The world is currently united in confronting the consequences of COVID-19. For 91% of students, parents, and educators around the world, the primary challenge is how to adapt to learning from home. Times of crisis provoke intense learning and experimentation, and it was in this spirit that Olive Branch undertook the initiative to launch an online platform.
In April 2020, with the onset of lockdowns due to the Covid-19 virus outbreak, Olive Branch launched its Online Platform to enable distance learning for the war-torn communities of NW Syria. This initiative in its early stage required parents, students, and educators to share ideas, inspiration, and approaches that address the technological and technical challenges facing the wider communities. We knew the challenge would be enormous given that the situation was still unraveling live and might be for a long time.
OB Online Platform Solution
Olive Branch’s online platform (ONOB) is based on Moodle, an open-source learning platform designed to provide educators, administrators, and learners with a single robust, secure and integrated system to create personalized learning environments.
With tens of thousands of learning environments globally, Moodle is designed to support both teaching and learning as an all-in-one platform that can be customized to meet the specific needs of the project environment.
ONOB is a customized Moodle platform developed by Olive Branch to deliver its educational and other activities online to its beneficiary communities of both children and adults. In order to meet the urgent need to help hundreds of children continue their learning from home, Olive Branch rapidly deployed a team of IT specialists to get trained, configure and customize the Moodle to provide the planned education and protection activities of the ongoing projects online. This required not only OB’s Programme but also M&E, Logistics, and Media teams to quickly adapt their procedures and practices in an integrated manner to conduct the activities online.
Some key features of OB Online Platform:
Easy to use – with drag-and-drop features
Always up to date – continuously being improved
Multilingual – Arabic and Turkish included
Flexible – supports blended learning as well as 100% online
Easy Integration – external plug-ins and add-ons
Secure and Private – OB server provides data security and user privacy
Web-based – available anywhere and any device
ONOB is continuously being improved with valuable lessons learned from the recently completed activities which include
– Remedial Learning Programme (RLP)
– Accelerated Learning Programme (ALP)
– Self Learning Programme (SLP)
– Adolescent Life Skills
– PSS for children and adolescents
– GBV awareness classes for adults
– Mine Action awareness
Art and Leisure
– Sports Activities
– Fitness and wellbeing classes
– Puppet shows
– Pottery classes
– Children magazine
– Reading clubs
– Chess competition
– Youth Platform for knowledge exchange
ONOB offers a number of features and functions to design activities and delivery modalities.
- Managing students, teachers, supervisors, administrators in classroom groups
- Access to parents and other stakeholders to provide/receive feedback
- Upgraded server-based version offering unlimited number of users to be on the platform
- Interactive sessions as well as offline lessons in case of lack of quality internet
- Online Classrooms are recorded and made available for re-watch
- Interactive sessions allow for chats and voice messages
- Sharing materials such as curricula, references, and articles, between teacher and student
- Online home-works and assignments
- Tools to monitor students’ participation and performance, for example, attendance, viewing time, materials viewed, home-work completion, progress made
- Tools to monitor the performance of educators and other support personnel
- Management and Administrative reporting
- Schedules of lessons sent as notifications to students’ devices
Given the complex nature of this Learning Management System and its deployment in an uncharted territory, there are challenges for all parties to deal with. The installation, for example, is not simple and requires technical support. In addition, the internet speed and quality can affect some of the features of the platform, and the costs of the web server can be somewhat off-putting.
However, Olive Branch hopes to overcome the challenges over time with various measures including
– Training on-field specialists to support and maintain the platform
– Supporting users/beneficiaries with installation and operational issues
– Producing user guides in video illustration form in Arabic language
– Working with partners to provide/improve internet access (Whatsapp capable at minimum) for beneficiaries
– Adopting blended approaches where feasible and practical
– Building on continued lessons learned
– Working closely with partners on developing strategies for integration into programs[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]