MOOCs: Adding Value?

Source: The New Inquiry
Source: The New Inquiry

There once was a conference … on MOOCs (#Klaxon):

He told Times Higher Education that improving the quality of online tuition could be one way to make savings in countries such as Germany that have less private university funding.

“We don’t have tuition fees or any large private institutions – but we still have the same drivers: the German government needs to save money, institutions need to save money.”

He added that German universities should move towards a “blended” teaching model mixing online and campus undergraduate study to cut costs.

But he warned: “Going to a blended system is going to be a challenge for the instructors…because German faculty do not necessarily adapt to new technologies quickly.”

Read full story, including how large numbers of students in Africa are signing up for MOOCs, largely in French.


Mobile Technology and African Education

Image by @drbexl
Image by @drbexl

Definitely a post that I want to read fully, as after my week in Uganda with Tearfund earlier this year, I still have plans for an article about the changes that mobile technology has made to everyday life and living conditions for those in the villages that we see – and here’s some research into mobile education:

Lesego is 18 and lives in an isolated village in western Botswana. She is smart and wants to study for a degree, but the nearest universities are several hundred miles away in the east of the country, and she cannot afford to relocate.

Instead, she is learning remotely. She does not use a computer, because her family cannot afford one and the electricity supply is prone to frequent outages, but her newly purchased smartphone allows her access to the internet and a suite of online courses – offered by some of the most respected universities in the world – as well as the most up-to-date literature, all at very little cost.

This scenario is imaginary, but it is one that policymakers and educators hope might become a reality for many living in similar conditions in the world’s poorest continent in the not-too-distant future.

Read full article.


#TFBloggers: We’re on the Move

So, this afternoon I’ll get the train to London, before heading for Uganda with Tearfund tomorrow… Although I’ve travelled extensively, including to some pretty poor countries, I’ve not made it to Africa before (closest is Egypt) and most of my knowledge of Africa is from the odd film – mainly Africa UnitedAfrica United

I’m notorious for not getting round to reading my travel guides until after I’ve been somewhere – preferring to rely upon suggestions from others (easy these days on social media)…

I think part of my reason is that I like to experience the culture ‘fresh’ – how do experience it, rather than through a “critics” eyes, but on the other hand it’s good to be prepared – to know what to expect, and to build on the knowledge of others for recommendations as to good places to visit – and I can become a bit of a “tick box tourist” – take a photo and move on…

For this particular trip, we’ve had a cultural orientation day, and our time will be pretty much full .. but I have picked up a 2004 Bradt Travel Guide to 2004 and a long plane journey might give me an opportunity for a proper look…  and I’ve had a bit of a look on Lonely Planet: Uganda… but this is really going to be my favourite kind of trip – being shown around by the people who live there, and are in the know… and in this case, are keen to share with us their journey!

Digital Life(style)

Mobiles in Africa? #TFBloggers

I’ve often said in training sessions – look at Africa as an example of how mobile/digital devices have changed lives – in a world where the infrastructure for fixed lines was never possible, the mobile functions without the same physical barriers.

In 2007, President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, said: “In 10 short years, what was once an object of luxury and privilege, the mobile phone, has become a basic necessity in Africa.” CNN News

The article goes on to identify 7 ways in which mobile has changed life in Africa:

  1. Banking: Mobile money rather than banking infrastructure
  2. Activism: Disenchanted citizens can engage, and in some areas, is encouraging increasing openness/transparency.
  3. Education: Mobile phones are cheaper to own/run than PCs, and allow access to kids that would otherwise get no education.
  4. Entertainment: The most popular activity – including music, films and social networking
  5. Disaster Management: Innovative use in refugee camps, allowing families to reconnect
  6. Agriculture: Multiple small farms, now gaining access to weather reports, market prices and access to micro-insurance schemes – enabling them to make better decisions, whilst sharing tips with each other.
  7. Health: Discovery of healthcare providers, provision of tips, reminders of Drs appointment – and hugely important – SMS codes used to reduce the number of fraudulent drugs circulated.

So, in the areas we go to, is mobile use growing, and how is it changing people’s lives if so? If not, is digital having impact in other ways?