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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

e-Learning: Africa still @ infancy – Survey

A survey supported by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO’s) chair in Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) at the Royal Holloway University of London, has said that electronic learning (e-Learning) on the continent of Africa is still at infancy.

The survey which began in 2007 was conducted by a German-based organization, specializing on e-learning, alongside ICT4D Collective in cooperation with the Swedish Programme for ICT in Developing Regions (SPIDER), was concluded in 2008.

Outcome of the latest survey made available to Champion Infotel indicated that 42 African countries including Nigeria took part in the study, while Kenyans leading in the number of 316 total respondents with 46, followed by South Africa with 38, Nigeria - 35 and Uganda 25 through a questionnaire circulated in 2007 to the e-Learning Africa database.

The figure of participants, the report said, represented 4 per cent of the people on the database and reflected most committed populace in the use of e-Learning within Africa.

The study also said that respondents provided a wide variety of information about their e-learning practices, which formed its three main conclusions, including that there is a wide variety of different e-learning practices in Africa; e-learning is still very much in its infancy across most of the continent; and there is much enthusiasm amongst respondents for developing e-learning potentials in their countries.

It further identified some key constraints in seeking to implement and developing e-learning strategies and practices, which comprised the lack of infrastructure, particularly connectivity and especially in the rural areas as well as the need to appropriately train and provide capacity development, lack of relevant digital content and the cost of implementation.

Out of the 316 respondents, the study revealed that 25 per cent were women while 75 per cent were men with 118 represented.

It was gathered from the survey that African countries offer various courses addressed by e-learning, comprising higher education which amounted to 53 per cent, continuing education -37 per cent, vocational - 23 per cent, secondary school - 22 per cent, informal/non-formal - 22 per cent, technical education 21 per cent, primary school – 10 per cent and special education - 9 per cent.

Meanwhile, because, many respondents were unable to say which Learning Management Systems (LMS) they were using, the management of ICWE has decided to conduct another survey on LMS.

Beate Kleessen of ICWE GmbH, said that the study highlighted rather low use of formal Learning Management Systems (LMSs) in universities, colleges and schools across most part of the continent, but another survey is underway to focus on exploration of LMS.

“We’re therefore conducting a more detailed survey to explore how LMS are currently being used, and what users would like to see in them,” Kleessen said.

The survey which has taken off, Kleessen said, has 15 questions about LMS and nine (9) questions about the characteristics of respondents.

“It should take less than 10 minutes to complete,” Kleessen declared, encouraging interested online enthusiasts to fill in the word document version which could be sent back to survey-lms@elearning-africa.com or use the online form at http://survey.rhul.ac.uk/TakeSurvey.aspx?SurveyID=m6K3l95.

Promising that all information given in the survey would be treated anonymously, unless respondents explicitly asked to be mentioned by name. The current survey would be open until February 28th.

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