The IAF goes online

In 2005 the IAF started a new seminar model based on the experience of the online programme of the Foundation’s German education programme: the International e-Academy. It comprises a preparatory online-phase and a face-to-face seminar at the Theodor Heuss Academy in Gummersbach.


During the online phase around 50 - 100 participants from all over the world discuss basic ideas of the seminar topic and share experience through various online tools on an e-learning platform. In this way the online phase is in itself a comprehensive learning cycle. To give this course a competitive edge, the 24 best participants of the online phase are then invited to the face to face seminar in Gummersbach, where discussions from the online course are taken up again and developed further. Experience has shown that the commitment of e-Academy participants and the quality of discussions during the Gummersbach course are extremely high.


After being invited to one of our IAF seminars in Gummersbach (with indicated preparatory online phase) you will receive access to our online platform to take part in a short online course to prepare everyone for our on-site seminar in Gummersbach. This will help to bring everyone on the same level of knowledge, provide further readings and material on the topic and get to know each other. With this approach we have the possibility to make thge most of our Gummersbach experience and dive deeper into the topic as we discussed the basics online already.

What are the technical requirements for participating in your online seminars?

  • A computer with internet access
  • A browser , e.g. Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Internet Explorer or Safari (but other browsers should work too)
  • Many of the texts are in Adobe pdf format, to read them you can download Adobe Reader free of charge here: http://get.adobe.com/reader
  • Some seminars will use (optional and recorded) videochats. For this, you will need a broadband internet connection and an up-to-date version of Adobe Flash Player. You can download it free of charge here: http://get.adobe.com/flash

Do I have to be online all the time?

No. During the online seminar you will have certain tasks (e.g. writing a short essay, reading texts, answering a questionnaire, taking part in a forum discussion,…) with specific deadlines, but as long as you meet them you can do the task in your own time. Many other tasks can also be completed offline.

How much time will I have to invest in the online seminar?

Usually no more than 2 - 3 hours per week.

We are aware of the fact that participants are very busy with their professional and private lifes, that's why we take care of having long-termed deadlines. This will enable you to participate in your own pace and according to your schedule. However, it is important that you meet the specific deadlines.

What do we do in the online seminar? What are the tasks?

Depending on the seminar subject, participants are usually asked to write an essay on certain topics, read a few short texts, answer a questionnaire, do some web research or take a short video (which can easily be done with a smart phone) and discuss and exchange with the other participants in the forum. The facilitators will assist and guide you through the seminar. We will also be there to support you with technical queries. 

What languages do you offer? And how can I communicate with people who do not speak my language?

The online seminars will always take place in English and in some seminars you can choose between English or Spanish or French as your seminar working language. The languages we offer are stated in our annual seminar program. Thanks to your application data we can take care of your preferred language in advance.

All information is given in both languages. Working papers and participant contributions to fact-sheets or the discussion forum will be translated into English and Spanish (or French) so that we can offer a communication and the exchange without barriers.

How do you assess participants’ performance in the online seminar? And who will get invited to Gummersbach, Germany?

The evaluation is a transparent process based on a mixed assessment of performance indicators and regional factors. In order to ensure a good international and regional mix of participants, the Foundation will invite the two best performers from Africa, Southeast and East Asia, South Asia, Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean Countries and Latin America, a subtotal of 12 participants. The other 12 participants in the Gummersbach seminar will be chosen according to performance, regardless of their residence region. Please understand that we do not publish the overall rankings. The relevant country Project Office will communicate each participant their individual results.

Who can see the data I post during the online seminar?

Your privacy and data protection is very important to us. All information (your profile, fact files, essays, videos etc.) will be handled in a strictly confidential manner, that is, it can only be seen by the seminar participants and facilitators. Nobody else will have access to it.

What does it cost to participate in the online seminar?

Our online seminars are free of charge. If you are invited to Gummersbach, we do charge a small fee of € 260.00 to help cover programme costs.

So how can I participate in the online seminar?

To take part in our online seminars you have to apply to your country’s FNF office, with your CV and a motivation letter. 

Verena Schweickhard

Desk e-Learning / e-Academy