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8 things we’ve learned from the website in 2014

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A year’s worth of web analytics, research, discussion and collaboration offer some interesting insights which may be of use to DE colleagues. Here, we share 8 of those lessons.

1.     There are still many gaps in DE resource provision and therefore many opportunities (and needs) to fill them

Despite the continued production of resources since the publication of the research audit of development education resources produced in Ireland from 2000-2012 in the spring of 2013, there are still many education and topical gaps in the coverage of issues and debates in DE, despite the oft-cited claim that there are too many resources.

Two of the areas identified by the audit – women’s rights and activism – have yet to be adequately addressed and senior cycle is still largely missing in DE resource developments.

2.     Sharing good practice of development education – an ongoing challenge

Some may remember the launch of the DE in Action section in conjunction with IDEA last June, which showcases development education actions and the lessons they offer from school projects to afterschool, youth and community DE action projects. The first 20 case studies we documented were the result of a combination of submissions sent in and online research.

For a variety of reasons, in documenting case studies, people found it difficult to share their experiences and, in particular, the lessons that arise from them. In the case of existing online case studies, these proved very difficult to locate as they were often buried deep in websites after many ‘make-overs’.  In some cases, whole organisational experiences have ‘disappeared’ as organisations have closed or suspended DE work.

Documenting our work is a major challenge for our sector especially in the context of ‘proving’ the agenda’s value and impact.

3.     The ‘quality of resources’ challenge

Following the publication of the audit of DE resources, the completion of more than 300 annotations for the resource library and the recent guidelines for producing DE resources it is clear that the ‘quality’ debate in producing DE resources (and how it is defined or measured) remains an issue for the sector.  How to address this challenge should become a priority agenda item for the sector in 2015 – while developmenteducation.ie is happy to play its part in this discussion, the website Management Committee feels strongly that the whole sector needs to pro-actively engage with this debate on quality in DE.

The guidelines were produced as one contribution to this debate.

4.     The need to move beyond the formal

Review of the evidence from the resources and correspondence dimensions of developmenteducation.ie suggests strongly that in recent years primacy has typically been given to formal education sectors, often at the expense of other equally important sectors.  Responding to (and financially supporting) educationally based campaigning, broader public education and non-formal education opportunities are crucial to overall success – DE is not simply an issue for young people – its impact and success is heavily dependent on adults across society.

Active transparent public engagement with development and human rights issues is fundamental for the overall quality and impact of Ireland’s development co-operation and justice agendas.  More needs to be done to promote DE in key spheres to complement that underway in schools and colleges.

5.     78:1 the geography of DE in Ireland

Ireland traffic 2014

Visitors and readers from 78 towns and cities across Ireland accessed developmenteducation.ie in 2014. The analytics data generated on the website over the past year suggests that the geographical reach of those that access DE debates and content has broadened on previous years – a noticeable trend. Interest in and support for development education is by no means only located in the cities or urban centres, as is often asserted.

6.     Back to basics

A year of survey work and user-group feedback has generated crucial ‘temperature checks’ for content, ideas and emerging issues in DE on the website. One of the clearest signals we’ve received in 2014 is that there is still a pressing need for accessible ‘entry-level’ support materials. On developmenteducation.ie we are constantly being requested for such introductory materials.

Getting back to ‘basic is essential in supporting those undertaking DE. With that in mind watch this space – we will very shortly add a range of new introduction-level materials to the site.

7.     Educators are still willing to take on difficult issues

The top 10 most searched words on the website were:

1. climate change;                                               2. child labour;

3. malaria;                                                           4. poverty;

5. 100 people;                                                      6. water;

7. aid;                                                                    8. footprint;

9. jobs;                                                                  10. education.

The top 10 blogs in 2014 included topics covering overconsumption and sustainable development, the conflict in Gaza, the human rights of girls, the human dimension of WWI, wildlife trafficking and women’s health.

Despite the impression that development educators frequently look for ‘easy’, ‘soft’ or ‘safe’ topics to explore with groups we have found quite the opposite to be the case: development education is routinely about controversial and contested public issues and debates…this attests to the relevance of much of our work.

8.     Despite the general gloom 2014 has continued to be a ‘year of partnership’ and progress

2014 marked the 8th year since the global financial and banking crises bit deeply into society at all levels. Despite years of austerity in Ireland, cuts to education, welfare provision and justice structures and programmes including overseas aid development education has continued.

For developmenteducation.ie it was a year of partnership and collaboration; like others we have relied on the time and energy of colleagues to generate new energy and a reinvigorated agendas – this has made so much possible often in very difficult circumstances.

Partnerships in 2014 (for which we are grateful) have included:

  • with the membership and staff of Dóchas and IDEA  on the guidelines for producing DE resources
  • for the contributions to the DE in Action section: Schools Across Borders, Irish Aid, Afri, Presentation College (Bray), Lourdes Youth and Community Services, Debt and Development Coalition Ireland, Millstreet Community School (Cork), St Dominic’s (Ballyfermot), St Wolstan’s Community School (Celbridge), St. Ciaran’s N.S., Hartstown (Dublin), Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies, University of Malta (Malta); Worldwise Global Schools; National Youth Council of Ireland; Waterford One World Centre; Galway One World Centre
  • and for the many submissions of resources to the resources library – Concern Worldwide, Democracy Center in Cochabamba (Bolivia), Sightsavers Ireland, Goal, Comhlámh, Sadaka, EIL Intercultural Learning, Women’s Council of Ireland, KMF Productions, UNICEF Ireland, Ubuntu, Gorta-Self Help Africa, Trócaire and Aidlink.

Many thanks to one and all for your support and your contributions.

Insight 2015 – applications now open

Photo: Maria Walsh Launching Insight by Development Perspectives (January 2015).

Photo: Maria Walsh Launching Insight 2015 by Development Perspectives (January 2015).

Insight 2015 is an 8 month part time development education programme aimed at adults centred on a non-formal experiential learning journey, which involves spending three weeks in Tanzania or India. More…

Saudi Arabian blogger will be flogged, every week for the next 19 weeks

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Photo: #FreeRaif campaign ad by Amnesty International (2015)

It’s been a startling fortnight for anyone that blogs, writes, doodles or puts pen (and pencil!) to power.

This afternoon, inhumane and degrading punishment was scheduled to be carried out on blogger Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia and subsequently will continue to be carried out every Friday for the next 19 weeks, as the world watched the bloody denouement of the Charlie Hebdo and Jewish supermarket jihadi killings last week in Paris. More…

Challenging the Crisis – Young people across Europe united over concern for development

Action2015 logo_22015 is an important year for international development. This year, global leaders will hold two remarkable summits focusing on both people and the planet.

One UN summit to be held in New York in September will result in a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to replace the previous Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which have guided progress on international development since 2000.

Another meeting, to be held in December in Paris, will set new climate action targets – a crucial step towards a safer and healthier planet. These decisions taken together should lay the foundation for addressing the world’s most pressing challenges over the coming years. tmp_4024--eyd2015-logo-_-1792201062

In the run-up to these summits, the European Union has declared 2015 the ‘European Year for Development’.

The EU remains the world’s biggest donor of official development assistance and plans to use this year to raise awareness across Europe about development issues and the positive impact of continued development funding. Around the continent, groups are mobilising to support the year. More…

Singing well after the Charlie Hebdo killings

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Comments made in the heat of the moment are, usually, thought to be unwise.

Wednesday’s attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices have produced an outpouring of commentary which ranges from racist, xenophobic rhetoric to thoughtful expressions of disgust (and much else besides, including shocking defences of the attacks).

There are, beyond the instinctive reactions, important tests which these killings present us with.

For Europe this is an opportunity to consider its security and rights agenda. Following 9/11 the human rights and fundamental freedoms agenda in many countries suffered grievously as a result of security-driven legislation and policies.

The way in which European states will react to this attack will give a clear indication of how the human rights agenda will develop in Europe in the next few years.

The attack on Charlie and the killing of its cartoonists is a reminder that freedom of expression is a value which remains under constant threat. More…

Top 10 resources on developmenteducation.ie in 2014

It’s been a busy year.

An extra 80 resources have filled the digital shelves of the resource library and many more are to follow over in 2015.Badge-Top-Tens-Small

Out of the 41,804 resource library pages viewed by web users in 2014 three themes have cropped up more than once in the top 10 list: human development, water, and human rights.

The popularity of resources viewed are perhaps a good reflection of our times as educators engaged in the big development issues of the year – from the national and local water protests to health and human rights into the penultimate year of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) government compact winding down next year (and the Sustainable Development Goals initiative takes off).

As well as topical issues the resources cover a range of formal and nonformal education sectors (primary, post primary and youth clubs) and characteristics – videos, maps, lesson plans and research reports.

Here’s the rundown for top 10 resources viewed in the resources library in 2014. More…

Top 10 blogs on developmenteducation.ie in 2014

The results are in for the most shared and read blogs on developmenteducation.ie over Badge-Top-Tens-Smallthe course of the last year. As expected, they present a wide snapshot of issues that readers were interested in most.

Some readers may be surprised by the blogs that made it into the top 10 considering the range of global development trends that emerged such as the Ebola crisis in west Africa, the responses to Band Aid and the many front line reports blogs in our Notes from series.

The challenges in 2014 that we blogged about were overshadowed by three reoccurring themes in the top 10: sustainable development, the Israel-Gaza crisis and women’s rights (particularly health & education).

As we move into 2015 the expectations on the governments of the world to deliver an agenda that progressively realises what the Millennium Development Goals started fifteen years ago is hugely ambitious. The top 10 blogs over the past year reflect many of the challenges ahead.

Here’s the rundown for 2014′s top 10 blogs More…

Doing Development Education: Ebola – resources and ideas

Photo: The fight against Ebola in Guinea by European Commission DG ECHO via Flickr (April 19, 2014)

Photo: The fight against Ebola in Guinea by European Commission DG ECHO via Flickr (April 19, 2014) CC license.

The past few weeks have witnessed an avalanche of discussion and debate on the 30th anniversary remake of Band Aid by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure with its emphasis on the Ebola crisis which threatens to become, according to Oxfam ‘the definitive humanitarian disaster of our generation’.

In typical swashbuckling style (and much to the annoyance and ire of the ‘aid and development industry’), Bob and Midge have upped the ante on public awareness (if not understanding) of the issue. The hype offers a useful opportunity to discuss and debate the Ebola crisis, public awareness on emergency situations and related elements. More…

Have your say – complete our survey and win DE resources

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It’s that time of the year again where teachers, educators and readers have their say to help us improve DevelopmentEducation.ie by taking part in our short online survey.

Those who complete the survey will be in with the chance of winning a free hamper of 15+ development education resources

The content, themes and stories on this website are driven by our readers so let us know what you like (or don’t) and anything you would like to see on the DevelopmentEducation.ie in future.

Complete the 2 minute survey (powered by SurveyMonkey) or alternatively follow this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/XPND285

”The clanging chimes of Doom”…Oh no, wait, that’s just Bono

284184-band-aid-30Thirty years on and Geldof is back. Again.

He’s back with Ultravox’s Midge Ure and they’re asking, “how can they know it’s Christmas time?”: surely a progression from wondering “do they know it’s Christmas time at all?”.

Band Aid returned on our tellyboxes on Saturday night on X Factor, no less, and it has returned with a (media frenzied) bang.

We are all familiar with the original 1984 version, deved_1342706871which raised millions for famine relief in Ethiopia. It didn’t come without its criticisms (never mind the fact that the album cover isn’t even close to being code compliant when checked with the Dóchas Code of Conduct on Images and Messages by Dóchas!).

Criticisms even came from Bob himself:

“I am responsible for two of the worst songs in history. One is ‘Do they know it’s Christmas’ and the other one is ‘We are the World’.” More…