Learning Systems and Education
IREX (the International Research & Exchanges Board) has administered advanced field research and professional training exchanges between the United States and the countries of Eastern Europe and the New Independent States (NIS) for over 30 years. In 1991, IREX expanded its traditional emphasis on building human networks by promoting new mediums of electronic communication throughout Eurasia. As part of its commitment to advancing knowledge, IREX has pioneered the use of information technology and designed programs to empower academics, professionals, and others to transform their communities, actively participate in civil society, and work to bridge the digital divide between East and West.
Over the past 10 years, IREX has administered a total of 21 separate Internet programs in 17 countries with a contract value close to $12 million from eight different funders. In 2000 alone, IREX trained roughly 7,000 people in Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Western NIS to use the Internet and create new web sites. Close to 6,000 people accessed the Internet Access and Training Program (IATP) network for e-mail every month and hundreds of new local language sites appeared on the Web. In Belarus, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and similar countries that restrict access to the Internet, favoring censorship and control, IATP represents one of the only unrestricted, unmonitored sources of information and access to the outside world.
IREX currently maintains a network of 60 Internet access sites located in 44 communities across 11 countries of the NIS. Through this network of access points more than 7,300 users access the Internet per month. More than 1,000 individuals receive training in computer usage through a portfolio of over 54 training courses and specialized seminars ranging from basic computer, e-mail, and Internet skills to e-commerce and library science. Program beneficiaries have created over 650 web sites in local languages and take part in over 75 mailing lists administered by the program or program beneficiaries. The program also functions as a nonprofit Internet Service Provider (ISP) offering remote connectivity to almost 1,000 individuals and organizations.
IREX has substantial experience in academic networking and promoting use of Internet technologies in the classroom. In fact, academic programming and scholarly support is at the core of the IREX mission for more than three decades.
IREX has a wealth of experience in developing curriculum and topical training sessions tailor made to fit the needs of varying audiences. IREX's curriculum development efforts span a wide variety of topics, from Internet training courses to new locally relevant teaching methodologies for secondary school teachers.
Expanding educational opportunities through teacher training programs is at the heart of many IREX programs. Through exchange, training, and grants administration, IREX empowers educators with new teaching methods and strategies. IREX offers a multitude of teacher training courses Internet for Teachers of English as a Second Language and Internet Technologies for Civic Education.
IREX fosters the development of innovative information sharing techniques between and among academic institutions to encourage the exchange of knowledge, research, and culture. IREX encourages networking through on-line events and topical electronic mailing lists.
Learning System Pilots
IREX has pioneered the development of several new initiatives that capitalize on the knowledge and experience of local professionals and has designed and introduced several innovative teaching approaches and methodologies. IREX disseminates results through training of trainer programs, CD-ROMs, and interactive web sites.