Here and Now or Coming in the Future?: E-Learning in Higher Education in Africa

Here and Now or Coming in the Future?: E-Learning in Higher Education in Africa

James Kariuki Njenga (University of the Western Cape, Republic of South Africa) and Louis Cyril Henry Fourie (University of the Western Cape, Republic of South Africa)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-623-7.ch026
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Phenomenal changes have occurred in higher education (HE) since the emergence of e-learning, thus necessitating change in teaching and learning approaches. The rate of change, demands, and pressures of the workplace brought by these ICTs, and the need for continual self improvement, job market competition, and job relevance have created an unprecedented demand for HE. There seem to be mythical ideas about the potential effects of e-learning and the proximal and contingent contextual factors that might affect its use, especially in Africa. Thus, e-learning’s ability to reach non-traditional learners to offer the required alternative access to education or offer supplementary access to traditional learners is questioned, leading to the observation that its benefits may be achieved only in the future rather than in the present. Hence the focal question: Is e-learning coming in the future or is it a present engagement, and how do partnerships figure into this issue?
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The Benefits Of E-Learning

Creation of a Workforce that is Knowledge-Economy Ready

There is currently a substantial focus on the knowledge economy, which broadly stated is the requirement of specialised information-handling skills and knowledge expertise with the ability to add value to the information and skills (Williams, 2007; Melville & Wallace, 2007). With the global increasing demand for knowledge workers and e-skills in governments and organisations, the onus is now on institutions of higher learning to produce knowledge-economy-ready graduates. Viewed in this light, e-learning can assist students to acquire skills and familiarity with the tools of the knowledge economy as they learn. However, questions have arisen regarding the readiness of Africa for the knowledge economy, and much still needs to be done for it to become a reality, although there is slow progress towards such a model in some African countries (Britz, Lor, Coetzee, & Bester, 2006).

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