The 5 online courses run by the IUCN Programme on African Protected Areas (IUCN-Papaco) has recently broken new records. Since the first MOOC in 2015, nearly 27,000 participants have enrolled in the courses (available in English and in French) and over 1,000 students have received a certificate of completion.
These graduates are from all over the world (+70 countries); most are citizens of African countries, but different regions across the globe are also represented, including Haiti, France, China, Brazil, El Salvador, Vanuatu, Saudi Arabia etc., countries outside our area of focus where people also felt the need to be equipped with protected area management skills.
The success of the MOOCs in countries like DRC and Cameroon, as well as four years of experience managing these courses, has taught PAPACO’s team the value of peer-to-peer mentoring. In the same way, monitoring students’ progress plays an important role in their success in a course, but unfortunately, it is impossible to monitor the progress of each and every one of the 26,000+ students. For this reason, Papaco has recently appointed 5 student “ambassadors” based in Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, DRC, Niger and Togo. Their role is to help, guide and support other students who are based in the same countries. So far, this strategy seems to be paying off, as we notice registration and certification peaks in DRC and Niger. Should this ambassador programme prove to be successful, it will be implemented at a wider scale for the next session of the MOOCs.
By Geoffroy Mauvais, IUCN PAPACO Coordinator