Technology is creating change in the field of education. But how do we manage and adapt to these changes in the context of Africa?
Africa’s largest conference and exhibition on technology-supported learning, training and skills development is here to answer all your questions!
Change: it’s good
Change can be tough. When I was at school, I had a Discman. It was amazing. I could listen to my favourite CD and walk around at the same time (granted I held the Discman in the right position so that the CD would not scratch). Then iPods were invented. My best friend got one and I remember thinking to myself,
‘I will never need one of these things. Why would I need a device that stores multiple songs on it when I could just decide what CD I wanted to listen to and play it on my Discman?’.
A few years later, I gave in and bought myself an iPod. Of course, it was fantastic. I could walk around campus and listen to music; I could customise my playlist and I could access hundreds of songs without whipping out my CD booklet.
eLearning Africa: the Future of Education
A more recent innovation is elearning.
To provide an explaination, elearning is a broad term used to describe education through electronic devices and digital media. Think of it as an alliance between technology and education, making education more accessible than ever before. eLearning offers great opportunities for education: it increases its reach, innovates traditional teaching methods and empowers educators through increased professional development. However, in order to maximise these opportunities, we need to understand how elearning can work in our context and how we can integrate it into a space where the practice is relatively unfamiliar.
‘elearning can make a significant difference in terms of getting more Africans educated, but taking this position broadly is meaningless. Questions around sustainability, the best way to use it in context of the students we’re trying to reach, connectivity, and access to screens considering the huge variance in circumstances across the African continent are being investigated and need to be answered’.
– Kat Scholtz, Chief Business Development Officer at Hubble Studios, Cape Town.
Shaping the Future: one Conference at a time
eLearning Africa recognises and addresses the questions around elearning in their 14th International Conference and Exhibition on ICT for Education, Training and Skills Development. The conference takes place in Côte d’Ivoire from the 23rd of October to the 25th of October. This year the theme for eLearning Africa is ‘The Keys to the Future: Learnability and Employability’.
Learnability is the ability to acquire knowledge efficiently and effectively. Employability, on the other hand, refers to the skills and attributes that make an individual more likely to be employed and be successful in their field. eLearning Africa 2019 aims to focus on how we can acquire learnability and employability.
But what does Learnability and Employability have to do with elearning?
Remember that iPod I was afraid to buy? When I look back, I would say the main reason I pushed back on the idea was not that I was averse to change but rather because I was scared and intimidated by it.
The shift into the elearning space is a big shift for most. Many teachers, for example, have been resistant towards the change because of the fear that elearning will have a negative impact on learning value or worse, replace face-to-face teaching. eLearning Africa recognises that Africa is full of talented people who are confident about the future. Because of this, the conference looks at how we can facilitate the change towards technology and education and sustain it. A panel of educators and specialists from the elearning field will be discussing ways that African teachers can overcome the institutional resistance to change and acquire digital literacy and innovative teaching methods.
In these sorts of discussions, the idea of learnability will be important. You see, if we want technology to be used to make education more accessible and innovative, we need to be eager to acquire the knowledge and skills around elearning efficiently and effectively.
How does employability fit in? Well, with the merger between technology and education, there is an opportunity for job creation. Remember that employability is about the skills and attributes that make an individual more likely to be employed. In South Africa alone, there are several companies designed to implement and manage online courses. If you wish to take a course online, for example, you need writers, web developers, implementers, graphic designers, and learning designers, all of whom require very specific skills. eLearning Africa will look at how we can acquire the skills that are needed to succeed in the elearning field and the broader African labour market.
The iPod was not the only technological advancement I was afraid of. Does that mean I have avoided all technological advancements? No. Change is good. Development and innovation are good. There is so much to gain from being in the elearning space and it is events like eLearning Africa, where you can gain invaluable insight and meet remarkable people, that this change becomes exciting.
As technology begins to make its way into the field of education, why don’t you try making a conscious effort to move with the change rather than fight against it? For example, do a bit of research and see if there are any articles or blogs that speak about the cool work that is being done in the elearning field.