October 25, 2014

Another e-learning platform from Nigeria

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Fora.co

Adepoju, P. (2014) Nigeria is ready for e-learning – Fora.co Humanipo, January 28

I wrote about tutor.ng in a previous post. Fora.co is another e-learning platform, working with ‘Africa’s leading Universities, organizations and governments to provide young Africans with affordable access to the best educational content online, offline and on mobile‘. It offers over 500 courses or course packs, consisting of:

pre-built bundles of relevant digital learning resources that can be used as teaching or training aids in the classroom. (Minimum 6 hours of professor lectures) 
+ Lab Exercises 
+ Textbooks & required readings 
+ Test banks (Minimum 100 questions) 
+ Presentation Slide templates for lectures

Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, chief executive officer at Fora.co, believes that in Nigeria, the technology is not the main barrier. The problem is lack of local content:

We are still light years behind others countries. Nigerian e-learning content is often badly designed and instructional design for online courses still seems foreign to our e-learning content landscape. This is one of the reasons we have had to focus on selling foreign courses because the local courses we saw were quite simply not up to snuff.

For students with difficult or costly access to the Internet, Fora provides learners with a flash drive that ‘synchronizes data from offline interactions and downloads new content from Fora.co to the flashdrive whenever internet access becomes available‘.

Flora markets both directly to institutions and also to individual students. Fora charges a fee per student that depends on the size of the institution and the kind of content bundle required. The lowest priced content bundle is $59.99/student (~N10,000/student).

However, at the moment its web site does not list the courses, the institutions that provide the materials, or the institutions that Fora is working with. This will come shortly; the materials however are properly sourced with the permission of each of the institutions whose materials are used.

Comment

Again, it will be interesting to see how this company develops, and whether the business model is successful. It is likely to work best with small, private institutions who can charge a premium fee thus generating a profit.

A major test will be if any African public universities partner, and whether courses will eventually be accredited in Nigeria.

Nevertheless I am sure we will see more attempts like this around Africa to build viable e-learning or online systems through the private sector.

Footnote

After I initially posted this, I discovered that this project had a Canadian origin, originally conceived at the University of Waterloo’s Velo City Garage and with connections with the MaRS Tech project: click here for much more information about the Fora operation. See also Iyinoluwa Aboyeji’s comments to this post below.

Comments

  1. Hi Tony, I am CEO of Fora. Just to answer a few of your questions. There is a bit of a time lag between the info on the website and the current strategy we are following. Also the interview was not published in full so one might get the wrong idea.

    We initially came in trying to partner with Universities as a Bundled service provider of sorts but the regulatory barriers from the NUC (which regulates Universities killed us). So we had to pivot. We are now a consumer marketplace for young African professionals looking to take online courses from top Universities and professional organizations. We do have 500+ online courses none of which are open course ware. (We have separate plans around open course ware that mostly involve offline delivery).

    A lot of what we do now is lead generation for more established online learning platforms like American Bankers Association, Ecornell, etc. It is very much like Udemy but focused on Africa and with only accredited programs as opposed to unaccredited programs.

    The key thing we have learnt after 9 months in this market is that online learning here is entirely driven by foreign accreditation. People basically use it as a way to get a foreign degree without having to travel and leave their jobs or their families. also because it is cheaper than travelling abroad. It makes sense. Studying abroad is a billion dollar business in Nigeria and we see online learning as a way to disrupt that market.

    • Many thanks for this clarification, Iyinoluwa, which makes your project even more interesting.
      I’m not surprised about the accreditation issue with the Nigerian University Commission, which I believe has been very reactionary regarding online and distance education, which is a great pity.
      I hope many of the Canadian university online people who read this blog see your request for partnership on th post about Athabasca University. This could be a win-win for both parties.

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