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Vice Rectorate in Europe Involved in E-Learning Project for Integrated Watershed Management in Eastern Africa

The project E-Learning for Integrated Watershed Management aims at introducing e-learning into the teaching and learning practices in East African universities in the area of Watershed Management Education. The project is funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and will run from 2008 to 2010. It will contribute to the EU-Project “Capacity Building for Integrated Watershed Management in Eastern Africa – ( IWMNET )” managed by Universität Siegen.

The project, initiated by an interdisciplinary team of experts in the areas of e-learning and integrated watershed management is coordinated by Universität Siegen, in collaboration with University of Duisburg-Essen, University Dar es Salaam, and United Nations University, Vice Rectorate in Europe.

UNU is providing expertise in educational methodology of e-learning. Dr. Virginie Aimard (UNU), Prof. Ulf-Daniel Ehlers (University of Duisburg-Essen) and Dr. Stefan Thiemann (Universität Siegen) are conducting six workshop s at Dar es Salaam University. Participants are invited from Makarere University, Uganda, Dar es Salaam University, Tanzania, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, and Kenyatta University, Kenya.

The first expert workshop in the framework of the project “E-Learning for Integrated Watershed Management” took place from 14-18 July 2008 and was hosted by University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The workshop was attended by 15 participants from Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda and was very positively evaluated: all participants engaged from the first day in a collaborative and highly interactive work.

Project exceeded the expected outcomes

The team building and vision building phase laid solid foundations for a collectively owned process, also a road map for the duration of the project was collectively agreed on. Participants were so engaged that they even exceeded the expected outcomes and the group started creating their own e-learning project site using state-of-the-art online educational social software called wiki: http://e-iwm.wikispaces.com/ .

The use of new technology for providing access to education and enriching existing educational opportunities is increasingly coming into focus. At the same time, effective adoption of ICT for Education and Sustainable Development in higher education requires more than the integration of technology into the teaching process. International experience with e-learning in universities shows that a sustainable anchoring of e-learning can be achieved only through the development of a coherent e-learning culture and strategy.

Thus, the project strives to strengthen capacity on the institutional and individual levels, by facilitating the take up of e-learning as a cultural and organizational innovation. On the individual level, the project aims to build a team of e-competent key university educators so that they will act as multipliers in their own context and collaborate with their colleagues from other East African universities.

An participative approach is at the heart of E-Learning for Integrated Watershed Management project. African and international experts will take part in six workshop s in the course of the project to build a common knowledge base, set up regional networks, and develop their own tailor made e-learning solutions in their respective universities. The road map for the next three years will also be developed in close collaboration with the participants. Ensuring the participants’ full engagement at each stage of the project, the organizers hope to be able to build a community of east African experts in the field of Integrated Watershed Management and to foster innovative trans boundary cooperation.

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