While e-learning seems like the clear way forward in education, we still find ourselves in a time period where not everybody has access to the required resources. However, the “digital divide” between countries with access to digital technologies and those without is quickly narrowing, as information and communication technologies become increasingly available and more affordable. African countries such as South Africa, Nigeria and Malawi are catching up fast, but from a lower base than other developing countries.
E-learning has been around for quite some time now, and as its popularity continues to grow within the corporate and educational sectors, so does its capabilities. Computers are becoming increasingly essential as educational tools, while technologies are becoming more portable and cost-effective – mobile learning is a perfect example of this. Mobile is thriving in Africa and local e-learning developers are increasingly focusing on apps as the most effective way to deliver learning content.
New innovations in educational technology are constantly being developed by start-ups and dedicated departments in larger publishing and tech companies, and digitally interactive textbooks are being introduced in schools and colleges. There have been a number of initiatives put in place over the past two years to equip schools with e-learning tools, but these are still in their infancy stages. The main educational challenge when creating any type of courseware, is keeping students engaged and stimulating their interests. E-learning allows difficult concepts to be graphically presented to replace paragraphs of difficult of text, while moving images guide the learner visually and dynamically through concepts to virtually display how something works and moves.
Where access to online resources is lacking, online courses can be easily deployed to CD or DVD, which allows access to the same core content through a digital platform, as opposed to an online platform. Once the content is digital, it becomes much easier to change the format to suit various student needs if internet access is a challenge.
Classroom training presents students with the possibility of having to entertain themselves while they wait for other learners to catch up, but e-learning solves this problem by allowing the learner to study at their own pace. They have access to the material whenever they need it, and they have the opportunity to go back if something is unclear. Another advantage of e-learning is that information is broken down into small chunks or bytes, which makes it easier for the learner to digest and also promotes the retention of information.
E-learning is designed to be simple and easy to understand, while also engaging. It is completely customisable and makes the process of acquiring and retaining new knowledge as fast and enjoyable as possible. E-learning is currently the most effective tool we have at our disposal and as technological capabilities continue to advance, new forms of learning will keep evolving.
This article was first published on Junction.co.za