RDOL101: Appropriate Technology for the Developing World - Online

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Are you interested in international development, humanitarian work, or helping others with renewable energy projects internationally?  If you answered yes- this course is for you! The first part of this course surveys technologies that aim to improve people’s access to basic human needs: water and sanitation, food processing and cooking technologies, biomass, rural electrification, and appropriate building techniques.  The second part of the course focuses on project development and successful implementation.  Throughout the course, the focus is on the community- their needs, how to guide decision makers to understand the benefits of different technologies, and how to learn from community members. Working with a community is essential to the success of an appropriate technology project.

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Students who complete RDOL101 will be able to:

  • Describe current situation for people living around the world regarding access to water and sanitation, clean cooking technologies, electricity, and adequate housing
  • Define appropriate technology and provide examples of applications in the developing world
  • Define the participatory process and explain why it is instrumental in technology transfer projects
  • Describe how waterborne diseases effect rural populations in the developing world, and how they can be prevented
  • Explain the basic operating premise of a dry composting toilet
  • List at least (3) technologies and their applications for collecting water
  • List at least (3) technologies and their applications for pumping water
  • Define the difference between water filtration and purification technologies
  • Explain how wood or biomass cook stoves can be improved to reduce indoor air pollution
  • Describe how solar thermal technologies can be applied to cooking, drying, and water heating
  • Describe how electrification projects can benefit healthcare facilities, schools, homes and microenterprises
  • Explain the basic components for photovoltaic (PV), wind, and micro-hydro systems
  • Describe how electrification projects using these technologies can be scaled up or down for various applications
  • Explain the pros, cons, and differences between a community micro-grid and small individual isolated systems
  • List the three main ways of producing energy from biomass
  • Describe how current biomass practices can be improved to be used as a healthier efficient energy source for heating, cooking, lighting, fueling engines, and improving sanitation conditions in a community
  • Explain how quality, comfortable homes can be constructed with limited resources and the use of natural, local materials readily found in rural communities around the world
  • Assess a site for locally available natural building materials that can be utilized to provide safe, adequate shelter
  • Identify what to look for in a partner for an international development project
  • Name three things to look for in a community
  • Describe participatory appraisal
  • Review the role of NGOs
  • Depict what makes a technology appropriate
  • Describe some possible negative consequences of bringing technology to a community
  • Describe the difference between project funding and end-user financing
  • List three ways to finance a project
  • List three ways that an end user can finance a system
  • Explain how pay as you go financing works
  • Justify the common principles to create a successful international development project
  • Describe why gender equality is important to consider for a project
  • What key factors should you evaluate when choosing equipment for a system
  • Develop an outline for a capacity building program
  • List 5 microenterprises that could be created to make a project sustainable
  • Define monitoring and evaluation (M&E)
  • Describe qualitative verses quantitative research
  • Review the methods for gathering data
  • Create a basic M&E framework

Click here for Computer & Software Requirements for online courses.

For information on SEI’s Solar Professionals Certificate Program please click here.  For information on SEI’s workshop and training program policies please click here.

Workshop and Training Program Policies

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Solar Energy International (SEI) is approved and regulated by the Colorado Department of Higher Education, Division of Private Occupational Schools.* 

Enrollment:  Prospective students may enroll anytime.  Late enrollments will be accepted on an individual basis for online courses, and the first day of class for in-person and hands-on labs courses.  Enrollment is on a first-come basis and class sizes are limited. To reserve a space you can register online or call in to register at 970-527-7657 option 1 and make payment in full. If you are sending a check, call first to check on availability and to let us know that you are sending payment.

Lodging & Logistics:  SEI’s main campus and Lab Facility is in Paonia, Colorado.  For detailed info about Paonia click here.  Many of our workshops are held in other parts of the country and the world. We now also have a lab facility in Costa Rica and the Middle East as well. Local logistics and lodging for each workshop venue are available on the location page for each workshop. More information will also be sent to registered students upon confirmation of registration.

Waiting List:  If a workshop is full we will place you on the waiting list. There is no charge to be on the waiting list. If space becomes available, we contact the first person on the list. You then have 24 hours to register before we move on to the next person.

Cancellation & Refund Policies:  Students not accepted to the school are entitled to all moneys paid.  Students who cancel this contract by notifying the school within three (3) business days (*of original registration) are entitled to a full refund of all tuition and fees paid.  Students, who withdraw after three (3) business days, but before commencement of classes, are entitled to a full refund of all tuition and fees paid except the maximum cancellation charge of $150.00 or 25% of the contract price, whichever is less.  In the case of students withdrawing after commencement of classes, the school will retain a cancellation charge plus a percentage of tuition and fees, which is based on the percentage of contact hours attended (if training is offered as distance education: “based on the percentage of no. of lessons completed”)*.  The refund is based on the official date of termination or formal documented withdrawal.  Please visit ‘Complete school catalog’ link above for full cancellation information and refund table.  If you are unable to complete your course due to illness or natural disaster, please contact the administration office.

If SEI Cancels a Class: In the event a class is cancelled for a reason beyond SEI’s control, SEI will work with the student to reschedule them into future online or in-person classes at no fee. Any remaining credit will be held for up to two years in this situation. If a student chooses not to reschedule for a future online or in-person class, and instead would like a tuition refund, then SEI will charge a cancellation charge of $150.00 or 25% of the contract price, whichever is less. SEI is not responsible for losses incurred on housing, travel or other arrangements.

Entrance Requirements:  SEI is an open enrollment training organization.  However, students still must meet the prerequisites for any course(s) for which they would like to register. Additionally, if a student wishes to be considered for admission into the SEI Solar Professionals Certificate Program, a separate application for admission is required. This program is a selective admissions program where we ask students to complete an application that requires an essay where they can indicate their dedication to successful program completion and their relevant  transferable skills that would make them a good candidate for this rigorous training program. Please see application for details, https://www.solarenergy.org/sei-solar-professionals-certificate-program/.  The school does not discriminate based on race, sex, religion, ethnic origin, or disability.  By completing the SEI enrollment agreement, all students agree to comply with the requirements and directions of the training and supply any information that is relevant to safety and medical issues.  Additionally, students completing this enrollment agreement attest to the fact that he or she is physically capable of performing all requirements of the training and agree to comply with all safety regulations and directions given by instructional staff.

Previous Credits:  Credits from another institution will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.  SEI only allows the transfer of a PV101 equivalent course with the same amount of contact hours and learning objectives as SEI’s PV101 course.    The student may be asked to provide a transcript, certificate of completion, course catalog, link to the course description from the transferring school’s website showing equivalent course, or may be required to take a PV101 opt-out quiz to prove proficiency of course material. SEI does not guarantee transferability of our credits to another institution unless there is an articulated agreement with another institution.

Attendance / Online Course Progress Requirements:  Students are expected to arrive on time for class with proper materials. Instructors may request your withdrawal from a course or program if absences or tardiness exceed 50%.  In the SEI Online Campus, course participation and acceptable progress is determined by attempting ALL graded activities with a passing grade of 70% or higher averaged across all graded activities.   Students who are unable to continue classes for medical reasons or severe personal problems will be required to take a leave of absence until they are able to return to class.  Proper documentation will be required and a formal request for withdrawal will be required to substantiate a student’s withdrawal request.

Progress Policy:  Students must maintain a 70% or higher grade point average to complete the SEI Solar Professionals Certificate Program.  Those who do not, will be given an opportunity to retake courses, for a retake fee of ½ the original tuition price of each course.  The retake option is available anytime within one year of original course start date. The student may be dropped from the program if acceptable progress is not satisfactory after multiple attempts to pass a course.  Dropping of a student from the SEI Solar Professionals Certificate Program shall be at the school Director’s discretion.  The Executive Director has final authority and shall notify the student of the final decision.

Financial Assistance:  SEI has a limited number of partial tuition scholarships available for international and low-income participants. We also offer a work/trade program for people taking 8 weeks or more of workshops.  Click here for additional info.

Placement Assistance:  Solar Energy International (SEI) offers employment assistance to graduates, consisting of job lead referrals and job skills development.  While providing resources to help you in your job search, we make no guarantee, expressed or implied, of future employment.  Current law prohibits any school from guaranteeing job placement as an inducement to enroll students.

Conduct Policy:  All students are expected to act maturely and are required to respect other students and faculty members.  Possession of weapons, illegal drugs, and alcohol of any kind are not allowed at any time on school property.  Any violation of school policies may result in permanent dismissal from school.

Dismissal:  Any student may be dismissed for violations of rules and regulations of the school, as set forth in school publications.  A student also may be withdrawn from classes if he or she does not prepare sufficiently, neglects assignments, or makes unsatisfactory progress.  The Executive Director, after consultation with all parties involved, makes the final decision.  The Executive Director may temporarily suspend students whose conduct is disruptive or unacceptable to the academic setting.  After appropriate counseling, students who demonstrate a genuine desire to learn and conform to school standards of conduct, may be allowed to resume attendance.  The Executive Director will review each case and decide upon re-admittance.

Student Grievance Procedure:  If a student has a grievance regarding any SEI policy or staff member they should contact, via email, SEI’s Executive Director, Kathy Swartz at kswartz@solarenergy.org.  Students should first discuss any instructional grievances directly with their instructor. If unable to come to a mutually acceptable conclusion, students should contact, via email, SEI’s Executive Director, Kathy Swartz at kswartz@solarenergy.org for in-person and hands-on lab courses.   For SEI Online Campus courses contact via email, SEI’s Online Course Manager, Scott Martin at scott@solarenergy.org. Final decisions may be appealed to SEI’s Executive Director, Kathy Swartz at kswartz@solarenergy.org.  Once a grievance is submitted via email to the Executive Director, within one week, she will investigate the grievance and arrange an appointment if necessary with the student for discussion. Every effort will be made to resolve any grievance in a timely manner.

Student Complaints:  Attempting to resolve any issue with the School first is strongly encouraged.  Student Complaints may be brought to the attention of the Division of Private Occupational Schools online at http://highered.colorado.gov/dpos ,303 862-3001. There is a two-year statute of limitations for the Division to take action on a student complaint (from student’s last day of attendance).

Contact Training Hours (shown on Record of Completion): 60 hours

more on nabcep certification > sei's solar professionals certificate program info >

There are no materials required for this online course.

You may be interested in our Solar Electric Handbook.

You will have access to a Digital Course Notebook from within the online course, that can be downloaded for reference after the course completion date.

Ricky Martinez
Ricky Martinez

02:32 14 May 21

I was always interested in alternative energy. I started out in the oil field as sort of a stepping stone hoping that one day I could switch to a more sustainable and reliable field. With how up and down it is, one day its here next day its not, I felt I had to do something or I’d be stuck stressing about whether I’d have a job or not. I’m glad I finally decided to take a course on renewable energy. The instructors are very knowledgeable and the courses were easy to understand, I was able to soak up a lot of information that I didn’t know beforehand, and now I’m looking forward to finding a job in Renewable Energy.


07:15 13 May 21

Best institution to learn anything about the Solar Industry. Best instructors, Best presentations. strongly recommended!

Jessica Baldwin
Jessica Baldwin

23:51 12 May 21

Learning from SEI exceeded my expectations by far. Not to be confused with other political action groups, the instructors at SEI know these technologies inside and out.

Grev Hunt
Grev Hunt

13:42 11 May 21

A wealth of solar knowledge and resources presented in intellectually digestible multi-media formats. If you want to learn about solar – this is the place.

JD Martin
JD Martin

20:12 16 Apr 21

They provided an opportunity to learn a little about Renewable Energy through education. I’m more interested now.

Demetrius Rolle
Demetrius Rolle

19:07 05 Apr 21

It was the most exuberating experience that I have had in a while. I never knew how intense Solar was until now. Never knew there were so many factors. I thought I knew it all, or at least most of it. Now I realize how very little I know. Hats off to SEI

Samuel Gartley
Samuel Gartley

03:22 05 Apr 21

Great intro course that takes you from a layman to an apprentice level of knowledge in the field. Filled with very specific and practical information as well as a vast gallery of resources that will come in handy for anyone in the industry.


21:13 19 Feb 21

SEI great place to start you Solar Education Journey. The instructors are very helpful and overall the freedom to be able to finish my classes on my own time worked great! Considering I’m a single mom and working! I appreciated the ability to get the assignments in when I was able! I will definitely be signing up for my next course!


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