Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth/NRAugust06

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For Immediate Release – August 2006

Original news release on the COL website

The text below may be used by VUSCC member countried for their own media requirements

Educators from 14 countries will be meeting in Mauritius from 7 to 25 August 2006, under the auspices of the new Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC), which was set up by the Commonwealth’s education ministers. The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) is helping to make this collaborative network a reality. Dubbed a “boot camp” by COL, the participants will learn skills about working online that they will take back with them to their home countries. This will enable them to continue to work together, possibly for years to come, without the need to meet again face-to-face.

“It is becoming essential for people in small states to work, learn and collaborate online, says Paul West, COL’s Director, Knowledge Management & Information Technology. “With travel becoming increasingly expensive and worries of global warming caused by travel, the group will also set an example for others.”

The educators, who are “learning content developers”, will be posting, collaborating and developing learning content on a COL-hosted website called a “Wiki”, which is a simple medium for online collaboration that requires minimal technical knowledge. The popular is the best-known Wiki environment.

COL’s WikiEducator site is at with VUSSC content development and planning for the Mauritius boot camp taking place at

West sees online collaboration as the wave of the future. “Educators will be able to collaborate in finding and adapting course materials and resources, creating new content and sharing ideas between classrooms and among countries.”

The VUSSC is helping 25 of the smallest countries in the world to build development capacity and strengthen economies through improved education. Participants in this first boot camp include island nations located in the Caribbean, Pacific, Mediterranean, and Indian Oceans and small countries in Africa. Content development will focus on Entrepreneurship and Tourism skills, both areas of important economic growth for small developing nations. The courses produced will be offered for credit by institutions in the participating states and will be available for adaptation more widely.

The Commonwealth of Learning is an intergovernmental organisation created by Commonwealth Heads of Government to encourage the development and sharing of open learning/distance education knowledge, resources and technologies. COL is helping developing nations improve access to quality education and training. The Commonwealth comprises 53 countries – most of which are developing nations – and one-quarter of the world's population. The following countries are participating in the boot camp: Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Comores, Cyprus, Dominica, The Gambia, Jamaica, Lesotho, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Namibia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Seychelles, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Swaziland, Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.