Teaching and Learning in a Net-Centric World

African Association for Distance Education Keynote

I thought I would take a moment to link to the slides and the paper I wrote for this morning’s keynote at the ACDE’s 2nd  Congress being held in Lagos and hosted by the National Open University of Nigeria. This talk has forced me out of my comfort zone, as I’ve had to do more thinking about contexts without a prevasive Net. In researching for the paper I discovered that Nigeria has the highest percentage of Net users in Africa (according to 2008 Internet World Stats) at 10.0%. This compares to a world average of 21.1% or 71% in North America. But the rate of Net use has been increasing very rapidly and part of my presentation focused on challenging distance educators to use Net tools in the operation of their own organizations, as a means to train and educate themselves, in advance of use of the Net for wide-scale deployment of net based learning opportunities. I was also forced to get back to my roots and realize that there is a long history of effective use of pre-net media (notably text) to support effective distance education.

Besides access to the Net, of course access to formal education is also problematic – the Nigerian Miister of Education yesterday admitted that there was only post secondary training available for 10% of those eligible.  I also learned of the near absence of technical postsecondary education in Africa , such as delivered by community colleges and technical institutes in Canada – How many lawyers does a developing country need?

I also noticed considerable interest in Open Educational Resources and was very encouraged by the work of oerafrica.org and peoples-uni.org in introducing and supporting the produsage of shared resources in Africa.

The trip, the discussions with many African and other regional distance educators and of course the warm hospitality of West Africans have been very enjoyable, though I can’t help reflecting on the wealth (or lack thereof) in this teeming country.

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