From JENS ISCHEBECK in Neuried, Germany
South Africa Leading in Adoption of Online Learning
HIGH speed internet, proliferation of smart devices and ubiquitous computing has impacted the landscape of all known ways of human life today. Every one year sees the computing power and speed of devices double as predicted by an electronic engineer called Moore. In light of this development, the education sector is at the forefront of adopting electronic and computing assisted methods of learning to increase efficiency and productivity. Education is one of the sectors in the world all over that operates most inefficiently. Fortunately electronic assisted tools and methods of delivering pedagogy and instructions are changing this.
Edtech with new chances for South African education system Education is still recognized as the key to success for every country. Online learning is a new educational frontier in Sub-Saharan Africa and Africa in general. This is being used to facilitate the expansion of education technology and bolster learning and teaching. Sector experts in Sub-Saharan Africa have noted with a lot of interest that online learning is a rapidly expanding field that has potential to impact the sector greatly. Several service providers in the education sector in South Africa strive to incorporate education technology in delivery strategies. The expansion of the smart devices market that are highly enabled offers great opportunities for learning on the go. It is for this reason that online courses have a huge potential in South Africa as it has had traditional forms of education that is highly restricted.
The African middle class society is increasing rapidly, and this class places a demand on alternative and flexible lifestyles. This factor contributes to the likely success of adoption in electronic learning products and initiatives. Smartphones are increasingly affordable in Africa to the general populace making it possible to remotely log in to online learning platform that offers electronic assisted educational facilities. The South Africa middle class continues to be part of the pivot as they place a high demand for flexible educational services that is in tandem with a busy and fast life.
E-learning in South Africa
Electronic learning is a high growth area in Africa, and it enables the possibility to offer independent and distance learning. Edtech platforms like www.apps-for-learning.comoffer relevant content comparison for learning institutions in the continent. To impart higher-level skills to an educated workforce that can competently face the challenges of a highly competent market place, traditional educational systems and models need to have a paradigm shift in instruction delivery. Online and e-learning is a strong education narrative designed to meet such challenges. Adopting online and electronic learning in learning institutions is one way of increasing opportunity for learners.
Traditional models of education posit the “one size fits all,” concept. The pressure of a dynamic economy demands that learning should be highly specialized and tailored for learners. Even more of benefit is that a tailored and dynamic learning platform does not only meet the needs of different students, but it also augments and enriches learning in classroom settings. One of the most underrated benefits of electronic learning, however, is its ability to open up new areas outside classrooms. The ability to open and expose students to realities outside the classroom by offering online courses is unparalleled and unprecedented. With online learning students can access conveniently, as per demand, learning resources, and this comes with the support of a tutor and even a 24/7 available help desk.
South African e-learning providers
There is a rising amount of local and regional companies which provide products and materials for online courses and exam preparations, the classical fields of m-learning. This African providers guide illustrates a list of edtech startups in several countries.
In South Africa for example, there are companies such as Rethink Education, Ceed Learning, NetLearn or EduSkill.
E-Learning with gamification
Gamification is one enhanced concept of online learning and has the capacity to enable discovery through exploration, and this is all possible through education technology. Collegiality amongst students is also possible through digital connectivity while still allowing personal learning at home.
E-Learning with online courses
There are several ways through which a student can take courses that are offered online. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) are learning course made free over the internet and provided to a large number of persons. One huge advantage of MOOC is that it provides learners with access to numerous resources that are not easily available to individuals. Students can access expert tuition no matter their location using MOOC. MOOC has a special place in enabling education in Africa as it enables geographically dispersed students to take their courses.
M-learning is the second versatile method to take online courses, also referred to as mobile learning, m-learning is a great enabler of education technology especially in making it portable. As a result, mobile learning is an integral part of e-learning. M-learning essence is that students can take their courses from wherever they are and is also a great way of reaching potential students. Mobile learning uptake is increasing rapidly with the proliferation of smart devices being sold in South African markets at a pace that can only be said to be tremendous. In South Africa, m-learning services are offered by edtech firms and universities and colleges in a bid to reach students who are dispersed.
As demonstrated, the education sector in Sub-Saharan Africa is leading in adopting technology to complement instruction delivery. Additionally, Africa is home to some of the fastest growing economies globally, and a huge youthful population holds the continents promise to attain developmental goals and industrialization efforts. To achieve this, education is a key pillar to attain individually and collectively the aspirations of the continent. It is, therefore, necessary to adopt other means of instruction delivery that will impart skills necessary in a fast pacing world.
Jens Ischebeck is at Apps for Learning, the e-learning and online courses specialist