WATSAN policy in developing countries: free online course & idea for an experiment
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TOPIC: WATSAN policy in developing countries: free online course & idea for an experiment

WATSAN policy in developing countries: free online course & idea for an experiment 27 May 2014 20:18 #8748

  • Sowmya
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Hi Everyone,

Deborah Bonucci posted a URL on LinkedIn to a new Coursera (free) online course on Water Supply and Sanitation Policy in Developing Countries: https://www.coursera.org/course/water

Excerpts of course details is posted below but first the idea for an experiment:

(1) The idea: The course has just started and we have to introduce ourselves now. How about several of us (who are interested in the course) introducing ourselves with "SuSanA community member" as part of the header?

Why? The Water Supply and Sanitation ('WATSAN') course will be taken up by people who have specific interest in this sector. And our SuSanA community is precisely for such people! Given that we all love SuSanA, I was just wondering (a) how many of us existing members would take up that course - it would be nice to have classmates from SuSanA and (b) how many of those enrolled for the course would join SuSanA - in a "more the merrier" sort of way. Perhaps Arno Rosemarin could let us know the stats (how many additional members compared to the usual signup rate)?

How many? I think atleast 20 of us should join. Then, we can ask Dr. Dale Whittington & Dr. Duncan Thomas, the course instructors, if they could post a message on the course homepage.

Would love to know your thoughts.

(2) Course details: "This course will examine current conditions and trends in water and sanitation services in low and middle income countries. Within it we will take a critical look at the underlying political, economic, social, and technical reasons why almost a billion people lack access to improved water supplies and almost 2 billion still do not have improved sanitation services."

Recommended Background: This course is recommended to students with a wide background, including engineering, public health, business, geography, economics, planning, sociology, anthropology, and political science.

Suggested Readings: Selected readings will be provided to enrolled students.


Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment after completing this class? Yes, students who successfully complete the class will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor.

Do I need to buy any textbooks? No, the selected material will be provided.

What is the format of the class? Lectures, videos, exercises, online discussion

Thanks and regards,

Sowmya Rajasekaran
Verity SmartLife Solutions
Last Edit: 27 May 2014 20:31 by Sowmya. Reason: Wanted to make the post shorter in length. :-)
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Re: WATSAN policy in developing countries: free online course & idea for an experiment 28 May 2014 12:38 #8759

  • muench
  • Moderator
  • Freelance consultant (former roles: program manager, lecturer, process engineer)
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Dear Sowmya,

I think your idea is excellent! I hope many SuSanA members who have an interest in that topic will follow you, take the course and make the linkages with SuSanA.

We had a long discussion about MOOC (massive open online courses) here on the forum last year:

Is this one of these "massive" courses with thousands of participants?
I haven't come across those lecturers from Manchester Uni before. I think I will get myself a login to see what they teach and also to see how their discussion forum functions.

Perhaps we can cross-pollinate the course's discussion forum with information from this forum and vice versa. And when the course has concluded after six weeks, the participants are welcome to continue discussions about water and sanitation policy issues on this forum.
The category for it is here:

(if there are lots of threads in this category in future, then we could consider bringing it up a level so that it is no longer "hidden" under "Miscellaneous".)

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant
Frankfurt, Germany
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Twitter: @EvMuench
Website: www.ostella.de
Member of SuSanA (www.susana.org)
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Re: WATSAN policy in developing countries: free online course & idea for an experiment 29 May 2014 19:40 #8782

  • Sowmya
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Dear Elisabeth,

Thanks for the message and enthusiasm.

(1) Earlier discussion thread: My apologies, I should have checked to find out if there is an existing discussion thread and continued from there. Maybe we could link this to the earlier thread so that messages are not spread across several threads? And, thanks for the link, I got to learn of several resources and courses.

(2) The Coursera WATSAN Policy course is MOOC: Yes, this course is a Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) with potentially thousands participating from all over the world. I have tried Coursera and Novoed (MOOC providers), they are very popular and comfortable to learn from. URLs to the wiki page on MOOC and a list of MOOC initiatives is given below:

(a) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massive_open_online_course
(b) http://www.mooc-list.com/initiatives-and-categories

(3) Applicability of MOOC to SuSanA: There were several important points raised in the earlier discussion thread. Particularly like the following:
  • List of courses mentioned by Mr. Mughal (I had come across only one of the Loughborough University courses) and the SSWM course. More courses on Skillshare, P2PU were mentioned but I have not come across these either. So, got to learn of a lot of resources from this thread and can we have a sub-page under the Library section of SuSanA website listing WATSAN MOOC / online courses available?

  • Have courses on specialized topics (fecal sludge management, impact evaluation of WATSAN projects, environmental science topics were mentioned) - could use ppts and other material already available on SSWM and other resources.

  • I like Jeurgen's Youtube videos idea because (i) more people are used to Youtube compared to MOOC and (ii) more people would be willing to view a short video than register for a course even if the course length is very short. We could even have a YouTube video on SuSanA or just our library / commmunity / list of online courses available! Could we have transcripts also made available (like TEDtalks) (no need to type notes separately and it might be faster to read)?

  • Have the discussion (we could have it online also) on what specific courses would be interesting / valuable? We could just have a list of course topics to start with.

  • As you suggest, we could sign up for the course to see the course content and, after completion of the course, students could continue with the discussions on SuSanA and we could find out what else would they want to know (from knowledge management perspective).

    Dear Detlef,

    Would you sign up for this course? I had not tried Blackboard CourseSites but this one is specifically for WATSAN and am very interested in knowing what you think of it. Though it reminds me that I should read more on circular economy (read a McKinsey article but need to know more).

    Thanks and regards,

    Sowmya Rajasekaran
    Verity SmartLife Solutions
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    Re: WATSAN policy in developing countries: free online course & idea for an experiment 30 May 2014 10:57 #8790

    • canaday
    • A biologist working toward sustainability
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    May 2014
    Hi Sowmya and Elisabeth,

    I think this MOOC had been announced here months ago ... in any cse, I heard about it somewhere and I am also signed up. I hope to find time to finish the course.

    This short TED talk by Hans Rosling, graphically showing changes over time, by country, is spectacular and I recommend everyone to see it.

    Good idea, Sowmya, so let's mention the forum in our posts. I bet there are more than 20 Forum members already in the course. Yes, the more the merrier.

    Best wishes,
    Chris Canaday
    Conservation Biologist and EcoSan Promoter
    Omaere Ethnobotanical Park
    Puyo, Pastaza, Ecuador, South America
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    Re: WATSAN policy in developing countries: free online course & idea for an experiment 01 Jun 2014 13:49 #8805

    • SusannahSoilet
    • Trying to use biology to recycle wastes and preserve soil fertility. Working on the 'Soilet System'
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    Also enrolled on the Course. There is a wealth of information and knowledge being exchanged both ways - following all the suggested links from other participants greatly increases the time commitment.

    Finding the Coursera format a bit trickier to navigate around compared to my other two with Future Learn, on Global Food Security: Addressing the Challenge, and Introduction to Ecosystems. Previous Future Learn MOOCs on Climate Change - Challenges and Solutions, and Natural Resource Management (Fairness and Nature - when worlds collide) were well worth while.

    If any of you have an interest in soil, the www.SoilFoodWebCourse.com is offering a 'pay for' course in Healthy Soils with Dr Elaine Ingham, but you can subscribe for updates and access some useful videos free of charge.
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