Mission accomplished - new project up and running in Madagascar!

Picture of Nicolai Winther-Nielsen
Mission accomplished - new project up and running in Madagascar!
by Nicolai Winther-Nielsen - Wednesday, 21 October 2015, 8:28 AM

I have just returned from a tour to Madagascar October 3-18. Danmission funded a project for me to finish the introduction of teaching of Biblical Hebrew in the entire educational system for pastors’ training and graduate education in the Malagassy Lutheran Church. I was acompanied by team-member of Global Learning Initiative, Judith Gottschalk, who initiated our new develop of Greek based on Kime's Moodle courses and she was in charge of implementing our new network services.

The Lutheran Church in Madagascar is a fast growing church with a strong revival theology with missional and charismatic traits. By now is has some estimated 3,5 mill members and it is in deep need of educational development, as the demands for pastors increases, while the academic level of theological research must be strengthened. Globally sustainainable education is therefore in demand.

The Dean of the Lutheran Graduate School of Theology (SALT) in Fianarantsoa, Madagascar, Dr. Lotera Fabien, has always had a strong vision for strengthening Biblical languages as the basis for contextualising theology to the Lutheran revival church. Poverty is an issue in this society, as Madagascar ranks as the fourth poorest country in the world, and this has a severe impact on the resources for modern education. Yet, this visionary dean nevertheless believed in learning technology as the solution for transforming traditional blackboard teaching to learner-derected studies.

Thanks to support from Danmission, the potential of our Bible OL and Journey has now been unraveled at the graduate school and at the six pastoral training centers. Malagassy professors trained for their PhD at the MHS in Stavanger are now ready to take over and support the new way of learning.

The mission is accomplished! A new vision is in the working!  

It all started in 2010 when the dean on behalf of his staff signed a letter of intention that SALT would test a new software for the European Union project EuroPLOT. From 2011 to 2013, Malagassy students worked with me to document how persuasive learning technology enhances motivation and enablement for learners of Biblical Hebrew in this particular setting.

We started the Global Learning Initiative in at the Fjellhaug International University College Denmark in August 2014 and by November we were back to continue teaching. This time we also experimented with the use of a multipoint server solution for the PLOT project, and this PLOT Server is still running and supporting practice for learning, soon to move to the new student center on the campus.

This year our task was to finish the project for Hebrew by training PhD candidate Olivier Randrianjaka in using Bible OL and Journey for the graduate school's intensive course for Hebrew. We focused on how we together could develop new Malagassy-based collaborative learning styles which can be powered by our new corpus technology.

Judith and PhD candidate Jean de Dieu at the same time took the first step to use Bible OL for Greek, and they started experiments with a new revolutionary network solution for using Bible OL and Journey without the internet. 

We believe that we have not only handed over our technology into strong, capable Malagassy hands, but we are also developing a new way of corpus-driven learner-directed facilitation that has huge potential for improving the academic level of Biblical studies in development countries in Africa and Asia. The Malagassy vision is now ready for new global adventures!