ICT Innovation – Advancing the cause of education
Windhoek – For more than a decade eLearning has promised a revolution in African education.
The opportunity of mass access to world-class learning resources without the barriers of distance or cost has excited educationists, politicians and learners alike.
But has eLearning lived up to this promise? What do African eLearning professionals, practitioners, policymakers, business leaders and teachers think about this? What technologies do they use and which worldviews inform their work?
To answer these pertinent questions education and ICT experts, met in Windhoek this past week for the 8th International e-Learning Africa 2013 Conference.
The conference is the largest gathering of eLearning and ICT supported education and training professionals in Africa.
The annual conference provides a networking platform for high-level decision-makers, education practitioners, and business professionals on information and communication Technology (ICT) in order to enhance ICT in education and training on the continent.
Namibia’s ministries of ICT and Education hosted the three-day conference (May 29-31, 2013) in Namibia’s capital, Windhoek, under the theme ‘Tradition, Change Innovation’.
The annual conference includes plenary sessions with world-class experts, smaller presentation and special focus sessions, practical demonstrations and debates on specific topics, as well as various informal networking opportunities where practitioners share their experiences, ideas, new information and perspectives. The gathering presented an opportunity for participants to develop multinational and cross-industry contacts and partnerships as well as obtain first-hand information and real-life examples of how ICT advances the cause of education for all, and experience the extensive exhibition and demonstration area offered by the exhibition booths.
The specialists looked at the African experience of transformative ICT in education policy development to date as well as discussed emerging trends in the way learners in Africa are learning, under the increasing influence of innovative technologies.
They also shared ideas on appropriate policy responses to the influence of rapid technological change on the African learning landscape. One of keynote speakers at the conference, Dr Harold Elletson, said Africa is experiencing a technological surge and it is having a dramatic effect on education throughout the continent.
Technological hubs are blossoming, new mobile devices and applications are being designed and produced in Africa, by Africans, and Africa's eLearning market is reportedly the fastest growing in the world, said Elletson, the chairperson of the New Security Foundation.
He stressed that Africa is not just an end user of new products: the engines driving this growth are also powering industry and innovation as well as supporting African businesses.
Over the past seven years, the eLearning community in Africa has grown in leaps and bounds, according to eLearning Africa 2012 Report.
“This is evident from the growth in the number and variety of participants attending the eLearning Africa conferences each year and the growing number of eLearning programmes, research initiatives, partnerships and organisations in Africa,” says the report.
The report, which covered 41 African countries, documented for the first time eLearning experience in Africa including their influence on the education and training landscape on the continent.
The report indicated that the mission of eLearning Africa is to grow a learning and knowledgeable network of practitioners, investors, policymakers and partnerships that can enhance and improve eLearning practice, as part of the collective endeavour to support the vision for education for all and Millennium Development Goals in Africa.