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Distance education and rural development: An experiment in training teachers as community development agents

, University of Massachusetts Amherst, United States

University of Massachusetts Amherst . Awarded


A three-semester experimental distance education course for training teachers as community development agents was carried out in the rural villages of Bolivia, with 364 graduates from the course in 1995. The teachers were trained to facilitate adult learning processes that empower community leadership and organizations with the essential capabilities required for sustained development.

The primary purpose of the study was to evaluate the effectiveness of five key components of the experimental Course from a perspective and experience of the Tutors and Teacher-Participants. The components that were studied are: (1) Content of the Course: 12 Modules; (2) Elements of the learning methodology; (3) The training of Tutors; (4) Community participation in workshops and application exercises; (5) Moral Leadership Module.

Three social research methods were triangulated to gather information for the evaluation: a survey questionnaire, focus groups and interviews. Over 80% of the Teacher-participants and Tutors participated in the survey, which provided data that was highly representative of the groups studied.

The study shows that the Moral Leadership Component of the Course was a key factor in motivating the Teacher-participants to commit themselves to become agents of community development and to engage in processes of individual and collective transformation. A more extensive description and analysis was given to this Component in order to understand the role it played in the process of empowering teachers to become effective social actors.

Although it is still too early to do an impact evaluation, the study attempted to assess some initial effects that the course has produced in the lives of the participants and in the communities where they work.

This study may contribute to the betterment of distance education approaches in Bolivia and in Latin America in general. The evaluation of these components may also improve the quality and effectiveness of any future replications of this Course. The evaluation has also been designed to enhance the learning of the key stakeholders of the Course.


Anello, E. Distance education and rural development: An experiment in training teachers as community development agents. Ph.D. thesis, University of Massachusetts Amherst. Retrieved August 10, 2020 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 22, 2013. [Original Record]

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