Solutions

The UNIPHORM Project

 Prepared by Jim Petch

The UNIPHORM Project is funded under the EU PHARE Programme in Multi Country Distance Education and has as its objective the development of course materials and of a sevice to support distance education in Open GIS for professionals. The partner institutions are the UNIGIS sites at Manchester/Huddersfield, Salzburg, Sopron, Bucharest and Debrecen and the PHARE Study Centres at Miskolc and CDOECS, Bucharest. The remit of the project is for the development of course materials at the UNIGIS sites and the subsequent delivery through PHARE study centres.

The course materials are being prepared and will be held as reference copies in English. These materials are translated into Hungarian and Romanian by the respective UNIGIS centres and then used by the PHARE centres in their training networks. This complex arrangement is effective for the sharing of workloads and the eventual setting up of a course which reaches a large market but it provides many problems of control. This short section outlines the response of the development team to a number of problems of managing the design, creation and production of course materials and the subsequent course development and delivery.

The management of the set of processes from initial writing through to final delivery is achieved using a template based on two software products , Microsoft PowerPoint and Mindman from Michael Jetter (http://www.mindman.com). With MindMan, you organize and visualize your ideas by creating mindmaps (see Figure 1). The main topic is placed in the center of the mindmap while your ideas are placed on branches which radiate out from this focus. You can drag-and-drop branches to reorganize your ideas quickly, MindMan automatically reformatting your map as you work.

Figure 1 - A mindmap created using MindMan

The design template is a three part structure, each element corresponding to one of three functions: resources, organisation and presentation (see Figure 2).

This template is designed to allow a high level of control amongst several institutions and authors and yet retain a high level of flexibility for course engineering. It imposes some restrictions in the way material has to be structured and presented but the payoff is substantial in terms of managing complex and shifting resources and in providing cheap and effective creation and delivery of courses.

Figure 2 - The three part template of the UNIPHORM project


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