E-learning becoming popular in SA

2013-03-08 12:05
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Cape Town – Electronic learning, better known as e-learning, is growing in popularity in South Africa and it can especially be useful where a lack of resources is a major challenge for a number of reasons.

“E-learning is increasing in popularity in South Africa. To make it more popular high quality, interactive, engaging learner material needs to be developed,” Kirsty Chadwick, founder of The Training Room Online, which designs and develops innovative tailor-made elearning material for the corporate, industrial and private sectors, told News24.

“We are currently looking at different ways to design learner material. We do so through film, animation, learning games or learning mobile applications, depending on which is the best solution for the intended audience,” she added.

She said there are a lot of techniques that can be used to make the content really interactive and exciting.

“Electronic learning consists out of a number of methods and styles of learning that involve the use of a computer or smart device like a tablet computer or smartphone.

“It is also important to note that e-learning doesn’t necessarily need the latest and most expensive technology to work,” she said.

E-learning can take place with or without the aid of a teacher or trainer and doesn’t necessarily rely on the internet.

“An inexpensive DVD, for example, could hold a number of textbooks that could be viewed on a standard desktop computer. A smartphone, similarly, could also store digital textbooks that were cheaper and logistically easier to access than physical textbooks.”

According to Chadwick e-learning isn’t just a solution to logistics.

“It can take pressure off teachers, too, by allowing learners to self-study using specially designed courseware.
 
“E-learning on desktop computers, which are less expensive and more readily available to the majority of South Africans than tablets, can be as immersive and engaging as e-learning on smart devices. Through puzzles, games and self-evaluation, learners can take themselves through study material.”

Lack of education

Chadwick said there is however a serious lack of education around e-learning in SA.

“The vast majority of South African parents have never used a tablet computer – as such they have no comprehension of what e-learning in the classroom means for their children and their children’s education.

“More privileged South Africans, who are familiar with the most up-to-date technology, don’t necessarily know how it’s used in the classroom, either.”

She said educating parents is vital if they’re going to take an active role in their children’s education.

“E-learning could take place using tablet computers or desktop computers. Where schools already have desktop computers, using them would make sense financially.”

Chadwick said there are a number of ways that e-learning could work in a South African classroom.

“Tablet computers are currently being used to deliver textbooks to students as well as a way for teachers to deliver multimedia material like slides, videos and images that supplement lessons to students.

m-Learning

m-Learning, or mobile learning, which takes place via a mobile device instead of a personal computer, could be used for similar purposes, Chadwick said.

m-Learning initiatives are currently enjoying success in, among other countries, Senegal, Kenya and Nigeria.

“The reason why it is so popular is that the mobile phone is a device that a lot of people have access to and it will remain popular for a number of years to come as a tool that can be used from a learning perspective.” 

Chadwick said it is critical to look at how the content is designed for m-Learning because the screen size is smaller but the learning experience must still be there.

She said in order to make m-Learning popular in South Africa awareness needs to be spread that the tablet computer is not the only solution to e-learning.

She said the younger generation absolutely love learning through e-Learning and m-Learning as they have grown up with technology.


– Follow Chantelle on Twitter.
 

Read more on:    education  |  technology
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