Teaching and Learning in a Net-Centric World

African Council for Distance Education 2014

Zambezi Valley

Zambezi Valley

I was honoured to be invited to do a keynote talk at the 4th conference of ACDE in Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. After sitting up for 2 nights on a plane (42 hour journey) I was very glad to reach the Elephant Hills hotel and a soft bed. The hotel overlooks the Zambezi River and the constant myst of the Victoria Falls can be seen about 3 km away.

Mist rising from Victoria Falls

Mist rising from Victoria Falls

The next day I took a tour of the Falls, and they did not disappoint. They reminded me a lot of Niagara – maybe not so tall, but wider and the same deafening roar as millions of gallons of water churn over the cliff. Victoria Falls Victoria Falls

I did my talk the next day entitled ” Using Open Scholarship to Leapfrog Traditional Educational Barriers And it went OK, but the elaborate formal greetings and pomp of the opening ceremonies, meant that my time was really constrained- though I did manage to squeeze in a joke and give away a copy of one of our open access, Athabasca University Press, Issues in Dist. Educ. series books. The afternoon was spent at a very interesting workshop present by UNESCO and Fred Muller in which he challenged the Open Universities of Africa to embrace and develop MOOC applications- rather than fear them as we seem to do.  I was very impressed with over 200 MOOCs put together by 13 European OpenUpEd collaborators as a service- not profit see openuped.eu.

Generally the African Open Universities are focussed on quality production of print packages and support (tutorials, testing etc) in local learning Centres. They suffer from the same prejudice from educated elites, and the faculties of traditional universities, but of course their costs are much lower. It is clear to all that sufficient campus universities will never be built to accommodate the large and growing demand for higher education in Africa.  Many of  the presenters presented compelling cases for more support, but also presented evidence of the changes that their programs are making in the lives of disadvantaged students.  All the participants seem to have a sense that they should be using more net based technologies, but judging from the general absence of laptops by all but a few of the conference delegates, I think that net access and literacy is an issue not only for students but for faculty as well. This has been a very short trip, but the kindness of new friends and of the Zimbabwe people I have met here at the hotel is long!

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  1. Jo Ann Hammond-Meiers Jo Ann Hammond-Meiers
    June 8, 2014    

    Thanks Terry, I am very happy that you shared the information and pictures of your trip. Although the time was short — you impact and inspiration may lead some attending to new incomes — of education, productivity, and new possibilities. Stepping up is what is important. You are an inspiration to your students and colleagues. I have a photo of Victoria Falls, not unlike the one you took, taken by a longtime friend of mine who has done a lot of work internationally. We are all connected. I am thinking of how far the mobile possibilities have grown. We need to think in terms of a multitude of boxes and keep co-creating for better and better world by making the connections, speaking out, and continuing scholarly exchanges like this one. Jo Ann Hammond-Meiers

  2. Yolanda Gayol Yolanda Gayol
    June 8, 2014    


    Thanks for sharing this fascinating journey. your comments and pictures are breath taking. I admire your will to travel 42 hours, and have the strength to enjoy this marvelous landscape. I was able to “walk” with you in this interesting professional experience

  3. June 8, 2014    

    Thanks Jo Ann
    Indeed making connections has even emerged as new pedagogy – connectivism in which we utilize our personal and our connections to knowledge to help create a better world.

  4. Jo Ann Hammond-Meiers Jo Ann Hammond-Meiers
    June 8, 2014    

    Hi again Terry, It is interesting that I learned about connectivism at AU and since that time I have become more entrepreneurial. I remember blogging and taking George’s massive course (when he was in U of Manitoba). Now I’m now hosting educational international Telesummits for online entrepreneurs and have build a following on email, facebook, and to some extent LinkedIn and Twitter — bringing Expert Speakers to entrepreneurs, professionals, students, and small business owners (mainly) for free. I’m now hosting my fourth free telesummit and did my last three in one year. I had speakers from South Africa, England, Netherlands, Ireland, USA, and Canada, but my listeners span many countries and I hope to have speakers from all over the world if that can happen. I get emails thanking me for putting these educational summits together. I remember having conversations with other students and professors about connectivism and saying how this was so important. I believe that what has changed for me is that I have grown in my purpose and the ideas of outreach that I had, has become a reality. Thanks for all that you do and I hope students believe in how the connections we make that are genuine can ripple throughout the world. I know that they can, and I was skeptical about my ability to expand in this way — and I see now that my beliefs keep expanding and evolving as I continue to educate myself and give to others and facilitate other giving to others. I believe there are many ways to show up as our best selves — and it is important to connect with fellow travelers along the way.

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