorate them with two or three graphics which are partly animated. And in some nuggets users can make a short test to find out if they have understood the content. It’s like a little forum with short texts but much more rudimentary. Users can even react spontaneously. For example, a user takes a picture of something and loads it up, maybe a photo of their office when they want to make a contribution to the topic “Organisation” or a photo of a poster at a bus station suitable to the topic “Advertisement”.

It is a real media mix, isn´t it?

Volker Wolf: Yes, exactly, texts, photos, animation, audio data, podcasts, on M-Portal all these elements come together on one site. This site tries to present medial elements only by means of its browser functions without using external functions like Plug-ins. This is the goal we explicitly wanted to reach. Eventually our portal works on all mobile devices and can be used with every browser.

Is this possible?

Volker Wolf: Well, normally all producers decide to support standards like HTML5. It’s the standard we are using for the M-Portal. But this support is of varying degrees. For example, iPhone does not allow an upload of data on the web browser because of security reasons. But the development in this sector is extremely fast. For example there are continuously new releases of the Android version, which is the most common operating system in Smartphones.

And what about Apps?

Volker Wolf: Many providers use the so called apps, little applications or programmes that you can download. It’s possible to represent their contents offline and to link them. But those apps run only on certain platforms and devices of a certain producer. We try to avoid this point as we want to supply our contents on all sorts of platforms. Otherwise we would have to develop a special app for every single device, and that would be an extremely extensive work.

Would it be possible to bring all producers and browsers together under one banner in the future?

Volker Wolf: Yes, I think so. If browsers want to develop further (something that they continuously do), and if they support this HTML5 standard it would work. In that case it wouldn´t be necessary to adapt our site to new versions of browser permanently and our website would run for years without us changing anything.

So what happens next with the mobile Website of E-Academy and Management Skills Group?

Volker Lichtenthäler: We are planning on integrating educational games. We’re about to develop a browser game concerning the topic “Working in intercultural virtual teams”. You will find it soon on our mobile site. Thus we are hoping to reach a larger number of different “learning types” and increase our flexibility.

Initiating changes: GIZ’s programme „Liderazgo para el Cambio Sostenible“

GIZ’s programme „Liderazgo para el Cambio Sostenible“(Management for sustainable development) is made for experts from Latin America, who want to contribute to the achievement of social changes in their countries. For that purpose you need people who are able to initiate and coordinate such processes of change.

The main goal of the programme is to improve participants´ professional, methodological and social competences. Thus they would be able to successfully initiate and influence these processes of change. The programme focuses on a practical reference, and the training of social competences turns out to be an inherent part of it: nowadays in our globalised world these so called soft skills are essential.

The course „Liderazgo para el Cambio Sostenible“ is offered as a blended learning programme. “During the online phase participants have access to a greater choice of texts, literature and documents as usual so that they can chose and compose their teaching aids individually”, says Yenny Melgar, an e-learning expert and course coordinator in Lima, Peru. “At the same time the personal contact among participants and to coordinators is intensified. All course participants are able to network and compare notes with each other.”

Due to the fact that the programme is made for experts in different working fields and branches, for example in the field of IT, education, health and ecology, it consists of different course segments. According to participants´ needs and requirements these segments can be assembled differently, depending on target group´s needs (whether course participants are working in the private sector or for an NGO).

Each segment consists of four or five units. Particular subjects which have to bear reference to the existing conditions in Latin America are defined. So that adequate strategies can be developed to initiate processes of change. There is a continual extension and updating of the offered courses.

In addition to the course elements focussing on specific subjects, there is a range of courses dealing with two or more disciplines. “Transversal units like ,Genero’ (gender), ,Facilitación con enfoque participativo’ or ,Gestión de cambio’ have got an interdisciplinary approach, which is a special enrichment and motivation for the participants”, says e-learning expert Melgar. “What makes these courses that significant is the fact that their orientation is very close to the existing reality in Latin America.”

For example the course “Incidencia Política” (Political Impact) is dealing, among other things, with conflicts resulting from the new prescriptions concerning the use of water resources in countries like Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia: For example, water prices which have been kept low in the upper class neighbourhoods have to be readjusted. Some of the courses are organised together with other institutions like governmental departments or NGOs.

Course participants are expected to be not only extremely engaged but also to communicate their knowledge and experience to others. According to Melgar, “This kind of learning requires people who are self-critical, have innovative ideas, do things on their own initiative and have the courage to make changes.”

Dialogue in the Classroom

The main objective of the programme “ProCalidad – Perfeccionamiento Profesional en Calidad de la Educación” (ProCalidad – Professional advanced training in education quality) is to improve the quality of teacher training in Peru, Honduras and Guatemala. Education quality includes not only the acquisition of knowledge and skills, but also the development of democratic values and integration into society.

ProCalidad is aimed at teachers, lecturers and management staff from teacher training institutions, universities and NGOs in Guatemala, Honduras and Peru. Since 2006 this programme has been offered as an International Leadership Training by InWEnt on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and in close cooperation with institutions from the three target countries.

During the programme participants reflect on their education and develop new pedagogical approaches – especially for a new dialogue culture in the classroom, as schools are basically designed as a cross-cultural space.

This programme does not aim at specialisation of people in a particular area of the educational spectrum. It rather wants to motivate the participants to think about broad visions, which would effectively improve the quality of education in their home countries. It is expected that all participants develop their own concepts and practical suggestions for their own organisations. Following the course all “transfer projects” will be implemented by the participants in their workplace.

During the training sessions all persons involved use the virtual platform of Global Campus 21 in order to exchange their views on specific educational topics. During their residential period of one year in Germany, the ILT participants are able to deepen their professional know-how, management and organisational skills. After the completion of the programme GC21 is going to be used as a meeting place and platform for everyone, including former participants. Thus, all users can discuss their project development and ask other people for assistance.

[About ProCalidad]