Challenges for NRENs Technical Training Services: The case of MoRENet
Mucelo, Moises Mucelo
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MoRENet, the Mozambique Research and Education Network, actually interconnects more than 150 research and education institutions around the country. Despite the quality of services and the wide range of products offered, some beneficiary institutions do not have the same perception partly due to a lack of technical skills, preparation and knowledge by the focal points. MoRENet focal points, the ICT professionals at the service of the beneficiary institutions, serves as bridges between MoRENet and final service users. The local quality perception of MoRENet's services depends greatly on the actions of these professionals, which in turn depends on their preparation and level of knowledge in managing and using the resources. It is their responsibility to make delivered the services to the end users: students, researchers and other actors in the academic and scientific community. Lack of knowledge or difficulty in using MoRENet services and resources, penalizes the final beneficiaries for not having part of the services available. At the beginning of the year during the planning activities of MoRENet Academy (the MoRENet's innovation development and training unit), a survey was conducted for the beneficiary institutions to meet the focal points’ training needs, focusing on technical training. The study was enriched with information gathered by the network support center who provide technical assistance to the focal points, and records the difficulties they face when dealing with MoRENet services. The study is also fed with data from courses offered by MoRENet since April 2019 that shows the trend of participation on traditional classroom and online courses, that confirms the findings of the survey conducted, and helps to visualize the need to adopt training options and alternatives methods to minimize those constraints. The study found that although the focal points of almost all surveyed institutions have academic qualifications in ICT fields, they have ICT training needs that goes from basic to advanced skills, from general knowledge to specialized technical areas, including specific training on services offered by MoRENet. The study found that traditional classroom courses are of great value for transmitting knowledge with hands-on content made in laboratories, but they can have few participants at a time, and that individual participation entails considerable costs, especially for participants living in regions far from the training centers. It has been found that online courses are by far the form of mass training in short times, but with satisfactory results for general and theoretical concepts, with the possibility of offering low cost courses. The adoption of modern digital collaboration tools that includes video conferencing in their various forms to offer technical trainings allows the NRENs explore at the same time the advantages of traditional classroom methods requiring technical and hands-on, and the online digital courses that serve many participants in a short time and at very low costs, thus achieving a complementarity that only exploits the advantages of both modalities, fully responding the NRENs technical training needs.