ACIAR announces new online learning program

27 September 2021
farmer with ipad

Agricultural professionals and researchers in ACIAR partner countries will soon be able to rapidly advance their skills and improve their research through ‘ACIAR Learn’.

The online learning program designed for mobile-first will target researchers working on ACIAR projects, and ACIAR alumni and partners. 

‘The professional development of researchers in our partner countries is core to ACIAR’s work,’ said Mr Geoffrey O’Keefe, ACIAR Capacity Building Manager.

Building expertise ensures researchers are best able to support agricultural development in their countries and improve outcomes for smallholder farmers.

ACIAR Learn uses a mobile-first approach so people can access their courses through their phone in low-bandwidth environments.

‘We initiated ACIAR Learn to support researchers more effectively remotely in response to COVID,’ said Mr O’Keefe.

‘If it works, ACIAR Learn will completely change how we support learning.

‘It will give us a bigger reach and improve the delivery and impact of our research projects with our partners.’

ACIAR Learn is being designed, developed and delivered through a partnership between ACIAR, The University of Queensland (UQ) and Catalpa International.

Project Leader Ms Alessia Anibaldi of UQ says better learning outcomes will be just one benefit of ACIAR Learn.

‘We’re discovering that there are real benefits to online learning when it’s done right.  For example, it is more flexible and accessible than face-to-face learning,’ said Ms Anibaldi.

‘You can do it in your own time and anywhere in the world. These elements make learning more equitable for different genders and far more socially inclusive.’

Content will cover a range of different topics including research project management, research methods, data analysis, experimental design, and monitoring and evaluation.

Catalpa is leading the development of the learning technology. Head of Partnerships and Programs at Catalpa, Mr Ben Miqueu, says the learner will be at the centre of the design.

‘We use human-centered design to guide the way we support learners and the technology/content development process,’ said Mr Miqueu.

‘Practically, this means that we build with people, not for them, taking into account their lived experience, indigenous knowledge and daily work life.’

People working on ACIAR-supported projects in Australia and across the world will be directly involved in the development of ACIAR Learn.

Starting in 2022, ACIAR Learn will become available in a phased roll-out to in-country project team members of all levels and ACIAR alumni.

ACIAR project teams will be informed when opportunities to use ACIAR Learn become available. ACIAR alumni can follow updates on ACIAR Alumni 360. ACIAR Learn news will also be published on the ACIAR Learn webpage and updates will be posted on ACIAR social media channels using #ACIARLearn.