donderdag 4 juli 2013

Impressions of eLearning Africa 2013, Windhoek Namibia

29th -31st May the eLearning Africa conference 2013 was held in Windhoek Namibia in the Safari Conference Centre. The eLearning 2013 report (English) is also out (also in French)

These are my impressions of the event.



On the 29th May I attended two pre-conference sessions. In the morning a session World-Class Skills Through Technology for Change and Innovation  led my Microsoft with the buzzwords 21st century skills, professional teacher development, student centred pedagogy. First I thought it was really focusing on Microsoft products. And of course it is a company that wants to make money, but the presentations were about more than Microsoft skills. It encourage students and teachers to think critically and creatively beyond just reproduction. 21st century skills: Way of thinking, Way of working, tools for working and ways of living in the world. 

But if you support the development of humans to a higher education level, they will reach mostly a higher income and will become consumers. So Microsoft does see this as a long term investment to increased the skill level op people in developing countries. During the session Microsoft told more about the different programmes they have in Africa within Education. For example Microsoft4Africa: improving africa’s competitiveness through strategic partnerships (building capacity, increasing access and innovation), Microsoft IT Academy, a life long learning model to bridge skill gap between education and todays technology centered job market. It provides trainings, curriculum, certification, linkages/partnerships and resources to educational institutes. Partners in Learning. With lots of resources for students and educators presented by Phil Oduor, Project Badiliko a collaboration of British Council and Microsoft. Project Badiliko builds digital hubs at schools and community centres across Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Ghana and Nigeria and provides a cascade model of professional development for teachers and school leaders.  Agile EMIS (James Curry, ( was a presentation from a Microsoft partner about educational management information systems. The EMIS is implemented in Uganda on large scale at school level (PC, smart phone or mobile (attendance collection), district and national level for Ministry of Education.

In the afternoon I followed a practical workshop A Practical Introduction to OER4Schools: Supporting Interactive Teaching of Mathematics and Science a collaboration of Chalimbana Basic School, Zambia and University of Cambridge, UK (Abel Makonga, Chalimbana Basic School, Zambia and Bjoern Hassler, University of Cambridge, UK.


 The official opening of the conference The Ghanaian blogger Mac-Jordan Degadjor (@MacJordaN) as representative of the African Youth was most impressive.

a solar container at exhibition

I follow him already for years and had the opportunity to meet him in person. Theme of the opening was: Learning and Innovation: In the Cloud and on the Ground with a Spirit of Ubuntu.

Next morning during the plenary Towards an (Upwardly) Mobile Africa? The speech of Donald Clark, Is Mobile the New Pen and Pencil?  was thought provoking. Tablets are useless unless with keyboard, mobile learning is gps for learning. Attention span of youth only 7 seconds! 

The presentation of Monica Weber of the Worldbank gave also some interesting insights. Especially about urbanization. “Should we invest in poor urban areas were most of the people will live or in rural areas were population is scarce?”. She gave also in three slides recommendations for eLearning in relation to poverty, prosperity and environment

The Next parallel session that I followed was about Developing the ICT Competencies of African

Teachers. Especially the presentation of Esther Wamuyu Gacicio, Kenya Institute of Education, Kenya “Moving Teachers’ Competencies in Curriculum Delivery to the 21st Century Learning: Kenyan Perspective” was interesting. Potential partner for the Kenya programme. In the afternoon I also had a demonstration of their content by Ruben.

Late afternoon was my own session: eLearning in Medical Education. I presented a project we had done in Malawi: “Online renewal of licenses for nurses in Malawi

The other two presentations about a medical school in Tanzania (Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre, Medical Education Partnership Initiative (KCMC-MEPI). Dativa Tibyampansha a Learning Management System specialist) and how they use eLearning for the education of medical students and an eLearning system for nurses from University of Malawi, Kamuzu College of Nursing (Gladys Msika  head for the Medical –Surgical Nursing Department  in collaboration with University of Edinburgh

After the presentation a very interesting and a lively session with lots of questions followed. 

Fridays plenary session was about Education Renewal Through eLearning, MOOCs and Mother Tongue. One inspirational speech about use of social media in education from Prof Dr Johannes Cronje, Professor, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa “Doing IT for Free. Reflections on Open Courseware, Open Access and Open Learning” and a thought provoking from Prof Kwesi Kwaa Prah, Director of the Africa-wide Centre for Advanced Studies of African Society (CASAS), South Africa “The Language Factor in the Integration of ICTs in African Education, Training and Development” were he asked all African why they do not create content and applications in their own local languages.

The last session I attended was disappointing. Going to Scale and Going Local with Laptops, eReaders and Tablets especially the session of Chi Jin, UNESCO Inruled, China New Media and Women’s Leadership:Pilot and Practices in China because of her presentation skills “death by powerpoint” with long stories on the slide that she read to the audience.









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