Last month we started to put together a beta version of the e-Platform and develop some mock courses. The first course is one which we consider to be the foundation for the platform. It involves introducing learners to e-Learning and the features that will be used as we move forward. We cannot assume that people already know how to be an effective e-learner!
It is very important that people know how to log on to the site, choose a relevant course, find their way around the site, participate in quizzes, polls and discussion forums etc. But that’s not all they will need to know. It’s as, or more important, for people to understand how to function as a digital learner …to understand the value of e-Learning and the potential it holds to improve their lives.
Making courses relevant for Tanzanians
Apart from presenting information (that may have been developed elsewhere). we consider it important to localize the information….present information from the perspective of Tanzanians, make it more relevant to our learner group, presenting perspectives from people who share a language, culture, views etc..
Professor Pemba – director of the Tanzania Training Center for International Health (TTCIH) and Zabron Abel (e-Learning manager at TTCIH) identified a number of people who could share their opinions on e-Learning for this first introductory course.
We chatted for a while and gave them a single page which outlined a number of differences scenarios – a person who was afraid of not being able to learn how to use the tools; a person who thought e-Learning was a waste of time; someone who thought learning can only happen in a classroom, and others.
We asked the group to really think about each scenario and identify the one that resonated most with them – either from their own experience or someone close to them. Then we asked them to reflect on this and gather their thoughts so that they could speak on camera without any notes or script.
While the group were gathering their thoughts, and preparing themselves to be filmed, Professor Pemba arrived – took the sheet we had prepared for him as a guide and went straight to his seat. We turned off the AC to eliminate the noise, asked the grounds man to take a break from mowing the lawn outside the window, and made a few changes in lighting to get rid of unwanted shadows.The USD 150 dollar flip cam was turned on, and off he went. One take – it was a wrap!
Keeping things authentic – real people with a genuine belief in the transformative potential of technology
This was our day. People came and went. They were asked to reflect on different aspects of e-Learning, challenges, opportunities, etc. and to speak from their hearts. People who initially shuddered at the thought of being recorded were transformed! It was quite amazing to see speakers blossom in front of the camera – speaking about something they so obviously feel passionate about. They shared a common goal – to share their belief that technology can be an enabler for positive change. That everyone will soon have the opportunity to improve their lives by having increased access to education and training…and it’s up to each person to decide if they want to take it!
e-Learning doesn’t just happen!
We must be clear from the beginning. e-Learning is not just about pushing buttons and clicking links. It’s also about effort. We are coming to a time when the opportunity for people to improve their lives will be available to more people than ever before… how can we better prepare people to make the effort so that they can take their opportunity?.