eLearning Africa to focus on youth, OERs and sectoral training

The eLearning Africa conference programme for 2011 features contributions from 260 speakers from 49 countries, including representatives from global organisations such as UNEP, UNESCO/UNEVOC and the World Bank, as well as from national educational institutions across Africa.

Berlin, Germany. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. eLearning Africa 2011 has set its sights on unlocking the potential of young Africans, the innovative use of Open Educational Resources (OERs) and training for teaching, healthcare, farming and banking professionals in Africa. The conference agenda is now online at http://tinyurl.com/4x82o48.

eLearning Africa is the largest pan-African conference about Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for Development, Education and Training, and will take place from May 25th – 27th in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Spotlight on youth

Six sessions will focus exclusively on the central conference theme Youth, Skills & Employability. ‘Wazup? Youth Voices on Life, Love and eLearning’ will be owned by young African people themselves. They will exchange their views on becoming ‘digital’, what this means for their relationships and communities and their engagement with an often ‘clueless’ older generation.

Ten other youth sessions will cover very specific topics as varied as youth entrepreneurship, statistical literacy, applying performing arts to youth employability or, the empowerment of young deaf people. This year’s TVET Summit will focus on skills development for young people and adult learners through technology-supported strategies.

Innovative learning in specific sectors

Teacher training will rank very high on this year’s agenda, with topics as varied as ‘delivering science videos by mobile phones to classrooms in Tanzania’ to ‘confronting technophobia among teachers’. Lessons learnt from Asia (Vietnam, Singapore and South Korea) will be discussed.

Presentations targeting the health, finance or farming sectors include ‘How the SMS saves lives in medical emergencies in Malawi’, ‘eLearning for the airwaves – developing skills for agricultural broadcasters’ and ‘ICTs in Mozambique’s banking sector’.

Mobile learning will be a hot topic across sectors and formats. The vague optimism and speculative talk regarding its potential has been replaced by demand for evidence of impact and an increasing focus on learning outcomes.

There will be innovative conference formats such as the ‘Umoja’ sessions, which are named after the Kiswahili word for ‘unity’. They are designed for sharing knowledge and ideas around specific projects or visions.

Are Open Educational Resources flawed?

Open Educational Resources (OERs), a tremendously popular issue in Africa’s eLearning scene, will be at the heart of this year’s conference with a large number of sessions exploring their use. eLearning Africa’s Debate, however, usually a very lively parliamentary-style discussion, will dig deeper and address the following motion:

“This house believes that the OER movement is fundamentally flawed because it is based on the false assumption that educational institutions are willing to share resources freely and openly.”

New and dedicated research stream

In a bid to nurture original African research, the newly established research stream will focus on innovative and rigorous eLearning research across the Continent.

Participants will be able to engage with research initiatives in order to learn from their experiences, consider critical perspectives and be better equipped to tackle future challenges.

Sharing and networking

Now in its sixth year, eLearning Africa has established itself as the key event about ICT for development, education and training on the African Continent. Its mission is to bring people together who are actively engaged in education and the implementation of learning technologies in schools, universities, corporate training programmes, as well as in education in the public sector.

More information can be found at www.elearning-africa.com.