Community Media/Resources/Lessons Learned in Course Development

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Lessons Learned - from the Commonwealth of Learning

Creating learning materials for and with educational and community media

Challenges in the context of non-formal education or learning for development

  • How do we make more effective use of the dozens of handbooks and manuals, training modules, etc. that have been produced by international agencies? How do we link this knowledge resource to actual output?
  • How can we connect to the end users of models and associated learning tools (who are not part of a formal structure) to determine real needs and suitable processes?

Lessons from the Multimedia Training Kit

  1. Great materials are sitting on a virtual shelf; (we think) they’re relevant but in fact many don’t really get used (my assessment based on experience not an evaluation)
  2. Well intentioned but donor driven; we need to ask whose agenda is driving the process? Who says these materials and the outcomes they propose are really what communities and trainers need and can use?
  3. Non-collaborative process; contracting may get us superlative materials but do users (or the contractors) have a connection to these materials? Are they part of a larger process?
  4. Static platform; once learning materials get into the MMTK, they never change, even when ‘out of date’ or when they’ve actually been improved by trainers in the field
  5. The organizational process worked against achieving objectives; it was unclear, ‘heavy,’ complicated

Lessons learned from working with community media

  1. The vast majority of learning materials are more successful as advocacy than actual learning tools; most are unused by the groups they target
  2. Content has to be relevant to users (e.g. community media) and their objectives (e.g. development, social change)
  3. Good materials get used when they are part of a learning process rather than just being ‘available’; access vs. engagement gap
  4. A ‘local’ focus means that people use/hear/see content right away; it is immediate and tends naturally to be a closer process; a coherent community tends to regulate for relevance
  5. A hands-on, situational approach tends to make learning directly applicable to actual process and circumstances, i.e. a workshop that directly enables a new radio show; follow-up is critical

Potential strategic directions (for COL) in ‘media for learning’ capacity building:

  1. Materials should be generated from usage; developing content should be integrated with the capacity building process itself
  2. Identify a specific group of users and let them set the agenda; use the training and materials development process as on-going needs assessment; for example, India clearly represents a context for community media growth; there are at least 30-50 radio stations that will be developing over the next 2-3 years; let’s work directly with them
  3. Develop a collaborative process from the outset; get the stakeholders (both at the community level and also at the state/national level) thinking about direction and desired results and working together on identifying, producing, using and updating the learning content that they need to achieve them; approach them as a community
  4. Use a dynamic platform; a wiki (or something like it) offers a good backbone; even if the end users (radio station staff and trainers) are not directly connected to the wiki; the ‘network’ (of learners and trainers, supporting and implementing organizations) should connect people and materials using a variety of technology
  5. Focus on users rather than supporters (trainer-learners rather than organizations) in capacity building process