This course is about areas dedicated nature conservation, "protected areas": how they work and why they are so important in maintaining the health of the environment in a fast developing world, and in particular in Africa. It will help you understand the challenges of conservation in Africa and how protected areas can help to deal with it, from the local to the international level.
Q: How is is this course organised?
A: This course is composed of 7 thematic modules (key concepts, planning, governance, management effectiveness, specificities of management, financing, topical issues) that include videos (introduction, 5 themes, one video on a convention related to PA and conclusion), readings, training quizzes (optional) and exams (one per week - compulsory for the certificate).
Q: Who present it?
A: Many speakers share their knowledge and field experience during this course coordinated by the four professors: Paul Ndiaye from UCAD in Dakar, Paul Ouedraogo from the secretariat of the Ramsar Convention, Sylvie Goyet who used to work at the International Foundation for the Banc d'Arguin and Geoffroy Mauvais, who from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN-Papaco) and external collaborator at the College of Humanities at EPFL. The MOOC is co-produced by André Hoffmann, IUCN-Papaco and EPFL.
Q: Are there prerequisites?
A: Whether you are a novice or professional conservationist you can follow this MOOC and decide how deep (optional readings, etc) and fast (5h per week for 7 weeks is only indicative, you may take more or less time according to your experience) you want or need to go.
Q: Is this course free?
A: The entire course and access to exams, lectures, exercises is completely free. However, note that Coursera offers an online certificate that you must pay to obtain (this is beyond the control of EPFL and IUCN) and regularly make announcements about it. Even if you do not plan on passing this certificate you can still access all the content of the course, take exams, etc. It is also possible to apply for financial help and to receive this certificate for free (https://learner.coursera.help/hc/en-us/articles/209819033-Apply-for-Financial-Aid)
Q: What if I want a certificate/diploma at the end?
A: There are two options to receive a certificate and a diploma . 1/ The Coursera certificate . For this you must validate all the online exams and pay the certificate to Coursera (see previous question). Note that is only a certificate based on online evaluation and it does not have as much value and recognition as a real diploma. 2 / The EPFL diploma. To receive this diploma you need to take an onsite exam organised 2 times a year. You do not need to pass online exams to register for the onsite exam. This diploma comes with 2 ECTS (European university credits).
EPFL and IUCN are currently working on the creation of a COS (Certificate of Open Studies) composed of several MOOCs, including this one. Only EPFL diplomas and credits will be recognised within this COS (no Coursera certificate).
Q: How may I exchange with the other participants of this course?
A: A forum will be set up from the beginning of the course to collect questions, comments, criticisms and suggestions. The MOOC also a Facebook group in which all participants can exchange: https://www.facebook.com/groups/208309996241190/.
More questions? Read the Handbook for the MOOC participants: http://papaco.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Guide-MOOC_ENG_2809.pdf