Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Education: MOCHA, Hydrological advancement through education

Educación: MOCHA, Avance de la hidrología a través de la educación

MOCHA Modular Curriculum for Hydrological Advancement is as its name says, one of the most interesting ideas found over the WEB destined to improve teaching in the Hydrological field. The basic objective is similar to the one pursued by the MIT OCW (you may want to see the link on my previous entry). Hence, it may face similar challenges: To keep high the excitement of the people involved in the initiative, in order to reach the objectives drawn at the time the idea was conceived. Nevertheless, the strength of this initiative may actually be to be focused on a smaller community.

If there was one thing I loved and impressed me the most from my former advisor at Tohoku U. it was his "international spirit". Thus, as part of his plan to develop strong research-friendship ties with researchers at renowned universities outside Japan, he invited Dr. Thorsten Wagener to visit my lab in December 2006 (January 2007?). Certainly, among all who visited us in Sendai, he was one of the "visitors" who left good memories in those who met him: Ranjan san (a post-doc at that time), Luminda san, (who was beginning his doc. course) and me (starting my master thesis). Two aspects impressed us the most: his simplicity (this word has a nice meaning in Spanish; I am not so sure about it in English), the potential of the projects where he was currently involved in, but principally the amount of interesting ideas and projects he had in mind. Thorsten seemed willing to work actively with us; unfortunately, we failed to propose something interesting at the right moment, and we lost contact. Eventually me and my friends felt sorry for that, but that is a different story.

Back into my memories, Thorsten commented that for the development of Hydrological Sciences, he believed it was important the mutual cooperation, sharing and discussion among individuals working on a certain subject. That is because few individuals are experts in all sub-themes of a field, which may become an issue when giving a lecture. In such scenario (when the lecturer is not a perfect genius), the knowledge transmitted to students may be somehow limited, outdated and eventually biased. But teaching is no only a matter of technical knowledge, because of which another scenario rises: the lecturer/researcher does have a wide and deep knowledge in absolutely all fields that he/she is teaching, but he/she has few knowledge on pedagogical methods; the result: the deep and valuable knowledge is not transmitted towards all students because only few of them are able to follow the mentor's synapse. It is also part of this group of scenarios the situation when researchers lack of enough practical expertise. Thus, for the wealth of all, and specially for those who may not have the resources/opportunities to discuss and expose their ideas with renowned individuals, the MOCHA initiative fits well.

In summary, MOCHA currently offers modules in:

  • Infiltration,
  • Hydro-ecology.
Modules in progress and desired modules concerned with my interests (to which I plan to contribute) are, for example, watershed modelling, integrated water resources management, regional water and energy balance, and wetland hydrology, among others.

If you wish to contribute please follow this link for details.
Other similar educational resources

- (Update May 21, 2011) Remote sensing core curriculum. Seems to pursue similar objectives to the ones pursued by MOCHA. It would be interesting to link them each other.

Links to similar initiatives may be found at the site of MOCHA. I will describe them and post some comments referred to those initiatives at Water Tohoku: On the WEB .

I will try to update the contents of this post as I find more material over the WEB.

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