Global change with eLearning for peace
By Marja-Riitta Ritanoro, the CEO of MKFC Stockholm College and the Director of MKFC Stockholms
A knowledge nation that develops its education system based on eLearning and extends it to social media
creates the ground pillars for a sustainable society, promoting growth, welfare and peace.
eLearning can provide equal opportunities regardless of the learner’s place, wealth, sex, religion or
ethnicity. That in mind, the MKFC Stockholm College has created Change Making Education for
Knowledge Society programmes. The core of these programmes is to break national or local isolation with
information and communication tools. The heart of change making is the eTeacher Training programme.
Through eTeacher Training even a whole country can be affected when growing children and youngsters
feel that human rights are connected to their dreams for the future.
MKFC Stockholm College
The Multicultural Popular Education Centre (MKFC) Stockholm College is based in Sweden with a branch
in Finland. Its origins are in the inclusive Nordic education system. Education in the Nordic countries is
free and includes all age groups and education levels. MKFC belongs to a popular adult education
movement originating in the grassroots movements and supported by state funds. This Nordic education
tradition has supported MKFC in designing a roadmap to creating inclusive, sustainable development and
economic growth driven by education.
The MKFC moved its courses online in 2001. One of the core elements of eLearning is
teamwork. Teachers work in teams, share the same vision, use the same templates, add to the content
and support the development of digital tools and networks. eLearning has therefore enabled MKFC to
reduce its costs and increase the quality. We are therefore able to provide education to developing
countries with very low fees.
The MKFC Stockholm College supports inclusive learning and believes that in a knowledge society
education must support people’s capacity to change and innovate. At the core of our education
programmes are the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). We support grassroots movements for
sustainable changes. Participants, that is, students, tutors and members of local communities, are the
Change Makers. They realize, build up and innovate in line with the Nobel prize winner Amartya Sen’s
Our global ICT4D mission
MKFC Stockholm College teachers use Information and Communication Technology for Development
(ICT4D). The goals for our eLearning ICT4D strategy are:
• No more isolation
• Equal standard for all
• Teacher training in school environment
• Health awareness on the grassroots level
• Lowering the costs for education
MKFC Stockholm College uses “End-To-End eLearning” for its global ICT4D mission. This means
that the whole learning process is online, from course content and student support to feedback. Our
passion is to support and offer sustainable life skills to citizens. For us education is a central means to this
end. Flexibility is one of the basic characteristics of eLearning. It can be adjusted to local requests and to
new demands the workers in authentic environment need answers to. Therefore, eLearning is an
indispensable part of this mission: it needs to be part of both educational policy and practice.
From learners to innovative citizens
Innovative citizen able to contribute to development need to be more than copycats who try to find the
right answer from a certain source. To lead students to become innovative learners is an art. Research
carried out at Linköping University (http://www.liu.se) shows that the action learning method makes
students lifelong learners. In their future professions they always want to learn more. Creativity, empathy,
self-empowerment, collaborative teamwork, problem solving, communication, making connections and
exploring learning in a variety of ways are keys in the art of modern learning. We aim to support and
reinforce different learning styles and attitudes on the eLearning platform. The platform facilitates
collaboration between individuals and between learners, experts and teachers who can find and share
best practice. The method the MKFC uses is an authentic learning environment where theories and
dreams meet the reality, combined with learning materials and ongoing reflections and debates on the
Our Change Making Education for Knowledge Society programme includes courses such as “eTeacher
Training”, “Social Media for Journalists” and “CAP - Village Workers”.
As I am writing this in June, I have just met some of our teacher trainers from Afghanistan and
Pakistan where we have started eTeacher Training in authentic environments. The security situation in
their locations is unstable. eLearning enables learning in many different locations whilst avoiding
dangerous places and travelling.
Earlier in June we visited Senegal to meet eTeachers from Somalia and eVillageworkers and
eJournalists from Ghana. In Ghana eVillage workers have been educated through web communities, the
eLearning platform and mobile phones. They go to rural areas to work for clean water, malaria prevention,
sanitation and nutrition. eJournalists in Ghana learn media criticism and they learn to produce and send
news even from the streets using mobile phones. After five months of using eLearning they are now
familiar with several social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook and bilingual blogs which they use to
communicate their situation and to connect with the outside world.
Through eTeachers, Somaliland teachers have learned to see things from children’s angle and to
use parents as co-operators. At the same time, the school community has learned that children have such
rights as the right to play. The change happened fast because the teachers at once put into practice what
they learned on the eTeacher Training course. The change became visible on the schoolyard. The new
curriculum now includes the right to play and play is now considered a tool for learning in school practice.
At the same time the demonstrations are going on in Iran and we follow news of the fate of the
young woman Neda on Twitter.
In all these surroundings we meet dreams and hope of a better life.
eLearning for global equal opportunities
‘The education policy in the twenty-first century is the key to global security, sustainability and survival’,
claim Mark Olssen, John Codd and Anne-Marie O’Neill (2004, p. 277) stating that globalization
emphasises the importance of education in building strong democratic nation states and global
communities based on cultural identity and intercultural awareness. To follow the lead we need to work in
online communities, supporting knowledge and awareness and giving tools for change making on the
grassroots level. Practical ICT4D change making work is based on evidence from reality and on
To be born in rural areas in the Middle East, Asia or Africa, or Nordic capitals Helsinki or Stockholm
provides an unequal start to children and to citizens. eLearning brings down many boundaries and offers
good opportunities for example for children in rural areas to participate in the same courses as people
living in cities. Learning rare languages, religions and life skills as well as all vocational education can be
offered anywhere through eLearning. All the work and tutoring can be documented through the use of
Since 2001 the MKFC has moved teaching from school classrooms to the eLearning platform with
the help of a learning management system (LMS). Today the eLearning platform OPIT (a Finnish word
meaning ‘you learn’) is our brain and memory, our warehouse and our carrier of learning for everybody
everywhere. All our study programmes are packaged into units inside the interactive OPIT. Courses can
be used on demand and remixed anytime, anywhere by experts, teachers and students communicating
inside OPIT. These study programme units can be delivered even outside the platform to mobile phones
and other digital devices. The language is changeable from English to Arabic and even bilingual education
is an option that MKFC uses.
Tools for activating the learner
Our passion is to teach everyone to learn. As there are differences between individuals we have
embedded tools on the eLearning platform that make it easier to read and write. One of these tools is
SpeakIT which reads aloud written texts. Students can even listen to their own text before sending their
assignment to the tutor. Another tool, ReadRunner, is like a karaoke machine that makes reading on the
computer and mobile phone screen easier and faster. eQuality measurements is used to get feedback
from the students. We collect feedback from students and follow tutoring during the course which allows
us to develop the course as we are running it. Students are important participants also in the planning of
Course books are expensive and hard to get even if you have the money. Our eLearning platform
has its own digital library. This makes the studies more accessible. Most of the learning materials (text,
video clips, photos, radio) are gathered in databases and together with assignments, discussions and
working life periods constitute the study programmes. We use Digital Planets multimedia programmes for
all college subjects. They can be used without professional teachers.
All these learning tools - digital books, ReadRunner, SpeakIT – together with an action learning
method are used to activate the learner. Working life practice periods make it easier for students to
implement and understand the theories and to become passionate lifelong learners. Our courses range
from 22 week full-time study programmes to 4 year programmes. We are proud that our students’ course
completion rate is 95 per cent. The cost is only 20–25 per cent compared to traditional classroom
education or education blending distance learning and classroom education.
Our goal is to offer education for all. eLearning can reach everyone in all places all the time.
Refugee camps have children and youngsters without equal possibilities to learn to build their future. We
can use satellites to download and upload information, memory sticks to send materials to the camps, text
messages to communicate with leaders. eLearning provides flexibility. Education can be customized
according to different needs, and training for lifelong learning skills and practical work can be provided. All
these possibilities can be remixed to apply to different situations.
In developed countries, eLearning by Demand can be offered for all citizens to reduce inequality.
ICT4D programmes provide real opportunities for building economic growth and peace.
eCommunity supports development
To support the changes our learners use social media. Online communities are transparent, supporting
local communities and they are observed by other communities even globally. When CAP – Health Village
Workers in Ghana make actions they report them digitally and other communities can copy them and
adjust their actions to their needs. CAP is short for Community Actions Plans. Community actions work
within health, food, energy, micro loans and teacher training. Our downloadable open course material for
supports the process. When Al Baraka schools in Somalia made teacher training a success the school
gave good lessons for others. The next school is in Mogadishu and two schools in Tanzania and Pakistan
follow the method, too.
Wikipedia does not connect economic development and Education for All to be carried out by ICT
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_development). Neither do many developed countries. Nordic
countries in Europe are supporters of developing countries. These countries have been democratic, have
top quality education for all in all levels and use ICT in education. However, Finland and Sweden are not
acting for education in developing countries. Developing countries need more than school buildings: they
need education that utilises modern ICT, pedagogical contents and methods. The sustainable
development process starts from education and visions, includes structures such as curricula and
methods and administration to secure the legitimacy of decision-making and transparency.
Most learning problems are quite similar across countries and the best solutions are the ones that
work in different contexts.
Universities have a high quality in Finland and Sweden. Universities’ expertise is needed in
knowledge societies more than ever to validate and support learning and research. At the same time the
traditional role of universities is affected by new communication systems. Their role has changed as
universities have become just one source among many for ideas, knowledge and innovation. A vital role
for the universities in the future is collaboration with the surrounding society. In Sweden this role is called
the universities' third task. MKFC has a foot in both camps; working in both informal and formal education
we can bring down barriers and collaborate to reach the population in need of tools for welfare, knowledge
and economic growth.
Join us for lifelong learning
I would have to be the best novelist in the world to be able to describe real life in Africa and Asia in one
short article. Even if it was possible, my text could never give credit to the work of our students and tutors.
In order to show how eLearning becomes lifelong eLearning I have put our field work on Facebook. I
would like to invite all readers to visit our Facebook group where you can find our structural approach and
our films about the Community Actions Plan, eJournalism in Ghana, Teacher Training in Somalia and
Actions in Pakistan. As a group member you can add your vision and reflection, and your sound and
picture as well. Our passion is for eLearning ICT4D to reach equal standard anywhere. Welcome to
Olssen, M., Codd, J. A., & O'Neill, A-M. (2004). Education policy: Globalization, citizenship and
democracy. London: Thousand Oaks and New Delhi: Sage Publications.
CAP – Health Village Workers in Ghana: eLearning provides results
A request from Ghana to help fight Malaria in a rural area in early 2009 led to a CAP – Village Workers
project in the village of Niliyungdo.
The population of Niliyungdo village includes approximately 400 children and 600 adults. There is no
electricity in the village.
We started the project by mapping the situation in Ghana and reshaping the CAP content from Pakistan
to Ghana. The original CAP Health Village Workers material made for Pakistan can be found at
In the course of this project we built a local CAP team consisting of three young persons (aged 22–27)
from Ghana. We used eLearning with Change Making material on the OPIT platform, memory sticks and
solar panels for mobile charging. In the beginning of the project the CAP team met with the village elder
and the villagers. During the project the team had four practical work periods in the village, ranging in
duration from one week to three weeks. When the team was away, the village elder took charge of the
The project activities included awareness raising and new demands came up, such as requests for clean
water, nutrition and education for children. During the project a new school was built, clean drinking water
provided and a clean, healthy village surrounding created. The villagers took part in activities to eradicate
mosquitoes which resulted in a reduction of sources of malaria.
The follow-up work included planning transportation to the village, new food production with rabbits and
starting a system of microloans. The MKFC is also trying to find out how to support sustainable energy
supply to the village.
The CAP team members wanted to continue spreading knowledge and awareness of Change Making in
other villages. For this purpose they entered the MKFC Teacher Training programme and also started a
company of their own.
These project results were achieved at a cost of 55 000 euros.
The changes were fast. The willingness to change was there, and the CAP project brought the
knowledge on how to implement changes. Respect for the villagers and collaboration were key in the
success. The whole village was engaged in change making. I asked the leader of the CAP team how it
was that easy and he told me that “the elders know that changes are needed but they don’t know how to
do it". When the CAP team came to the village and showed the way change could be achieved, the
villagers wanted to work for the change. The young persons who worked with the village respected the
villagers and worked with them. The village elder could keep his role as the respected person. He and his
sons monitored the work while the CAP team was away. In the long run this kind of action empowers
villagers and gives them a future to dream of.
The process and good practices are distributed in our online communities and in our workshop in African
eLearning Conference (see http://www.iicd.org/articles/iicd-partner-in-zambia-to-co-organise-major-
Marja-Riitta Ritanoro is the CEO of MKFC Stockholm College and the Director of MKFC Stockholms