PeoplesUni.org Project Overview

Title

PeoplesUni.org

Categories

Health, ICT4Ed

Description

Development of course materials and proof of concept for online training for professional health workers, in developing countries, at post-graduate level,. The initial development was done voluntarily by a small team in the UK and Nigeria. We used Moodle, and did our work together using  communication and collaboration structures developed during the Teacher's Talking Programme.

Initiators

  • Professor Dick Heller - who was retiring from his post at Manchester University and wanted to make his knowledge and skills (related to public health) available in a community development context.
  • Pamela McLean - who wanted to apply lessons that had been learned previously (through delivering the Teachers Talking programme) to a different training need.

Challenges

There is a need for post-graduate training for health workers in countries like Nigeria. Distance learning in a possible option, but it is hard to provide it in an affordable way, and in ways that genuinely suit local needs. This unfunded project used voluntary effort to explore what was needed and how the need might be satisfied.

Dadamac Core Team - in alphbetical order

  • Dick Heller - UK and later Australia - who had the idea for starting the People's Uni.org and who led its development.
  • John Dada - who rooted the idea in local needs and realities and led its development from the Nigerian side.
  • Lorraine Duff - UK - who helped Pamela and Dick with content on Moodle by using her own skills and sharing them.
  • Omo Oaiya - of Datasphir Nigeria - who hosted the Cawdnet Dadamac implementation of Moodle on his server and provided team support and guidance.
  • Pamela McLean - UK - who introduced everyone and started them working together using strategies learned from the Teachers Talking project and subsequent work.

Wider Team

Additional health professionals and others brought in by Dick and John.

ICT components

In any ICT-enabled project it is helpful to consider ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) from three viewpoints:

  • Information - the information content of the project.
  • Communication - the people concerned with the project who have a need to communicate.
  • Technology - the technology that is relevant to enable the communication between people and the presentation of the information.

Information

Developing and testing course content

  • Introductions outlining overlapping interests.
  • Development of ideas for collaboration.
  • Idea of launching Peoples Uni and related website.
  • Experiments with Moodle to build understanding of how it works and its relevance.
  • Definition of two pilot projects, the first one being maternal mortality.
  • Course materials.
  • Feedback from the trials of the course materials.

Communication

Building the development team and enabling them to communicate and collaborate at a distance, then delivering the distance learning pilot courses. People involved in the communication network were:

  • Dick Heller, John Dada and other health professionals designing content and course presentation.
  • Dick Heller, Lorraine Duff and Omo Oaiya organising the content on Moodle.
  • Course Participants:  Post graduate health professionals in Africa and India trialling the materials (plus one from USA loosely connected with the development team who asked to be included).
  • Dick Heller and his teaching team supporting the participants work who trialled the materials.

Technology - what to use, and learning how to use it

Technology used for communication:

  • Email discussion group on distance learning - where Pam and Dick first met.
  • Personal emails suggesting collaboration between Dick Heller and John Dada and ongoing between everyone in the team.
  • UK phone calls.  Moodle (the Cawdnet Campus implementation) where the two pilot courses were developed and delivered.
  • Some experiments with Elluminate.

Technology for course implemetation

  • Moodle

Key Dates

  • Approximately 2006 - Online discussion list where Pam and Dick met.
  • Approximately 2006 - Initial work on People's Uni.org using Cawdnet Campus.
  • Approximately 2007 - Launch of People's Uni.org charity and webside.
  • Approximately 2007 - First pilot courses (at Cawdnet Campus).
  • Approximately 2008 - Launch of People's Uni.org implementation of Moodle - including face to face meeting between all four members of the team then in the UK to celebrate launch of the project. It was noteworthy that the group had never previously all met together in one place. Pam had previously met Dick once, met Lorraine once and met Omo on several occasions.  The others (as far as I know) had not met before.  All the collaborative work had been done at a distance.

Other information (added later)

People's Open Access Education Initiative: Peoples-Uni.org was successfully launched as a registered charity providing post graduate online courses for professional health workers. These courses are delivered through its own implementation of Moodle, developed and hosted byDatasphir.

John Dada and Pamela McLean were on its initial advisory board.

In February 2011 Dick Heller made this announcement:

"I am pleased to be able to tell the group that we now have an agreement with Manchester Metropolitan University for them to offer awards - at the MPH level - for Peoples-uni students. There are a few details to be worked out, but this is a major advance and allows students in developing countries to achieve a high quality academic award in Public Health from a major UK University, at low cost.
We have completed 5 semesters now, and learning a number of lessons along the way. Enrollments for the next semester will open in the next day or so."

In 2013 Dick Heller contributed a chapter about People's Open Access Education Initiative in Teaching and Learning Online: New Models of Learning for a Connected World (Pamela McLean also contributed a chapter, on other aspects of online learning).

Forums: