By Rita Joshi

BONN (IDN) - While a new UN report finds that health risks related to climate change are on the rise worldwide, it avers that coordinated international responses can help prevent some of the worst impacts of climate change on health.

“The report clearly highlights the need for the UN and partners to continuously strengthen their actions to support governments to build climate resilience, including measures to protect human health,” says Youssef Nassef, Director of the Adaptation Programme of the UNFCCC secretariat.

The report, which will be presented to governments during the next round of climate change negotiations to be held in Bonn from May 8-18, 2017, was prepared in collaboration with countries, the World Health Organization and other relevant expert organisations, under the Nairobi work programme − UN Knowledge-for-Action Climate Resilience Network.

- Photo: 2021

Free Online Learning Courses from A German Platform in Demand Worldwide

By Hans-Joachim Allgaier

POTSDAM, Germany (IDN) — A German learning portal that provides free basic digitization knowledge in several languages to Internet users around the world is heading for its one-millionth enrolment. German science patron, Prof. Hasso Plattner, co-founder of the software company SAP and founder of the Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI) in Potsdam, is behind the international project and fully finances the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC).

The number of users from countries outside those that are German-speaking is constantly increasing—thanks to a growing awareness of the multilingual free courses for beginners and professionals.

Most foreign learners on the platform of the German university institute, called openHPI are from the USA, India, UK, Netherlands, France, Brazil, Australia, Canada, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Turkey, Russia, Egypt, Poland, South Africa, Mexico and China. The number of participants per country is currently still in the range of 500 (China) to 6,000 (Austria).

Information Technology and Innovation

In addition to being offered in German, courses are also offered in English. Already in fall 2017, openHPI implemented the online translation and subtitling of a course in eleven world languages for the first time. Researchers and developers at HPI are continually fine-tuning this promising technology. It is an endeavour that serves to increase and advance the worldwide use of free courses with up-to-date university knowledge from the rapidly changing fields of information technology and innovation.

More than 105,000 certificates from the renowned institute have already been issued to the most successful among the 270,000 individual openHPI registered users to date. Those who have revitalized and expanded their basic digital knowledge can easily inform employers, colleagues and friends in social networks about their current and future success – with a digital badge. This “Open Badge” is available to anyone who completes the open online courses having achieved more than 50 percent of the maximum possible score, as confirmed by the proof of achievement.

Successful learners receive written certificates and digital Open Badges

“In this way, we are meeting the wishes of many online learners who do not merely want to attach their issued written certificates to job applications or file them in private folders,” says HPI Director Prof. Christoph Meinel: “The extra Open Badge can easily be put on career portals or printed on business cards and letterheads.” With the possibility of achieving and earning several of these attractively designed digital awards, the motivation of course participants, as well as the gamification approach at openHPI, is underscored, he adds.

The German institute is not only offering digital badges to future participants to confirm knowledge learned, but also to everyone else who has successfully completed a course among the 80 or so offered so far. Anyone can easily share their digital award on social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn or via email. By clicking on the link to the verification page, recipients can instantly get a confirmation of the name, course result achieved, and date of issue of the digital award.

Massive Open Online Courses since 2012

The computer scientists at Hasso Plattner Institute, with its focus on digital engineering, developed and launched the openHPI learning platform back in 2012. Its modern e-learning technology is also behind the learning platforms of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the German software company SAP. Recently, both of these platforms registered their five millionth enrolment.

“For those around the world with a thirst for knowledge, who want to master the demands of digitization, we offer a wide range of benefits in several languages,” says the HPI director. Thanks to the free online courses, anyone interested can stay up to date anytime and anywhere, he adds. “Regardless of educational background, location or time, one is able to get the latest knowledge,” says Meinel. According to him, learning becomes an event—an opportunity for participants to exchange ideas and have fun with thousands of others in a virtual community.

Better understanding and shaping the digital world through interactive learning

“openHPI appeals to people who can better understand and help shape the digital world through interactive learning,” the scientist adds. In this way, he says, his institute helps people to constantly keep up with the demands of the rapidly changing world of work.

Everyone who wants access to clear, university-based knowledge for free, can revitalize and deepen their general digital education at openHPI. “We offer motivated learning in a multimedia setting with playful components, and the possibility to proceed at your own pace,” the HPI director emphasizes. Access is possible from any device with Internet access – at home, on the road and in the office. “It’s completely free, thanks to funding from our benefactor Prof. Hasso Plattner, one of SAP’s co-founders,” says Meinel.

With a good 12 courses a year—and around 80 in the archive

Year after year, the openHPI program includes more than a dozen offerings for IT beginners and experts. The 80 or so courses offered in the past are still available for self-study – and are also free of charge. Students can now also receive credit at their university for completing openHPI courses.

Those who want to watch the video lessons from the courses while out and about, even if no Internet connection is guaranteed (for example, on an airplane), can also use the openHPI app for Android mobile devices, iPhones or iPads. Partner platforms that work with the same learning technology are openSAP and OpenWHO. In addition, the HPI platform is used in the German “AI Campus” project.

This project, funded by the German Ministry of Research, aims to strengthen competencies in the topic of artificial intelligence. Likewise, the HPI learning technology is being used for the German eGov Campus project, which provides knowledge on the increased digitization of government administration. [IDN-InDepthNews – 17 July 2021]

* Hans-Joachim Allgaier is Marketing and PR Manager Hasso Plattner Institute (retired). He can be contacted at

Photo: The German learning platform openHPI makes it possible to absorb up-to-date, comprehensibly conveyed university knowledge on information technology and innovation topics from any location at any time – in several languages. Credit: HPI

IDN is the flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

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