Chadwick, K. (2014) e-Learning Trends for 2014 Bizcommunity.com
This is an interesting perspective on corporate e-learning trends from Kirsty Chadwick in South Africa. I’ve focused on this, because trends in Africa are likely to be somewhat different from those here in North America, due to differences in access to the Internet and mobile phones. Here are her 10 picks:
- From textbook to tablet: the government of South Africa has launched a tablet program for high schools. ‘In 2014, 88,000 Huawei tablets will be distributed to 2200 public schools in Gauteng as part of a new e-learning initiative.’
- The shift to mobile: ‘Smartphone growth in Africa has increased by 43% annually since 2000, and experts predict that 69% of mobiles in Africa will have internet access by 2014.’
- More gaming
- MOOCs: ‘While MOOCs currently don’t have standardised quality assurance in place, this will likely change in the near future.’
- Social media: ‘students’ success is very reliant on their ability to participate in study groups and that those who engage in these groups learn significantly more than students who don’t.‘
- Classes online: ‘2014 is likely to see a large number of businesses moving over to online training. Recent studies have projected that by 2019, 50% of all classes taught, will be delivered online.’
- Trading desktop for mobile: ‘2014 will be the year in which the number of mobile users will exceed the number of desktop users.’
- More learning for everyone: ‘47% of online learners are over the age of 26, compared to a significantly lower age group a few years ago‘
- More interactivity: ‘courseware is likely to be more immersive and interactive ….the use of animations and games within learning environments keeps the tech-savvy generation engaged and entertained, leading to increased knowledge retention.’
How can I argue with someone in Africa on this? It looks pretty good to me from the other side of the world. However, I think there are some unique developments in online learning that will come out of Africa. So here’s my very tentative suggestions for e-learning in Africa in 2014.
I agree that in Africa generally, mobile learning, cheap tablets and open textbooks will become driving forces, saving on expensive and often hard to get foreign textbooks, and ensuring more locally adaptable learning materials.
The big growth though will be in non-formal education, where major strides have already been made in supporting small farmers and small business development for women, the development of entrepreneurs, and of IT competencies and skills, using mobile phones, social networking, and direct links to university and government agencies in the field.
Corporate education will be not far behind, but e-learning will be focused mainly in large and/or multinational companies.
Unfortunately, in many African countries, the penetration of online learning into formal education will be much slower, due to government bureaucratic barriers, lack of investment and failure by established institutions to recognize the importance of technology in education, and by governments not giving equal consideration to the need for teacher training in technology use as to investment in technology.
One or two African universities though will become world leaders in online learning through the use of local wi-fi networks and becoming commercial ‘hubs’ for global connections to the Internet, enabling them to cross-subsidize their online teaching activities.
Whatever the eventual outcome, what strikes me about Africa is the hope and the potential for major breakthroughs in online learning and e-learning. Necessity is the mother of invention.