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2015-01_dc

D+C Vol.42.2015:1 23 a huge challenge, and many participants are over- whelmed. Aware of such problems, some development agencies have decided to offer more in-house consul- tations and on-the-job training. This decision makes sense. That was my experience in Namibia. Never­ theless, industry-wide workshops have an intrinsic value, and that is especially so if they are international. Workshops bring together participants with a wide range of experiences, and they network people who develop a loyalty to shared values and professional standards. Supplementing international courses with e-learn­ing components makes a lasting impact more likely. This approach is called “blended” or “hybrid” learning. The didactic process begins during the workshop and later continues at home and at the in- dividual workplace thanks to digital tools. In journalism, as in many other sectors, new skills and approaches are often taught in three steps. First, instructors provide input. Next, participants apply the new ideas and insights in exercises. Finally, the in- structors tell them what they did well and where they see room for improvement. A lack of time During workshops that are limited to face-to-face in- teraction, there is typically not enough time to repeat the exercise-feedback loop several times. Time is short; time is money. The problem is that, many par- ticipants discover that they have not sufficiently mas- tered the new skills when they try to apply what they learned back on the job. In such settings, e-learning offers a valuable op- portunity. Using the internet, participants and in- structors can stay in touch long after a workshop has ended. For obvious reasons, instructors who stay available to offer individual advice have a more lasting impact. Their advice helps when a student has forgotten what clicks are needed in what order to use a new computer tool. It similarly matters when a journalist wants to approach a research project strategically or simply wants to prepare for an interview systematically. E-learn- ing can even be helpful in regard to me- dia ethics. After discussing a pertinent question in the face-to-face seminar, participants can research similar cases at home and post the results online for further discussion. E-learning is a very broad concept and can refer to many things: sending texts electronically, massive A wide variety of electronic learning platforms with a wealth of technical components is available today. It is useful to make textbooks, handouts, photos and flip charts available online in an orderly fashion, so they can be accessed at any time. Doing so makes more sense than providing piles of paper to participants who are expected to take everything home, but may end up disposing papers in a bin at the airport to avoid excess baggage. Learning platforms offer interesting didactic opportunities. Students can take quizzes online for instance. The most important feature, however, is probably that online platforms allow for interac- tive debate. Learning platforms can be bought or leased. There are some open-source systems like Moodle, which do not rely on copyrighted or licensed software and are maintained by a community of users. Programmes like Moodle are cost-effec- tive and dynamic. If course participants want to pass on their new knowledge in their home countries they can use them without infringing on intellectual property rights. Today, open-source software offers a variety of options for a wide range of pedagogic settings. Solutions have been developed pretty much for every kind of task. Moreover, it has become quite easy to adapt an open-source platform to meet one’s own needs, and specialised agencies will perform this task at reasonable prices. (we) The right platform Dembowski Professional standards transcend national borders – press conference in Nairobi in 2009. “A great advantage of e-learning is that it lets participants log on at home and work their own pace.”

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