This year’s eLearning Africa takes place in Lusaka, Zambia, later this week, and promises to be a great chance to catch up with colleagues working on ICT4D! I have been lucky enough to participate in all of the four previous eLearning Africa conferences in Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana and Senegal, and they have always provided a useful opportunity to learn about some of the latest developments in the field. It is particularly good to meet African academics and activists committed to using ICTs to support the aspirations of poor and marginalised people across the continent.
Thanks to all those at ICWE who have been working so hard in recent months to put on the conference – I hope it’s a great success.
This year’s eLearning Africa conference in Dakar, Senegal, starts on 27th May with pre-conference workshops and concludes on the evening of 29th May. It promises to be an interesting opportunity to reflect on how best we can use e-learning to deliver on some of the continent’s biggest capacity development challenges.
The organisers suggest that the highlight will “include:
- Discussion on the relative merits of one-to-one vs. shared computing which will feature in several sessions including a series of cases studies presented by SPIDER showcasing the way in which one-to-one computing has been realised in large scale equipment roll-outs in Rwanda, Ethiopia and Uruguay.
- Debate about the extent to which open source solutions can be made sustainable. Are they the only solution for cash-strapped organisations or do they require a level of skills and resources not regularly found in colleges, universities and schools? Input on this topic will come from practitioners from the National Open University of Nigeria; MEF/IMSP, Benin; Makerere University, Uganda and many others.
- The ongoing debate about the open educational movement in Africa will further develop this theme. Can the OER movement in Africa help to expand access to educational content for Africa’s resource-poor higher education institutions? Does it live up to its expectations? Presenters from OER Africa, the National University of Rwanda and the Shuttleworth Foundation in South Africa will present their experiences.
- Mobile learning is of particular interest in Africa given the number of mobile devices available and the lack of reliable terrestrial Internet access. eLearning Africa 2009 features many interesting practical examples, such as m-learning for health-care workers, instigated by the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Belgium; mobile learning opportunities by l’Ecole Nomade in France; a study by the University of South Africa on the use of Mxit; and a partner programme of the Mid Sweden University and the Open University of Tanzania, using mobile phones to enhance in-service teacher training.
- Affordable and reliable access solutions remain a challenge for most education and training practitioners in Africa. Presentation sessions in which access is discussed will include input from the Senegalese Government, the French Foreign Office, Computer Aid International and AfrISPA.
- The results of new research led by IDRC’s PanAf Observatory will highlight the ways in which the pedagogical integration of ICTs can improve the quality of teaching and learning in Africa.
- A discussion on the re-use and disposal of obsolete ICT equipment entitled E-Waste: Is Africa Heading for an Environmental Crisis? will feature a lively debate on issues around re-use and disposal of ICT equipment and the impact this has on the environment.
- Dedicated sessions led by leading organisations active in this field including Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF), the World Bank, UNESCO and UNEP which will feature some of their projects, initiatives and successes.
- There will be several inspirational case studies on the development of ICT4E policies, including presentations by IICD, The Netherlands, Ministère des Enseignements Secondaires, Cameroon, the University of Lagos, Nigeria and COFOPS-INTER, Cote D’Ivoire.
- A special panel to highlight the eLearning initiatives of the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa, the South African Institute for Distance Education, and UCT’s Centre for Educational Technology. This panel will reflect on early lessons learned, explore specific educational technologies, introduce the emerging research agenda, and discuss how eLearning in African Higher Education can be advanced further.
- University experience in putting in place effective technology- enhanced learning, which will feature presentations from universities including Université Cheikh Anta Diop dé Dakar, Senegal; University of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania; Université de Nouakchott, Mauritania; and École des Sciences de l’Information, Morocco. They and many others will provide first hand witness accounts of the opportunities and challenges they face.
- Sessions on the ways in which ICT is being used to support teacher training and the skills of public servants which will include input from the Ministry of Education, Malawi, the University of Education, Winneba, Ghana and the University of British Columbia, Canada.”
Filed under Africa, ICT4D