Theoretical Perspectives on the Contributions of COL-PROTEIN to Open and Distance Learning for Development
During 2000 to 2009, the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) supported the innovative use of open and distance learning (ODL) to alleviate poverty in rural areas of the world. In particular, the programme known as Poverty Reduction Outcomes through Education, Innovations and Networks (COL-PROTEIN) supported initiatives that used ODL and information and communication technologies (ICT) to build capacities for community development in areas such as food security, environmental protection, women’s empowerment, microenterprise and good governance. Development institutions from various Commonwealth countries were encouraged to apply under the programme. Proposals were selected through a peer review process. Successful applicants then received technical and financial support from COL. Among these participants were nongovernmental organisations, research and development institutions, universities and colleges. This report provides a follow-up analysis of the experiences of COL-PROTEIN. It discusses the contributions of ODL to development, focusing on the outcomes from four theoretical perspectives: 1) social capital; 2) horizontal transfer of knowledge; 3) self-directed learning; and 4) reaching the unreached and gendered learning. After examining the strength and weaknesses of the approach, the report concludes with a discussion of the influences of COL- PROTEIN projects on Lifelong Learning for Farming (L3F) and other initiatives of COL
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