1 National Institute for Space Research (BRAZIL)
2 Mackenzie Presbyterian University (BRAZIL)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2014 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Pages: 3593-3601
ISBN: 978-84-616-8412-0
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 8th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 10-12 March, 2014
Location: Valencia, Spain
The discussion of environmental issues and sustainable development of society has been growing worldwide in the past decades. The application of remote sensing - the technology of observing, collecting and analyzing the data of planet Earth and its immediate environment from air and space altitudes – has enriched human knowledge of our globe and enhanced our survival therein. Remote sensing continues to be gainfully employed as major tool of international cooperation. Most Remote Sensing education programs worldwide have pointed toward interdisciplinarity, providing a balanced experience for students spanning the domains of engineering, theory, data analysis, applications, and policy.
Established in 1984, the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) coordinates civil space-borne observations of the Earth, where the participating agencies strive to enhance international coordination and data exchange and to optimize societal benefit. Within CEOS, the Working Group on Capacity Building and Data Democracy (WGCapD) aims at building upon the CEOS Data Democracy Initiative in an effort to increase the capacity of institutions in less developed countries for effective use of Earth Observation data for the benefit of society and to achieve sustainable development.

CEOS Agencies have joined efforts to put forward an e-learning course named International e-learning course on Introduction to Remote Sensing Technology.
The objective of this paper is to present the results and lessons learned from this first initiative for Anglophone countries in Africa. With a multicultural perception, the article discusses the online education experience and gives some perspectives on further developments to be implemented in a possible second version of the course.

The course was free of charge and targeted at University Lecturers who can enhance the multiplier effect and help preparing the practitioners to use remote sensing in Earth sciences. The students came from various backgrounds and application interest areas.

The main goal was to create collaborative learning opportunities, providing the learners with an appreciation of current remote sensing issues, the geologic and human processes that impact remotely-gathered data, and how those processes can be measured using remote sensing. The 19 voluntary instructors came from seven space agencies in different countries including Argentina, Brazil, Austria, France, India, South Africa and the US. Over 70 people signed up, 30 participated (South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, and Tanzania) throughout the 16 weeks that the course ran, and 16 undertook all assessments and received the certificate. Course materials included well-organized tutorials, selected datasets and internet links. Two live classroom sessions per week were held, recorded and made available afterwards for downloading. Students were exposed to a variety of resources, software tools and datasets, all of open and free access. Follow-up questionnaires were sent to students and instructors seeking at information that would enable assessment of the contribution of the course as well as suggestions for improvement.

Overall, this has been a successful multicultural experience for accessing education in Remote Sensing in developing countries. Despite some limitations, the delivery methodology has proved to be efficient and the outcomes of this online course have been encouraging to pursue other courses in the future.
Online Education, e-learning, Remote Sensing, Interdisciplinarity, Multiculturalism.