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Distance Education Information Courses through Networks

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Information education the DEDICATE way

The explosion of information sources along with the multitudinous means for its retrieval, storage and transmission, has culminated in a need for training in information literacy-a means by which to educate professionals and staff alike in effective information resource management. DEDICATE (Distance EDucation Information Courses with Access Through nEtworks) is a programme established to educate people for just such a requirement.

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The overall aim of the DEDICATE programme was to establish cost-effective distant education courses that would ultimately train people in effective means to search, retrieve and utilize information via the Internet. Primarily, the DEDICATE project was based along five modules that broadened the scope of the individuals involvement, from a basic level such as being introduced to the internet as a learning environment, to more advanced modules like designing information literacy courses for specific user groups. The courses are supported by an electronic library of books and articles to enhance the learning process and comes fully equipped with an overview to assist participants in their planning activities. Every course is also further supported by a flexible networked learning environment composed of a DEDICATE Course Web site exclusively tailored to each course's curriculum objectives. “Into Info” programmes which had been developed by the EU's EDUCATE project give further resources in the form of subject orientated material. Finally, the entire programme's communication platform between tutors, mentors, technical staff, participants and counsellors is hosted over an asynchronous, conference programme fully integrated with the world wide web. Currently, the project has been utilized successfully in five different test-sites in Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia and general feedback from the participants has been favourable indeed. Whilst the project developers are looking for means to further build on this success in the form of designing other courses for participation, they extol the virtues of the programme by indicating that exploitation of the benefits of the programme can occur either in a direct fashion through implementing courses in other countries or institutions, or indirectly by having new groups participate.

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