Self-paced Online Learning for Future Leaders and Better-prepared ERPs

October 24, 2023 by Ajda Turk, Želimir Stanić

Is online learning still relevant? When was the last time that you enrolled in a self-paced online learning course? Even though the COVID-19 pandemic days are over (at least we hope they are), the trends in learning indicate a rise in online learning and an even more comprehensive use of technology and AI. We at the CEF are following the trend, and have been investing in self-paced online learning in 2023 and even before. The roots of self-paced online learning can be traced back to the development of computer-based training in the 1960s and 1970s. Quite a long time ago, right? However, the emergence of online learning started with the rise of the Internet back in the 1990s and early 2000s, when the concept of self-paced online courses gained popularity. At that time, the CEF was still in the very early stages of its establishment and did not plan to develop any online learning. Yet.

Everything gained momentum later. First globally, in the early 2010s, when Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) gained prominence. Perhaps you are familiar with Coursera, edX, and Udacity to mention just a few free or low-cost platforms that offer a wide range of courses from top universities and institutions. With the advancement of technology, including high-speed Internet and mobile devices, we realized that we also need to invest our resources in offering online learning opportunities to the public finance officials in South East Europe. In 2015, the first online learning event was organized via Moodle learning management system (LMS), and in 2016, we launched our own LMS.

Since then, our library of online courses has grown slowly but steadily. And when the world was affected by the lockdown in 2020, we were ready. Ready to turn all our events into online courses. The majority if not all were facilitated by CEF experts. In 2022, when it seemed that things started to become normal, and people missed face-to-face interaction, we still planned to be present also online.

This year, we have launched several online training opportunities, and for the first time also three self-paced online courses:

The aim of the latter, focused on the Economic Reform Programme (ERP), is to equip officials at all levels of involvement with the ERP with the theoretical knowledge to better tackle challenges when writing and preparing the ERP. To this end, we designed a self-paced online course to address the crucial topics in the ERP cycle. The biggest advantage of this course is the fact that it is designed as self-paced. Public officials have the opportunity to go through the prepared materials at their own pace with the possibility to return to the course and re-read the materials at any time, while preparing their national ERP.

Since the self-paced online course is always available, we have envisaged it without any deadlines, and so we warmly invite public officials to enroll in the course whenever they wish and finish it at their convenience.

At this point, you might be curious, how a self-paced online course is designed. Well, the preparation process is complex and demands a lot of coordination between different stakeholders. The key part was to determine crucial steps in the ERP cycle and attempt to address the main challenges in different steps. A group of CEF experts who are actively engaged in the ERP preparation process, through the FISR2 project, were leading this process, creating much-needed materials and aligning the learning needs of public officials with the flow of the online course.


The lead expert who bravely led the preparation of the content and materials was Marsed Harizi, and here is his insight into the process: In my perspective, the design of the self-paced online course has been incredibly rewarding. It was the perfect opportunity to collect the best available knowledge and expertise on the ERP process, and to help readers learn and grow. It was also a chance to be creative and innovative, and to develop new ways of transferring knowledge.

The first step was to bear in mind the audience – your needs and interests. Afterwards, it was a matter of being clear, concise, and engaging. I hope it was possible through the selection of a variety of learning activities: videos, PPTs, quizzes, and additional readings.

This full package needed to be well-designed, so that it would be easy for you to navigate. I hope you found what you needed quickly and easily.

Designing a self-paced online course can be a lot of work, but it is a worthwhile endeavor. If you are passionate about exchanging knowledge, then designing a self-paced online course can be a great way to be memorable with others!

Advancement of technology, with a special focus on AI, is pushing us forward – to test and try out new trends that will give learners a more personalized learning experience, tailored to their needs. If you found yourself inspired or intrigued while reading this blog, we would like to invite you once more to apply to the course, which will, hopefully, improve your knowledge of the ERP and help you more efficiently address key obstacles.

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