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Tuesday, 12 May 2015

E-Learning The Next Online School For Africa

Having had a wonderful experience of Online Learning (commonly known as E-Learning) at Alison-  and Coursera-  I have decided to fully dig deep into this new trend of learning. While doing online learning all students sit in the front row. It’s very important that African governments quickly jump on board to explore all the advantages that come with online learning. This can be done through empowering innovators to spend more time on developing applications and websites that can make a difference in Education. Online learning helps students to get a great personalized education at an affordable price.

Online education is composed of Colleges and Universities without walls as commonly referred to, will broaden access to higher education, especially for low income students juggling their studies with full-time jobs and families. I have read inspiring stories of students who are taking advantage of these flexible learning models to pursue degrees that can put them on paths to new careers.
In many countries, college tuition is rising faster than any other costs in Africa. This pushes many students to opt out of degree classes. More than 40% of College and University students in Africa drop out, depriving them of the chance to earn more money and leaving Africa without the highly trained workers we need for economic Growth. The fact is we face a dilemma. There is need to educate people in a better way without increasing cost. 
In my experience what separates great courses from mediocre ones is the Quality of the Professors, whose passion and expertise bring their subjects to life as much online as in person. That’s why it’s important as we think about taking the online trend of education, we also need to keep our focus on the instructors. They are the ones who inspire and guide the students. The best online learning technologies expand the reach of the most inspiring professors by allowing more students to be part of their classes.

The risk of this mass approach to education is of course, is that the students might get lost in such an impersonal setting. This calls for more research in new approaches to students advising. Through using data collecting tools which show whether students are logging into their courses regularly, learning and completing their assignments. This approach enables the college can intervene help the students at risk of falling behind or dropping out. Students do not get lost because they are not serious enough but because they lack the consistent guidance and follow up. The best thing with online learning no student sits in the back corner, everyone is in the front row.

For those that have tried online learning, they say it is better than in a classroom. “I have taken college classes in a big auditorium with herds of people. There was no personal “Joan a Coursera student narrated. Now she reaches all her instructors with just a click of the mouse. My other friend who has acquired several diploma courses from ALISON said he liked the fact that they can learn at their own pace and are able to fit school into their busy schedules.

A student carrying out Practicals at Home
However there is still need to improve on the tools that allow students to fully connect with each other to discuss and exchange ideas. Many students struggle to complete team assignments online because it’s strenuous to coordinate schedules. In addition, Laboratory works for science classes and other hands on learning still pose a very huge challenge to the online learning system. Although many experts emphasize that colleges should offer laboratory kits to students to use while at home. 

The immense obstacle facing all higher education institutions is how to ensure more students stay in college or University and complete their degrees. These institutions are also looking everywhere for solutions, many universities have designed New personalized Online Catalogue features. Major study maps which outline cardinal key requirements, optimal course sequence and career options to help keep students on the path to graduation.  

With the recent advancements in technology, I am very optimistic about what the future holds for higher education in Africa and world over. This also reminds our African Governments on how much work still needs to be done. What’s more exciting is that many African Universities are using their creative and intellectual powers to reinvent themselves for the future. In doing so, they will give many more students the opportunity to do the same with their own lives. 

By Mwebya Fred 

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