Erasmus Plus project «STrengthening Network for EdUcaTiOn, Research and Innovation in Environmental HeALth in Asia» / TUTORIAL
The recent TEMPUS project CANERIEH allowed to reach several significant goals: six Centers for education, research & innovation in Occupational & Environmental Health have been improved or set up, and specific PhD programs have been successfully introduced in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan & Tajikistan. A further outcome of the CANERIEH has been the prioritization of formative needs in this highly interdisciplinary field at the different levels of academic training. In particular, there is currently no MSc EU standard-compliant program in public health in Kyrgyzstan, in environmental health in Tajikistan, and in occupational health in Kazakhstan.
Since universities perceive their prestige as closely linked to their master & doctoral programs, the lack of resources and expertise has prevented the development of a systematic and appropriate set of MSc courses in environmental health to prepare the strongly needed graduates in such disciplines. To overcome this limitation, MSc & PhD programs can strongly benefit from international cooperation and from state-of-the-art teaching technologies. In particular, “blended learning” (b-learning) is a learning technology that strategically integrates several techniques for delivering up-to-date knowledge, such as traditonal face-to-face lecturing, live-webinars, e-lectures, visits of trainees to universities for hands-on training on specific technologies. This will be the primary method of delivering training. The application of b-learning in HE teaching at the MSc and PhD levels has key advantages, among which the availability of state-of-the-art knowledge irrespective of logistic and geographic limitations, interactivity, improved flexibility accessibility, long-term sustainability and cost-efficiency. Main areas where the participation of European universities can really boost the level of teaching is in the fields of Occupational Medicine, of Environmental Science, of Environment and Health-oriented analytical chemistry and of Epidemiology and Statistics. One key issue in most partecipating countries is the availability of recent textbooks that are tailored to the need of specific curricula.
Main objective of the TUTORIAL project is strengthening research capacities in partner countries in areas of public health, promoting a sound exchange of information and building capacities between higher education institutions of European Union and Central Asia. This objective wil be achieved tuning existing doctoral studies, developing new MSc programs and implementing blended learning approach. The project will enhance the quality & relevance of higher education across European and Central Asian regions and India in the public health areas and improve their capacity for sustainable international cooperation, thus collaborating at the creating a long lasting excellence international network, to continue its activities after the end of the project period.
Specific objectives of the project are:
- To foster professional competences of teachers in distinctive areas of Environmental & Occupational Health and Public Health;
- To revise & update existing MSc & PhD curricula in Environmental Health, Occupational Health, and Public Health;
- To develop new MSc in in Environmental Health, Occupational Health, and Public Health tailored to local needs;
- To introduce new pedagogical methods & quality assurance mechanism for Master studies;
- To establish educational laboratories at target universities for graduate students;
- To establish e-learning systems at partner countries universities to support regular students, correspondence students as well as professionals in life-long learning.
The revised and newly introduced MSc & PhD programs will strenghen educational & research capacity of health systems in partner countries.
It will become a base for preparation of skilled & knowledgable public health specialists for health care systems in Central Asian countries.
Established e-labs at Universities with Managed Learning Environment system and introduced b-learning in teaching & learning will improve students’ thinking skills, problem solving abilities, and collaborative development of knowledge. Therefore, it will enhance capacity & quality of higher education and produced human resources for public health systems in Central Asian countries.
Expected results of the project
The present initiative may be regarded as an innovation by itself because it expresses the urging bottom-up request of strengthening the institutional support in the Partner countries’ HEIs international activities. Moreover, this project is expected to deliver some sophisticated brand-new products that have as a common feature a need that is highly demanded by the Partner countries. The project will transfer new important technologies to the participating countries:
1) New master programs on Public Health (Kyrgyzstan), Occupational Health (Kazakhstan) and Environmental Health (Tajikistan). These programs will be developed and offered in compliance with the Bologna principles.
2) Introduction of innovative teaching and learning approaches that will consist of the following features:
- Various pedagogical approaches, including constructivism, behaviourism, cognitivism, self-directed problem-based learning, game-based, project-based learning and participatory video-based learning. These approaches are predicted to produce an optimal learning outcome with/without instructional technology.
- Various e-learning technologies, including CDs, films, web-based training. These technologies will be combined with face-to-face teaching.
- Extensive use of social networking and digital media to teach Environmental Health, Occupational Health and Public Health.
- e-learning tools as Discussion Board, Podcasting, Online instant messaging, chat sessions, rapid e-learning, web-conferencing.
3) Building a Managed Learning Environment (MLE) system at all the partner Universities.
In addition to the teaching/learning approaches cited above, another major innovative element of the project will consist in the introduction of a blended-learning approach in teaching (b-learning).