Characterization of Online Learners or Students in Namibia

Characterization of Online Learners or Students in Namibia

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6762-3.ch002
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The purpose of this chapter is to present the characteristics of online learners or students in the Global South and specifically in Namibia. The characteristics were identified by using an autobiographical narrative enquiry of over 17 years of teaching experience in the field of distance education, secondary school teaching, university teaching, and online facilitation. The chapter presents four key characteristics of online learners or students that are likely to be found in the Global South. These characteristics should be taken into consideration before a final decision as to whether use online learning, blended learning, or offline learning. These are technologically-endowed (TE) student/learner, moderate technologically-exposed (MTE) student/learner, severe technologically disadvantaged (STD) student/learner, and acute technologically marginalized (ATM) student/learner. The chapter proposes that a rubric with grading criteria should be developed so that at the end the institution will be able to tell how many students/learners fall under each category.
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Background Of Online Education In Namibia

Online learning is becoming a norm in this digitalized world. As pandemics and other natural disasters keep occurring, institutions of higher learning as well as schools in both the private and public sector are re-engineering their offering modes so that their services cannot be affected by any disruption that is likely to occur. In traditional learning in Namibia, education took place offline, whereby learners were expected to walk from their houses and attend classes physically (Dabbagh, 2007; Iikela, 2020, April 20; Blayone, Mykhailenko, Kavtaradze, 2018). This has become a norm for many. And it is believed that learners or students tend to be more serious and likely to acquire more knowledge in offline environment when they can see the teacher. This often involves problems such as long distances that students have to walk to nearby schools as well as acute shortages of learning materials. With the increasing availability of digital technologies one can use to attend classes or use from the internet, new possibilities are available to students and institutions to address these problems.

In recent years, we have seen an upsurge of an increase and demand for e-learning management systems by the universities, colleges, and schools (Kotoua, Selira & Ilkan, Mustafa, 2015). Administrators at these institutions gave reasons such as lowering of tuition fees, acceleration of education services to rural areas, digital ability of the working class to benefit from their services, and improved measures of quality standards and services, However, a source of concern and complaints were raised in various media locally and internationally, where both students and staff members felt that a proper categorization or profiling of learners was not done properly to ensure that learners in different categories are given proper attention and resources so that they will not be left out (Queiros, & Villiers, 2016; Dube, 2020). It was further observed that institutions leaders assumed that young people were technologically savvy without acknowledging there are students that struggle with ownership and access to technology resources (Queiros, & Villiers, 2016; Dube, 2020).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Offline Learning: Refers to a traditional type of learning where learners or students are not exposed to digital learning but rather use face to face learning.

Online Learning: Refers to a process of acquiring knowledge and skills by using online materials and devices.

Smartphone: A mobile device with the capabilities of letting the user accessing online platforms such as Internet and social media.

Technological Endowed: Refers to areas or an area in the country with adequate availability of digital network, facilities, and infrastructures.

Profiling: The process of studying and knowing the digital needs of learners or students by placing them in different categories so that remedial actions can be taken to remedy the situation.

Student: Refers to someone who is attending classes and registered at a tertiary institution with main aim of acquiring knowledge and skills.

Digital Divide: A crippling situation whereby a school, village, constituency, or country does not have access to proper IT infrastructures such as network connectivity, radio, and television frequencies, etc.

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