Description/achievement of initiative
The Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC) is a network of small countries committed to the collaborative development of free content resources for use in an educational context. Participating countries focus on the collaborative development of post-secondary, skills-related courses in areas such as tourism, entrepreneurship, disaster management, life skills, use of information and communication technologies, and small fisheries management. The materials produced by the VUSSC countries are non-proprietary and are readily adaptable for use in specific country contexts.It is important to note that the VUSSC is not a tertiary institution. Rather, it is a mechanism for small countries to collaboratively develop, adapt and share courses and learning materials. It is also a forum for institutions to build capacity and expertise in online collaboration, eLearning and information and communication technologies (ICT) in general.The broad developmental objective of VUSSC is to increase the human resource capacity that small states of the Commonwealth require to ensure that they are able to participate effectively in global economies and thrive as equal, sustainable and resilient members of the world community.
Ministry officials and institutional representatives from each of the 53 participating countries serve as interlocutors, representing their countries during VUSSC planning meetings. The interlocutors are responsible for nominating participants for the course development and training workshops. They also participate directly in planning meetings and the Transnational Qualification Framework meetings.The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) is building capacity in online materials development among educators in small states of the Commonwealth by hosting intensive training workshops or "boot camps". Educators from small states learn computer literacy skills and how to collaboratively develop learning materials. Upon return to their home countries, workshop participants continue to collaborate on course materials and share their skills with colleagues. The sixth VUSSC training workshop, scheduled for late 2009 in Samoa, will focus on creating learning materials related to the maritime industry.
Arrangements for Capacity-Building and Technology Transfer
VUSSC launched its own website in 2009 (see http://www.vussc.org/). The site is a gateway to information about VUSSC activities and resources, including online courses in subjects such as disaster management, entrepreneurship, life skills and tourism. Developed by educators from small states of the Commonwealth, the VUSSC courses are freely available to anyone for download, adaptation and use.VUSSC courses cover a variety of areas including:ï‚§- Introducing Distance Educationï‚§- Starting Your Own Businessï‚§- Disaster Managementï‚§- Life Skills Developmentï‚§- Linux for IT Managersï‚§- Successful Project Managementï‚§- Tour Guidingï‚§- Training Educators to Design and Develop Open and Distance Learning (ODL) Materialsï‚§- Postgraduate Diploma in Education Leadershipï‚§- Plus more
Coordination mechanisms/governance structure
All participating countries contribute their available resources and expertise to the VUSSC initiative. The small states (usually defined as having populations of fewer than 1.5 million) make up two-thirds of the 53 countries in membership of the Commonwealth. Each of the countries usually has one national university. The intention of VUSSC is to stimulate an increase in the course offerings in these smaller countries and to create a mechanism to enable the transfer of credits and qualified people across borders of countries.
The 53 countries included in VUSSC are:
Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Brunei, Darussalum, Cyprus, Dominica, Fiji, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Kiribati, Lesotho, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Namibia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Seychelles (The Republic of), Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Swaziland, The Bahamas, The Gambia, Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.