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Education

Nigeria’s Learnark is a MOOCs platform with a mission to help users learn relevant skills to earn a living

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Founded in 2016 by Awoyode Opeoluwa Great and Adedolapo Oguntayo, the CEO, Learnark is a Massive Open Online Course platform with a mission to help people acquire relevant knowledge they can use to improve their lives or simply learn to earn.

According to Adedolapo, Learnark provides high quality courses from top training institutions and leading organizations to help train learners in fields such as Business and Management, Creative Arts and Media, Science and Technology, Academics and Agriculture from wherever they are, at their own pace.

Adedolapo says she started Learnark after being inspired by a social project called the Students and Teenagers Empowerment Project (STEP).

“One of the main activities of STEP was organizing a monthly event where successful people meet with young people and share the lessons and knowledge that has made them successful. Looking back, I can see the influence the sessions made in the lives of many of the attendees especially on my team of teenage volunteers that help organize the events,” she said. “Learnark has been built with the same intention; to help people develop themselves so they can achieve better results in life.”

Users can start learning on Learnark by selecting from its range of courses to help them build successful careers at their own pace to beat illiteracy, unemployment and underemployment.

“At Learnark we thought what if everyone is educated! Will it solve
this huge social problem? We soon realized that there are poor
educated people. So we thought again, What if everyone is educated to earn? What if we
all learn to earn?” thought the team.

Courses are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life to make learning an enjoyable social experience. Learnark mission is to help people acquire skills they can use to

earn by partnering with professionals to provide skills training in fast
growing industries like Real estate, construction, ICT, media,
education.

The platform also connects its trainees with job and business
opportunities in this industries. The platform works simply. Trainees register on Learnark, complete the training, take a few months internship and start a business or Job.

Kenya’s Digiskool raises $50,000 from UK’s East Africa Investments to expand across East Africa

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Digiskool, a school management system which takes away the hustle of information management, and digitizes a school by bringing together core and auxiliary function together in a seamless and functional way has raised $50,000 from UK’s East Africa Investments to expand across East Africa.

Developed by Kenya’s BigBrainz Solutions, Digiskool automates administrative tasks and enhances collaboration between parents, teachers, students and other key stakeholders in the education sector.

The platform also manages fee collection and receipting and helps parents track their child(ren) performance and other activities. The firm says the system delegates roles to various users hence making school management effective, efficient and harmonized thus ensuring there is no discrepancies and inconsistencies. Teaching Staff can submit examination results for analysis through their individual account,access their daily lessons and view their individual lesson plans and timetables.

The software as a service platform aims to ease administrative functions such as school finances and accounting, teacher and student performance analysis, comprehensive grading system, role assignments, staff management, school calendar of events, automated timetabling, budget and control.

Digiskool charges between Ksh10,000/ month to KSH 30,000 depending on the number of students a school has. Digiskool also raised Ksh 2m cash from KCB LIONS DEN. Digiskool is part of EFI Hub incubator working with startups in India and Africa.

 

Could blended learning be Africa’s recipe for educational success?

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More and more learners are turning to online courses that enable them to participate in primary, secondary and tertiary education over the web and at a distance from campus. Debates rage over how best to implement e-learning, particularly in regions such as Sub-Sahara Africa which are ripe for educational reform.

In this article, I explain how blended learning works and why it is the ideal choice for the African continent. Finally, I formulate some effective strategies for rolling out these types of distance education schemes in Africa.

This article will be of interest to anyone who wishes to learn more about the latest developments in edtech, and it is relevant both to teachers and lecturers and to learners themselves, as well as being of value to anyone running or wishing to set up an edtech company in Africa.

The educational situation in Africa: where we stand now

I contend that the educational system in Africa is ripe for reform, both in terms of the physical infrastructure by means of which educational content is delivered and in terms of the ways in which education is theorised and spoken about. The main reason for the urgent need for educational reform in Africa is that the continent is full of a huge amount of young and ambitious learners (and potential learners) who are nevertheless facing some powerful barriers to achieving a traditional education.

The UN has estimated that Africa has a very ‘youthful population’, with over 200 million people currently living on the continent who are aged between 18 and 34. As the UN highlights in this study, this immense youthful population could be a source of great opportunity: these young learners could become the doctors, scientists, writers and engineers of the future.

However, the UN notes, the continent’s youthful population is being allowed to stagnate as a lack of jobs and educational opportunities, as well as a pressure to give up educational goals in order to feed or care for family members, are forcing younger people to lose the opportunities that should rightfully be theirs. The problem is particularly acute in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, where huge swathes of youths are joining rebel groups as they lack the educational and career related opportunities that might motivate them to study or take up a trade.

Another huge problem is the lack of educational infrastructure available, and also the lack of high quality transport infrastructure that would enable learners to reach their school classroom in order to receive lessons in the first place.

Though Africa is home to some of the world’s top universities (for instance the University of Cape Town in South Africa and the University of Nairobi), however in some of the continent’s nations (such as Niger) there is just a single university – or no tertiary education provided at all.

Even in the wealthier country of South Africa, schools have been deemed to be lacking the necessary infrastructure to implement the nation’s admirable educational policies. The situation is worse in Sub-Sahara Africa, particularly in rural or desert areas where children and young people have practically no means of reaching a school in order to participate in conventional classroom teaching on a regular basis.

 

On the upside, however, Africa is a continent that is highly internet literate. It often surprises my readers when they learn that even in the poorest parts of Africa, 70% of citizens own a mobile phone and that in general, communities in Sub-Sahara Africa are more likely to have an internet connection than to have adequate supplies of food and water. In addition, young Africans are particularly engaged and entrepreneurial when it comes to developing and downloading smartphone apps. Though, when compared to statistics for app downloads in the rest of the world, the app market in Africa remains relatively untapped.

 

Currently, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya are the biggest app downloaders on the continent. The challenge is to stimulate and develop this trend so that it also takes root in Sub-Sahara Africa.

 

All of this data on the current situation in Africa indicates that online learning (embracing everything from MOOC to m-learning based around smartphone apps, and from e-learning conducted via videostreamed lectures to other types of online courses) is the way forward for Africa. If implemented correctly, e-learning strategies could surmount all of the infrastructure related difficulties described above and provide educational opportunities to Africa’s large – and growing – youthful population, as well as to adult learners who missed out on primary and/ or secondary education in their youths. The crucial thing is to implement MOOC and other e-learning strategies correctly, and my research suggests that blended learning is the best way to do this. Accordingly, let us now turn to an evaluation of blended learning strategies: what they consist of and how they can help Africans to learn.

 

[H2] Blended learning: a working definition

 

Blended learning means a mixture of classical learning strategies and online education measures. As its name indicates, it is a ‘blend’ of online and offline learning techniques. One example of blended learning would be a university campus that allows students to stream some of their lectures online from any location that they please, but also requires them to attend weekly seminars on campus. Another blended learning strategy might combine online and offline distance education, whereby students are encouraged to access online resources in order to conduct their research but also allowed to submit essays and assessments and receive feedback by post. These are just two examples of the ways in which different educational methods can be blended with each other. When implementing a blended learning strategy, the important thing is to ensure that the blend is specifically tailored to suit the needs of the individual learners and their environments. Video streamed lectures are less necessary in a university where students all live on campus and transport infrastructure to and from the university is good – in fact, providing lectures that can be accessed online might have the effect of demotivating such students and depriving them of access to a readily available embodied classroom experience. However, this type of distance education tool is perfect for learners in very remote areas who would find it impossible to attend the lectures in person.

 

[H2] What are the current conditions like in educational institutions in African countries?

 

Conditions in schools and universities vary widely from country to country. In Nairobi University, for instance, students can partake of numerous offline and online facilities, including a good quality ICT architecture that is available 24/7, sports halls, dedicated examination centres and a health centre. Here, edtech would be expected to build on and develop (as well as to transform) an existing flourishing set of already blended learning facilities. By contrast, primary and secondary schools in the Eastern Cape lack even basic latrine facilities – let alone good quality learning materials (whether printed or digital). In these schools, which can typically have 90 pupils being taught by one single educator, distance education and the admixture of some digital learning facilities would ease the pressure on individual teachers and enable pupils to learn in peace, away from overcrowded classrooms that can actually impede learning.

 

[H2] Which conditions are necessary for blended learning to have the best effect?

 

The answer to this question follows intuitively from the discussion above. For blended learning to have a positive and useful effect on African communities as a bare minimum they will need a curriculum and trained educators to deliver it, as well as a digital learning strategy that is tailored to suit the needs of the individual class or even single learners. In particular, the digital aspects of a blended educational strategy ought to be geared towards meeting any deficiencies in the provision of offline learning at any given establishment (for instance, lack of infrastructure). Digital learning strategies ought to be ambitious, future proofed, forward thinking and designed to give learners the best quality education, no matter what their circumstances.

 

[H2] A summary: why is a blend of online courses and classical educational infrastructure beneficial in Sub Saharan Africa?

 

Sub Saharan Africa is one of the most important regions when it comes to the rollout of blended educational strategies. This is where the continent’s poorest communities are concentrated, where educational infrastructure is often poor in quality or non existent, and thus where well developed MOOC, e-learning and m-learning strategies can be expected to provide the most dramatic benefits and positive changes.

 

In sum, a blended approach to education will vastly benefit this poorer region of Africa because it will:

  • Make up for poor educational infrastructure
  • Make up for poor transport infrastructure
  • Relieve teachers who are often tasked with educating overcrowded classrooms
  • Provide learners with innovative education from international universities and educators across the globe, that is thus not dependent on their region
  • Empower poorer communities
  • Motivate learners to focus on career and educational goals instead of joining rebel groups or engaging in similar activities
  • Open up the possibility of new and exciting career opportunities for learners, on an international level
  • Enable older citizens who initially missed out on primary, secondary or tertiary education, to gain an education from home
  • Support African entrepreneurship

Find out more today

Achieving the right blend of digital and traditional, of online and offline learning, will provide a potent solution for learners and educators in Africa. As we have seen, apps are one of the most effective tools available for blended learning and they should be a vital part of any blended educational plan. Visit http://www.apps-for-learning.com/ now to find out more!

6 Free Online University Courses You Should Try

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Depending on your needs and wants we must admit that additional knowledge is exactly what most people need. Education sharpens your brains and even if sometimes the funds may not be there at all times there are options that can give you a credible certificate from a university or even gain a diploma at a very small fee some even for free. This boosts your CV and at least gives you the challenge to remain disciplined and it will literally be at your fingertips also known as your phone.

1. MIT Open Courseware

You can download all the course material, which is nearly identical to the course taught at MIT (it even gives you the year and semester it was taught). It is an independent study for you to complete within a given period.

2. Learning Space: The Open University

You can download free online courses in lots of different categories such as youth and children, languages, business, engineering, and others. You also get to see the ratings of every course and classes.

3. EdX

It offers many free online courses from different universities and the classes have a specific length and duration. After you sign up, you are committing to the class time and assignments. You can register for classes offered by Harvard, MIT, Berkeley, and other prestigious schools. If you are looking for a class you can do on your own time, this isn’t the website for you. The classes here are similar to paid online learning classes.

4. Coursera

You can access classes from 16 different Universities’ including Princeton, Duke, Stanford, and CalTech. With over 1,000,000 users, Coursera has established itself as the central “go-to” website for free online University learning. It usually takes 10-14 days and is very effective.

5. OpenCulture

The lectures come in either iTunes, Web video, YouTube, etc. In addition to course listings, they also offer lists of free audio books, free textbooks, and free language lessons. This site does not offer its own curriculum, but rather it compiles resources for easy navigating.

6. Open Yale Courses

Open Yale courses offers a great website that is easy to navigate and comprehensive. There are a variety of subjects offered, which can either be downloaded as a zip file, or viewed online. Each lecture has a video (which was recorded during the actual course on campus), plus a transcript and a PDF of slides used during the presentation. The videos come as chapters of which you don’t have to complete everything in one sitting you can back to it later.

 

Online Education: Linking Up Africa With Some of the Best Colleges in the World

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Sub-Saharan Africa’s Answer to Higher Education

Bill Gates wrote in his 2015 letter to his foundation, that soon, world class education will just be several computer taps away, regardless of where anyone lives. The great news is that online education and e-learning has the power to knock down the geographical barriers to close the skill gap and ensure that everyone in Africa with access to the internet can attain a good education. As seen in other parts of the world, online courses such as an online MBA program, or an online Master program, can serve as a stand-alone source for official education if the university or college is accredited by the government of the country in which the learner resides, or in the country where the program has been devised. The latter for example, could mean a brick and mortar US college or university which runs both on-campus programs and e-learning programs, both of which are recognized by the US government. In such distance learning cases, there are no compulsory visits to the brick and mortar institutions as they could be on the other side of the world to where the learner actually lives. There are in fact, countless online courses which do not require hands on practical work, so not attending regular classes is not compulsory.

 

The Global Business School’s Network’s Chief Executive Officer, the economist, Guy Pfefferman, highlights Africa’s negligence towards African higher education in the 2000 UN’s Millennium Development Goals. He notes that the reason for this shortfall is down to its exclusive concentration on primary education. The fact of the matter is that in the case of Africa, the need for higher education has outstripped supply, and this has led to higher education organisations in the private sector rapidly springing up. Furthermore, the quality of the higher education has turned out to be a massive challenge as the financing has not kept up with the huge rate of enrollment. And while it can be said that throughout many regions of Africa, higher education has been relisted on the agenda for development, Pfefferman puts forward the case that substantial reform is needed for Africa’s existing institutions. He notes that radical change is essential if the continent is to provide the necessary skills for employment. Pfefferman states that the only way to attain this is via e-learning. Clearly MOOC courses, online MBA programs, online Master programs, and online graduate degrees are the courses of the future that will help make Africa a thriving and booming
economy.

Online Learning

Although it can be said that the term “online” was not particularly appealing some 30 years ago, all that has now changed. The 21st Century is bringing with it high tech internet and computer availability for countless millions across the continent of Africa, and the number of people with access is growing every day. Eight years ago, Sub-Saharan Africa received its initial submarine fibre optic international cable connections. Since that time, the continent has had numerous cable systems laid on the east and West African coasts, and every year more nations are becoming connected.

There are a number of elements which have spurred the increase in enrolling for online courses in Africa. These include: 1. People who are driven to attain an educational goal regardless of being in a poor economic situation. In the past this would have meant that they could not attend a traditional college, but now they have the opportunity to opt for online courses as a form of stand-alone or means of add-on education. 2. Younger individuals opting for a non-traditional method of studying in order to attain a qualification which will help them with their intended career, or for the purpose of advancing their career while simultaneously advancing or finishing their education via online courses. And 3. Mature students such as those from their late 20s onwards who have not had the opportunity to study before due to family or work commitments.

There is a rising amount of local and regional companies which provide products and materials for online courses and exam preparations, the classical fields of m-learning. This African providers guide illustrates a list of edtech startups in several countries.

The Pros and Cons of Online Courses

It is extremely important to contemplate the advantages and disadvantages of online courses. This will ensure that you will be ready to address the various challenges of e-learning and being in this innovative situation, and that you will be able to make the best of all the new possibilities that come with it.

. The Pros of an Online College

Learning via online courses has the potential to be hugely successful if the learners are motivated, have an independent outlook, are well organised and self-disciplined. Excellent time management skills are also a must. There are three main advantages to this form of e-learning: the convenience, the greatly reduced cost, the technology, and the additional benefits.

Convenience of e-learning

This relates to various aspects such as the duration of the e-learning program, the time of day a student chooses to study, and the location they do it in. There is no need to commute to a college, and so you save on traveling time. Furthermore, as colleges in Africa are often many miles from learner’s homes, it would be impossible for many people to gain a qualification at a bricks and mortar college as they would have to rent somewhere to live within the district, thereby generating more expenses, and they would also have to cease any family duties. E-learning means that students are not faced with any geographical location constraints when they select distance education options. Moreover, there is no constraint on the pace of learning, as online courses usually allow you to work at your own speed. When you study via mobile learning, you are also able to fully express yourself through writing, which can be far easier than doing so verbally. Moreover, you are able to be part of virtual discussions as opposed to a professor-led lecture. In addition, m-learning instructions and course work are frequently customized to fit your subject area and field. E-learning also facilitates excellent quality dialogue: a student has the ability to cautiously reflect on their caliber of thinking on the comments from other students prior to answering. Online learning is also student-centered: learners are supposed to read the contributions of their fellow students, however, they only need to actively pursue the parts which are most applicable to their requirements. Another great e-learning benefit is the huge access to resources: it is so simple to find quality information from all over the world. And students and guest speakers from other online learning institutions are also easy to access.

Naturally, so many people in the Sub-Sahara region of Africa are interested in buoying online courses simply because they are far less expensive than physically attending a trade school program or going to a regular college. Also, when a student living in Africa dreams of having a qualification from an Ivy League university or college in the US such as Harvard, but has no means of funding it, and even for those who could, many would be unable to leave their family and other commitments, there is a solution. Such enterprising individuals are delighted to find out that they can enroll on an e-course at an online college which may either offer solely online courses, or offer both traditional learning and online courses. And some online courses such as MOOCS (massive online open courses), are free and open to unlimited participation from people living all over the planet, are available from some of the world’s top universities and colleges. And although online education remains in its infancy in Central and South Africa, in the case of the latter, the government has shown that they are dedicated to the expansion and improvement of e-learning programs and opportunities, and various online programs have shown that this is highly feasible within the current marketplace. It is only a matter of time before other regions in Africa follow suit.

Saving Money By Purchasing An Online College Course

And whether someone is doing an online graduate degree, an online MBA or MOOCS, they do not have to worry about travelling expenses to the college or paying accommodation and housing costs at or nearby the college. In addition, individuals studying online courses can continue with their regular job while taking an e-course.

The Advantages of the Latest Technology

Another major advantage is the cutting-edge technology that is now taking hold throughout Africa. This means that you can do an online course anywhere in Sub-Sahara Africa where you have access to a computer. An e-course provides you with a great chance to practise using the internet and various software packages. You will also be able to find out about and start using new technologies. All these elements will prove very useful in the future whether it is for further studies or work.

Other Benefits of e-learning on online colleges

Further benefits of online courses include interacting with fellow e-course students from all over the world. For example, some of the colleges running MOOCS online courses and online MBA courses, have participants from all corners of the planet, and even tiny islands that many people have not even heard of. And the great continent of Africa is so vast, that it is a magnificent way to unite African e-course students as well.

 

And on the subject of discrimination, online courses and e-learning bypasses all forms of discrimination on grounds which are religious, cultural, sexual, and racial. All e-courses are designed to give fair and equal participation to all students, so the one who is the most outgoing is unable to monopolise any online course discussion. Students who tend to be introverted find that they are very well suited to online courses, as do individuals who find it easy to learn via visual cues, and as do those who need more time than they would be given at a regular college, so they can fully comprehend the material, and have extended time for assignments. This helps to alleviate stress, particularly on online MBA courses and other difficult e-courses.

 

Another advantage of distance education is synergy: this is the excellent level of engaging interaction between the learner and the professor, in addition to the dynamic interaction between online course learners. Resources, ideas and perspectives can be shared and discussed, and this is very beneficial to all concerned. There is also a perpetual synergy which is produced via the distance education process as every student plays his or her role in contributing to the m-learning discussions and remarking on other student’s work. Another pro of mobile learning is creative teaching: e-learning adult education courses normally offer an interactive learning environment. Therefore, distance education is likely to promote critical thinking and self-direction. This is particularly the case with the semi-autonomous virtual classrooms which m-learning provides. These makes a creative and innovative access to learning even more
relevant.

Studying at a traditional college or university outside Africa can mean that there are potential visa and immigration problems. With e-learning, this is something that you never have to face.

 The Cons of an Online College

If a student is not motivated, does not have an independent outlook, is badly organised and not self-disciplined, then they will not find this method of studying amenable to their approach. There are three main disadvantages to this form of e-learning: the financial costs of scheduling and technology, assessment effectiveness, and restricted social interaction.

Limited Social Interaction

Online courses offer very limited chances for e-students to physically meet with and have live interaction with other students or professors. This is particularly the case with e-courses which are self-paced, thereby making it hard to develop connections with other e-learners. As an online college attracts people from all over the world, living for example, in Sub-Sahara Africa would make it virtually impossible to meet up with someone in India. Furthermore, with mobile learning, networking opportunities are potentially limited due to the fact that there are no off-line meet-ups. Generally, m-learning communication is via discussion groups, a chat room, or email. To that end, distance education students, whether they are doing an online MBA program, an online Master program, an online undergraduate degree, or a MOOCS course, never receive personalised attention from the tutor regarding feedback or live interaction. In addition to this, with online courses, there is not the normal live socialising like there is at a traditional college campus where there are all kinds of activities and clubs to join.

Technology Scheduling and Cost

Another disadvantage of online courses and m-learning involve computer use. Firstly, learners doing an online MBA, online Master program, or online undergraduate degree, might have to become acquainted with complex new computer skills which are required for their program. They may have to learn how to troubleshoot, which can be quite difficult, and they may need to buy new computer programs which are suitable for their m-learning course. Another disadvantage is the time it takes to boot up your computer. Moreover, mobile learning involving an online undergraduate degree, an online Master program, or an online MBA, may require the student to have a high speed internet connection, and a high level of megabyte usage, and this can be quite expensive in certain regions of Sub-Sahara Africa.

Online Courses with A Different Time Zone

If you are undertaking one of the online courses such as an online MBA program which includes live seminars and lectures, it could coincide with the hours that you work, which would make it difficult for you. You may also have to adjust and arrange your study agenda around the professor’s assignment due time and date. And this is very different in America compared to Sub-Sahara Africa.

The Effectiveness of Mobile Learning Assessments

In the case of m-learning, it is not easy to apply the tools which are used in a conventional classroom. Moreover, it is not easy to make a measurement of the m-learning program’s results. To that end, there is a question mark as to whether students are successfully comprehending exactly what the professor is trying to get across, and that they are learning everything they should be. After all, m-learning assessments cannot test students on everything they have been taught. Also, in cases where m-learning students have previously studied at a traditional college, taking on the new software and no longer attending live seminars and receiving typed handouts could make such students feel uncomfortable.

M-learning is one of the relatively new applications which use the new internet and mobile phone based technologies to improve the access to some basic needs or skills, such as medical education, app based language learning or cheap online money transfers.

Edtech Africa summary

In summary, some online courses can prove to be a magic key which can instantaneously unlock an unending spectrum of education in countless subjects to millions of young and mature African people. Whether an individual wants to take a short course, or build on qualifications they already have, by taking an online MBA, an online Master, or an online undergraduate degree, high quality online courses from reputable universities, colleges and other institutions, are the answer to giving many Africans a wonderful chance at improving their lives by finding employment.

Moreover, collectively, the anticipated surge in online learning is very likely to make Africa far more prosperous, and to raise the standard of living both both men and women alike. The flexibility of online learning such as studying for an online MBA program, makes it easy for both male and female learners to work around their family commitments and work duties. The trade-off for this form of education is realistic, particularly as African students are generally restricted to a low budget, do not always have regular access to education, and have high hurdles to jump in order to better themselves via learning.

Furthermore, there is a rapidly growing internet and mobile phone penetration, which will be of great benefit. Unlike many countries in the Western world, African communities and families are very close, and even if an individual who wants to study has the necessary funds, leaving their family and responsibilities would not be possible.

So this is a win-win situation. Africa is endowed with many people who have brilliant minds, yet before this technical educational revolution, most did not have a chance to excel at subjects which they are interested in. Their time has finally
come.

The first point of contact for e-learning and all categories of online courses including a MOOC, an online MBA, an online Master, or an online undergraduate degree, particularly for Africa, is: apps-for-learning.com. If you have any questions you can simply send a message and you will be answered as soon as possible.

By the way: If you are a medical student, try online medical courses as wonderful support for your medical exam preparation! They have a proven record.

Enjoy the article and let me know what you think by posting your comment below. I would be grateful if you also and share this post with friends and colleagues.

Your e-learning and online courses specialist,

Jens Ischebeck, www.apps-for-learning.com

 

Importance of acknowledged certificates for online courses

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Furnishing one’s CV with a list of qualifications is essential to getting ahead in many sectors of the economy. This holds true throughout the world, including in Africa. Receiving a verified, acknowledged certificate for an online course makes that course a much more powerful tool in the eyes of employers. Internationally recognised certificates are particularly valuable, because they make it easier to use online courses not just in Africa but in other countries across the world.

The need for new and improved skills in Africa specifically
Studies have shown that ambition and entrepreneurship are thriving throughout the African continent, including throughout Sub-Sahara Africa. This was confirmed by the 2015 State of Education report, which was produced by UNESCO in collaboration with other organisations after extensive research. This report stated (p. 8) that it was in fact Sub-Sahara Africa that has made the greatest gains since 1999 in terms of children accessing education. In order for this ambition to materialise as something concrete, however, the right resources will be needed. Edtech, such as mobile apps and online courses (MOOC) is a fantastic (indeed, some might say essential) resource for developing and proofing skills. The beauty of e-learning is the fact that it enables poorly skilled people in areas with inadequate transport and education infrastructure to learn new skills without having to travel by participating in distance education.

 Online course providers in Africa

Africa is home to a wide variety of online course providers, offering everything from language learning courses to management qualifications. It is worthwhile to divide these online courses into three key groups:

  • Courses that offer no certificates
  • Courses that offer certificates but do not offer acknowledged certificates
  • Courses that offer acknowledged certificates.

As established above, courses that offer acknowledged certificates (certificates that are internationally recognised or that are properly accredited) are superior to the other two types of courses on the list. One example of an acknowledged certificate is the IELTS English language teaching certificate.

 Certificates and CV building
Building a good quality CV is crucial for ascending up the career ladder. Though some interview candidates can feel that having a large volume of certificates listed on their CV is a way of impressing employers, in fact this will mean little if those certificates are not acknowledged certificates. Employers and educational institutions tend to be very savvy about checking candidates’ CVs and identifying which certificates and qualifications are most trustworthy and respected. Additionally, possessing an acknowledge certificate makes it easier for an employer to compare you with other candidates who have the same certificate.

Paying for online education: consumer differences across Africa
Many Edtech providers such as Coursera want a fee for accredited certificates. Some consumers in Africa are able and willing to pay for certificates. These include students and entrepreneurs in richer areas, such as South Africa (Sub-Sahara Africa’s largest economy). However, in poorer areas of Sub-Sahara Africa, the majority of citizens are unable to afford to pay for a certificate. In countries such as Uganda, poverty is high and school attendance is low (72% of school aged children in Uganda are not in school). Demanding that customers pay for their certificates in countries such as these will only exacerbate an already existing gap between poor Africans with much ambition but fewer prospects and richer Africans who have the money they need to make their dreams reality and ascend through the career ladder. It is clear, therefore, that there are two viable solutions. The first is free distance education (for instance, mobile apps and other m-learning initiatives) or online education that is paid for by employers or universities rather than by the (often poor) students themselves.

 

Sensitivity to different requirements
Different target groups are happy with different levels of certification. For example, students wishing to apply for postgraduate studies in other countries will need internationally recognised certificates of their qualifications. Meanwhile, employers may require that current or potential employees undergo very specific in house or nationally designed training courses (which may or may not involve elements of e-learning and MOOC). For some Africans, on the other hand, a certificate will be nothing more than a physical way to mark the end of an m-learning course that they did for personal satisfaction, pure interest, or to learn new skills to help them in their work and daily life. Edtech developers and regulators need to be highly sensitive to these different requirements and their applicability to different target groups.

 

Compare e-learning options with a handy website
It is clear from the discussion above that the huge ambitions of Africans across the continent need to be put into action in order to build and improve African societies further for future generations. In today’s CV driven culture, accredited, acknowledged certificates are indispensable for proving to employers and educational institutions that a prospective student or employee has the necessary skills to complete the job or course of study that they are applying for – both in Africa and beyond. A wealth of online courses are available in Africa, and the market for them is growing steadily day by day. As such, students need to be able to compare courses and to find the one that best suits both their needs and their career ambitions. Visiting the website www.apps-for-learning.com is a fantastic way of finding and comparing educational apps and other e-learning technologies. Apps can be selected based on the learner’s region, the subject that they are interested in studying, and the level of recognition (for instance, international recognition) that they need for their qualifications. The best thing about these resources is that, whilst they offer accredited and acknowledged certificates, many of them are also free to use. This makes them perfect for poorer students in parts of Africa where a lack of educational infrastructure is letting learners down. Visit the Apps For Learning site today and start comparing educational resources.

M-learning is one of the relatively new applications which use the new internet and mobile phone based technologies to improve the access to some basic needs or skills, such as medical education, app based language learning or cheap online money transfers.

By the way: If you are interested in online money transfers, the leading providers and how it works, just check my remittance site.

Bio

Jens Ischebeck, African edtech specialist: Website publisher www.apps-for-learning.com.

The website presents and compares e-learning and mobile learning providers with a special focus on the African market. Tags are e-learning, m-learning, online courses (MOOC), medical exam preparations (MCAT & USMLE).

Follow me on my social media accounts: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google and Medium

M-Shule raises undisclosed funding from Engineers Without Borders to deploy its platform across Africa

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Kenya’s M-Shule, an edtech startup using SMS to deploy tailored education content for children in Sub-Saharan Africa has raised undisclosed funding from Engineers Without Borders Canada (EWB) to take its mobile learning management platform to 144 million primary school students across Sub-Saharan Africa.

According to Claire Mongeau, CEO and Founder of M-Shule, “We are excited and thrilled to work with EWB Ventures as a partner and investor, given their deep expertise, commitment to ongoing support, and shared focus on ground-breaking and sustainable change. This partnership will enable us to continue to innovate in primary school learning alongside our stakeholders, and scale our impact across the region.”

M-Shule uses artificial intelligence to create and deliver personalized learning experiences for each child and empower schools with insights all through SMS and web. As students engage with platform, the data is provided to parents, teachers, and school administrators and stakeholders for insights and opportunities.

Having launched in Nairobi, Kenya in 2017 from M-Lesson, M-Shule aims to scale to educate millions of children and learning communities around the African continent and the world. Mshule.com becomes the eighth venture to receive a cash investment from EWB Ventures the venture arm of Engineers Without Borders Canada (EWB) which invests up to $100,000 in ventures from concept to revenue. The Canadian firm chose M-Shule because its platform has a holistic and unifying approach and arms stakeholders in the primary school ecosystem with data-driven tools critical for improving the quality of education for all students.

“We are delighted to welcome M-Shule to our portfolio where they join other bold teams defiantly tackling some of the world’s most challenging problems,” said Nicky Khaki, Managing Director for EWB Ventures.

Being based in  Sub-Saharan Africa where around one billion children will need to be educated in the next three decades makes M-Shule so attractive to EWB. EWB also sees the current educational landscape as ill-equipped to handle this demand as millions of children are currently falling behind.
Though Sub-Saharan Africa has the fastest growing and the youngest population in the world, too many students are locked out of future opportunities due to issues such as high pupil-teacher ratios, high teacher absentee rates, and lost classroom time. Statistics show that up to 40% of students in SSA remain illiterate even after 5 years of school and 42% of SSA students drop out before the final year of primary school.There are just 28% of SSA students are enrolled in secondary school.
M-Shule aims to give equal opportunity for education to reduce prospects for economic growth and exacerbate issues such as hunger and child mortality as sustained access to equal education can increase income per capita by 23%.
Some of its competiton include Eneza Education and Kukua among others.

Kukua educational games set to launch in Africa to make learning more like Angry Birds

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Kukua, a game-based learning startup based in San Francisco is building mobile games to make learning fun and exciting to help kids in low-income areas learn theories and concepts and be at par with their counterparts world over.

The startup says it was inspired by some of the most engaging games in the world and brought together world literacy experts and cognitive psychologists to design a curriculum specifically for kids in low-income communities. The game reportedly takes the learners on an exploratory journey inspired by local culture, myth and folklore and compelling storylines to drive curiosity and awaken a love of learning.

Founded by Lucrezia Bisignani, Douglas Hoernle and Alexandre Terrien and Sabrina Bagus, Kukua believes that by teaching basic writing and reading skills, it could lift 171 million people out of poverty, effectively removing 12% of the world’s poverty. The firm says that out of the 250 million children present globally, just 200 million of them attend school but are still illiterate. It gets worse in Sub-Saharan Africa, where two thirds of illiterate children are located, 67% of students drop out before finishing primary school, and another 20% graduate illiterate.

With the growing smartphone adoption on the continent, the firm sees game-based learning as the future of literacy on the continent as the games could help create highly motivating and engaging learning environments unlike what’s being offered. Kukua aims to allow learners to learn at their own pace and get to appreciate both theoretical and practical learning for empowerment, critical thinking and active community participation. These lessons are expected to help improve economic growth, improved health conditions and gender equality.

At the moment, Kukua has SEMA, an adventure game that takes learners through obstacles to overcome, bosses to defeat and missions to finish. The game has practical lessons which kids would grow up to solve rather than the read and write-based curriculum that is currently taught.  The firm says game-based learning would motivate children to learn as the lessons are game-based, are on a tablet or a smartphone and the curriculum is online and is game-based. Kids were first fascinated with technology but after sometime their interest waned but the interest in games never reduced.

SEMA has been tested in Kenya and Gambia, and the games kept learners engaged month over month during the pilot phase in Kibera slums in Nairobi, Kenya where the school director agreed that the games motivated and engaged his pupils. The firm adds that to increase learner motivation and drive further engagement, it creates anticipation in learners through the map which helps learners visualize their progress, and expect a reward after they pass a level.

“It became even clearer to us after those tests that engagement is the key challenge. We’re on the right track – building a game with a local narrative that resonates with them – but we need to do more to make sure the gaming never stops. Never should it feel like players are back in a more academic setting. Of course, extending the gaming experience comes with its own risks, and we can’t sacrifice the quality of the educational content we provide. But one doesn’t necessarily come at the expense of the other and we’re excited to keep looking for the perfect balance,” announced the firm on its website.

Kukua will be taking on Kenya’s Eneza Education and M-Shule which basically digitize the current education system and do not introduce anything new out of the set curricular.

 

A glimpse into the Free Digital Literacy Course for Children of Little Drivers

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Little in conjunction with Craft Silicon Foundation recently launched a free Digital Literacy Program for Children of Little drivers. Here are the highlights of the program,

 

  • It is a four weekends exclusive crash program targeting children aged between 7 – 13 years.

 

  • The weekly batched sessions are planned for 4 hours, which intend to equip the Little Drivers’ children with relevant and practical ICT skills that will nurture technological competence as they grow up.

 

  • The Program dubbed “Smart Little Kids of Smart Little Drivers” will be conducted on Sundays at Craft Silicon Foundation ICT Centre.

 

  • The Digital Literacy program for little Kids will ensure that innovation is nurtured from an early stage, developing a generation for a smart future.

 

  • This is a loyalty program, for committed little drivers. The program is targeting over 1000 children of little drivers. Free Digital Literacy program is a flagship project under Craft Silicon Foundation – a corporate social responsibility initiative of Craft Silicon Limited.

 

  • The foundation uses solar powered mobile computer bus that ensures computer education reaches out to everyone at their door step in an environmental friendly and sustainable manner.“This is one of the value additions that Little is offering to its drivers and their families,” says Little and Craft silicon Foundation CEO Mrs. Priya Budhabbahatti. Although our focus is on improving Little customers’ experience, we also feel the need to empower our drivers both on economic and social grounds. And this is going to be the iota of the things to follow. We are already in discussions with various other organizations with similar beneficial programs to our drivers said Mrs. Priya.

 

 

 

This is a new benefit added to the kitties of the Little Drivers who are already enjoying various incentives from Little.

 

Little, Africa’s first mobile app for transportation, integrates city transportation for customers and driver partners onto a mobile technology platform.

 

 

Little also offer its services to the non-smartphone users in the country through its USSD solution – *826#. Using the mobile app, users across Kenya can conveniently book from thousands of our professional pool of drivers.

 

 

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Daystar University Students Locked Out of Graduation Claim System Irregularities, Discrimination & Tribalism at the Varsity

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Over 100 MBA & MA Daystar University students locked out of this year’s graduation are sighting irregularities at the University’s Research Bureau delaying students to clear the dissertation on time.

The students argue that the flawed system and some staff are behind the massive number of students who have been deleted from the graduation list at the last minute with zero communication for the graduation scheduled to take place this Saturday, July 1st July 2017.

“We have been submitted the bound thesis which are signed off by all relevant parties but the university has declined to our plea,” said the group. TechMoran has sent out an email to Daystar University to get more details.

According to the group, the irregularities include; supplementary fees besides normal school fees to Editors for students to be cleared sitting at Kshs 20,000/ which was never communicated at the commencement of the course. This fees is paid directly to the Editors and not the school yet the Research Head at the Research Bureau complains about substandard thesis drafts from supervisors. The set deadlines are released were released on email to a few on 21st June while the deadline was to be 23rd June with the graduation on 1st July 2017. This is impossible to meet since the University insists on one binding bureau maybe a way for the university to raise money. The supervision process is unbearable torture that has rendered majority of the students to drop out.

The group adds that the University’s Research Bureau lacks capacity and has only one professor assigned to read and approve over 200 theses from graduating students. The professor has been cited complaining of fatigue until she herself was unable to review the said documents within the required timelines by the University senate. How does such a big gap pass the Commission of University Education?

The students are calling for detailed audit and investigations by Commission of University Education as its detrimental to an institution of higher learning expected to produce future leaders in this Country. No wonder the job market has lurking professionals.

The students adds that despite several appeals and talking to the different University authorities, the VC Timothy Wachira has refused to hear them citing that the university is looking for a list to graduate in December.

All the powers in this university, lie with the VC yet he does not deal directly with the students. Some of the senior staff say ‘He is a semi god and that’s why students admission in Daystar has drastically reduced and those who are finishing are either pulling out before completion or extremely frustrated,” “It is his way or the highway the students” told TechMoran citing anonymity.

The student added that Daystar being a Christian non for profit organization and the most expensive private university in the country and once the most prestigious has been running continuous ads across the media to restore its lost glory and attract more students. Something it never had to do before.

“When the appeal results were released, some of the students were approved and some were discriminated without proper explanation. Infact, the VC refused to see us and refused to sign off the appeals made by the different deans of faculties. A VC who fails to understand the stakeholders has no reason being a VC,” said another student in the group. “The VC has made it clear that he is NOT going to talk to any students about graduation.”

After spending all the years at the institution, the students are wondering why the university is unwilling to see them graduate and join the job market yet the University stands to gain or lose nothing. Could it be a way of getting numbers for December graduation?

The students have sacrificed a lot not to mention the financial burden we put on our families to attain this degree by even offsetting family properties or taking bank loans to facilitate the hefty school fees bill. How will these students give positive recommendations after such torture?

Some of the students had already booked after graduation party venues with deposits and invited family and friends from around the Country & across East Africa. Who will reimburse this?

South Africa’s Feenix.org is to students what Kickstarter is to startups

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Feenix.org aims to break the cycle of poverty in South Africa by connecting students to donors locally or globally to contribute to their education in Africa’s second biggest economy but most advanced and expensive education system.

Feenix aims to give opportunity to the public get involved  in a students education to help them get through their degrees or give them the tools they need for a better South Africa. The platform allows students to tell their story to stand out from the rest and then users can give from as little as R50 to a student’s education.

The crowdfunding portal is run by Feenix trust as a Public Benefit Organisation with support from Standard Bank and developed by Byte Orbit. Feenix will be run by a small group of young South Africans entrepreneurs, passionate about South Africa, and the difference education can make in people’s lives.

Crowdfunding is not a new concept as communities have always come together across Africa and across the world to help support each other in funerals, deaths and celebrations and weddings. Even education in Africa has been a community thing and people have always contributed generously. The only difference is that technology brings it only and to many more people than gatherings.

There are various such platforms across Africa though not focused only on education but they include Kenya’s M-Changa, ImpartFund and Donate-ng and Goodgivi.ng. Most of them work like global crowdfunding platforms Kickstarter and Indiegogo but Feenix’s main focus in student education in South Africa and nothing less where students have gone to streets to protest against high tuition for college and university courses.

Andela Launches In Kampala, Uganda To Meet Growing Demand for Software Developers

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Technology software learning startup, Andela has launched in Kampala, Uganda, its third African market after Kenya and Nigeria to help technology companies build high-performing engineering teams with Africa’s most talented software developers.

Andela says it has already signed up 800 developers in the city after a May call for applications from which 8 were accepted into its first ever cohort in Uganda.

“The Kampala tech scene is vibrant, growing, and full of entrepreneurial spirit and untapped potential,” says Andela Chief Strategy Officer Wambui Kinya. “Andela is excited to support and contribute to the growth of the Ugandan tech ecosystem by providing a hub for brilliant minds to learn and collaborate.”

According to a recent Indeed report, there will be 1.3 million software development jobs created in the next ten years and only 400,000 domestic computer science graduates to fill them.

With 70% of its population below the age of 25 — the second youngest country in the world — Uganda represents a massive opportunity for Andela to equip the next generation of technologists and innovators in Kampala with the expertise they need to accelerate the advancement of their local communities through technology.  As the global technology market continues to grow at a rapid pace, companies are looking outside of local markets to find top development talent.

Andela aims to bridge this talent gap by connecting Africa’s most talented developers with the companies looking for them. In the past three years, the company has grown from a founding team of six to over six hundred employees based in its Lagos, Nairobi, San Francisco and New York offices. Four hundred of those are Andela Developers, the majority of whom are working as full-time engineering team members at high-growth technology companies.

“When we launched in Nigeria three years ago, there’s no way we could have predicted how much of a continent-wide phenomenon Andela would become,” says co-founder and CEO Jeremy Johnson. “The response we’ve received from the technology community in Uganda over the past year has been overwhelming and has made it clear why Uganda is a natural next step on our path to unlocking the potential of thousands of world-class developers across the continent.”

Founded in 2014, Andela has raised $40M in venture funding from investors including Mark Zuckerberg’s Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, GV (formerly Google Ventures) and Spark Capital. With more than 80 current company partners and growing demand, Andela is on track to nearly double its base of elite, Africa-based software developers by the end of the year.

 

Nigeria’s Tuteria wins the £25,000 Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation

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Finalist Godwin Benson from Nigeria wins the 3rd Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation. The event was held at the Radisson Blu hotel in Nairobi, Kenya. Godwin Benson wins with his innovation Tuteria which helps students to find a skilled tutor in their area and within their budget.

Nigeria’s  Tuteria.com, an online platform that links students to qualified tutors in their area and within their budget has won this year’s Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation taking home £25,000 in cash.

Africa Prize judge Rebecca Enonchong said: “Education is one of the best investments we can make in our communities, and Godwin’s innovation has amazing potential for the continent. We urge him to keep persevering. We can’t wait to see how Tuteria grows.”

Designed by 27-year-old Godwin Benson, Tuteria helps users find the skill they want to learn on an app on their phone, set their budget, and wait to be connected to the nearest tutor. Benson says he developed the platform based on the experiences he had as a young tutor. An important part of the service is that both students and teachers are thoroughly vetted before being allowed to use the platform.

The scope of skills on offer ranges from learning to play the piano, sew clothes, learn a new language and more. Tutors also cover a range of academic subjects for all ages. The platform has a ratings system, and students book lessons using an upfront online payment system. Tutors are paid once the lessons have been confirmed, and Tuteria takes 15 to 30% commission for each paid lesson.

The Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, founded by the Royal Academy of Engineering in the UK, encourages talented sub-Saharan African engineers, from all disciplines, to develop local solutions to challenges in their communities. The Prize selects a shortlist of innovators from across the continent and provides training and mentoring to help turn engineers with incredible ideas into successful entrepreneurs.

Launched in 2014, the Prize aims to stimulate, celebrate and reward engineers who have developed innovations that will benefit Africans.

The three runners up, who each win £10,000, are:

  • Andre Nel from South Africa for the GreenTower Microgrid system, which reduces the energy used to heat water by 90%. A single unit can service 15 homes and reduce electricity demand from a community by 65%.
  • Hindu Nabulumba from Uganda for the Yaaka Digital Learning Network, which teachers and students can use to share academic knowledge and materials.
  • Kelvin Gacheru from Kenya for the Mobi-Water system, which allows water tank users to monitor and control the water in their tanks remotely using a mobile phone. Users will be able to save more than 30% of their water.

The fourth Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation is now open for applications. The deadline for entries is 24 July 2017.

The other shortlisted innovators from the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation also received six months of mentorship and training. They are:

  • Arnold Achiri and the Traveler team from Cameroon, for a mobile software system that monitors public transport to improve safety.
  • Alex Makalliwa from Kenya for Electric Tuk-Tuks and off-grid solar-powered charging stations.
  • Aline Okello and the Rainwater Harvesting App team from Mozambique, which helps users set up rainwater harvesting systems tailored to their area.
  • Brian Turyabagye from Uganda with the Mama-Ope smart jacket that helps doctors identify pneumonia faster and more accurately.
  • Edwin Inganji from Kenya developed the Usalama mobile phone app to speed up the reaction time of Kenya’s emergency services.
  • Fredrick Ouko from Kenya with Riziki Source, a web and text message-based platform that connects people with disabilities to jobs and employers.
  • James van der Walt from South Africa with the SolarTurtle mobile power station, that provides instant electrification whenever it’s needed.
  • Joel King’ori Kariuku from Kenya developed the Sisal Decorticator, a mechanised peeler, that makes natural sisal fibre processing more profitable.
  • Lawrence Ojok from Tanzania designed the Green Rock Drill as a solar-powered alternative to modern fossil-fuel rock drills for artisanal miners.
  • Peter Mbiria from Kenya with the E-Con Wheelchair, an all-in-one wheelchair that can go off-road, climb stairs and stand upright, and auto-navigate.
  • Sesinam Dagadu from Ghana developed CodeRed, a logistics app that reduces emergency response times using a custom mapping system for urban areas.
  • Dr Wilfred Fritz from South Africa with the Water&Solar100 lightweight portable solar-cooker that tracks the sun automatically.

 

 

RTI Receives $2M From Google to Expand its School Tablet Program to Uganda, Malawi & Nepal

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Tangerine:Tutor, an open-source data light learning platform pre-installed on tablets for schools, an iniative of RTI International’s Tusome (Swahili for Let’s Read) program has received $2m in grants from Google.org to improve learning amongst lower primary pupils in all public schools in Kenya through the use of ICT.

According to Michael Murungi, Google Manager for Policy, East Africa, “We believe every student deserves access to quality education and recognise that technology can play a vital role in creating richer learning environments.”

With the funds, RTI International will enhance the Tangerine:Tutor Platform, procure and deploy the devices, mostly tablets. Google.org’s technical expertise will help RTI to update Tangerine:Tutor’s technical infrastructure and open-source documentation to scale to other educational systems, including  Uganda, Malawi and Nepal, in pursuit of their five-year goal of supporting teachers to reach 4 million students.

Tangerine:Tutor: is the first national tablet deployment in education in Kenya and hopes to expand to Uganda, Malawi and Nepal. Over 1150 Educational zones have been trained and provided with tablets loaded with Tangerine:Tutor. Tablets have also been provided to the County Directors of Education, Sub-County Directors of Education, the Teachers Service Commission County Directors and the Quality Assurance and Standards Field Staff. These tablets are loaded with instructional materials to help them manage, support and supervise the CSOs in their respective counties under the Tusome program.

Tusome is a collaboration between RTI International, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (UKAID) . The program utilises innovative data-based instructional improvement methods in reading and use of ICT integrated support through tablets which are installed with an openly licensed mobile platform (“Tangerine: Tutor”) designed by RTI International and optimized for low bandwidth use, ensuring access to curricula content even in remote/rural parts of the country.

The $2m grant is part of a broader Ksh 5 billion ($50 Million) commitment from Google.org to help close global education gaps.

 

US-based digital education firm 2U acquires South Africa’s GetSmarter for $103m

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US-based 2U, a digital education platform for colleges and universities is set to acquire South Africa’s GetSmarter for approximately $103 million in a move expected to strengthen its position in the approximately $1.9 trillion global higher education market.Both 2U and GetSmarter focus on delivering high-quality, high-touch digital higher education from world class colleges and universities to unlock a student’s full potential.

According to Christopher “Chip” Paucek, CEO and co-founder of 2U, “With GetSmarter, 2U expects to strengthen its position as a leader in digital education. We also expect to accelerate our growth, extend our global footprint and provide a broader suite of services by matching up more students to the right programs at the right time as they further their professional and personal development.”

GetSmarter’s partners include the University of Cambridge, Harvard University’s strategic online learning initiative, HarvardX, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Africa’s top three universities, University of Cape Town, University of the Witwatersrand and University of Stellenbosch Business School. With over 50,000 students since inception and an 88% average course completion rate, GetSmarter was a right fit for 2U.“In 2U we have found a partner who makes us stronger. They bring deep experience and access to capital that allows us to pursue stellar growth and stand out student outcomes at scale.” said Sam Paddock, CEO and co-founder of GetSmarter. “We look forward to better serving our University partners and their students across the globe.”

Following the closing of the acquisition, GetSmarter will be an independently operating, wholly-owned subsidiary of 2U, based in Cape Town, South Africa. GetSmarter will continue to be operated by its current management team, including its founders, Sam Paddock and Rob Paddock, with GetSmarter co-Founder & CEO, Sam Paddock, remaining as its CEO and reporting to Chip Paucek.

2U will pay approximately $103 million in cash upon closing for all outstanding equity interests in GetSmarter, with up to an additional $20 million in cash payable to the equity holders of GetSmarter upon the achievement of certain financial milestones in calendar year 2017 and 2018.

In addition, 2U will provide certain members of GetSmarter’s senior management team with approximately $9.4 million of restricted stock units in the aggregate, subject to the continued service of such individual to GetSmarter following the closing.

Globally, Edtech is getting so hot with technology seen as the future of education delivery in the next few years. South Africa’s Naspers is also banking heavily on the future of education with the investment into Codecademy and Udemy only time will tell if it will reap out of education as it has from its believe in the internet from its old newspaper days.

Talanta Test is an online evaluation platform to enable you align your passions to a well paying career

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Talanta Test is a product of Dream Culture EA, an online passion to career evaluation platform that enables students and adults to align their passion to a matching career.

Founded in Kenya by Macmillan Wambua and Ansel Melly, Dream Culture East Africa aims to offer online career evaluation services on the web and was launched when the founders observed the problem that High School is the critical point at which students make their first career decision by choosing what subjects to study; yet with minimal or unreliable career guidance.

“We created the solution, an online career evaluation platform for career evaluation. Our solution enables students to make sound career decisions easier, faster and cheaper,” Macmillan told TechMoran.

The Talanta Test works simply. Users go to www.dreamculture.co.ke and click take test, then register and log in. They then select tjeir method of payment and pay KSH 99 ($1) either via mobile money, Visa, Mastercard or any form of online payments available. They take the test of 40 questions and click submit and lastly download their PDF report.

The evaluation process takes 10-15 minutes and has so far served 869 people. Talanta Test’s primary target is the Form 1 and 2 students who are yet to choose their senior high school subjects. However, the firm believes the over 2,000,000 students in High School every year in Kenya stand to benefit from their career evaluation service.

“High school leavers and aspiring college students who are undecided about their careers can also take the Talanta Test for guidance,” he said. “Interestingly, we have seen parents and guardians take it up upon themselves to evaluate their students to make informed career decisions. We have also observed heads of career guidance departments in secondary schools use our platform as a tool to guide their students.”

Though many students want to take the classes, Macmillan says the challenge of lack of access to Internet is huge and at times it administers the test in printed form, take the forms to its data entry team, enters the data to its system for analysis, prints the reports and takes the results back to the students. This takes them more time and resources and thus costs KSH 250 per student.

Locally, jobs and career platform Fuzu and My Career Identity offer this services too and they provide person to person counseling. Talanta Test is unique in that its service is standardized and fully automated.

“Our system does not get tired or like some students over others. We provide our service online. Therefore, our service is conveniently available to a user wherever they are, whenever they want and needless to say, we are at least 10 times cheaper,” added Macmillan.

Talanta Test evaluates students passion against all career fields taught in Kenyan colleges  and universities and shows their passion’s match to their career fields by percentage.

After taking the Talanta Test, a user gets a Talanta Test Report instantly. The report shows clearly how their passion and interests match with different career fields thus enabling them to choose their most suitable career. Macmillan says the team is working to diversify Talanta Test with a new feature with which we will be able to test a student’s competence in subjects alongside their passion and interests.

Secondly, it’s also working to take its service to neighboring countries in East Africa and hopefully all of Africa. Thirdly, the team sees Talanta Test as just the beginning of Kenyan made computer aided personal decisions as it shall continue to develop online platforms that help individuals make hard decisions and navigate through life smoothly.

Ebursary.com launches to connect students to scholarships across Africa

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Founded by Denis Gachoki, Ebursary.com is a bursaries and Scholarships web platform meant to revolutionize the way scholars find and apply for bursaries in the country.

According to Gachoki, by allowing for online application of bursaries, more students across Africa will easily search through a large database of bursaries and apply for them online.

Growing up, Gachoki says the most frustrating thing about his primary and Secondary education was the number of times he was sent home for school fees. More frustrating, was the long duration he would stay at home as his parents struggled to raise school fees.

The only education support funds known to him was the CDF bursary. However, the highest amount the local CDF Committee would issue in bursaries was 2,500Ksh per term; which was quite a small amount to offset the arrears.

“One day, My high school class teacher called me into her office and told me how sorrowful she was every time I’d be sent home for school fees. The sincerity of her words made me shed tears. After that meeting, my only prayer was that some well wisher would just discover me and my big ambitions,” Gachoki told TechMoran.

Realizing how time consuming and tedious the process of finding
scholarships and bursaries in Africa is, he created Ebursary.com to help other students to easily search through a large database of
(high school, undergraduate & postgraduate) bursaries and scholarships. Users then receive a report of matching bursaries based on their particular criteria search.

The platform works simply. A user signs up, completes their profiles then they can search through the database of available scholarships, then they can go ahead and apply by submitting more data about themselves and filling the online forms.

Organizations can see the applicants’ profile to determine the most
needy students and track the impact of their bursary funds. There are also alerts on new scholarships and bursaries for students users.

The firm expects to make money by offering premium services such as scholarship applications, writing motivational letters and event partnership with universities and organizations offering scholarships.

Gachoka says the platform aims to help connect bright needy students across Africa to financial aid opportunities. Now backed by him, his family and friends, eBursary aims to set up a foundation to discover and sponsor bright needy students through school to see the next generation of African Leaders, Engineers, Doctors
and professionals.

Edly aims to raise the standards of education by lifting the load off SA’s stressed teachers

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Edly, a new cloud-based platform has launched in South Africa with an aim to raise the standards of education by lightening the load for SA’s stressed teachers.

Edly, developed by DataDIGEST, comprises three integrated apps based on the insight that better results are achieved when parents, teachers and students collaborate. The edly Behaviour and edly Attendance apps allow teachers to easily track, record and share with other teachers class attendance and student behaviour, while edly Note! sends real-time reports to parents.

According to DataDIGEST CEO David de Villiers: “We believe teachers are the key to a great education and that’s why we develop solutions that empower them in the classroom. Here in South Africa, social challenges and syllabi that keep changing are just some of the challenges teachers face. With edly we hope to at least help lighten their administrative load.”

Villiers says that Edly will open its platform to more developers to integrate more apps to save teachers time and make their job easier.

The platform is highly customisable, so schools can create their own unique presets to suit, for example, their particular code of conduct.


“DataDIGEST is passionate about education, so for us it’s a fantastic achievement to be able to contribute to its development through edly. We look forward to seeing the platform grow and giving every teacher in South Africa the opportunity to experience its positive outcomes in their schools,” concludes DataDIGEST COO Alastair Christian.

15-year-old high-school student creates model for a solar-powered airport

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A 15-year-old student from Aga Khan Academy Mombasa has created a model for a solar -powered airport for Mombasa, which could save millions of shillings a year in energy charges.

The Energy Research in Airports Review of May 2016 reports that a standard airport spends $94,000 a year on electricity. However, with Mombasa experiencing an average of 173 days of sunshine a year, its potential for renewable solar power production is sufficient to power the airport, and even surrounding suburbs.

This potential inspired Shashank Arvindan to work on a model of a solar-powered airport as his Year 10 Personal Project, which is part of the International Baccalaureate programme at the Aga Khan Academy that challenges students to undertake in-depth research on a topic of their own interest and deliver a viable product or outcome.

“I wanted a project based on my passion and that could solve a specific global issue. There are a lot of pollution concerns in the aviation field and this prompted me to look into solar power as part of the globalisation and sustainability aspects of the project. I actually started thinking of sustainable energy when my family moved to Mombasa in 2007 and began experiencing the hot climate,” said Arvindan.

The student has been an aviation enthusiast since the age of eight, when he accompanied his aunt, a chemical engineer, to the National Aviational Museum in India in an adventure that changed his life. “I developed a love for airplanes at a very young age, which is evident from the variety of plane toys I owned. When I was in India, my aunt, who used to frequently visit our family, saw how passionate I was about aviation and began mentoring me,” said Arvindan.

This kind of mentoring, further supported by schooling that is geared towards problem solving, has been shown to achieve exceptional academic results.
A survey of graduate students at the University of Nebraska Lincoln in 2005, found that students who had developed mentoring relationships tended to be more productive in research, conference presentations, pre-doctoral publications, and instructional development, and performed better in academic coursework by 33 per cent.

At the Aga Khan Academy Mombasa, mentoring is further institutionalized through programmes such as the Year 10 Personal Project.

“The role we play as supervisors is like that of professors in a college or undergraduate thesis. We give guidance to get the students to bring out their personal interest, develop research skills as well as think about the global context and how the project solves the specific concern mentioned. For instance, when he said the model was eco-friendly, it wasn’t clear in his presentation so I asked him to conduct more research and explain how the solar panels help reduce carbon emissions,’’ said Rodney Bosire, AKA Mombasa teacher and Arvindan’s Personal Project mentor.

For Arvindan, the solar-powered airport model saw him reach out for expert advice as well.

“I remember a day when I was attempting to assemble the prototype and got a burn injury while connecting the circuit. However, two engineers from Kenya Aviation Authority (KAA) and Baobab Beach Resort helped me understand how to assemble the circuit, solar panel, resistors and the battery to get the model working,” he said.

The model itself required a battery, electrical cables, solar panel, lights, and wood, which Arvindan assembled into a replica of Mombasa airport with a runway, functional lights and a source of electricity.
Arvindan, who is now working to present the model to Mombasa Airport and other relevant authorities, is one of more than 80 students who developed new products and concepts for this year’s personal projects at AKA Mombasa, with other projects spanning phone apps to manage diabetes, an in-car pothole detector, and an enjoyable retirement home for the elderly.

“AKA Mombasa’s curriculum and policies are rooted in ensuring we get the best out of our students as we prepare them for the future. We have very talented young people in the country and mentoring such minds is very important in propelling the development of Africa and the world,” said Bosire.

Inside the surrender & death of Kenya’s peer-to-peer learning platform Shakili.com

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Despite having Dr. Bitange Ndemo, former PS; Ministry of Information & Communications as an advisor and mentor, Shakili.com,  a peer-to-peer learning platform that aimed to connect educators to students and experts to professionals around their talents, careers, and interests never took off.

Founded by Nest Africa magician Muthuri Kinyamu, and friends Zack Kiuna and Nick Stewart, Shakili was coined from Share and Akili Swahili for knowledge as a knowledge sharing platform.

Kinyamu told TechMoran that Shakili woukd enable users to set up e-schools and create courses online and share knowledge and content with peers and their educators, researchers, motivation speakers like me and not-so-fanatic religious leaders.

On the eve of the Shakili’s launch he said the start-up expected to ease digital content sharing and networking among varsity students and educators.

SHAKILI LOGO(1)“Through Shakili educators can create, upload and share digital content in various formats with students to make learning more fun and mobile and make learning possible beyond the school borders,” he said adding that it was a great idea as none of the local universities meet the recommended teacher-student ration.

We believed him until he took up another magician job at Growth Hub and became so vocal on Twitter forgetting to help lecturers connect virtually with their students-an intrusion students abhor to death.

“Our curriculum needs to be progressive to current needs of industry and marketplace. Shakili.com provides a chance for industry to also offer courses. Professionals are looking for ongoing learning and career development without necessarily incurring the costs of a traditional education. Shakili allows users to take up self-scheduled courses that allow flexible learning at their own pace.”, the team said.

Shakili’s primary target users were universities & colleges where lecturers or students create e-schools and courses to upload & share study content and aggregate already existing educational content from the web to the courses created.

Research Institutions, Corporate entities and NGO’s that want to share educative content in a social could also use it as well as speakers, coaches, tutors and consultants and bloggers and content creators.

Shakili’s value proposition was the magic of presence – with peers and teachers, the almost infinite access in the virtual world and the democratization of education by offering access to high quality content for students and giving experts a platform to share knowledge with interested learners.

The platform aimed at offering people the opportunity to expand knowledge & pursue their interests without dedicating fixed periods of time to fit in a university schedule like what Eneza Education is doing with Shupavu; but in a controlled environment.

With the potential to change lives by making the process of learning fun and mobile, Shakili never hit step one of their mission particularly because higher education in Kenya is limited to the physical contact and the lecturer determines the format of learning. Digital platforms are only used to send students notes and class assignments.

At the time of launch, the education sector was highly closed from one university to the other. Universities never shared knowledge even though they shared lecturers and tutors. Shakili was also never well marketed and might never have on boarded any university students or lecturers and even if it had; user on-boarding in institutions of higher learning for education is not an easy feat especially when the founders are not lecturers.

Adults, non-traditional learners or people that just need a little extra skill to advance in their careers had hardly heard of a browser leave alone an online learning platform.

Competition from platforms such as Blackboard among others have made entry into the virtual classroom industry not as easy as it appears.

Kinyamu, might have been overconfident about his venture with somehow strong connections then as the lead strategist at Social Edge Africa; a social media agency and as the troublemaker at SocialPRO social media clubs for universities which both doing so well.