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Launching the pilot in HIV/AIDS research in Mali

Bamako, Mali 28/01/2013, noon.

About 20 medical doctors specialising in public health or infectious disease gathered in the Discussion Learning Room located in the building of the FMPOS libraries. They participate in the launch of the first pilot course on Evidence Based Medicine for clinical research on HIV of AFRICA BUILD. The agenda of the day: take the pre-test quiz, access the first webcast and discover the Community of Practice (CoP) and groups discussion forums. Everything was done through the AFRICA BUILD Portal. Far from Bamako, in Madrid, the UPM technical team was being requested for assistance via chat. After the quizz, the group analyzed together the first webcast using a videoprojector and high speakers. Then, the students joined the Community of Practice and introduced theirselves.

During the next days, other sessions were held with the group facilitators. They registered in the AFRICA BUILD Portal and joined their respective groups. Some core functionalities of the Portal were explained to them. Soon after they started posting in their respective groups.

For some of the students, this is the first time that they use collaborative tools and be involved in online discussions. Most knew how to send and read emails and browse the internet but are not familiar with forums. They asked questions like: "How do I send message to all the members of my group ?"; "When should we meet to do the group work ?". The local AFRICA BUILD team members were giving answers: "A physical meeting is not mandatory. Use the group discussion to tell them what you think, people will add their input".

After few meetings, they know how access to access the AFRICA BUILD Portal, how to access the learning resources and how to interact with colleagues. Students are not coming to the Distance Learning Room any more, but they are still active on the platform. When asked about their first impressions, some students appreciate the fact they access the course at anytime from anywhere at their space. They are positive also about the topic and the methodology. They also appreciate the quizzes. They express the need to access the learning resources offline: the powerpoints and the webcastes as well.