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.

 

Immigration is not Cause of Unemployment

While most politicians, media and society assume ‘immigration’ drives unemployment, recent Australian research from CEDA contradicts this, as did research presented by left workers’ ‘Solidarity’ in 2012.

Why has it ever been an issue?  Political tactics and strategy, amplified by media and societal word of mouth have felt compelled to promote nativist or white nationalist tropes (from the past) as an appeal to native or incumbent citizens, creating fear, anxiety and even anger (see ‘alt right’), as both an electoral strategy and ideology (e.g. blaming immigrants vs. wage rises).

Immigration whether permanent or temporary does not cause unemployment

International Temporary Resident Workers and Professionals (Image copyright Pexels).

From The Guardian:

Temporary skilled migration has not undercut Australian jobs or conditions, report finds

Politicians’ ‘revolving door’ response to foreign workers frustrates businesses, industry group CEDA says

Temporary skilled migration has not undercut job opportunities or conditions for Australian workers but the “revolving door” political response to foreign workers has frustrated businesses, an industry report has found.

The report from the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), released on Monday, said that skilled migrants, particularly those on temporary skilled working visas, have been an “overwhelming net positive” for the Australian economy and have not had a negative impact on either the wages or participation rates of Australian-born workers.

However, the report said that despite economic evidence suggesting migration is a positive, “governments have responded to community concern with a seeming revolving door of reviews, reports and frequent policy changes to Australia’s temporary skilled migration program”.’

 

From SBS Australia:

‘Migrants don’t actually threaten Australian workers’ jobs, new analysis reveals

A new report found immigration has not harmed the earnings of local workers.

Temporary skilled migrants have not displaced Australian workers despite fears immigrants threaten the local job market, new analysis by an independent economic organisation has revealed.

Research by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) has also shown immigration has not harmed the earnings of local workers.

The report, “Effects of temporary migration”, showed there are about two million people on temporary visas, including students, working holiday-makers, skilled workers and New Zealand citizens.

The research, released on Monday, showed 70 per cent of temporary skilled migrants reside in NSW and Victoria, which have the lowest rates of unemployment in Australia.’

 

From Solidarity.net

‘Immigration is not to blame for cuts to jobs and wages

9 August 2012

The suggestion that bringing 457 visa workers from overseas is coming at the expense of “local jobs” reinforces the myth that immigration causes unemployment and drives down wages.

In fact evidence from Australia and internationally shows that immigration actually creates jobs. In his book, Immigration and the Australian Economy, William Foster’s surveys over 200 studies on immigration and wages. He found there was, “a marginally favourable effect on the aggregate unemployment rate, even in recession”.

In a 2003 paper economist Hsiao-chuan Chang wrote that, “there is no evidence that immigrants take jobs away from the local Australian over the past twelve years… This supports the conclusion from existing research”.

This is because new migrants generate demand for products and services, such as housing and food. Many of them bring savings to help pay for these things, further boosting the economy and jobs.’

 

Politicians and media commentators could explain more clearly why immigration helps a nation and its economy.  Some of these factors include ageing and declining tax paying work forces in permanent population, with increasing proportion (vs. workforce) of retirees and pensioners requires more tax income to fund related services, and higher temporary immigration means (most of) the same temporary cohort will not also be a drag on state budgets in future.

For more articles and blogs about immigration, white nationalism and economics click through.

Essay Mills Ghost Writers and University Students

Academic integrity, copying, plagiarism, collusion, ‘ghost writing’ and essay factories have become a fact of life in university or higher education, internationally.  This article endeavours to explain how or why is it an issue but at same time, short on what are the solutions?

While western democracies, and the developing world, have politicians, business and public leaders openly flouting ethical standards through egregious corruption and related unethical behaviour, is it any wonder?

Some solutions are precluded by universities’ corporate or financial needs e.g. rather than (barely modified) assessments that are more efficient to grade (or worse more multiple choice), there maybe a need for a return to in class open book and variety of assessments?

Academic integrity plagiarism essay factories and ghost writing for university students

Academic Integrity at University (Image copyright Pexels).

From The Guardian, Chris Husbands:

Essay mills prey on vulnerable students – let’s stamp them out

Universities alone can’t stop the rise of essay mills. We need support from the government and tech firms to defeat them

In the 1990s, there was enormous optimism around how the internet would connect people and make knowledge available to all. Fast forward twenty years, and identity theft, cybercrime, online bullying and appalling sexual exploitation have become everyday news stories. Increasingly, it’s the perversions of the internet which dominate our thinking.

The business model is simple. You have an essay to write, you are time poor, you pay a fee for the essay to be written. The fee these crooks charge depends on the length, the standard you are looking for, and the deadline you are facing….

For universities, the digital world’s most concerning development is the spread of essay mills. They’re not new: it’s always been tempting for some students to pay someone to do their work for them. But the internet has vastly eased the relationship between customers and suppliers, fuelling the growth of these essay mills….

….Learning is based on integrity and scholarship: showing that students have read, understood and been influenced by the work of others, and can explain how their thinking is new or different. Education is not about getting grades, it’s about being an active participant in learning opportunities. If some of that is difficult, well, difficulty is the point….

….The Secretary of State for Education’s announcement that tech firms should block payments to essay mills and students should report on their peers is a step in the right direction. We need to work together to preserve the integrity of the UK higher education system from these unscrupulous companies, and the way they prey on vulnerable students who don’t fully understand the implications of their actions.’

Chris Husbands is the vice-chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University

For more articles and blogs about academic integrity, copying and student plagiarism click through.

 

 

 

 

Immigration Population Growth Decline NOM Net Overseas Migration

For the past 10+ years Australia, the Anglo and western worlds have been obsessing in the mainstream about ‘immigration’ and ‘population growth’ as negative factors for the environment, economy, quality of life, infrastructure, traffic congestion, ‘carrying capacity’ etc. based upon misrepresentation and/or misunderstanding of data, analysis and facts.

However, in Australia as opposed to most nations, pension reform, introduction of superannuation, skilled permanent immigration and net financial contributions from temporary resident ‘churn over’ should maintain a balance between social responsibilities of the government and financial management.

In much of this public discourse, political lobbying and news based PR many facts and much data are distorted and/or ignored.  This includes conflation of permanent and temporary immigration, the ‘NOM net overseas migration’ (border movements) equated with directly with ‘(permanent) immigration’, definition change of the NOM (used only by UK, Australia and NZ) by the UN in 2006 inflating/spiking headline numbers, individuals whether international students, backpackers and other temporaries, along with Australians, caught up in the NOM are described as ‘immigrants’ (even when the majority have neither access to permanent residency nor an interest).

Further, false correlations are made with international data suggesting infinite population growth when peak fertility has long passed (ex sub Saharan Africa), comparisons made between different data sets, population is expected to peak (sooner rather then later according to some e.g. Deutsche Bank) and dismissing the impact of ageing work forces now retiring, increasing pension and related service responsibilities, with less tax payers in the permanent population; back grounded by a significant baby boomer ‘die off’ approaching.

This has been back grounded or reinforced by Nativist policies, creating fear, antipathy towards non-Europeans and encouraging isolationism e.g. strong borders, closed economies with tariff walls, low or no growth, and aspirations for ‘sustainable population’ (whatever that means).

The University of Melbourne’s Peter McDonald analyses further in an article for The Conversation:

Why cutting Australia’s migrant intake would do more harm than good, at least for the next decade

December 13, 2018 4.20pm AEDT

Australia’s population is among the fastest growing in the OECD with an increase of 1.7 per cent in 2016-17.

In Sydney and Melbourne traffic congestion has become so intolerable many believe a cut to migration would provide time for infrastructure such as roads and trains to catch up.

Net Overseas Migration was 262,000 in 2016-17, one of the highest levels on record.

They are all compelling reasons to cut the size of the migration program, right?

No, not right. Not at all.

Our migration program is no bigger than it was

Including the humanitarian movement, the government migration program has been set at a near-constant level of a little over 200,000 since 2011-12.

In 2017-18, although the level set in the budget remained above 200,000, the actual intake was 179,000, including an unusually large intake of refugees mainly from Syria and Iraq.

The combined Skilled and Family Streams fell short of the levels set in the budget by 28,000. The reasons for this shortfall are unclear.

‘Net overseas migration’ is different to migration

Net Overseas Migration includes the government program but also other movements in to and out of Australia which both add to and subtract from it.

The net effect of all of these movements can change the recorded “net overseas migration” in ways that are inconsistent with what’s been happening to the migration program.

If, for instance, the Australian economy picked up and fewer Australians decided to leave for better prospects overseas, recorded “net overseas migration” would increase even if the migration program hadn’t.

The two have been moving increasingly independently since mid 2006 when the Australian Bureau of Statistics changed its definition of “resident”, making temporary residents more likely to be counted in the population and their movements counted in net overseas migration.

Over the past five years, the number of international students arriving has increased every year but there have been few international student departures.

Inevitably, the departures of students will increase in future years and recorded net overseas migration will fall sharply again.

So, forget the near-record official net overseas migration figure of 262,000 – the underlying level of net overseas migration is more likely to be around 200,000. The underlying level of population growth is about 1.4%, and falling.

We’ll need strong migration for at least a decade

A new study by Shah and Dixon finds there will be 4.1 million new job openings in Australia over the eight years between 2017 and 2024.

Over two million of these new openings will be due to “replacement demand”, effectively replacing the retirements from the labour force of baby boomers.

There will not be enough younger workers arriving to fill the gap….

It means that without migration Australia would face a labour supply crunch unlike anything it has ever faced before.

Slowing or redirecting it won’t slow congestion…

…Net overseas migration of 200,000 per annum would give us 6.8 million more people of traditional working age by 2051 than would no net migration, but only 400,000 more people aged 65 years and over.

It would place Australia in a better position to support its aged population than any other country in the OECD.’

For more articles about Australian immigration news, demography, Nativism, NOM net overseas migration, population growth and international students.

 

 

 

Student Copying, Plagiarism, Essay Factories and Ghost Writers

A recent article from The Conversation analyses issues with plagiarism or cheating, especially amongst international students, although a little light on insight and innovative solutions e.g. why or why not use essays in assessment?

Essay factories and ghost writers have become an issue in international education especially.

Cheating Amongst University Students (Image copyright Pexels)

Doing away with essays won’t necessarily stop students cheating

December 20, 2018 6.06am AEDT

Julie Hare Honorary Fellow, University of Melbourne

It’s never been easier for university students to cheat. We just need look to the scandal in 2015 that revealed up to 1,000 students from 16 Australian universities had hired the Sydney-based MyMaster company to ghost-write their assignments and sit online tests.

It’s known as contract cheating – when a student pays a third party to undertake their assignments which they then pass off as their own. Contract cheating isn’t new – the term was coined in 2006. But it’s becoming more commonplace because new technologies, such as the smart phone, are enablers.

Cheating is taken seriously by universities and the national regulator, the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency. Much of the focus has been on changing assessment tasks to ones deemed to be harder for a third party to undertake. This is called “authentic assessment”.

This type of assessment has been widely adopted at universities. They are comprised of tasks that evaluate knowledge and skills by presenting students with real-world scenarios or problems relevant to the kinds of challenges they would face following graduation. But new research found authentic assessment may be as vulnerable to cheating as other more obvious examples, such as essays.

What the research shows…

….They found, for both students and teachers, assessments with a short turnaround time and heavily weighted in the final mark were perceived as the tasks which were the most likely to attract contract cheating.

Assessments perceived as the least likely to attract contract cheating were in-class tasks, personalised and unique tasks, vivas (oral explanations of a written task) and reflections on practical placements. But these tasks were the least likely to be set by educators, presumably because they’re resource and time intensive….

…So what do we do about it?

This research provides yet more compelling evidence that curriculum and changes to teaching strategies and early intervention must be employed to support students’ academic endeavours…

…The data demonstrates assessment tasks designed to develop relevant professional skills, which teachers are highly likely to set, were perceived by students as tasks that can easily be cheated on. These might include asking accounting students to memorandums, reports or other communication groups to stakeholders, such as shareholders. In fact, among students from a non-English speaking background, the risks of cheating might actually increase for these tasks. This means authentic assessment might run the increasing risk of being outsourced.’

Solutions?

Related strategies could also include educating (international) students about ‘learning how to learn’ as used in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) sector, discouraging rote learning and regurgitation, management supporting teaching and learning with appropriate funding and systems.  Related, less pressure on enrolment and retention rates, then more innovative ongoing assessments including shorter open book exams and in class assignments with focus upon higher level skills according to Bloom’s taxonomy i.e. analysis, synthesis and evaluation.

For more related articles and blog posts about academic integrity, assessment, copying, learning, pedagogy and student plagiarism click through.