Friday, 30 May 2008

INAS, Rabat, Morocco – starting an eLearning project – the basics

ITM has a lot of South partners with whom we have what we call institutional collaborations. One of these partners is the INAS (Institute National d’Administration de Santé) in Rabat, Morocco. In the collaboration it was mentioned that an eLearning project would be build in close collaboration with ITM. So I flew to Rabat to exchange needs and possibilities on eLearning.

Morocco has a great variety of regions that have very diverse technology, connectivity wise.

INAS has gone through some changes in the last couple of years. At this moment they are understaffed for that future tasks that lie ahead which means that every professional that works there has a serious and very varied workload. At the same time the INAS just became the major players in health education throughout the nation. They need to reach out to 45000 health care workers of different levels (medical doctors, nurses, health care workers, trainers in the different clinics…) and they only have limited resources.

Educational history: Morocco is a very hierarchical country, which results in the wish of teachers wanting to track their learners in an eLearning environment. Changes in government have immediate effect on health care guidelines and human resources, which in some cases can result in a change of staff (= a loss of continuity).

Main reason to start an eLearning project at INAS: limited resources which do not allow reaching out to the large group of health care workers on a face-to-face basis.

INAS did a survey amongst their learners to see whether their learners were eager to start eLearning courses and they were. BUT most of those learners have no idea what it means to be eLearning and although most of them indicated that they would love to be able to learn at their own pace and on their own time schedule, the motivational part and the realistic framework of the learner is uncertain.

Human resources: 1 pedagogue (who is following a master on distance education), 2 IT, 7 teachers, no design people and a couple of physicians that are only working there on an interim basis. But all of which are working on different (face-2-face) projects.

Technical resources:

  • An internal server (HP with 5 HD with a capacity of 146 GB each). This server is directly linked to the server park at the Ministry of Health through a VPN, so autonomy is limited and all the internet traffic passes through the server park at the ministry. Some autonomy would be needed so the system administrator can get all the students logged in and organize all the courses. This also effects the speed of the internet access;
  • 15 computers (all with internet connection (slow broadband and unstable, it has a connectivity of 128kps for the complete institute, so if everyone is on, it slows down immediately) and Windows XP) for people from outside and for training the trainers in a face-2-face environment;
  • A videoconferencing unit, but will hear today what the compatibility is with regular computers.
  • A conference room which can be used as an aula for teaching.


  • Choosing an eLearning platform which is easy to use, low cost and allows tracking the students.
  • An affordable means to track students offline (offline player);
  • Choosing the teacher that will deliver the first online pilot course (it should be a motivated teacher, with a strong educational experience that will assure strong content and a solid didactic approach);
  • Getting a stable internet connection going (what ever type) with a strong debit;
  • Building a strategy that allows continued eLearning feedback on how to make eLearning courses: who is in charge of the content, who will look at the eLearning methodology, how will the content be updateable in a quick and sound way after the initial course is build, do the teachers use the software to build eLearning courses, or will the courses be build by an eLearning methodologist or a general tutor?...);
  • If resources allow it, adding new people to the educational team.
  • Assuring continued education even if staff changes, but this is a very difficult thing to achieve. (personal remark: if I would not be sure of my job, I am not sure if I would want to make it easier for the colleague that would be appointed after me… this is a human factor which can make continuity a difficult thing to tackle especially if there is no visible security net for those who loose their job).

It is going to be a huge job to get everything implemented, but ... every challenge is motivating, but eLearning is not a magic potion. Luckily both Mr Belarbi and Mr Karmi are great eLearning professionals to work with and Mr Maaroufi is a man with vision.

(I am the wrinkly dressed one)