Piloting the course for ACIAR Learn
The pilot of a new mobile-first online learning program has completed paving the way for its delivery to agricultural researchers in ACIAR partner countries.
ACIAR Learn will advance the professional development of ACIAR-supported researchers and alumni from around the world, maximising their capacity to support agricultural development and improve food security in their home countries.
‘The completion of the ACIAR Learn pilot marks an important milestone,’ said Mr Geoffrey O’Keefe, ACIAR Capacity Building Manager.
‘The ACIAR Learn team has received some useful feedback and generated new ideas to ensure the roll-out of ACIAR Learn best supports participant learning and that the program is very accessible.’
The pilot course ‘Research in the Field’ involved 23 participants from Pakistan, Fiji and the Philippines and covered two units: ‘Experimental Design’ and ‘Sampling Methods (seeds, soil, water)’.
One of the participants from the course Ms Moana Masau, a coconut veneer technician with the Pacific Community (SPC) based in Fiji, said ACIAR Learn made scientific information engaging and easy to remember.
‘The graphics contain information that was encapsulated in bite-sized, visually appealing ways,’ said Ms Masau.
‘I learnt a lot through the visual elements and was then able to test myself with the quizzes.
‘It was also wonderful to learn about research projects across the world and connect with other scientists.’
Delivered through a combination of small and dynamic in-app lessons and quizzes, online video sessions and group work, the pilot effectively demonstrated the success of the integrated approach.
Following completion of the pilot, the ACIAR Learn team, led by team leader Alessia Anibaldi of The University of Queensland, comprehensively reviewed the pilot and sought feedback from participants and others involved in its delivery.
‘Participant feedback showed high levels of satisfaction with both units of the course,’ said Ms Anibaldi.
When asked how participants felt about the lessons, 99% said ‘really great’ (58%) or ‘good’ (41%). Notably, 100% of participants reported having achieved the intended learning outcomes as a result of completing the units.
‘Importantly, we also identified some areas for improvement across course development, learning activities, assessment/evaluation and participant selection, engagement and retention,’ added Ms Anibaldi.
‘We have already started implementing changes and we’re looking forward to the roll-out of the remaining course units to current participants and the development and delivery of new courses throughout 2022.’
ACIAR Learn is being designed, developed and delivered through a partnership between ACIAR, The University of Queensland (UQ) and Catalpa International. The pilot course was convened by Dr Edward Narayan, Senior Lecturer at The University of Queensland, with one of the live sessions facilitated by ACIAR alumni Dr Arom Figyantika, Lecturer, University Gadjah Mada, Indonesia.