GODAN Action has been offering a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on Open Data Management in Agriculture and Nutrition since autumn 2017 in addition to a number of face to face trainings for the purpose of capacity development. This free online course aims to strengthen the capacity of data producers and data consumers to manage and use open data in agriculture and nutrition. One of the main objectives is for the course to be used widely within agricultural and nutrition knowledge networks, in different institutions. The target audience includes infomediaries (journalists, librarians, ICT specialists), researchers, policy and decision makers.

Course content

The Open Data Management in Agriculture and Nutrition Online Course consists of five modules including open data principles, using open data, making data open, sharing open data, and copyright and open licensing. In the first module learners are introduced to a definition of open data, its general principles and potential benefits as well as ethical considerations in opening and reusing the data. The using open data module provides a foundation in how to discover,, assess,  analyse, visualise, and reference the data. Module three on making data open explores how to manage datasets, creating and managing open data repositories, advocacy for capacity development, and developing strategies for sustainable open data plans. Sharing open data introduces sharing principles and data interoperability including frameworks, interoperability and semantics in data management. The last module on copyright and open licensing provides an insight on intellectual property rights in relation to copyright and database rights and open licences used for open data. You can read the full curriculum on the GODAN Action website.

Participants are offered discussion forums, instant support from facilitators, live webinars and numerous supporting audio-visual materials embedded in the course platform. Learners are able to study the course and join the discussions at their convenience over the period of the training. Downloadable content is also available as an option for offline study.  

Previous courses

Since November 2017 the course has run three times and over 2,000 people from more than 115 countries have been trained. The background of the participants varies from researchers, extensionists to librarians. Based on the thematic topics of GODAN Action projects, the participants are mostly from the nutrition domain (24%), although the majority of the total participants (44%) are from other working fields. (Figure 1: Distribution of participants based on GODAN Action thematic topics)

GODAN Action works hard to measure and evaluate the impact of its activities including the online course on Open Data Management in Nutrition and Agriculture. For a broader analyses on the topic, please visit GODAN's Impact 2014 to 2018 - Improving Agriculture, Food and Nutrition with Open Data. The team conducts baseline surveys to identify the level of knowledge once the learners start the course, then applies another survey when they finish it to see if there is an improvement. In the last edition of the course, which took place between 2-27 July, participants responded that their understanding of open data principles improved 30% and they felt 50% more confident in explaining the benefits of open data to others. Participants of the course are also offered a course evaluation survey at the end of their study. 95% of the respondents in the last course evaluation survey indicated that the course content met their needs and expectations, while 91% said that discussion forums were engaging. 99% of respondents indicated that they would recommend this course to their colleagues. (Figure 2: Responses to the question of “Course content met your and expectations”)

 

“It was quite informative. The information was well packaged. The flow from one unit to another was carefully thought out and enhanced understanding”

“The materials and support made it easier for one to follow the course.  In addition, the contributions from other participants and the interventions from the Facilitators was of tremendous help.”

“It makes me able to handle data with confidence! I also have access to free tools with which to improve my handling of data; tools I didn't know existed before, especially the data cleaning tools.”

“The content was very easy to follow and interesting, the language used is simple. Anyone can really, benefit from this course.”

“This course provided me a wonderful learning experience in open data, I am so glad to be a part of it. I will like to recommend this course to anyone who relates with data, especially in the agriculture sectors.

(Figure 3: Participants indicates their opinion based on given multiple choices answers.)

The GODAN Action team, through its partner institutions, collaborates closely with stakeholders and influential organisations to maximise the relevance of the course to different audiences. In the last edition of the course, the team closely worked with Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), a consortium of 85 African universities operating in 35 countries spanning the African continent. This helped the GODAN Action Team to reach out to universities in the region, strengthening communication channels and extending the network of GODAN Action capacity building programmes.

GODAN Action greatly values continuous support to the course participants and keeps communication channels open beyond the end of the course. Alumni can join  a mailing list designed only for the Alumni to stay in touch and share information about upcoming events, course related developments as well as any other opportunities relevant to the alumni.

Future courses

Considering the feedback received from the course participants,the project’s thematic topics and the segmentation of the course audience, the team recently expanded the content of the course. It now includes content on land issues in addition to agriculture and nutrition. This edition of the course has been revised particularly for communities managing and storing data with regards to land. Anyone handling data in their studies or work in the areas of land, agriculture and nutrition is invited to apply for the course which will be held from 1-19 October 2018.

You can visit GODAN Action E-Learning Courses web page for upcoming courses and other relevant developments. For further information about the course, please do not hesitate to email us at godanaction@godan.info.