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Full Speed on Blended Learning Courses in Regional Asia Pacific

In the early days of digital learning, the Raoul Wallenberg Institute (RWI) started developing digital learning, e-learning, and blended learning courses. Around ten years ago, the Regional Asia Pacific Programme (RAPP) began to develop and use using blended learning methodologies more consistently, combining digital and face-to-face learning components. Partners, RWI, and donors, agreed that blended learning is useful to deliver impactful capacity development to participants across a large and diverse region.

In 2020, digital learning methodologies and blended learning courses were again high on the agenda of
the current RAPP (2017-2021). The programme team thus developed several blended learning courses (BLCs) and a decentralised system with “learning hubs” in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, and Manila.

For some of our blended learning courses, these hubs gave the benefits of in-person learning, while also giving participants the chance to engage remotely  with peers as well as experts from across the region in an interactive and facilitated setting. This structureenabled more participants to join. More than fifty participants completed our blended learning course
last year.

What is a Blended Learning Course?

A variety of formats: online as well as face-to-face

The blended learning courses combine various types of learning interactions, media and formats:
online modules, workshops, assignments, and socalled peer exchange. Peer-to-peer learning means collaborating with your co-participants during the course.

Through the courses, our participants learn and understand how they can use human rights to address various human rights issues, such as the ones presented and addressed in the courses.

The courses foster collaboration, as they provide platforms for institutions to form networks across the region. Governmental, non- governmental bodies and organisations get opportunities to interact with one another, nurture and create new partnerships between and across institutions.

Participants learn how other stakeholders across the region work and what measures they adopt through concrete examples.

Timely and bite-sized learning for busy schedules

Thanks to its accessibility and wide range of formats, participants with varying backgrounds learn and get up to speed on the issues of the courses at their own pace.

“This paves the way for active engagement in interactive course elements between peers. Each participant learns at his or her own speed and revisit parts of the course when they wish to”, says Victor Bernard, Programme Officer and one of the co-creators. Online modules make it is possible to combine the learning with busy schedules, as one can access the course materials when one wants to.

“The current courses help a diverse group of participants learn about the interlinkages between human rights, gender equality, and the environment. We also strive to strengthen participants’ capacities to promote and protect human rights in environmental and climate change contexts”, Victor Bernard explains.

“We use blended learning courses to spread knowledge and promote various effective approaches that help integrate human rights in environmental actions, climate change actions, and in the localisation of the SDGs.”
Victor Bernard, Programme Officer and one of the co-creators

RWI Blended Learning Courses

Spreading knowledge on localizing human rights in the SDGs processes

Together with our partners, United Cities and Local Governments Asia Pacific UCLG ASPAC, City of Gwangju, and Asia Democracy Network (ADN) we focus on building the capacity of duty bearers and local actors. Together we developed two courses on localising human rights in the SDGs processes. The team ran the two courses in relation to two major human rights events; the World Human Rights Cities Forum and the Indonesian Human Rights Festival. Running the courses in relation to central events gave the participants great opportunities to network. The two courses appeared in similar formats and both offered participants the chance to develop individual projects.

Celebratory launch for the first course

The first course (BLC 1) was launched on 18 May 2020 in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the
Gwangju uprising – the event that sparked the Human Rights City movement in Korea.

The course aimed to integrate human rights in localising the SDGs.

The participants – from fifteen cities spread over eight countries – consisted of public servants from the City Planning Departments, all of them working with SDGs in their respective cities in the regional Asia Pacific.

During the following months, they got a solid training in Human Rights, SDGs, and other relevant topics through online modules and workshops. Following the course, the participants got the opportunity to create a project plan for SDG localisation with a human rights focus.

Finally – between July and September – they implemented their projects in their own cities (read more below).

In October 2020, as a result of the team work efforts, several interesting projects were then presented during a closed session at the 10th World Human Rights Cities Forum in Gwangju, co-organised by RWI, UCLG ASPAC and City of Gwangju.

“In 2021, we will continue to carry out and run blended learning courses in collaboration with our partners UCLG ASPAC and Gwangju City and will target city planners from members of UCLG ASPAC.”
Victor Bernard

BLC 2: The Second Blended Learning Course

The second course, on localising human rights and SDGs, was – similar to the first – combined with another major event; the Indonesian Human Rights Festival*. RWI co-organized the course with UCLG ASPAC and ADN.

Groups worked on five major themes: Human Right Cities & Local Government Initiatives, Gender and Minority Rights, Human Rights During Covid-19 and Economics Empowerment, Democracy and Civil Rights, as well as Human Rights Education Initiatives.Participants – consisting of local government, CSOs, and NHRIs from seven countries in Southeast Asia – came from various backgrounds. The course provided a unique platform for the participants to engage, discuss and learn from one another.

A case project: BLC 1 – “Wonosobo Action”

As a part of the first blended learning group, participants studied and learned how to integrate human rights in localising the SDGs, developed project plans and carried out projects for their own cities. Among the projects presented at the 10th World Human Rights Cities Forum in Gwangju, co-organised by RWI, UCLG ASPAC and City of Gwangju, one group presented their development of an app that handles citizen complaints in Wonosobo in central Java, Indonesia.

The Coordinator of the Human Rights City Task Force and the SDG Centre of the city led the project. It addresses the matter of the public participating and interacting with the city. The group developed the project in close dialogue with a wide range of stakeholders and had the strong support of the Wonosobo regent.

The new app – “Wonosobo Action” – is an SDG tool building on an existing local mechanism for participation. The tool lets inhabitants, as well as private and CSO stakeholders, communicate with the city government on progress and challenges related to the SDGs, and coordinate local SDG actions.

The complaints handling function is the added element and aims to strengthen the dialogue between the city administration and communities on human rights-related concerns. This is something that was seen as especially urgent in 2020 as a result of the Covid crisis. However, at the time, the course project ended and the app had not yet been launched.

*hosted by the Indonesia National Human Rights Commission and the International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID).

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