Online HIV/AIDS Education: A Doorway to an Innovative Teaching and Learning Approach

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

PCF5 Sub-theme: Health // An increasingly high prevalence of Human Immunodeficiency Virus/ Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) cases especially among the young generation has been noted in Mauritius over the last two decades. The HIV/AIDS education is now recognised as an important response to the emerging HIV/AIDS crisis and the Government of Mauritius strongly supports all policies linked with it. The Mauritius Institute of Education (MIE) being a unique tertiary institution in teacher education in the country, has been integrating HIV/AIDS education into various teacher training programmes, primary and secondary school curricula, and is also undertaking various research projects in related fields. Under the MIE-School link Initiative a project was recently initiated using a blended mode of face-to- face and online interaction of HIV/AIDS course designed for secondary school students. This was aimed at creating awareness on HIV/AIDS among students and enabling them to actively participate in the learning process and become independent learners. It also focused on developing a community of practice whereby learners were encouraged to network with their peers and friends from other schools on the above related issues. They were motivated to be instrumental in conveying HIV/AIDS education to their parents and the community at large. This project included online interaction in order to provide flexibility in the learning process where the learners can access their pedagogical resources from anywhere and at anytime. Since Internet connectivity is a major hindrance to the learning process in many schools of the island, a CD-Rom with all the learning resources on HIV/AIDS was provided to both students and teachers. The Moodle e-learning platform was used as it is an open source and is also based on socio-constructivist approach. The interface was carefully designed to make it more intuitive, user-friendly and navigable and the instructional principles were carefully applied while designing the course material. This approach was pilot tested using questionnaire and semi-structured interviews at one school for a period of one month. The findings were used to amend the online approach and materials prior to its eventual use at 2 mixed schools in two different educational zones of Mauritius. After 3 months of close monitoring, the effectiveness of whole HIV program was evaluated using questionnaire, semi-structured interviews and observations. // Paper ID 433