University of Leicester takes learning into the heart of conflict zones

Posted by fi17 at Mar 08, 2012 09:37 AM |
Distance learning course delivered via innovative mobile app allows workers to study security and development in the midst of conflict-affected countries
University of Leicester takes learning into the heart of conflict zones

Adrian Beck displays the completed app

JPEG images of Adrian Beck and the iPad app are available, please contact pressoffice@le.ac.uk

University of Leicester criminologists have designed a course specifically to meet the needs of international development workers deployed in post-conflict countries, or those looking to work in this area. The course is delivered on line and via an app downloaded onto an iPad, meaning students can study topics on the move even when they don't have access to the Internet.

The MSc in Security, Conflict and International Development covers key topics in human rights, the rule of law and security issues in conflict-torn countries. It is intended to provide students with knowledge relevant to their aid and security work, as well as helping them progress in their careers.

The degree was designed by a team of academics led by Adrian Beck, head of the University's Department of Criminology. One of the main goals was to make the course as flexible as possible.

"Over the last two years we've been planning a degree that would fit with people working in post-conflict countries focussing on the field of security," Mr Beck said. "And one thing we realised was that these types of students work in countries where access to the Internet can be problematic - they're post-conflict countries, things aren't always working as they should.

"So we looked for ways to deliver the course materials in a highly mobile, flexible fashion, which did not always require access to the Internet. That's where we came up with the idea of using the iPad, a device which is mobile, light, and easy to use."

The iPad is provided by the University of Leicester as part of the course fees, onto which students download the course app and related ebooks. The embedded app content includes course texts, podcasts and videos, all of which can be accessed in areas without an internet connection. Other material is linked to from within the app and requires the student to have WiFi connectivity.

The course itself was designed to meet the specific needs of those working in countries going through or emerging from conflict.

Mr Beck said: "Right now, we've had numerous uprisings in the Middle East, so you've got many countries going through tremendous social, economic and political change. This course is really focused on giving students the skills, understanding and knowledge they need to help countries in transition. We feel this course will give people who work in the area of international development key insights into how, realistically, you can try and help countries emerge from conflict."

If the app and the course prove successful, the department has plans to make other degree courses and learning materials available via similar a similar system.

Mr Beck said: "My idea is that once this method of course delivery is established, we will consider rolling it out to other distance learning courses. In fact I've been approached by two other departments in the University already who are very excited about seeing how this might work for them on their distance learning courses".

The app was developed by KuKuApps, a specialist company based in Nottingham that designs and builds bespoke apps for mobile devices. Paul Muston, co-founder of KuKuApps, said:

"This is the first App we have developed around a University course and we are really pleased with the result. I think that Adrian's team has been very forward looking, to get to the point of having an App available when this kind of thing is only just popping onto other peoples' radar. Now that we have overcome the early hurdles with this project, KuKuApps is looking forward to helping the University provide other courses in this format."

The course was developed by Adrian Beck, head of the Department of Criminology; Tracey Dodman and Dr Hillary Jones, both specialist distance learning teaching fellows; and Dr Eleanor Gordon, a subject specialist who is the course tutor.

The start date for the first cohort of students on the course is 5 March 2012.

 

Criminology iPad app
The app up and running on the iPad

END

For more information on the course and its contents, please contact Adrian Beck on 0116 2525702 or email bna@le.ac.uk.

Full details of the course are available on the University website.

Visit KuKuApps website here: http://www.kukuapps.com/

For more information on KuKuApps, contact co-founder Paul Muston on paul.muston@gmail.com

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