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:

  1. 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.’
  2. 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.’
  3. More gaming
  4. MOOCs: ‘While MOOCs currently don’t have standardised quality assurance in place, this will likely change in the near future.’
  5. 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.
  6. 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.’
  7. Trading desktop for mobile: ‘2014 will be the year in which the number of mobile users will exceed the number of desktop users.’
  8. 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
  9. HTML5: ‘improved JavaScript performance will begin to push HTML5 and the browser as a mainstream enterprise application development environment.’
  10. 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.




  1. Hi
    Just to enlighten yourself. Our school got 40 of these laptops, but they are locked away in the safe. They did not send us protective casings or protective plastic screens. These items cost R400 + R100 + tax for each tablet.
    We got no documentation – so I switched one on. It showed an SA Education logo and demanded user ID and a password from me.
    At the school everyone is VERY busy and overworked, so who is going to charge them from a USB point, load up materials(and make up materials) , fix broken tables, register and dish them out to classes every day?

    • Hi, Willem
      Thanks for this. It’s sad to see that lessons learned 50 years ago about using technology in schools in developing countries (in those days TV) have not been learned by governments and sponsoring agencies: start with the problem, then find a solution, not the other way round – then provide the necessary training in how to apply the technology. The real costs are not in the hardware but in all the support needed to make the hardware work – these are human costs that government does not want to address.
      Good luck with your teaching – it must be very frustrating, but I really admire what you are doing

  2. Nice to see your posts about E-Learning in Africa. Our company is currently developing E-Learning content for Secondary Schools in West Africa.
    We are building the E-Learning content for Senior Secondary / High School using the West African Examinations Councils’ (WAEC) curriculum.Our E-Learning content is packaged and deployed to be installed on the users Computer and only require a one time internet access to download and activate the application. This option was designed to eliminate the problems with internet access in Africa and reduce cost of usage.

    We are base in the United Kingdom and currently looking out for schools and E-Learning Content distribution organisations to collaborate with in Nigeria and Ghana.

    Interested persons can visit our website http://www.schoolcert.com toand request for free edition of our lessons in Maths, Chemistry, Biology and Physics.

  3. Why does it have to start at Gauteng, we’d love to have them as well in Kwazulu-Natal. By then maybe the pass rate may be high.

  4. They should start in the province that has the least load-shedding. eLearning is just what South Africa needs, but basic infrastructure and security issues are going to mean disappointment – when the technology itself is not to blame!


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