October 31, 2014

Africa is the world’s fastest developing e-learning market

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Computers for student use at Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa

Adkins, S. (2013) The Africa Market for Self-paced eLearning Products and Services: 2011-2016 Forecast and Analysis Monroe WA: Ambient Insight

This is one of the most interesting reports I have come across in a long time. Even the abstract is packed with information and data. I have pulled out here just a small selection of particular interest to online learning in higher education.

According to this report, e-learning is forecast to grow in Africa as a whole at a rate of 15% per annum over the next four years, with growth rates in individual countries at the following:

  • Senegal: 30%
  • Zambia: 28%
  • Zimbabwe: 25%
  • Kenya: 25%

In terms of volume of revenues from e-learning, South Africa is the dominant country but will be overtaken by Nigeria by 2016.

There are several drivers of this development in Africa:

  • the recent arrival of fiber optic connectivity. Prior to this, satellite access was the primary connectivity medium, which is very expensive. This was inhibiting the uptake of Internet connectivity
  • a price war with telecoms and ISPs dropping prices to attract customers. This has also created a boom in the adoption of Internet and mobile technologies
  • Internet penetration in Kenya essentially doubled from 2010 to 2011, growing from 28% to 52% in just one year. Internet penetration more than tripled in Rwanda between 2011 and 2012, growing from 8% to 26% in one year.
  • The wide scale digitization of academic content in every country analyzed in this report
  • The explosion of online enrollments in higher education institutions
  • the sharp spike in the adoption of eLearning in the corporate segments in the booming economies.

According to the report:

The boom in online higher education enrollments in Africa is nothing short of astonishing. Many countries are adopting eLearning as a way to meet the strong demand for higher education – a demand they simply cannot meet with traditional campuses and programs:

  • The University of South Africa (UNISA) UNISA is a pan-regional virtual university with over 310,000 students (3,500 come from outside Africa.) Over half of all UNISA students take at least one online course a year. New virtual universities are springing up everywhere in Africa.
  • In May 2011, the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) announced the launch of a pan-African virtual university branch of IGNOU with headquarters in Ethiopia. IGNOU has partnerships with institutions in 20 African countries.
  • Innorero University, a private institution in Kenya, launched their Virtual Campus in January 2012.
  • The Virtual University of Uganda (VUU) claims to be the first online university in East Africa and started taking students in January 2012.
  • In June 2012, the Kenyan government funded the development of a new online education institution called the Open University of Kenya in an effort to meet the strong demand for higher education in the country.
  • The African University College of Communications (AUCC) and the India-based AVAGMAH Online School of Bharathidasan University announced in October 2012 that they would launch a virtual university in Ghana in January 2013 
  • in January 2012, the African Development Bank approved a US$15.6 million grant to help strengthen the capacity of the African Virtual University (AVU). As of 2012, the AVU had 31 active higher education partners across Africa, which it helps in building e-learning centres and training content developers. The new funding will be used to build 12 new e-learning centres.

With very few exceptions, most of the countries in the region now have official government policies on the use of technology in education. There are now dozens of new national digitization projects funded directly by the central governments with and without the aid of external donors.


Massive growth of online learning in Asia

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Aakash 2: already 3.5 million ordered

Adkins, S. S. (2012) The Asia Market for Self-paced eLearning Products and Services: 2011-2016 Forecast and Analysis Ambient Insight, October

In all the hoopla about MOOCs, it is worth noting that in Asia, credit-based online learning is already reaching many millions of learners. This report from Ambient Insight, targeted mainly at the corporate e-learning market, provides a host of fascinating statistics about the Asian market for online learning.

Several countries for instance are putting their entire k-12 curriculum online. China’s goal is to have their entire K-12 population of over 200 million students online by 2020. In South Korea all primary and secondary schools must be entirely digital by 2015, and every child with have a personal learning device. In India, the Aakash 2 tablet, which launched this month, already has 3.5 million orders.

The report also highlights ‘explosive growth of online higher education enrollments‘ in Asia. One institution alone in China, ChinaEdu, has nearly 200,000 students taking degree programs wholly online, and over 100,000 South Koreans are enrolled in cyber universities.

Perhaps most interesting of all though is the author’s comment on how the digitization is occurring:

The content digitization tends to start with converting print-based textbooks to eTextbooks. Yet, once the infrastructure and learning technology is in place, the buyers are increasingly opting for interactive, self-paced multimedia content. Several of the newer initiatives are leapfrogging eTextbooks altogether and building out interactive media as a core component.

If you want to pay for a full copy of the report, contact: info@ambientinsight.com


 

Cost Analysis of Information Technology Projects in Education: Experiences from Developing Countries

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Potashnik, M. and Adkins, D. (1996) ‘Cost Analysis of Information Technology Projects in Education: Experiences from Developing Countries’ Education and Technology Series Vol. 1, No. 1 Washington, D.C.: World Bank