"If you look at the one laptop per child programme, if I remember correctly, the Nigerian government cancelled their order because they couldn’t afford desks to put them on.”This article in TrainingZone magazine (you will need to register to read it, but it is free) highlights some of the challenges facing those who look to deploy technology-supported or technology-based learning solutions in Africa. Presumably many of the challenges mirror those faced in other parts of the developing world.
John Traxler, LearningLab director at the University of Wolverhampton
Among these are
- lack of hardware - many students do not have a computer at home and have to attend a teaching institution
- lack of infrastructure - while there may (or may not) be computers at the aforementioned teaching institution, there is not always a teacher
- poor internet speed - Africa has the lowest average internet connection speeds in the world at an average of 1.1Mbps as compared with over 6Mbps in Europe
- and even lack of access to mains electricity (the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa estimates that only 20% of the total African population have access to electricity)
- poisonous drinking water
- high infant mortality rate
- HIV/AIDS which is killing people off faster than they can be trained
However, on the plus side, according to John Gordon AIS President,
[In Europe] mobile learning is either an extension of elearning or a reaction to it. It’s seen as tethered or limited, indoor. So mobile learning to a large extent here in Europe is a reaction to that; we’d like to take learning al fresco, into real life.
In southern Africa, there isn’t that history – they don’t have any elearning to react against – so if anything, mobile learning grows out of the distance learning model, often as a response to infrastructure issues.