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Cross Border Connected Learning in Northern Syria: An Agricultural Pilot Study

Abdullateef, Shaher, Parkinson, Tom, Sarmini, Iman (2020) Cross Border Connected Learning in Northern Syria: An Agricultural Pilot Study. International Journal of Education Research (Open), . ISSN 0883-0355. (doi:10.1016/j.ijedro.2020.100005) (KAR id:81842)

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https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijedro.2020.100005

Abstract

Prior to 2011, public universities and private institutions in Syria were the main sources of knowledge and skills training for industry and agriculture. Due to the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis however, the country’s education system has been decimated at all levels, with disastrous effects for the nation’s knowledge base and training provision. To address these circumstances, strategies and methods for effectively re-skilling and up-skilling the agricultural workforce inside Syria are urgently needed. Traditional face-to-face models of education are difficult to implement due to conditions of conflict. This action research project centres on the delivery of participatory e-learning courses by Syrian academics in exile to learners inside Syria. In this paper, we describe and evaluate the delivery of a 5-week pilot course on Soilless Cultivation Systems. In addition to delivering an effective course, we sought to understand the challenges associated with distance learning in the Syrian context, to inform further development of approaches that can surmount these challenges, and which might in due course be extended into other areas beyond agricultural engineering. Accordingly, we developed a course that at a) constituted a meaningful educational experience for learners; b) facilitated the trial of a range of pedagogical approaches; and c) allowed for the collection of evaluative data to inform subsequent learning design. Findings highlighted the challenges of achieving applied relevance without laboratory or field access, meeting the needs and expectations of diverse learners, and facilitating sufficient interaction between learners and the lecturer. Possible strategies to address these issues include use of high-quality video and images and planned use of routine social media technologies to facilitate parallel networking and resource share.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1016/j.ijedro.2020.100005
Uncontrolled keywords: e-learning; agricultural education; Syria; conflict; cross border; connected learning; distance learning
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Divisions: Divisions > Directorate of Education > Centre for the Study of Higher Education
Depositing User: Thomas Parkinson
Date Deposited: 24 Jun 2020 13:52 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 14:13 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/81842 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Abdullateef, Shaher: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0024-9151
Parkinson, Tom: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0990-9507
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