The Sasakawa Pacific Island Nations Fund provided grants to the University of Guam from 2001 to 2005 for the project of "Forming a Distance Education Alliance for Progress in the Western Pacific". During this period, an "Alliance" was established but it is my understanding that it has not been active after the grant ended.
However, the current UOG has established a new framework for Distance Education with leadership of Dr Robert Underwood, and they have now made half of their courses - about 150 - "on line".
This is great news for me as a the idea of distance education was originally put forward be me.
I met the new director of the DE component of UOG in Guam in December.
- SPINF grant for UOG -
5 years projects
total budget 34,180,399yen
Grant to University of Guam
For several years after Palau, the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia gained independence between 1980 and 1990, cooperative relations remained relatively weak among the island nations of Micronesia in the Western Pacific, but more recently, with the advance of information and telecommunications, possibilities for intraregional collaboration mediated by distance education have improved. This project, which began in fiscal 2001, set the goal of consolidating an organized system of distance education for the island nations of the Western Pacific.
Work in the first year was aimed at clarifying local conditions, such as inadequacies in information technology infrastructure and shortages of human resources, and distance education initiatives were drawn up for six regions and countries. In the second
year, opportunities were created for discussion among regional people involved in education, government, communications, and medical care, and agreement was reached on the establishment of the Pacific Distance Learning Alliance (PDLA). In addition, systems for transferring credits among schools and acquiring credits through distance education were set up, and consultations were carried out on concrete plans for implementing distance education, such as the development of lifelong education programs for communities. Through these talks, the Micronesian Regional DE Plan was formulated. In the third year, the PDLA was established, and a detailed operational plan was drafted for it. Efforts were also directed at capacity building among people involved in distance education and telemedicine, and a survey of the technological
options for a satellite network was conducted.
In the fourth year, as a pilot project targeted at isolated islands, a high-frequency wireless communication system was set up for introducing e-mail to 14 outer islands of Yap, thereby shaping an environment suited to distance education and telemedicine. At the same time, work began on the compilation of texts and manuals for distance education and telemedicine; and materials were gathered and edited for the production of an educational video. During the fifth year, articles of incorporation were drawn up for the PDLA, which now has six educational institutions as members: the College
of Micronesia-FSM, Palau Community College, Northern Marianas College, the University of Guam, Guam Community College, and the College of the Marshall Islands. They have officially included distance education among the courses for which credits are awarded, thereby getting distance education off to a start. In addition, a supported telecenter for four outer islands of Pohnpei went into operation.
The fruits of this project have been made known far and wide by means of the Internet, videos, and reports at international conferences. The project is being considered as a model for possible application in other places with a similar environment, such as the Caribbean Sea.
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The aim of this project, which began in fiscal 2001, is to consolidate a well-organized system of distance education for the island nations of the Western Pacific. The work over the five years of the project has been divided into three stages, the first of which involved gathering information on the needs of distance education and drawing up a concrete project plan and has now been completed. The second stage, which began this year, involves capacity building among people involved in distance education and telemedicine, and the grant recipient surveyed and studied the technological options for a satellite network.
On the capacity-building front, workshops were conducted on Chuuk, Kosrae, Majuro, Palau, and Pohnpei; they featured training in the development of teaching aids for distance education and telemedicine, the basics of communications technologies, and the maintenance of facilities in distant locations. On the front of satellite network technological options, about 100 people involved in satellite telecommunications and in distance education and telemedicine on Pacific islands took part in the surveys and studies. Discussions at workshops in Hawaii and on Palau led to a trial test on the outlying Woleai Atoll in the Federated States of Micronesia, and a proposal was drafted for a “FAS (Free Association States) Satellite Network Scenario.”
Western Pacific island nations, which have had no framework for regional cooperation, have experimented with one-off distance education programs but have so far lacked any cohesive system of distance education. In fiscal 2000, the one-year project Charting the Future Course of Distance Education in the Western Pacific held a Regional Policy Forum for relevant parties at which it was agreed to establish the Alliance for Distance Education in the Western Pacific.
In its first year, this project conducted surveys to determine the needs of distance education in the Western Pacific and drew up a draft distance education policy. This year, in preparation for establishment of the Alliance for Distance Education in the Western Pacific and formulation of a draft action plan, 60 educators, medical professionals, and telecommunications specialists from the Micronesian region were invited to attend a conference at the University of Guam. The delegates discussed an action plan for implementating distance education, including such issues as the system for transferring credits between schools, development of a system for earning credits through distance education, and development of community lifelong education programs. The conference’s conclusions were compiled as Micronesian Regional DE Plan.
Western Pacific island societies, which have had no framework for regional cooperation, have experimented with one-off distance education programs but have so far lacked any cohesive system of distance education. Last year, the one-year project Charting the Future Course of Distance Education in the Western Pacific held a Regional Policy Forum for relevant parties at which it was agreed to establish the Alliance for Distance Education in the Western Pacific.
This project is confirming the needs and problems of distance education in the Western Pacific and providing coordination for the parties involved in setting up the alliance. This year surveys led by educational experts were conducted to evaluate the current state of distance education and telecommunications in Micronesia. Workshops were held on the islands of Chuuk (formerly Truk), Kosrae, Majuro, Palau, Pohnpei, and Yap. A total of 140 people, including distance education and telemedicine policymakers, politicians, representatives of aid donors, jurists, and business people, took part. Each locale drew up a “distance education initiative,” an action plan for establishing a distance education and medical education network oriented to local needs.