Windhoek — Over 2000 participants from all over the world are expected to take part in the 8th e-Learning Africa Conference that started on Wednesday at the Safari Conference Centre in Windhoek under the theme - Tradition, Change Innovation.
The conference will highlight the role that technologies play in literacy development and in cultivating the rich diversity of indigenous African languages and oral cultures, to help make education more accessible for Africans. The electronic conference, which is one of the biggest in the world, will engage a host of topics including how to use digital, traditional and social media, mobility of learning, mobility of the learner and mobile technologies, academic and scholarly research, evidence-based research, pre-service and in-service teachers and teacher support, teaching and teacher development.
Participants will also deliberate on how to use technologies to improve healthcare delivery, professional development and training for healthcare workers and public health awareness, while a number of interactive and networking sessions, including story-telling, will also be on the cards. Some highlights of the event include locally-produced mobile applications and exciting mobile games to help raise public awareness of preventable diseases, applications used in schools and universities to support learning, and curriculum delivery and skills development in different African learning contexts.
The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology in conjunction with the Ministry of Education is hosting the e-learning conference and hopes to create a networking platform for high-level decision-makers, education practitioners and business professionals on information and communication technologies.
During the launch of the conference, the minister responsible for the ICT sector Joël Kaapanda urged participants to share experiences, projects, policies, partnerships and research in order to shape Africa's learning experience.
Dr Maggy Beukes-Amiss of the University of Namibia, who is a member of the organizing committee for the conference, said the conference would not only serve as a learning experience and tool, but would also boost tourism as participants will be coming from all over the world.
She said the response has been overwhelming and over 50 exhibitors are expected and all stands have been sold out. Other highlights of the event include speeches by Prime Minister Dr Hage Geingob and e-learning gurus like Dr Johannes Cronje of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in Cape Town and Dr Sugata Mitra of Newcastle University in the United Kingdom (UK).
Sarietjie Musgrave of the University of the Free State in South Africa will share her work with 60 rural schools by providing access to quality learning through an interactive internet-enabled broadcast programme, while Shallon Maureen Atuhaire of Makerere University and the Parliament of Uganda will share her experience using video and audio technologies in teaching African oral literature.
"We are doing well in terms of e-learning but we could do better," said Beukes-Amiss, referring to Namcol where e-learning started a long time ago, and other initiatives by Unam and the Polytechnic of Namibia.
The conference will also explore skills development among African youths, especially the unemployed, as well as teachers on how they can change learning, teaching and skills development in education, health, agriculture, banking, mining and the security sector in Africa.
The conference further calls for an open examination of experiences, projects, investments, policies, partnerships and research that focus on African traditions, change and innovation in learning, and teaching and skills development and for contributions that are situated within African contextual realities. The conference ends on Friday.