E-Learning for University Students in Africa

E-learning maybe the solution for increased affordable access to effective education across the world as an organic extension of distance learning, open university and on campus study using ‘FLIPPED learning model’, dependent upon digital resources and communication.

Parts of Africa, and the world, can use e-learning for access.

African University Study via E-Learning (Image copyright Pexels)

For many parts of Africa it is a solution to limited or no access, from Deutsche Welle:

The importance of studying at home for a degree: E-learning in Africa

Many young Africans dream of a higher education. But they often don’t have the means: colleges are often far away and accommodation is expensive. Online universities and e-learning may provide a viable solution.

Lectures with compulsory attendance were not an option for Alida Tapsoba. The 29-year-old from Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, has to earn a living and therefore needs to be in control of when she works and when she studies. With this in mind, she decided to take an online course. “But I was also afraid. I wasn’t sure if I could do it,” the journalism student told DW. “You have to be well organized to deliver the assignments on time — especially if you work extra hours.”

Alida Tapsoba said her choice is rather expensive. She spends a lot of money on internet access. She needs to download large files, which is time-consuming and costly. Rebecca Stromeyer knows the problem well. She said that in many African countries, internet access is considerably more expensive than in Germany. Stromeyer is the founder of e-Learning Africa, an annual conference which attracts experts in the field to network and exchange information in a pan-African context.

No digital infrastructure

Internet access varies much across the continent. “Kenya is a pioneer, even in rural areas,” said Stromeyer. In the Central African Republic, by contrast, only a few people can accesss the internet. “Conditions are not yet so ideal that everyone in Africa can complete an e-learning program,” said Stromeyer. She adds that governments need put more efforts into developing the infrastructure.

“Nevertheless, the need to develop e-learning was much stronger in Africa than in Europe,” said the communications technology expert. And it is not restricted to university studies. The school system often does not work, especially in rural areas. There is a lack of teachers and textbooks. Stromeyer advocates using the internet for education in schools as well, although she believes that students learn better at school than they do online.

Flexible and individual

Tony Carr, from the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, begs to differ: “Sitting in a lecture hall with 600 other students is much like taking a degree by correspondence. Online interactions can be much warmer and personal. They can bring students closer together than a course requiring attendance.”

Flexibility is another advantage. Young people can also save on accommodation costs by staying at home and not having to rent a room in another city. They can tailor their studies to fit their needs, focus on the skills they believe to be most important and take courses they would not otherwise have access to.

Alida Tapsoba is a case in point. She dreams of working abroad as a journalist. She could not find the master’s course she was looking for in her home town. But a renowned journalism school in Paris had just what she wanted.

South Africa’s pioneers

The University of South Africa (UNISA) pioneered distance learning on the continent. When it was founded in the 1940s it offered only degrees by correspondence. Today, it is on its way to full digitalization. By its own account, it is Africa’s largest distance learning institution.

Tony Carr refers to a research paper into online studies in Africa, which compared different countries between 2011 and 2016. It showed that South Africa was the pioneer in e-learning, followed by Angola, Nigeria and Tunisia. According to Carr, this growth goes hand in hand with internet access, income levels and the increase of the middle class in the countries mentioned.

Generally speaking, Anglophone countries lead the field, Stromeyer said. But there is a growing number of initiatives in French-speaking West Africa. Ivory Coast founded the state-run Universite Virtuelle de Cote d’Ivoire four years ago. “An outstanding institution,” said Stromeyer. “It had the advantage of being able to learn from the mistakes of others.”

High demand in African countries

Many employers still believe that online studies are worth less than degrees that require a physical presence. “They believe that the courses are shorter and that less content is conveyed,” said Stromeyer. “This is not true. The need for e-learning is great in Africa, where an above-average number of young people live. Traditional universities and student accommodation are often overcrowded.” Stromeyer recommended a mixture of online and attendance studies, since young people also have the need to socialize and be part of a community.

The main thing is to gather in-depth information about online courses and providers, Tony Carr pointed out. An online university can be located anywhere, and can circumvent the national accreditation system. Experts recommend asking precisely which degree can be obtained and whether it is recognized in your own country or abroad.

 

For more articles and blog posts about adult learning, andragogy, business training, course design, CPD Continuing Professional Development, e-learning in higher education, ID Instructional Design, international students, MOOCs, Online Education, Pedagogy and Program Design, click through.

 

Technology in Higher Education – Innovation Policy – Skills – Digital Literacy

Following is an article by Rogoff in Project Syndicate on the adoption, or not, of technology in universities and higher education whether MOOCS, flipped learning model, online or e-learning etc.

From Project Syndicate:

When Will Tech Disrupt Higher Education?

Feb 5, 2018 KENNETH ROGOFF

Universities pride themselves on producing creative ideas that disrupt the rest of society, yet higher-education teaching techniques continue to evolve at a glacial pace. Given education’s centrality to raising productivity, shouldn’t efforts to reinvigorate today’s sclerotic Western economies focus on how to reinvent higher education?

CAMBRIDGE – In the early 1990s, at the dawn of the Internet era, an explosion in academic productivity seemed to be around the corner. But the corner never appeared. Instead, teaching techniques at colleges and universities, which pride themselves on spewing out creative ideas that disrupt the rest of society, have continued to evolve at a glacial pace.

Sure, PowerPoint presentations have displaced chalkboards, enrolments in “massive open online courses” often exceed 100,000 (though the number of engaged students tends to be much smaller), and “flipped classrooms” replace homework with watching taped lectures, while class time is spent discussing homework exercises. But, given education’s centrality to raising productivity, shouldn’t efforts to reinvigorate today’s sclerotic Western economies focus on how to reinvent higher education?…

…Universities and colleges are pivotal to the future of our societies. But, given impressive and ongoing advances in technology and artificial intelligence, it is hard to see how they can continue playing this role without reinventing themselves over the next two decades. Education innovation will disrupt academic employment, but the benefits to jobs everywhere else could be enormous. If there were more disruption within the ivory tower, economies just might become more resilient to disruption outside it.

 

Issues for higher education may emanate from teaching and/or learning tradition or habits, physical size and complexity e.g. silos, self-perception of being leaders not followers, older generations lacking digital literacy making strategic decisions, interests of permanent versus temporary personnel, slow moving and long communication lines both top down vertical, and lateral.

 

Tradition versus Innovation?

 

One could argue that traditional university lectures, religious preaching and political propagation have centred round expert or influencer communicating physically to non-experts in familiar formats that have not been challenged since the time of Gutenberg, duplicator and photocopiers?

 

Further, underlying issue is may be existing personnel, hence processes and systems, preclude taking on new digital technology (optimally) as observed in other sectors due to perceived disruption or lack of encouragement, or even discouragement.

 

Digital or e-Marketing and Communications

 

Marketing and communications in international education was a case in point whereby strategy informed by faculty attendance at international events was replicated in ‘international marketing’ with focus upon events including professional development and networking opportunities, versus marketing grounded in enrolled students on campus (customer journey, relationship management, satisfaction, testimonials, peer influence and word of mouth).

 

Digital or e-marketing arrived by early noughties but at best was used by universities etc. for international marketing as modest ‘budget allocation’ through traditional advertising and promotional channels. Described by some technophobes as something for the domestic ‘web marketing team’ when in fact digital behaviour upends traditional channels requiring bottom up analysis and strategy development, plus KPIs and ROI.

 

Architecture of Higher Education and Policy

 

Another concern with the focus now upon effective, efficient or economic education delivery and digital technology is the specialisation and/or atomisation of those working in all levels of education versus well rounded professionals with skills of content, teaching, learning, design, delivery, assessment, evaluation, administration and technology.

 

Rather than expecting or commissioning sub-contractors to consult with subject matter experts (SMEs), doing ‘instructional design’ (possibly lacking knowledge pedagogy and andragogy), narrow evaluation e.g. of course design only, using doctorate qualified temporary instructors for blended learning or flipped model but lacking skills of teaching; why not multi-skilled educators delivering based upon customer or student learning needs?

FLIPPED Model – Pedagogy or Andragogy in Higher Education Teaching Learning

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FLIPPED Teaching and Learning Model in Higher Education

 

Introduction

 

Nowadays in higher education there is much talk of MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses), e-learning, blended learning and the ‘FLIPPED’ (Flexible Environments, Learning Culture, Intentional Content, Professional Educators, Progressive Activities, Engaging Experiences, and Diversified Platforms) classroom; what does it mean, what are the issues and solutions?

 

Brief Literature Review

 

One of the first issues to be apparent is that ‘FLIPPED learning’ is under utilised and even when utilised, there maybe sub-optimal delivery for good teaching and learning outcomes (Chen et al., 2014).  Conversely, whether a fee-paying program, compulsory K12 or a MOOC, FLIPPED learning can dramatically increase access (Hazlett, 2014).

 

Flipped classroom is also a benefit to both teaching and learning, with students being exposed to subject content online and participate in active lessons; moving away from teacher directed pedagogy to student centred learning or andragogy (especially important for transition of youth to adulthood).  The benefits are exemplified by less homework issues, question and answer, deeper exploration and those away with illness can keep up.  For teachers it means supporting students in application, reusable, easier individual student attention and more transparency for parents (Mihai, 2016).

 

Another view includes the following benefits: more student control, student centred, content more accessible for students or parents, and more efficient.  However, this is tempered by disadvantages of digital divide or illiteracy, requires significant preparation and front-end input, not good for test preparation and increased screen time (Acedo, 2013).

 

Other related concerns including potential side lining of teachers and their related skills, online content and instructional design can be boring versus active and interesting lessons, excusing bad pedagogy, internet access issues (e.g. Australia has internet speed and bandwidth issues comparing with less developed nations), assuring online content e.g. videos are watched, online content and instructional design can be very time consuming (November & Mull, 2012).

 

What are the issues for FLIPPED model in adult vocation or higher education teaching and learning?

 

The obvious issue is that when developed for K12 it is based upon pedagogic learning theories for children and youth, supported by teachers with strong background in theory and application of teaching, learning, assessment and technology.  However, this may not translate well to adult education, vocational or higher education requiring skills of applying andragogy i.e. matching adult learning styles with instructors, trainers, teachers or lecturers lacking the same education background.

 

What are the differences between pedagogy and andragogy in teaching and learning?

 

Firstly, what do adults bring to learning and how do they learn optimally as identified by Malcolm Knowles?  Knowles identified six principles including internal motivation and self-direction, life experience and knowledge, goal oriented, relevancy, practical and need for respect.  Contrasted with pedagogy in the following table:

 

Andragogy versus Pedagogy in FLIPPED Model for Higher Education

Andragogy versus Pedagogy for the FLIPPED Model in Higher Education

(Education Technology & Mobile Learning, 2018)

 

Reflection on issues and solutions for FLIPPED Model in Higher Education

 

One has experienced online blinded learning in higher education i.e. online MBA with webinars, CPD (Continuing Professional Development) via e-learning platform and vocational training certificate via distance learning and recorded webinars as ‘add-ons’, not well integrated.

 

Issues encountered included lack of teaching, learning, assessment and technology skills in instructional design, lesson planning, delivery of interesting lessons, developing and testing activity resources, creating opportunities for interactivity, involving all students (not just strong or dominant), using existing or old lecture slides for content, technology breakdowns with no disaster plan, not using or updating discussion forums and relying too much on ‘presenting’ versus teaching.

 

Solutions could include CPD like ‘train the trainer’ or in Australia the TAE40116 Certificate IV Trainer & Assessor, however many are not suitable for adult learners whether young or old.  In more diverse international cohorts where English is not the first language, adapt using the Cambridge CELTA (Certificate to Teach English Language to Adults) framework (applied qualification studied full time intensively four weeks including practice and observations).

 

The latter is especially well designed to include all learning theories including pedagogy and importantly andragogy, for student centred communication interaction.  It is based on the PPP model (Presentation, Practice and Production), when applied well is active, interesting, with clear learning outcomes and multi levelled hidden curriculum, in addition to communication skills, when pitched at advanced or proficiency level students (UCLES, 2018).

 

Nowadays with empowered and fee paying adult learners, top down directed teaching and learning of subject matter may neither be accepted nor acceptable?

 

Reference List

 

Acedo, M. (2013) 10 Pros and Cons of a Flipped Classroom. Available at: https://www.teachthought.com/learning/10-pros-cons-flipped-classroom/  (Accessed on: 27 January 2018).

 

Chen, Y; Wang, Y; Kinshuk & Chen, N. (2014) Is FLIP enough? Or should we use the FLIPPED model instead? Computers & Education. 79 pp. 16-27. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360131514001559

 

Education Technology & Mobile Learning (2018) Awesome Chart on “Pedagogy versus Andragogy”.  Available at: https://www.educatorstechnology.com/2013/05/awesome-chart-on-pedagogy-vs-andragogy.html (Accessed on: 28 January 2018).

 

Hazlett, C. (2014) Parallel Sessions: MOOC meets Flipped Classroom. Available at: https://blog.edx.org/parallel-sessions-mooc-meets-flipped (Accessed on: 27 January 2018).

 

Mihai, L. (2016) Blended Learning: 8 Flipped Classroom Benefits for Students and Teachers. Available at: https://elearningindustry.com/8-flipped-classroom-benefits-students-teachers (Accessed on: 27 January 2018).

 

November, A. & Mull, B. (2012) Flipped Learning: A Response to Five Common Criticisms. Available at: http://web.uvic.ca/~gtreloar/Articles/Technology/flipped-learning-a-response-to-five-common-criticisms.pdf (Accessed on: 27 January 2018).

 

UCLES (2018) Cambridge English Teaching Framework. Available at: http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/teaching-english/cambridge-english-teaching-framework/ (Accessed on: 27 January 2018).