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Low-cost online learning for professional development 

In the first of a new series of blogs, CRJ Advisory Panel member Rob Fagan explains how you can enhance your professional development and training in all hazards understanding, crisis leadership, and global emergency management topics writ large on a cost effective basis. 

online course for text

Although online learning exists in many forms, I hope to explore the more in-depth, quality programmes that are of low to no cost. Many courses of this nature are for laypeople of all walks of life and intentionally designed with the general citizen in mind for quick and targeted learning. Image: venimo/123rf

I recently attended the roll out and introduction webinar of a new series of courses offered by Converge – a United States National Science Foundation-funded initiative headquartered at the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado Boulder in the US. Converge is designing a free 11-course certification programme with the interdisciplinary emergency management researcher in mind. 

The first two courses, ‘Social Vulnerability and Disasters’ and ‘Disaster Mental Health’, are already available and can be taken by anyone now. Registration is easy and free. The other nine are under development and are expected to be available in the coming months.

The depth, scope, and value of all the courses should appeal to researchers, social scientists, and interested citizens because the modules cover a wide range of topics. According to the course developers, the modules are designed to help prepare researchers: “To carry out extreme events research that is co-ordinated, comprehensive, coherent, ethically grounded, methodologically sound, and scientifically rigorous.” 

Readers should not be deterred by the stated rigour of these modules. Each module features learning objectives, lesson plans, written content, and case study vignettes that make them very accessible. The modules also include a list of publications for further reading as well as access to related standardised scales and measures, online resources, data sets, and other information. Each module is followed by a short multiple choice quiz and those who receive a score of 80 per cent or higher will receive a Converge Training Module Certificate of Completion.

The plan for the future is for the entire programme to have a certification component of an online credential system. It is hope that there will be a lot of utility in these courses once they are all available – the first two are very helpful for just about anyone in the field of emergency management, law enforcement, and emergency medicine owing to the cross-disciplinary nature and methodologies used in the modules.

Train today; live tomorrow! 

Robert Fagan, 02/03/2020
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