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Population Analysis for Policies and Programmes:  UNFPA/IUSSP Initiative on Distance-based Training

Call for Proposals

Background and rationale

A survey of population training centres and participants at an IUSSP meeting in March 2009 identified a marked decline in post-graduate training in technical population analysis and a growing shortage in the number of skilled population analysts in low and middle income countries. These trends are steadily eroding the considerable potential contribution that population analysis can make to national planning, policy formulation and evaluation, and to monitoring progress towards achievement of Millennium Development Goals. The meeting concluded that the creation of a set of high quality and freely available open and distance-learning (ODL) modules represented one of the few cost-effective means of reversing these trends by improving the quantity, quality and policy-relevance of population training in less developed countries.

At a follow-up meeting of demographers and ODL experts in June 2009, recommendations were made with regard to the audiences for ODL material, the substantive content and the pedagogical style. It was also recommended that the project take place in two phases. Phase One will comprise the creation of ODL materials in English. In Phase Two, steps will be taken to translate the materials into other languages, to adapt them to local circumstances and to induct trainers in their optimal use. This Call for Proposals relates only to Phase One.

Audiences

The main users of the ODL materials will be teachers of demography at Masters or Post-Graduate Diploma level in developing countries who will deploy them to support and supplement existing class room courses. It should be emphasised that the materials are not intended to act as a substitute for existing courses but rather as a valuable resource that can be used as a whole or selectively and adapted to suit local needs. It is intended, however, that the materials should also be usable independently of class room courses, by students of demography and by others, such as economists and statisticians who need to apply demographic techniques.

Scope, length and content

The proposed content is derived from current more advanced Masters courses in population analysis, divided into about 16 self-contained topics that are grouped into four main sections. In total, the material represents an equivalent of about 130 traditional classroom teaching hours. Detailed suggestions with regard to content are shown in annex 1. The four main sections, together with an indicative length of each, are listed below.

Section 1 Introduction and Overview (30 hours)
Section 2 Data sources, collection and evaluation (30 hours)
Section 3 Core methods of population analysis (40 hours)
Section 4 Practical applications and extensions to health, reproduction, human capital and well being, and ageing (30 hours)

Medium of delivery

The main deliverables of Phase One of this project is a set of postgraduate distance learning materials made available as open educational resources. These materials need to be in a digital form that can be delivered to students through DVDs and through a website, a Content Management System, or a Virtual Learning Environment. Allowance should be made for the likelihood that some students will wish to print their own hard copies. Adaptability of materials is a key consideration. Materials should be presented in the form of short sessions (e.g. one hour) to facilitate use in classroom settings.

Pedagogical style

These ODL materials need to be developed using the standard principles of good instructional design. An appropriate balance is required between the amount of text and images to be read on screen as opposed to reading text and images in print (assuming the content can be easily printed). Whichever mode is expected, there need to be clear learning outcomes for each session with a minimum of two interactive or self assessment exercises per session. The topics should be organised around structured problem-solving exercises to the greatest extent possible. To a more limited extent, topics may also be organised into those requiring a strong background in mathematics and those that do not. As a general rule, the material should be conveyed in a manner that is accessible to students having only a solid understanding of secondary school algebra and basic statistics, with mathematically more advanced methods contained in optional sections and appendices. Some specific prerequisite knowledge of calculus may be required for advanced optional sections. Throughout, exercises and case studies should be used to reinforce what is being learned and also to show the broader value of demographic methods – for example, using life tables to study entry into marriage or progression through school. The approach should seek to develop and enhance population analysis by stressing both its traditional and novel applications. Each topic should be accompanied by a list of suggested additional readings (with very short annotations), perhaps divided into classic textbook expositions and interesting applications with appropriate links to audio and/or video material.

Where material is for online study then it should optimise the interactivity of the medium by the appropriate inclusion of animations, though audio files (e.g. as podcasts) or video files should be used sparingly and only when very useful and quite general. The voice to be adopted is not that of a teacher to a large class but as a one- to- one discussion with a single student, where an effort is made to anticipate all the questions that that student might ask if they were sitting directly in front of a teacher.

Many of these principles are set out in the Knowledge Series from the Commonwealth of Learning to be found at http://www.col.org/resources/publications/trainingresources/knowledge/Pages/default.aspx. In particular the documents on Instructional Design for Self Learning for Distance Education and Designing Online Learning are useful guides. The site also contains examples of ODL material in print at http://www.col.org/resources/crsMaterials/Pages/default.aspx. Other guidance can be found on The UK Open University's OpenLearn site (www.open.ac.uk/openlearn) where there is also a Study Unit on Creating open educational resources (http://openlearn.open.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=3636) as well as many examples of such ODL material delivered on screen. Further examples of free online ODL material are limited at present but there are examples that can be found on the Wikieducator (http://wikieducator.org/Main_Page), Connexions (http://cnx.org) and MERLOT websites (http://www.merlot.org/merlot/index.htm).

Intellectual property rights

The contractor will cede to IUSSP the intellectual property rights for the open and distance learning materials. IUSSP will publish the educational materials (deliverables) as open educational resources under an Attribution - Share Alike Creative Commons Licence thus enabling everyone, including the contractors, to use the materials in their own programmes if they so wish.

The contractor must ensure that the ODL materials do not in any way infringe copyright or other intellectual property rights of any third party. Full details of any content from third parties should be clearly labelled with proof of permission for use if not openly licensed itself. If third party material is deemed essential for the ODL materials this must be flagged immediately with IUSSP for consideration since there is a presumption of not paying for permission to use copyrighted material. If it is agreed to pay for the right to use third party material, then it is the responsibility of the contractor to negotiate this use on behalf of IUSSP.

Adherence to standards

The contractor must conform to the technical standards stipulated by IUSSP below and where unstipulated must use open standards wherever possible. Any deviation from these standards should be justified in the proposal and any alternative be designed with re-use in mind. The ease of interoperability between systems deploying the digital content is critical to the successful provision of next generation technologies for education to as many people as possible. Details of the relevant standards mentioned below can be found, for example, in the JISC Standards Catalogue at http://standards.jisc.ac.uk/.

Documents

Simple (Binary) text documents should be provided as DOC, RTF, PDF or ODF.

Web

Mark Up text documents on web pages with hyperlinks should be in a minimum of HTML but if possible as XML. An HTML print version of web pages is highly desirable. Contractors need to specify the role of Cascading Style Sheets in displaying the HTML in relation to different browsers. Javascript, or similar, will be required for interactive components such as multiple choice questions.

Images

Fixed (raster) images should be provided as GIF or JPEG files, while animations (vector images) should be in Flash.

Multimedia

Audiovisual elements in the teaching materials may be provided in a variety of formats.

Metadata

If the materials are published on a public website it will be necessary to add metadata available through an RSS feed. Metadata on the teaching materials should comply with Dublin Core and contain details on:

Title Course or module title
Description Brief abstract of the subject of the course or module
Learning outcomes Learning outcomes for the course/module
Items Table of contents
dc:subject Topic or keywords
dc:creator person or entity responsible for creating the content
dc:publisher Entity publishing the feed
dc:date Date published
dc:format File format
dc:licence Creative Commons licence used
dc:rights  Information about the copyright 

Accessibility

In line with best practice in education and on the web, IUSSP is committed to providing materials that are accessible to a diverse range of users. We advise that all materials meet good practice standards and guidelines pertaining to the media in which they are produced. For example HTML resources should be produced to W3C html 4.01 strict (http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/REC-html401-19991224/) and W3C WAI guidelines in double A conformance (http://www.w3.org/WAI/WCAG1AA-Conformance). 
Long term hosting and maintenance of the website and materials is yet to be decided but contractors may be required to provide such support for 12 months after completion of the contract.

Quality assurance

The contactor must put in place appropriate formal quality assurance procedures to ensure that the deliverables are fit for purpose and comply with the specification standards and accessibility guidelines set out above.

Publicity

In any publicity or public presentation about the teaching materials, the contractor will acknowledge the funding from UNFPA and the sponsorship of IUSSP. Similarly the IUSSP will acknowledge the role of the contractor in its publicity.

Information for Potential Bidders

This Call for Proposals will close on 31 October 2010. Proposals will be reviewed by a panel of demographers and ODL experts who will make recommendations to UNFPA and IUSSP. It is expected that a contract with the winning bidder should be decided by 15 December 2010.

The duration of the contract is expected to lie between 24 and 36 months and the overall budget to be between US$ 250,000 and 450,000.

Individual institutions or consortia wishing to submit a tender should prepare a proposal of not more than 20 pages. Experts and institutions from low and middle income countries are highly encouraged to participate in this bid. Proposals should contain the names and expertise of all senior individuals who will be involved  together with short CVs;  methods to be followed including means of coordinating the contributions of population and ODL specialists; time frames and way points; and a budget showing costs of staff time, equipment, subsistence and travel; administration and overheads. A separate budget line should provide the cost of hosting the website for 12 months after completion of the contract. Queries concerning this Call for Proposals should be sent to Dr Mary Ellen Zuppan, Executive Director of IUSSP (zuppan@iussp.org).

Annex 1: Detailed recommendations on content

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