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.

 

Business Communication Theory and Practice

Communication Theory and Professional Practice – Subject of Business Communication

 

Prescribed text referred to in these notes is Mohan et al, 2008, Communicating as Professionals, Edition 2, Cengage Learning, Melbourne. These notes are for the use of Bachelor of Business students with purchased copies of the text, not to be copied or sold separately.

Preview

 

  • What is your career objective and what skills will you need, and how will you carry out any future professional role?
  • How should communication theory help professionals?
  • Can you think of examples of professional communication?

 

Education or study is one example of a communication field or system including teachers, administration, marketing, agents and students, here in Melbourne, in your home country and different locations within.  This also includes study materials, promotional brochures, application forms, websites, assignments, telephone calls, classes, online study, informal conversations, books, newspapers, email and more.

 

This is an example of who, what and where, but there is another element, how?  How is communication conducted amongst all these elements to result in effective communication, but then what is effective communication?

 

Case Study 1.1 Mohan et al, ‘Communication ethics in the professions’.  From the keywords in the title of the case study, i.e. ‘communication’, ‘ethics’ and ‘profession’ can you think what the case study will be about?  The title probably suggests this case study will question the importance of ethical (behaviour) and communication by all professions and occupations.  Why is ethical behaviour important in professional life and how does it affect communication?

 

Next from reading the heading of the article extract, ‘Self-interest detracts from lustre of the professions’ can you imagine more detail and content of the case study?  Basic analysis of the heading would suggest it will look at how society respects professionals, but this trust is sometimes broken due unethical behaviour, in pursuit of personal advancement, whether that be a job promotion or profits.  What is the solution?

 

According to Ferguson of Harvard University:

 

In my view, business education – and not only in business schools – needs urgently to be reformed so future bankers learn to strive for more than just the “maximisation of shareholder value” (code for driving up the share price by fair means or foul).  I believe the next generation of financiers need something like a Hippocratic oath to guide their conduct, along the lines proposed by Harvard Business School students.  It is no accident Warburg thought of himself as a “financial physician”.  The world needs money doctors, not investment bankers focused myopically on “the numbers”. (Ferguson, 2010).

 

In 2010 BP oil company had an oil rig explosion and associated pollution disaster possibly one of the worst in the planet’s history.  After the disaster what was being communicated by BP, media, environmentalists, society and politicians?  Was it the same information and message?  If differences why?  What ethical issues were involved?  Are these issues and the standards or ethics we judge them by absolutely clear?

 

What is communication theory?

 

Communication theory has been defined as:

 

  1. The transmission of messages, encoded by sender, sent through a medium and decoded by a receiver, e.g. a newspaper article or collection of channels in the media as in the previous examples.
  2. Social interaction through messages helping people to relate to each other through “taking turns” e.g. we tried to analyse and understand the communication in the previous examples by discussion or conversation.
  3. Reciprocal creation of meaning in a context through language and other “symbolic forms” e.g. graphic images of oil covered pelicans and other wildlife on the beaches in the Gulf of Mexico, oil gushing from the well, President Obama on the news and unemployed oil workers protesting through print, television, internet and other media created a context of meaning.
  4. Sharing of meaning through information, ideas and feelings both encoded and decoded by the group e.g. online social media and other interactive media exemplified by blogs, allows diverse sharing of views and opinions according to groups’ attitudes.

 

The latter definition includes information (perceived facts), ideas (concepts and opinions) and emotions (personal feelings) through which professional communication requires clear purpose.  The elements required of a professional communicator include the need to be clear and responsible, organised message, optimal use of medium, allows for receiver and environment, and allows response to check understanding.

 

Understanding different types of communication, views, attitudes and opinions that society, groups, people, consumers, clients, cultures, voters and customers have, with different preferences and ways of communicating, is essential for effective communication.    Accordingly, when we as a professional plan and prepare for communicating a message we must take all these elements or variables into account, if we want to achieve our purpose.

 

Reference List

 

Ferguson, N. 2010, Banking Not the Devil’s Domain, The Australian, Nationwide News P/L, Sydney.

Mohan T., McGregor H., Saunders S. & Archee R., 2008, Communicating as Professionals, 2nd Edition, Cengage Learning Australia P/L, Melbourne.

Introduction to Digital or e-Marketing for Small Business – Instructional Design

Topic:  Introduction to Digital or e-Marketing

for Small Business

 

Goal:

Small business owners and/or managers understand the concepts, resources and actions for a digital or e-marketing strategy.

Subject Matter Expert and/or Target Market:

Have the SME covered personally, however I would potentially approach a local business chamber of commerce looking to support local businesses in their marketing and sales.  It could also target a specific sector, like has already been done below, i.e. travel and tourism, or international education sector.

 

Rationale:

Worked in education and training small business related to study abroad in Australia developing a digital marketing strategy covering Central Europe, Turkey, UK and Australia; conventional marketing was too expensive, not transparent and ineffective.

Self-taught using available online resources, became familiar with many techniques and actions, with formalisation of learning through recent MBA course subject ‘e-Marketing’.

In my professional experience, in addition to state university and vocation school marketing managers, many small private colleges precluded any effective digital marketing strategy in favour of expensive conventional advertising and promotion via travel to one off events for international student recruitment; not financially viable in new markets nor medium term market development.

Generally Australia has low very digital literacy amongst managers and owners, including small business, due to legacy industries preferring existing processes, sub-optimal education curricula, demand for immediate simple solutions and lack of innovation.

However, the travel and tourism industry, with state agency support, have had access for over 10 years to an e-Marketing kit, designed for small travel operators to leverage their marketing and sales digitally, both locally in Australia and internationally with global network; it’s been quite successful as world’s best practice.

The advantage is that small businesses with good digital strategy can increase their target market, analyse well, work with their and gain insight into their own customer base and have more significant profile than physically larger organisations.

 

Content Delivery &/or Presentation:

Can be introduced, presented, learnt and assessed via basic understandable steps, requiring participants to bridge differences between conventional marketing or sales, with digital.

 

 The design would include:

 

  1. What is marketing? How do your customers find you? What do they say about you?
  2. Website appearance, design and management and content management systems (CMS)
  3. Social Media how does it work? Which blog and social media?
  4. SEO/SEM How to reach new audiences and markets?
  5. How to evaluate any strategy or system?

 

Teaching and learning resources would include examples of good (and bad) practice via following or analysing a business from its website (social media, blogs, customer feedback etc.), feedback from participants relating to their own business examples.

This should be leading to them being able to assess needs, develop strategy, implement and evaluate, continually.

Outcomes are assessed by learner input, producing a strategy or approach, resources and media e.g. how to create a Facebook page, open a Twitter account, find useful resources etc.; using own PC, laptop, tablet or mobile.

After this overview, e.g. even presenting to actual target audience, could lead to being commissioned for more of the same, and higher-level training courses.