Community Media/CNCMC/COL Priorities

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COL's "Media for Learning" programme aims to make media to be an effective part of the larger Open and Distance Learning (ODL1) process, especially at the community level and particularly in relation to COL's mandate to enable learning for development.

Learning about what? Whatever a community's needs and priorities are. For some this means health issues, like HIV/AIDS, malaria or diabetes. For others, it means supplementing secondary school education in English, math and science.

How do communities learn using media? By engaging with media to design innovative programmes to address specific needs, e.g. improving agricultural practices, and linking to groups, both in the community and externally, to access useful and appropriate knowledge sources.

What does COL focus on in this area? 1) Building the capacities of media and 2) Supporting the establishment and growth of knowledge and learning networks.


Community Media

For COL, community media are any kind of media that is focused on the local community. It includes radio, TV and newspapers as well as new media: telecentres, websites, etc.

Why? Because community media work in areas often under-served by other information media and are therefore vital services. Community radios not only broadcast in local languages but they are firmly rooted in local contexts: they draw on local community membership as 'owners', managers, staff and as 'expert' resources on air. Community radios are trusted by their listeners; they work in culturally appropriate ways. For these and other reasons, community media, especially radio, are important vehicles for learning.

  1. Developing effective learning programmes; Good practice: Community Radio Madanpokhara; Recent activity: Jet FM in Jeffrey Town
  2. Strengthening organisation: community ownership and participation, policies, sustainability planning; Upcoming activity: Radio Mang'elete
  3. Smart technology choices
  4. Open sourcing community media; Good practice: KRUU FM

Knowledge and Learning Networks

Recognising the potential synergy between different sectors, knowledge and learning networks bring together content providers, media and community groups to work together to make knowledge resources and learning content at district, state or national levels.

  1. Linking content providers with distribution channels
  2. Universities in the community
  3. Sharing content

Media Empowerment

COL's Media Empowerment initiative has established over 40 media units in more than 30 Commonwealth countries. Low-cost, appropriate technologies, the units enable institutions and organisations to create and distribute media content.

  1. Media production skills for extension services, educational institutions and civil society groups


We are always interested in new ideas that harness media, mobiles and other information and communication technologies (ICTs) for learning. COL's programme works with the full range of ICTs, from radio to handheld computers to software programmes.

On the technology side, we are particularly interested in the use of mobiles and other handheld devices and open source software; however we recognise that the real innovations usually have as much if not more to do with people and human processes; therefore new approaches and novel ways of collaborating and networking are also of great interest.

Building communities

COL has a special focus on how open and distance learning can contribute to community development. Our focus areas at present are agriculture and environment, local governance, gender and women's empowerment, and health, especially HIV/AIDS.

1 Defining open and distance learning: Open learning describes policies and practices that permit entry to learning with no barriers or minimal barriers of age, gender or time while recognising prior learning. Distance education is the delivery of learning or training to learners who are separated, mostly by time and space, from those who are teaching and training. Conceptually distinct, yet complementary, these two phenomena come together in the term open and distance learning (ODL).

Community Media Workshops that Build Local Capacity

The Commonwealth of Learning in conjunction with international, national, regional and local partners throughout the Commonwealth is interested in project which build capacity in Community Media. We are interested in workshops that help to develop stronger organisational structures; identify good processes; participate in Learning Activities and develop Effective Learning Programmes.

Our Objectives

In General:

  • to create awareness of the importance of readiness for facilitation as a "process skill"
  • to facilitate skill development in trainers, who in turn facilitate skills development in others
  • to promote effective learning, community engagement and sustainability


  • to enable groups to work together by identifying best practices for Media for Learning;
    • to identify successful / promising formats & analyse the critical success factors for their success
  • to get people to think about processes in developing 3-5-year Effective Learning Programs that span 3-5 years (i.e., things that enable things to happen in program / process development
  • to generate awareness of Program Outcomes (over 3-5 years)

Desired Outputs & Deliverables

  • DRAFT curriculum for workshop.
    • We would like this to be done in enough time for us to provide you with detailed feedback on this DRAFT ~ this includes the pacing, learning activities, objectives, and facilitating process items), which you can then consider and possibly revise the curriculum based upon it. Ideally, we could get some feedback from the CoP as well. The DRAFT Curriculum could then be FINALISED, prior to the workshop. (There will likely be some tweaking when the workshop is in session, and we would like to record / capture this as well.)
  • Educational Materials (to be posted to the Community Media node on WikiEducator)
    • diagrams of organisation structure (before and after);
    • a summary of the process (so that it can be shared with others, particularly in the CofP)
    • a summary of organization structure
    • any policies created (e.g. concerning political involvement or commercialization)
    • the FINAL workshop curriculum, including activities/ exercises, examples, case studies of good community radio structures, etc.
    • Images, audio, video ~ multimedia inforrmation reflecting who, what, how, when and why ~ advance planning

Workshop Planning Process

  • Is this a standalone workshop or is it part of a sequence? If the latter, when are the following workshops scheduled? What communications and activities are planned for filling the gap, and who is accountable / responsible?
  • Are you expecting that the facilitators will visit the organisation in advance of the workshop(s) to discuss the plan with the station and some community reps?
  • Are you expecting facilitators and/or observers (outside the training organisation and the NGO) to attend? Who are they, and what is the reason for their attendance?

Communications, Reporting & Evaluation

  • News Item (1/2): Write a summary of the workshop to be held so that it can be officially announced on the Media Discussion List / Community of Practice (CofP) - to let others know about this effort and point towards any relevant resources on (or soon-to-be) on the wiki. You may wish to promote it on other relevant channels of communication and information.
  • Evaluation: Lessons Learned & Critical Success Factors. How are you going to evaluate the success of the workshop, and develop Lessons Learned about pre-, during, and post-workshop(s) from different stakeholder perspectives. Also, how did this workshop meet the objectives of the major stakeholders?
  • News Item (2/2). Write a news story focused on the workshop and including the points from the Evaluation - that we can use to inform and communicate to the CofP, and other stakeholders. This 'news story' should be written on the wiki, and then linked to the Community Media and other locations.
  • Action Plan. Wiki page indicating the Action Plan, next steps, roles, etc. (i.e., with assignments and accountabilities)

Workshop Materials (examples)

Topic Description Type By Whom Media Type Location On WikiEducator?
Effective Learning Programs Developing Effective Learning Programs Outline Ian Pringle ALL - Yes
Designing Effective Learning Programs Learning Radio Show, Jeffrey Town Needs Assessment, Curriculum, Workshop Agenda, Questions, Reports & Transcripts ICT4D Jamaica Radio Jamaica Yes
Multimedia Training Kit Suite of training materials on community media and ICT4D 100+ workshop packages iTrain Online ALL - No
Radio Governance Materials for a workshop on organizational development: statement of principles, organizational structures and policies, etc. Curriculum Package Ian Pringle Radio Kyrgyzstan Yes
Using Audacity Tutorial Creating podcasts Curriculum TBA Radio New Zealand Yes


We are developing a full List of Streams

  • Health
  • HIV / AIDS
  • Sustainability

....more coming soon...