Case studies

 

OAS

Over 10.000 participantsattended the virtual training program of the Organization of American States (OAS)thanks to the technological support of e-ABC Learning.

Over 10.000 public officials have taken the virtual training program of the Department of Public Administration of the OAS since the project began in 2003. This project focuses on the online training of the public officialsof the hemisphere.

“This is the first step towards the modernization of the institutions”, highlighted the training coordinator for the OAS Virtual Campus, Maria Dorado, whom with the support of the campus official Maria Paula Ganadur, manages the initiative from Washington DC.

The Virtual Campus, provided at the OAS by the Argentinean firm leader in knowledge and processmanagement in Latin America, e-ABC learning, offers virtual classes divided in three key areas: Electronic Government, Cadastre, and Capacities Strengthening. These areas match the public officials’ needs in the region, related to the possibility of accessing a high quality education at a low price and with enough flexibility as to accommodate their work commitments.

“The e-learning LMS (Learning Management System) implemented in the projectis Dokeos, whose customization and design were adapted to meet the guidelines set by the OAS” informs Carlos Biscay, e-ABC learning CEO.

Virtual Campus courses seek to offer officials practical tools for the development and implementation of projects and policies that strengthen human and institutional capacities. These capacities yield effective public management together with development and improvement of democratic governance.

This initiative has been developed under the Electronic Government Program, coordinated by Miguel Porrua. Itis based on the conviction that the quality of the national and local institutions depends largely of the quality of their staff and, also, that improving the efficiency and transparency of the norms and practices of those institutions depends of its Human Resources. Both are principles that the Department of Public Administration of the OAS defends and promotes trough the use of ICT (information and communication technologies).

With the goalof supporting the public officials’ trainingin key areas of the public administration, the Virtual Campus fosters a dynamic and participative methodology which offers concrete tools for an efficient government.  To meet this challenge the OAS has implementedprocedures based on participation levels and costs which allow government institutions and other interestedparties to promote this training among its workforce.

Specifically, virtual education offers several advantages to the participants. The Virtual Campus not only provides a high quality educationat a low cost, but also allows the students to learn at any time depending on their availability. There are no materials cost for students, as all the course resources are Web based. Besides, the Virtual Campus eliminates geographical barriers and developsparticipants’ capacities by interacting while using the ICT.

The Virtual Campus offers 21 classes in the Electronic Government, Cadastre and Capacities Strengthening fields. The courses currently offered include: Design and Implementation of Electronic Government Strategies, Administration of the Public Purchases, Modernization of the Cadastre Management, Strategies of Integral Municipal Tourism Management and Access to Public Information: Legal Framework and Implementation in Latinamerican Countries.

This initiative is coordinated in Washington DC and the staff working on the e-learning solution consists of four people. The professional team that leads the project is made up by: Robert Devlin (who leads the Department for Effective Public Management, Pablo Zuñiga (vice head of the Department for Effective Public Management) and Miguel Porrúa (Project Manager of the Electronic Government Program, in whose area the virtual campus initiative was developed).

In terms of the training process follow-up, the initiative coordinators indicate that training activities are permanentlyevaluated, through a survey at the end of the courses, an assessment by the instructors team and an assessment by the main team at the end of the edition.

It is worth mentioning that, at the moment of the Project launch, an institutional campaign took place to inform about the Project to all the partner offices of the OAS whose staff might have been interested in the courses. Similarly, prior to the launch of the LMS and the first online courses, agreements with municipalities were signed, thus guaranteeing a number of students fit to begin the courses.

Results

“What suprised us most about the implementation of the solution was how fast it was accepted as a means of virtual education”, explained Maria Dorado y Maria Paula Gandur.  “The Project was successful because it allowed to offer education to the public officials in all the region, and it still does”, they highlighted. In this respect, experts emphasize that e-learning projects should meet the audience needs without generating complex learning processes, which may imply a major change in the participants everyday lives. “Similarly, their content must suit the local context of the target countries”.

When asked about the components a virtual training should include to be efficient and useful, the experts replied:

  • Quality of training contents
  • Time and pedagogical facilities
  • Significant amount of socialization among students
  • Revitalization of discussions

For both specialists the virtual training method is excellent and applicable for several specific educational needs.

“Online learning is an alternative answer to the traditional pedagogy. Its advantages, such as access facilities, low costs (comparatively speaking with the traditional education) and time flexibility, among others,  place it as a valid option to acquire know ledge. It is our online methodology together with our goal what allows the validation of knowledge. It is our instructors, on the other hand, who bring the human capital that the LMS alone cannot bring”
highlighted Dorado and Gandur.

 

 

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