Community Media/Effective Learning Programs

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Developing effective learning programmes for community media

The Commonwealth of Learning is supporting a capacity building initiative for community media. The initiative works with community media groups, trainers and facilitators to collaboratively develop training materials and to facilitate participatory workshops that result in new programmes.

One unit aims to help media groups to develop effective educational content and learning programmes for their communities. The workshop on developing an effective learning programme brings together key players in the community to identify and analyse priorities, then design an appropriate media programme and develop a concrete plan to make it happen. The workshop is participatory and hands-on. There is a lot of work in small groups (brainstorming, mapping, etc.) which in turn feeding into building consensus and ownership over both the process and the product. The development of the new programme must be driven by local needs and resources. The only external inputs are 1) facilitation (running the workshop smoothly, inclusively, etc.), 2) radio skills and knowledge, and 3) subject expertise (as needed).


Before the workshop

  1. Agreement to run the workshop and air the programme: The station needs to make a commitment to get the right people to the workshop and to immediately act on the workshop decisions and outputs; for instance, it is critical that management allocate appropriate on-air time and human resources for the programme. It is important that the show is on the air at the end of the workshop.
  2. Identifying the community’s priorities and circumstances: Ideally this is a process that starts before the workshop, at least to identify the general sector for the programme, i.e. education (see Nepal example, below), health, or agriculture; this is important in selecting who participates in the workshop from the local community and what external resources are needed (if any). Even better if there can actually be some research done into existing knowledge, attitudes and practices.

Part I – Identifying the issues (1 day)

  1. Identifying and analyzing specific problems and the programme users: This is the first stage of the workshop in which participants discuss the main issues and make decisions about the focus of the programme. They answer the questions: What are the issues the programme addresses? Who are the main users, e.g. secondary school students, farmers, etc.? What are their needs and circumstances? What more do we need to know about the target users? What gaps or opportunities are there in existing knowledge, attitude and practices, i.e. how is the problem addressed now (or not)?
  2. Brainstorming ideas: How do participants picture a better approach or solution? What is the objective, i.e. learning skills, motivation, information sharing, building knowledge, changing attitudes, etc.? What are the right media combinations? What tools and resources are available to contribute? What subject matter and topics?
  3. Identifying stakeholders: Who needs to be involved in the programme for it to work, for example, teachers, parents, older siblings in the case of a secondary school programme; some stakeholders may need to be consulted as part of this process.

Part II – What are the possibilities? (1 day)

  1. Example of good radio: There are different approaches to radio and different types of programmes. This session presents examples of successful radio programmes for discussion.
  2. Learning by radio: The session looks at what sorts of factors influence learning. What do programme developers need to consider to make the programme effective?

Part III – Designing a solution (3 days)

  1. The shape and sound of the show: What does the new programme look like? This session draws in ideas from brainstorming to decide on formats, technologies and an overall approach to the content. When does the programme air?
  2. The actors as a team: Whose involvement is needed to make the programme work? This session is about identifying the actors, from producers to hosts, from researchers to resource people, and structuring them up as a team. Ideally, programmes bring together radio producers with local subject experts, e.g. farmers, agricultural extension officers, health workers, etc.
  3. Producing a pilot: The team plans, produces and broadcasts a show.
  4. Observing, evaluating and improving: Adapt and revise the design based on the experience of the pilot and put in place a system for continuous reflection and improvement.
  5. Planning other elements: In this session, the participants identify other possible elements, e.g. new skills required; promotion and marketing; working with listening groups; archiving programmes in local telecentres, etc.

Critical Success Factors (Example Case study)

Educational content for community media: an experience from Nepal

The Nepal workshop and the programme that it resulted in were part of a UNESCO activity to develop educational content for community media. In 2004, UNESCO worked with an experience radio trainer to develop an approach for and then run a weeklong workshop to create a new educational radio programme at Community Radio Madanpokhara, established in 2000 in Palpa District in Western Nepal,

The workshop brought together local teachers and radio producers who identified 70% failure rates of secondary students as the top local priority and then designed a simple effective media programme to address it. Three years later it is one of their most popular programmes and there is general consensus that the programme has made a tangible difference in pass rates.

Key Success Factors

Key success factors were:

  1. the radio station’s commitment to the process, i.e. they provided a significant block of primetime for the programmes (now 4.5 hours per week) and free access for teacher-producers to the internet to expand their access to new ideas and information sources;
  2. building local capacities is a long term process and needs to grow organically; the Madanpokhara project was designed with long term goals in mind, essentially following students through their last three years of secondary schooling; and;
  3. community investment: the programmes addressed a critical need for the whole community and therefore people (rather than donors) have invested to sustain it -- resources (the radio station), expertise (teachers), time (students), support (parents).