Promoting online & blended learning

Academics Without Borders (AWB) is a Canadian non-profit organization. Its mission is to help low and middle-income countries improve their universities, so that they can train their own experts and conduct research to promote their countries’ development.

AWB’s projects are involved in the full range of activities, from expanding and improving existing institutions and programs to helping create new ones. AWB fulfills its mission by providing volunteer experts for projects that originate in, and are owned by, developing world institutions of higher education. Volunteers work online and/or travel to the partner university. Volunteers work online and/or travel to the partner university. Volunteers are reimbursed for their travel expenses but are not paid a salary.

Volunteer Opportunity: Promoting online and blended learning

Number of Volunteers: 4-6

Language: English

Location: All volunteer work will be conducted online

Online education has been an area of intense interest and development over the past two decades, but the global COVID-19 pandemic created an additional impetus for organizations to adopt online teaching and learning in an accelerated fashion.

AWB’s experience during the pandemic has revealed the significant benefits of embracing online delivery as a major component of its operations. Online programming allows us to bring together large groups of volunteers from numerous countries with a wide range of expertise to offer projects in low and middle-income countries, including in places where on-site work was not previously possible.

We seek volunteers to assist with supporting our programs and other AWB volunteers as they deliver projects online and/or in a blended format.

* Please note that we refer to the institutions of higher education in low- and middle-income countries where our projects take place as our “partner institutions.”

Volunteer Role Description:
Volunteers will work on the development and delivery of online and blended projects in collaboration with other volunteers who have expertise in the content area of the project and with faculty and staff at our partner institutions. The support provided by the volunteer will vary with each project, including strategic guidance aimed at designing high-quality online educational strategies, adapting content to online delivery, and offering technical assistance.

Examples of projects where volunteers might contribute include:
– AWB is partnering with a university based in Pakistan and East Africa which has developed an effective online workshop to enhance the skills of their faculty to deliver courses. AWB volunteers will make this workshop available to other low and middle-income universities, enabling faculty to optimize their students’ online learning experience.
– Strengthening Engineering Research is an AWB program that has been successfully offered entirely online in pilot projects in Uganda and Ethiopia over the past two years. Plans are underway to modify the delivery format and improve the learning experience by using a mixture of asynchronous and synchronous components.

AWB is responding to the broad demand for projects aimed at enhancing the basic research and scholarship skills of faculty with a new program that combines an online workshop on essential skills with one-on-one mentoring.

The online teaching and learning support roles will assist other AWB volunteers to be more effective in achieving project objectives. There will also be opportunities to share your knowledge and skills with colleagues at partner universities who desire to learn about effective online teaching strategies and tools.

We are looking for volunteers with knowledge and expertise in one or more of the following areas:
– Applying sound pedagogical design to online learning at the post-secondary level (instructional design)
– Advising and supporting instructors in creating online courses
– Working with instructors to implement best practices in online teaching
– Digital media development skills for creating online content such as: video/audio editing, blending and sequencing of content, and using related software applications
– Web development skills such as: overall page design and layout, embedded interactives using H5P, infographic creation

Volunteer Requirements:
We are looking for experienced faculty and staff (working or retired) with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and 4 years of related work experience who bring the preceding skills. Applicants with experience working in academic settings in low and middle-income countries are especially encouraged to apply.

Start Date and Duration:
Start date is as soon as possible. The time commitment will vary depending on the needs and stage of the specific project a volunteer is assigned to support. Some flexibility is desirable, and we will work with each volunteer so that assignments align with their availability to the extent possible. We are looking for a minimum commitment of 1-2 years at a commitment level of about 2 hours per week on average with considerable variation over time. Projects will be assigned as need arises and all successful candidates may not be immediately engaged.

Please send to Corrie Young, [email protected]:

  • Your CV, including your contact information
  • A statement of your motivation in seeking the position and your availability to undertake the role.
  • Two (2) letters of reference – please either include the letters of reference with your application package or have them sent separately to Corrie Young, Associate Executive Director – Projects & Network, [email protected], by the application deadline


Deadline: December 8, 2022

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February 9, 2018 – Volunteer blog from Malawi

Blantyre KCN campus – Gertrude Mwalaba and Gibson, Dean of Research

My goodness – our third and final week in Malawi! Our work with the Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) faculty, students and key stakeholders has flown by.

This past week, Pammla and I divided our energies. Pam assisted individual faculty members, doctoral students and small groups with individual manuscripts and grant proposals; nine manuscripts and at least three grants were reviewed and critiqued. In contrast, Dean Gertrude, Dean of Research Gibson, and I left Monday afternoon to spend two days at the Blantyre Campus of KCN. It was a drive of over 400 kilometers (one way) on a two-lane highway that runs through many villages. Our capable driver Peter deftly threaded his way through the countryside.

Cows have the right of way

Still, I found it a hair-raising journey, as the villagers – men, women and children and livestock – travel both narrow shoulders of the highway until well after dark. With many pedestrians, bicycles, heavy rain, and the oncoming headlights of rumbling lorries, it was more than challenging. Oh, and did I mention that in Malawi one drives on the left-hand side of the road?

Tuesday morning dawned bright and fresh. The Blantyre campus proved to be a pastoral miniature of the Lilongwe Campus. We proceeded to enjoy a delightful all-day workshop, primarily with KCN master’s students. Together, we identified a compelling research interest area related to the developing roles and responsibilities of Malawian birth companions, and then developed a scoping review of the literature in the morning, and a related grant proposal in the afternoon. I have worked with many graduate students in my time, but this was one of the most engaged and appreciative groups I have ever worked with. Energizing!

Wednesday, Gertrude and I met with the Blantyre faculty to discuss their scholarly interests, issues related to the inclusion of knowledge users in research, the advantages of working in research groups, and issues pertaining to the balance between faculty teaching and research. Clearly, the struggle to balance workload is an international issue we share. In Malawi, where faculty members, nurses and midwives are in short supply, finding that balance is even more daunting.

Traditional Malawian musicians under the mahogany tree

Our final two days were devoted to numerous external stakeholder consultations as we sought to ground KCN’s scholarship more firmly within the context of Malawi’s developing health and health human resource priorities. Our visits included meeting with the Principal, Malawi College Health Sciences, the Department Head of Environmental Health, University of Malawi Polytechnic, and a repeat visit to the National Director of Nursing Midwifery, where we compared and discussed, in far more detail, the emergent health and health human resources priorities of Malawi.
Dr. Pammla Petrucka and I were honoured to have this opportunity to work with KCN and KCN’s stakeholders, to help them build nursing scholarship and research capacity. We were impressed by the passion, knowledge, skills and experience we found here and we will continue to review grant proposals and manuscripts for our Malawian friends upon our return to Canada. We salute our new friends and colleagues for their passion and commitment in the face of challenges far beyond the experience of most Canadians. On behalf of KCN, Dean Gertrude, Pammla and I, we want to formally thank Academics Without Borders for this wonderful opportunity.

In closing, it has become clear to us that nursing research, including student research, is a rare and precious resource in Malawi! It is imperative that it is focused upon the most pressing patient, family and community health and health system challenges. And, it is equally important that research teams engage with patients, families and communities, and with health system and government knowledge users, to help guide scholarship that produces practical and affordable solutions that can and will be taken up by the Malawi health system.

Martha E. (Beth) Horsburgh, RN, PhD has provided academic nursing and research leadership in three Canadian provinces. Her scholarship is typified by practical community and health system partnerships designed to tackle recurrent health challenges faced by patients, families and communities in Canada and around the world.

Joining the Academics Without Borders family of volunteers has enabled Beth and her colleague Dr. Pammla Petrucka, to work alongside the nursing faculty at Kamazu College of Nursing, University of Malawi, to address local health challenges through sustainable research partnerships.

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