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Appeal to learning professionals to help avert African education digital divide

LondonLearning NewsLearn Appeal

Appeal to learning professionals to donate ‘time and talent’ to help avert digital divide disaster for African education.

A new project called #makeamodule #makeadifference run by the Learn Appeal charity is asking e-learning developers, instructional designers and other creative professionals to donate their time and skills to convert static information into interactive e-learning to transform the lives of African children and young people.

Educators in remote areas in Africa are facing new challenges created by the ‘digital divide’. Lack of electricity and online access in rural areas is creating an unfair two tier society where children and adults growing up and living in villages are unable to access knowledge considered commonplace in developed areas. But new Learn Appeal initiatives such as #makeamodule #makeadifference are addressing this potential disaster by ingeniously delivering elearning without the need for power or Internet access.

Launched last year, Learn Appeal provides capsules to create a local Wi-Fi micro-learning centre that can be accessed by digital devices within a radius of up to 1km. It is designed to deliver easily accessible and low cost learning in any remote area. Though the technology is now proven, the learning content itself is still in production. The Learn Appeal #makeamodule #makeadifference initiative has been launched to encourage learning professionals to contribute time and talent to help develop the content.

Over 200 learning modules have already been produced by Practical Action and the Thare Machi Foundation. Through the #makeamodule #makeadifference project, Learn Appeal isasking fellow learning professionals to help them convert this content into modern effective, interactive elearning which can be accessed offline.

Explains Learn Appeal Consultant Lesley Price: “It doesn’t matter whether you are an e-learning developer, an instructional designer, a graphic designer, script-writer, video producer, or if you help to run a learning technologies business, this is your chance to give something back. Not your money, but your time and talent. We need an hour, a day, a week. Whatever you can spare. We are asking you to make a difference by making a module. By transforming our static content into interactive e-learning, you will be transforming the lives of those who need access to this training.”

One of the key projects Learn Appeal is contributing to is Complitkenya in Kenya. CEO Eric Kimori explains the need. “In today’s information and increasingly digital economy, places such as remote areas of Kenya are falling victims to the ‘digital divide’ which are widening income disparities between the unconnected rural and urban affluent areas who have a good access to digital resources. Without projects like this, communities in places like rural Kenya will be completely excluded from participating in the global economy. The effect will be a huge social divide between the information rich and the information poor in the society, whether locally or internationally. Longer term it will lead to seclusion from the global economy. Poor communities will be poorer in five years and even more marginalized than they are now.”  

Whilst the Capsule does not provide direct access to the Internet, it will enable Complitkenya to establish e-community centres and give connected users within a range of 1km access to elearning and other relevant information stored on the Capsule via Wi-Fi.   Concludes Eric, “The Capsule is an ‘invaluable reservoir of learning’ which will make a huge difference to those who have no access to the internet. For the first time, many of them will be connected to the digital world.”

More about how to get involved is available via email to Learn Appeal, [email protected]. Learn Appeal is running a “make-a-thon” supported by the Learning and Performance Institute, the World of Learning Conference and Exhibition, the Training Learning and Development Conference and Closer Still, the organisers of the Learning Technologies Conference and Exhibition and the Learning Technologies Awards. Updates are posted on the website, and Twitter.

About the Learn Appeal Capsule

Originally developed by innovative start up Appitierre, the Learn Appeal capsule contains a Raspberry Pi 3, with a battery which will cope with 18 hours of constant use,  a WiFi router with a range of up to 300mtrs and the option to upgrade this to increase range to 1km and a capacity of between 150 – 200 concurrent users.

Although the unit can connect to the Internet, the content is stored locally. The capsule consumes very little power. It can be recharged via USB with any compatible power source. This makes it suitable for use in sub-Saharan Africa in areas where they rely on solar kiosks to provide electricity.  The Capsule is also ideal for charities and other organisations to provide learning resources in a safe environment.  As the unit is stand-alone it is totally secure and therefore eliminates e-safety concerns.

The software on the capsule is device responsive and can not only store a range of off-line internet content e.g. Kahn Academy Lite, books, videos but also elearning courses.  It has a fully functional Appitierre Bloom Learning Management System (LMS) so learners to be properly managed. The LMS it also has a community area. This additional functionality enables learners to generate their own content which is then stored on the capsule and can be shared with other learners who are connected to it.