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Strategic Workshop

Innovative capacity development through e-learning with a special focus on Africa

Participants at the workshop
Group work at the UNU e-learning workshop. Photo: Tony Carr.

The United Nations University Vice Rectorate in Europe in collaboration with the Vice Rector in charge of e-learning at the UNU Headquarters, Prof. Govindan Parayil, and the UNU Media Studio hosted a strategic workshop on 26 and 27 November 2008 at the UN Campus in Bonn.

Documents from the workshop

Summary of main outcomes (40 KB PDF)
by Vice Rector in charge of e-learning at UNU, Prof. Govindan Parayil

Concept note (56 KB PDF)
presenting the rationale of the workshop

Workshop agenda
(44 KB PDF)

List of participants
(56 KB PDF)

Narrative Minutes
(2.6 MB PDF)

See also the e-learning survey below

This workshop explored the role of e-learning at UNU, how to respond to the need for UNU to focus more on the African region, and how to build a consolidated approach to e-learning for capacity development.

The two-day event brought together 33 UNU academic staff from different institutes as well as external stake-holders, including educational experts from Africa. Participants discussed the role of e-learning in better fulfilling the strategic goals of UNU: knowledge dissemination and sharing, teaching, and capacity development.

The workshop was an opportunity for participants to conceptualise a common vision for e-learning which could lead to the pooling of resources, capacity, and expertise to better address today’s development challenges. Participants explored ways to strengthen the development, implementation, and quality of capacity development methodologies using e-learning and ICT and how to disseminate them effectively.

An initial vision for maximising the availability and quality of e-learning was developed, and participants shared their current work to surface organisational strengths and gaps. African colleagues contributed to the discussion and provided valuable insights to test UNU's assumptions and match its strengths to the needs of its stake-holders.

Three key messages emerged from this meeting:

Survey: e-learning at UNU

In order to support the expert discussion and exchange of information and build on the experiences of the different UNU institutes, a brief stock taking exercise of what is being developed and implemented in terms of e-learning activities, of available expertise, capacities and infrastructure was conducted beforehand in the form of an online survey.

Survey results

With the help of the participants of the UNU strategic workshop who completed the online survey, we gathered information on how e-learning is perceived and implemented at UNU in the various Research and Training Centres Programmes. The survey covers the following topics:

Thanks to the 15 respondents from UNU institutes as well from partner educational institutions, the survey shows that e-learning already plays an essential role in the work of UNU institutes. For example, there is a remarkable tendency to integrate e-learning into capacity development activities in UNU institutes and/or in co-operation with other educational institutions. Almost all institutes already have e-learning activities in place in one or more sub-sections. Moreover, all institutes plan to deliver online courses, curriculum, e-learning content, and have expertise capacity to implement e-learning activities.

Panel of experts from African Higher Education

The workshop used the input from five colleagues from Africa as a way to test the assumptions and priorities discussed. What is happening with e-learning in Africa? Why is it a priority? Who are the innovators and what can we learn from them?

The colleagues were:

The following suggestions emerged as the group discussed the relevance of UNU's work for African universities.


Some presentations used by the experts to present their e-learning activities during the "Gallery Walk" session. (For more info about the Gallery Walk, please refer to the "Minutes" in the Documents section)







Participants were asked to submit a short poster-like document to display their major e-learning activities and projects.

More about UNU e-learning projects and programmes presented at the workshop:

See also:

An e-learning initiative for the United Nations
Brendan Barrett, UNU Media Studio


Page last modified 2019.04.16.

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