Saturday, November 5, 2011

mLearning in Africa

Recently I had a chance to talk to a speaker at e-Learning Africa 2011 in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. Vinod Ganjoo is an e-learning enthusiast who works as Senior Manager - e-learning Business Development at Harbinger. Vinod has traveled throughout the Middle-east, Africa and South Asia on business. He interacts with instructional designers and training managers in several countries regularly. 

What's the big excitement about m-Learning in Africa?
VG: The stage is set for m-Learning in Africa. Mobile devices penetration in Africa is expected to pass 50% during 2011. At least eight African countries will have broken the 100% mobile penetration barrier by the end of the year. Some African mobile markets are still growing at more than 100% per annum. African mobile market forecast to 2013 is impressive. Nigeria alone will have over 130M subscribers.

What are the major impediments for the spread of e-learning in Africa?
VG: Internet connectivity is a big challenge for e-learning, particularly in remote areas and in certain countries. Another major challenge is electricity. However, m-Learning is feasible because phone networks are ubiquitous, and you don't require continuous electricity for mobile phone operation.

What are the benefits of m-Learning in this market?
 VG: m-Learning is truly self paced, 24X7 learning. It can happen any time, anywhere. The learner does not have to brave a trek to the school, crossing rivers and hills. There are innovative interaction and engagement   opportunities. And best of all, there is no need for additional devices such as personal computers. You can reach the fringe student simply using a mobile phone.

What according to you is the biggest challenge in developing content for m-Learning?
 VG: I can name three challenges: One, interactivity is necessary. Two, Flash won't work on all phones. Three,  programming skills required to produce mobile learning are limited.

Don't rapid authoring tools solve these problems?
 VG: To an extent - yes. Many tools support both Flash and HTML5. Some of them even have interactivity - but it is limited to basic interactions such as multiple choice questions, drag-and-drop, click-and-reveal.

And why is that not enough for the African students?
VG: You need to engage students. They will get fatigued and bored with simple interactions. Those are fine for assessments. When the goal goes beyond assessment, you need a wider variety of interactions, such as the ones Raptivity provides.

How did the conference attendees respond to Raptivity?
VG: The response was very good. A lot of teachers and school representatives came and met me. They tried out the software and had a lot of questions. They pointed out to me that they could use Raptivity in classrooms as well, not only in m-Learning or e-Learning.

Thanks, and good luck.
VG: My pleasure.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting idea. I think cost and signal reliability should be added to the challenges