September 1, 2020 Shaher Abdulateef

Cross Border Connected Learning in Northern Syria: An Agricultural Pilot Study

(a) Abdullateef, S., (b) Parkinson, (c) T. Sarmini, I

a Academic entre for Development and Peace Studies, Gaziantep, Turkey
 University of Kent, Centre for the Study of Higher Education, Canterbury, United Kingdom
c Gaziantep University, Faculty of Education, Gaziantep, Turkey

Abstract

Prior to 2011, public universities and private institutions in Syria were the main sources of knowledge and skills training for industry and agriculture. Due to the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis however, the country’s education system has been decimated at all levels, with disastrous effects for the nation’s knowledge base and training provision. To address these circumstances, strategies and methods for effectively re-skilling and up-skilling the agricultural workforce inside Syria are urgently needed. Traditional face-to-face models of education are difficult to implement due to conditions of conflict. This action research project centres on the delivery of participatory e-learning courses by Syrian academics in exile to learners inside Syria. In this paper, we describe and evaluate the delivery of a 5-week pilot course on Soilless Cultivation Systems. In addition to delivering an effective course, we sought to understand the challenges associated with distance learning in the Syrian context, to inform further development of approaches that can surmount these challenges, and which might in due course be extended into other areas beyond agricultural engineering. Accordingly, we developed a course that at a) constituted a meaningful educational experience for learners; b) facilitated the trial of a range of pedagogical approaches; and c) allowed for the collection of evaluative data to inform subsequent learning design. Findings highlighted the challenges of achieving applied relevance without laboratory or field access, meeting the needs and expectations of diverse learners, and facilitating sufficient interaction between learners and the lecturer. Possible strategies to address these issues include the use of high-quality video and images and planned use of routine social media technologies to facilitate parallel networking and resource share.

Keywords

e-learning, agricultural education, Syria, soilless culture systems, conflict, cross border, connected learning

 

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To cite this article:

Shaher Abdullateef, Tom Parkinson, Iman Sarmini, 2020. Cross Border Connected Learning in Northern Syria: An Agricultural Pilot Study,
International Journal of Educational Research Open, ISSN 2666-3740, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijedro.2020.100005.

Shaher Abdulateef

Biotechnology, Hydroponics, Food Security Expert, Founder and researcher at ACDP
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