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CoastLearn

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During a meeting in Split, Croatia, in summer 2000, 18 governmental representatives of the Baltic, Black, Mediterranean and Caspian Seas made a call for a distance vocational training tool which will further allow them to communicate information, experience, and ideas to each other on a longer term basis. EUCC - The Coastal Union took responsibility for this request and the Leonardo Da Vinci funded pilot project “CoastLearn” began.

CoastLearn aims to train coastal practitioners (e.g. planners, managers) in target countries and to create broad-based, horizontal, national and international networks of ICM experts and trainers.

ICZM is not a widespread concept in the target countries. Therefore the main concern is to make the basic ICZM concepts and its benefits understandable to coastal managers and policy makers.

Coastlearn makes an original contribution to existing European and international vocational training systems and practices. Other ICM training courses are expensive, very much tailored to western European and US situations and problems and in most cases they are part of an academic education. CoastLearn has become the first widely available course that is available on the internet free of charge. The most original aspect of the CoastLearn approach is the co-operation between eastern and western European partners to jointly develop new Coastlearn products whereby the needs of the eastern partners are in the forefront of the project.

Introduction

CoastLearn [1] is a distance vocational training package on Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) that makes extensive use of the electronic media. This self-learning tool targets primarily coastal managers and planners working at local, sub-national, and national levels. The secondary target groups are university students and NGOs. While CoastLearn is tailored to the training and technical needs of countries in transition, it has proven to be of value for non-target countries as well. The programme is accessible on-line free of charge, but also available on CD-ROM.

CoastLearn is divided into thematic modules that can be studied independently. Although not all possible modules have been developed yet, it is already a powerful training tool and a starting point for the ICZM learning process. For those users who want to know more, each module contains a link list and references for further in depth studies.

Coastlearn is a multilingual tool, available so far in English, Estonian, French, Greek, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, and Turkish. It promotes the exchange of knowledge and experience by providing practical examples and case studies illustrating the most important issues. Over the past years, the CoastLearn partnership has grown into a trans-national and trans-sectoral network of individuals and institutions dealing with ICZM learning and teaching. Come and join in! The first step is subscribing to our newsletter (write to med@eucc.net).

Why Coastlearn?

During the summer of 2000, 18 governmental representatives of the Baltic, Black, Mediterranean and Caspian Seas made a call for a distance vocational training tool to communicate ICZM information, experience, and ideas on a longer term basis. EUCC - The Coastal Union took responsibility for this request and the Leonardo Da Vinci funded pilot project “CoastLearn” began. Ever since then, the CoastLearn partnership and the CoastLearn programme have been growing under the leadership of the EUCC.

ICZM is not a widespread concept in the target countries. Therefore the main concern is to make the basic ICZM concepts and its benefits understandable to coastal managers and policy makers.

Coastlearn makes a contribution to existing European and international vocational training systems and practices. Most other ICM training courses are expensive, tailored to western European and US situations and problems and in most cases they are part of an academic education programme. CoastLearn is different in three aspects:

  1. All modules of the course are available online free of charge
  2. The modules are the result of extensive co-operation between western European ICZM training experts and their colleagues in neighbouring (including accession) countries of the European Union to jointly develop new Coastlearn products whereby the needs of the non-EU partners are in the forefront of the project.
  3. All modules have been translated into several languages (English, Estonian, French, Greek, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, and Turkish)

The Tool

The main feature of distance learning is that students can study at their own pace and anywhere they want. Furthermore, CoastLearn is a simple tool that does not require sophisticated computers or software for its use. In order to counteract Internet connection problems, CoastLearn is also available on CD-ROM. CoastLearn has a modular structure. The modules can be studied independently, are illustrated with figures, exercises and good & bad practice examples and can be supported by tutorial services. Eight modules are presently developed:

  • Principles of ICZM [2]
  • Policy Analysis [3]
  • GIS (Geographic Information Systems)[4]
  • Planning [5]
  • Environmental Risk Assessment [6]
  • Integrated Biodiversity Management [7]
  • Public Participation [8]
  • Sustainable Tourism Management [9]
  • COMPas, the Coastlearn Simulation Game [10]


The modules are divided into chapters, which give details on the concepts of each module topic, how to implement the concepts (“practice”), the expected learning outcomes, and hyperlinks related to the specific topic.

The future

CoastLearn is not a final product. It can grow much further and needs to be updated regularly. Existing CoastLearn modules will be translated into new languages. The CoastLearn net is also expected to grow. Results of internet based discussions about the CoastLearn modules and the suitability of their application will be fed back to the module developers in order to improve the training materials. The experience so far has been very motivating. Funding is being sought for additional modules (e.g. beach management) and language versions (e.g. Croatian, Portuguese). We intend to keep CoastLearn growing as long as the need for it persists.

Partners

Collaborating partners are:

  • IHE Delft - The Netherlands
  • EUCC - The Netherlands
  • RIKZ-CZMC - The Netherlands
  • Southampton Institute - UK
  • NAGREF Agricultural Research Foundation Fisheries Research Institute - Greece
  • National Institute for Marine Research and Development "Grigore Antipa" - Romania
  • Institute for Integral Development and Envronment - Slovenia
  • Institute of Marine Science of the Szczecin University - Poland
  • Department of the Environment of the University of Akdeniz - Turkey
  • PAP/RAC MAP - Croatia
  • Kaliningrad State Technical University - Russia
  • Biodiversity Conservation Centre - Russia
  • Arhipelaag - Estonia
  • Coastal Management Research Centre (COMREC) of the Sodertorn University College - Sweden
  • EUCC Poland - Poland
  • University of Klaipeda, Department of Recreation and Tourism - Lithuania
  • Institute for Environmental Science and Management of the University of Latvia - Latvia
  • Natural Heritage Fund - Ukraine
  • Baltic Fund for Nature - Russia
  • St. Petersburg City Administration - Russia

See also

The main author of this article is Kreiken, Wouter
Please note that others may also have edited the contents of this article.