Embracing Educational Technology in East Africa

A few week ago I had a meeting with one of my clients, a local college in Kenya, who wanted to implement an LMS to support student learning. During the scoping meeting I asked one of the directors why they wanted to develop an LMS and he said it was to facilitate sharing on ebooks among student and lectures! Moodle was their preferred learning management system. Spending a fortune on a system only to under utilize it does not sound realistic. There are so many features of an LMS that other academic institutions are taking advantage of to ensure they get a good ROI. An eLearning platform offers a number of benefits to the academic institution such as facilitating collaboration among the students and teachers, monitoring students performance, reporting and analytics, offer personalized learning and enable reusing of instructional materials, just to mention a few.

Most of public institutions in East Africa have a long way to go in making major paradigm shifts when it comes to adopting educational technology. A few have eLearning systems in place but some are greatly underutilized. Most teachers/instructors see technology as a threat to their work. Some believe adopting eLearning may take away their jobs since students do not have to come to face-to-face lectures but will instead study at their convenient time and place.

Instead of viewing technology as a threat, it should instead be seen an opportunity for the education sector. It opens up more opportunities for the teachers/instructors. The instructor doesn’t have to be tied only to the face-to-face lectures but can also offer online tuition from anywhere. It increases collaboration among the teachers and makes sharing of resources more efficient and timely. More job opening for Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) are cropping up thanks to technology. You can develop your own courses and sell them online. These are just some of the benefits teachers can enjoy by embracing use of technology in the education sector.

While leveraging technology in the education sector brings with it numerous benefits, some institutions still cannot afford to implement custom solutions due to the high costs involved with developing eLearning platforms and eLearning content. Such institutions are opting to use Open Education Resources (OERs). The OERs are playing a major role in facilitating access to quality learning resources to people who did not have access or could not afford to buy learning materials. A good example is Kids Comp Camp which has started setting up Raspberry Pi powered classrooms in underprivileged communities in Kenya with the main aim of increasing accessibility and affordability of quality learning resources. The edTech industry is rapidly growing here in East Africa and a number of organizations are taking the opportunity to make a fortune out of it. The space is slowly becoming flooded by all manner of content and there are no standard measures in place to regulate the kind of content students are exposed to by content providers. Some of the content is also not affordable to students in some remote parts of the country. OERs can help bridge this divide.

In what ways do you think technology can make education better?

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