Professional Development and Capacity Building in Learning for Development

Santosh Panda

2020 VOL. 7, No. 2

The work of the Commonwealth of Learning, as also that of many governmental and institutional initiatives, has been, in the past, based on ‘policy-capacity-technology’ as a theory of change framework within which national and institutional strategies on learning for development have been located. It has been argued that it works better when practice is based on policy, and when capacity-building mediates between policy and technology (Panda & Mishra, 2020). The authors suggest that such implementation needs to be contextual in consideration of ‘socio-cultural and educational ecologies’. In a recent UNESCO communiqué , in the context of OER, building capacity of stakeholders to create, access, use, adapt, and redistribute OER was highlighted as of prime importance along with policy, quality, sustainability, and international collaboration (UNESCO, 2019). In the past, varied professional development and capacity building strategies have been designed at national and institutional levels depending on the existing needs, resources, and constraints for learning and training designs. Keeping in view these developments and future possibilities, we have devoted this issue of JL4D to the theme “Professional Development and Capacity Building in Learning for Development” which reports research and development in areas ranging from Carpe Diem to use of learning-based extension, professional development in schools, skills in the use of mobile learning, teacher competencies in ICT integration in schools, skills in the design and implementation of learning platforms, self-regulated learning skills, vocational and entrepreneurial skills in vulnerable contexts, and workplace training. There is also an interesting book review on digital security and safety.

Carpe Diem—"seize the day”—is basically a method of collaborative design of learning and online learning (ref. 5-stage model; Salmon, 2013), involving a structured workshop framework through which team-based curriculum design is implemented with the objective of engaging faculty and others in designing student-centred learning experiences in teaching-learning and assessment, and, in the process, enhancing their digital capability. Carpe Diem has successfully been implemented all over the world since the beginning of this century, and especially at Glasgow Caledonian University, UK, to augment online programmes, and to augment blended programmes at the University of Northampton, UK (Usher et al, 2018); and CD has positively impacted student satisfaction and experience at the University of Western Australia (Oakley, 2016). This could also be used to support the open pedagogy and open educational practices of the present times. The strength of Carpe Diem lies in the deployment of research-based pedagogies and appropriate new technologies into collaborative learning design, including MOOCs, online learning, and blended learning.

Both programme design in relation to especially authentic assessment (Villarroel et al, 2018) and module design (Salmon & Wright, 2014) methods have been effectively used by learning designers all over the world, and its specific productive application has been online activities or e-tivities (Salmon, 2013).  Gilly Salmon is internationally famous for her work on an alternative model of online learning, specifically the 5-stage model, with applications across all levels of education and training/ professional development. In a recent invited author contribution by JL4D, Gilly discussed an excellent work on Education 4.0 / Industry 4.0 (Salmon, 2019). Again, in this July 2020 issue of the Journal, she and her colleagues share an invited research paper on the application of Carpe Diem (CD) in an institutional context (at Stellenbosch University—SU, South Africa), detailing all the nuances involved in its transformational implementation and institutional innovation. CD enacted “watersheds”— “key moments and movements”—in not only engaging and transforming the faculty and programme renewal, but also made the institutional transformation more learner-oriented with better service in even difficult circumstances. The planned learning design intervention included a one-week workshop for ten faculties with ten programmes, to redesign curriculum based on innovative and practical pedagogy and with focus on faculty creativity and ownership, and student needs and drivers. This was to be aligned with institutional vision, and “focusing on innovation, future vision, integration and inclusiveness”. The intervention had a positive impact on the faculty across disciplines in transforming their own notion of pedagogy and learning design; and the author notes that the role of the “facilitator” is critical in initiating, doing, and sustaining the institution-wide intervention and transformation. Significant suggestions have been given for those who would cautiously but confidently tread the path; and as the progress and preparedness of SU down the line for more than three years suggests (Schoonwinkel, Van de Merwe & De Klerk, 2020), the university had been well-prepared to handle the transformation even in the time of COVID-19.

The next research paper by Ramjattan, Chowdhury and Ganpat presents a survey-based report on agricultural workers’ choice of learning-based extension methods in enhancing their learning and decision-making in agriculture methods and livelihood in Trinidad and Tobago. Extension agents’ own learning was critical in the success of learning-based methods like plant clinic and field schooling. Additional intervening variables which need to be seen in conjunction with such extension interventions included social pressure and extension agents’ networking. The agents acted as plant doctors, and the method of a collaborative plant clinic with group learning at the clinic was found more effective than the agent visiting each individual farmer. Empowerment of farmers in the development of competencies through extension services was critical in ensuring transfer of learning to the field. Since younger agents were more inclined to learning-based methods than the senior ones, the authors recommend continuous training in enhancing knowledge and skills that involves more learning and less teaching.

Ajetunmobi, Maruff and Muhideen, in the next research paper, report on the relationship between professional development, participatory management, and job performance of 12,745 teachers of public secondary schools in Nigeria, assessed through reliable structured tools. Both professional development and participatory management were positively related to job performance; and the authors recommend that more institutional interventions are needed in capacity-building initiatives where both principals and teachers act as co-drivers, and teachers’ competency is enhanced in respect of 21st-century skills and technology competencies.

Our next research paper is by Mutisya who explored the factors associated with the ICT skills of primary school teachers in Kenya. In this multiple-regression analysis study, the researchers concluded that the single-most important factor was the attitude of teachers influencing their use of ICT in teaching, and that all other six variables—performance expectancy, effort expectancy, social influence, facilitative conditions, self-efficacy, anxiety—did not have any significant association with teachers’ use of ICT in practice. The authors recommended continuous teacher training on subject-specific ICT technologies coupled with deployment of sufficient ICT infrastructure and proper training of school heads for effective monitoring of the ICT-integrated teaching-learning.

Chimpololo, in the next research paper, reports the findings of a study on development of heutagogical practices (“interdependent learning, double- and triple-loop learning and participation in communities of practice”) through mobile learning in teacher training programmes in Malawi, a country where there is almost a 60% shortage of school teachers. The research used both quantitative (questionnaire) and qualitative methods (case study, semi-structured interview, focus-group discussion, and personal diary) for data collection. Though availability of ICT infrastructure was low, most teachers used mobile devices with Internet access and also computers in their schools. The findings suggested that while mobile devices facilitated communities of practice, only a few teachers were engaging in independent learning and in double- and triple-loop learning. The authors suggest that to foster such conditions will require teacher training to be conducive to the use of technology for independent and collaborative student learning, and for teachers to engage in a collaborative community of practice as well as individual reflection on their own learning processes during and post-teacher training.

Effectiveness of any educational and/ or training intervention could be judged from the extent of its contribution to development of self-regulation/ regulated learning and meta-cognitive skills. This has been a weaker aspect of schooling and higher education in many parts of the globe, and more so in the context of open and distance learning (ODL). In the next research study, De Silva reports a study conducted through questionnaire and qualitative data (observation, reflection, focus group discussion) on how the KWL method (What I Know, What I Want to Know, What I Learned), employed in the teacher education programme at the Open University of Sri Lanka (OUSL), significantly contributed to the development of SRL abilities of student-teachers. The author suggests further use of the KWL method in the context of ODL since this system depends more on students’ ability of self-learning than teachers’ teaching.

We present three case studies in the next section of the Journal—workplace training, Notesmaster learning platform, and child marriage and vocational skill development—which should be of interest and be useful to our readers. Alkema describes the workplace training intervention in New Zealand through the Workplace Literacy and Numeracy (WLN) Fund for enhancing the literacy and numeracy (reading, writing, speaking, listening, mathematics) and digital skills of lower-skilled employees to be able to effectively deal with life, learning and work in the 21st century, and also to contribute to enhanced productivity. The researcher reviews studies conducted on the contribution of this Fund toward individual, social, workplace, and economic outcomes, and suggests the framework of “Employee Outcome-Employee Learning-Workplace Outcome” to scale it up. Significant is the author’s recommendation of appropriate policy intervention and continuous learning at workplaces which could be visible through enhancement of skills and productivity among employees.

In the next case study, Nitschke and Louw report a research study on the success of the new Notesmaster Namibia learning platform for a secondary education ODL programme at the Namibian College of Open Learning (NAMCOL). Those involved in this initiative—learners, tutors, and content developers—all appreciated the effectiveness of the online platform, and the digital contents generated are shared as open educational resources (OER, CC-BY-SA). Computer and Internet access has been a major issue for open schooling, and NAMCOL’s collaboration with the Namibian Open Learning Network Trust may address this issue in future.

In the third and final research case study, Mnubi reports the findings on experiences drawn from the Girls Inspire Project in Tanzania where girls affected by child/ early/ forced marriages (260 female victims in this study) have successfully been trained on vocational and entrepreneurial skills, with enhanced freedom for making informed choices and participation  in development. The three research-based case studies provide us significant data and information to make informed decisions on training, technology, and skilling interventions for adult literacy, open schooling, and vocational education for female victims. A danger in the technology-enabled world of today is digital and cyber insecurity; and the book review by Paul West on safety and security measures in the digital world, and the book, under review, by Keats (published in 2020) should be of interest to all of us.

We hope this issue of JL4D on “Professional Development and Capacity Building in Learning for Development” will be of high interest to all of you, and will provide for further reflection, research, and appropriate action

Santosh Panda

Chief Editor, JL4D


Oakley, G. (2016) From diffusion to explosion: Accelerating blended learning at the University of Western Australia. Blended, 67.

Panda, S., & Mishra, S. (2020). Epilogue: Mainstreaming technology-enabled learning. In S. Mishra & S. Panda (Eds.), Technology-enabled learning: Policy, pedagogy, and practice. Burnaby: The Commonwealth of Learning. (forthcoming)

Salmon, G. (2019). May the fourth be with you: Creating education 4.0. Journal of Learning for Development, 6(2), 95-115.

Salmon, G. (2013). E-tivities: The key to active online learning. New York: Routledge.

Salmon, G., Van der Merwe, A., & Schoonwinkel, A. (2019). Carpe Diem for educational transformation. World Conference on Online Learning, Dublin, December.

Salmon, G., & Wright, P. (2014). Transforming future teaching through Carpe Diem learning design. Education Sciences, 4(1), 52-63.

Schoonwinkel, A., Van de Merwe, A., & De Klerk, M. (2020, April 23). Navigating uncertainty in the move to online learning. University World News. Retrieved from https://www.universityworldnews.com/post.php?story=20200421085256435

UNESCO (2019). Intergovernmental expert meeting adopts revised draft recommendation on open educational resources. Paris, June 5.

Usher, J. MacNeill, J., & Creanor, L. (2018). Evolutions of Carpe Diem for learning design. Compass: Journal of Learning and Teaching, 11(1). 1-8. Retrieved from https://journals.gre.ac.uk/index.php/compass/article/view/718

Villarroel, V., Bloxham, S., Bruna, D., Bruna, C., & Herrera, C. (2017). Authentic assessment: Creating a blueprint for course design. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 43(5),840-854. Retrieved from DOI:10.1080/02602938.2017.1412396


Cite this paper as: Panda, S. (2020). Editorial— Professional development and capacity building in learning for development. Journal of Learning for Development, 7(2), 122-126.