I attended the Africa E-learning Forum at Mlimani City last year in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. Most of the participants I spoke with were abuzz with this issue. They explained to me— E- learning could be a game changer for Africans— not just for improving content attainment for our students but also as a resource and a tool that will foster a new brand of African renovation.
I looked at them and said sure!
There are some great examples for E-learning successes in African countries like Ghana, South Africa and Nigeria. All these examples point to the benefits that Africa can and will receive if it invests heavily in E-learning and IT education. Massive work and government commitment is needed for all these pipe dreams to become a reality.
E- Learning programming are very expensive. The infrastructure to support massive data bandwidth is not there yet in most African countries. This situation applies to both rural and urban areas. E-learning will not flourish in a wireless cell phone dependent kind of environment. The wireless environment is simply too expensive for data transfer and is really not reliable.
While I see the need to transfer learning platforms into the E-learning environment, I don’t think Africa should invest blindedly in self-directed E-Learning courses part as of yet. These courses are time-consuming and expensive to design and produce.
There is little to no expertise in this area in most african countries since educated Africans still look at educational expertise as worthless endeavor.
Africa and Tanzania in particular could benefit more if they use ICT’s usefulness as a resource library —to store many articles on a DVD, videos, and pre-saved computer simulated labs or as a practicing tool to help students to learn how to type, to conduct source research and other useful skills building activities using a computer.
In addition, the E learning center could be used by students as resource and skills building centers–where students and the local population could access pre-stored information from the computers’ hard drives or cds and dvds in a as needed basis.