Benefits and Challenges of Distance Learning Debated at Regional Workshop


For more than 25 years, PAHO has supported disaster preparedness and mitigation training initiatives throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. This support has taken many forms—from complete or partial sponsorship of selected events, to providing trainers or content experts, to technical and training material. As the Region has become increasingly self-reliant in meeting their own training needs, the Organization is exploring new ways to reach a larger audience with the just-in-time information it needs to enhance performance.

What disaster managers need and how to provide this was the subject of a five-day technical workshop/course last November in Lima, Peru that brought together university professors with a hand in traditional disaster education courses; individuals and organizations with expertise in Internet-based training and international and regional agencies active in disaster training.

The first two days were spent learning about five different models and methodologies of distance education, as presented by the University of Wisconsin (U.S.), the Open University of Cataluña (Spain), the Virtual Campuses of the Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey (Mexico) and the Instituto TECSUP of Lima (Peru), and the experience gained by the World Bank’s Global Distance Learning Network.

The following three days were devoted to a basic course to train trainers and content experts in the competencies they will need and the issues they must consider when developing interactive distance learning courses. It is easy to become overwhelmed with the time and cost required to set up and launch an e-learning initiative, making it a prospect that could never quite becomes a reality. However, PAHO is committed to taking the first steps. With support from the enthusiastic professionals who attended this workshop, and from many others who were not able to participate in the first encounter, the framework for the first interactive distance learning module will ready by the end of 2004.
View documentation related to the workshop at


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