THE use of information and communications technology (ICT) is becoming more increasingly popular as an innovative approach to rural development making information more accessible to those who need it.

As part of its communication advocacy and education strategy, the Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP) has developed 11 e-Learning modules that contain relevant development information on various topics from project implementation processes to package of agricultural technologies on priority commodities.

"The e-Learning modules will serve as substitute to classroom-based training making acquisition of valuable development information accessible, convenient and cost-efficient among stakeholders and beneficiaries," MRDP program director Lealyn Ramos said.

For the information to reach a wider audience, Ramos added that aside from being packaged in CD-ROM format, the e-Learning modules will be also uploaded in MRDP website making it accessible to anyone who has internet connection.

Completed last month, the modules highlight technologies from production to processing of priority agricultural commodities such as rubber, coconut, coffee, cassava, cacao, and oil palm, among others.

Patterned to be helpful for local government units, modules on the procurement process, financial management and monitoring and evaluation through the formation of Community-based Monitoring and Evaluation Group (CBMEG) were also packaged to better implement and improve governance in agricultural projects.

Other modules include the use of geotagging technology, which was launched by MRDP last 2011 to strengthen transparency in project implementation, and safety and environmental safeguards (SES), which ensures that the environment is not adversely affected by the projects, were also produced.

"Although developed under MRDP, these e-learning modules will also serve as valuable reference for implementers and stakeholders of the upcoming Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP)," Ramos said.

The modules have been pre-tested and evaluated by technical experts to ensure the accuracy and suitability of the content and utility of the systems being used. The experts also assessed the modules’ strengths and weaknesses to allow for modifications.

MRDP, is special project under the Department of Agriculture with funding assistance form the World Bank, the national and local government units. The program, expected to be completed by end of this year, implements rural infrastructure, livelihood enterprise and natural resource management projects across 26 provinces in Mindanao.