Teachers at the Press Institute of Mongolia will soon be using e-learning to teach investigative journalism countrywide regardless of location. The new method's being tested on DW Akademie's virtual learning platform.
In Mongolia's rural provinces, not everyone is familiar with computers and journalists are less digitally connected than their counterparts in the capital Ulan Bator. That's something that the NGO Press Institute of Mongolia (PIM) wants to change. With the help of e-learning, journalists from media companies across the country will soon be able to participate in training workshops and exchange views and information. To make this a reality, the PIM instructors are in the process of arming themselves with technical, journalistic and didactic know-how.
For Tamiraa Tsiknibvaatar, e-learning is a new tool. The teacher is one of 12 participants in DW Akademie's "Investigative Journalism" project who is learning how to use "DW Akademie Connect". The online platform is based on Moodle software and DW Akademie is working on providing a version in Mongolian. The learning platform makes it possible to offer workshops for closed groups and to develop teaching modules and curriculum building blocks. "E-learning offers all kinds of new possibilities. With it we can connect with a great many participants across the country at the same time," says Tamiraa. This is an important criterion for the PIM, which not only offers courses for journalism students, but also further training for media professionals.
New teaching methods
Since May 2015, Tamiraa and his colleagues have been learning about the methodology of investigative journalism, both in face-to-face workshops with DW Akademie trainers and virtually on DW Akademie Connect. Parallel to this, Mongolian teachers are carrying out their own investigative research throughout the country. The results are placed on the e-learning platform and are discussed and evaluated by DW Akademie trainers. "Even long after the workshops in Ulan Bator have finished, e-learning makes it possible for us to continue to provide guidance to the teachers and be there for them when questions arise," says Eva Mehl, the DW Akademie country manager for Mongolia. There's an added benefit as well, she explains, in that the platform helps the group stay in close touch and strengthens the teachers' network in Mongolia.
"The PIM and our Project for Investigative Journalism benefit enormously from the e-learning component," says PIM director Myangmar Munkhmandakh. "In Mongolia, traditional teaching methods are face-to-face and they focus on discipline. There's little room for self-fulfillment or experimentation." She observes that e-learning adds new incentives to courses and workshops and promotes personal growth and development. "This tool offers a certain amount of flexibility where the time allocated to coursework is concerned. That means the participants have to learn how to work independently and autonomously and how to properly manage their time," says Munkhmandakh.
As soon as the teachers have completed the DW Akademie training, they can start to integrate e-learning into their own classes, whether for master's degrees, diploma programs or additional training for working journalists. The next stage of the project, which has been extended by a further two years, sees the PIM and DW Akademie working together with students and professional journalists.