mLearning: effective or disruptive?

Mobile technologies, which play an increasingly important role in Africa’s education systems, are set to stimulate debate at this year’s eLearning Africa conference in Cotonou, Benin, from May 23rd to 25th. Through a range of interactive expert-led sessions, participants at eLearning Africa 2012, the Continent’s leading conference on ICT for development, education and training, will explore the challenges, opportunities and success stories of mLearning.

Advocates of mLearning see it as a growing, popular, pervasive and effective tool for learners and teachers, citing the benefits it brings to education as well as to Africa’s agricultural practices, healthcare systems and professional development. But are we underestimating the disruption that mobile technologies cause to formal educational systems in Africa?

Critics of mLearning argue that the use of mobile technologies distracts learners and undermines the traditional classroom setting thereby threatening to make teachers redundant. Furthermore the prevalence of mobile phones among African learners is inconsistent, limiting the effectiveness of mLearning strategies. Is the integration of mLearning being approached in a sustainable way, and what are its long-term implications for education systems in Africa and across the world?

eLearning experts from Africa and beyond will present their experiences of and perspectives on mLearning in diverse sessions such as “Success Stories of Mobile Learning Apps”, “Mobile Devices for Food Security, Improved Agricultural Practice and Community Empowerment”, “Managing Conflicting Stakeholder Perspectives on Mobile Learning: A Role Play Session” and “Interactivity Paradigm Shifts to Mobile Learning”.

The annual eLearning Africa debate will offer all participants the opportunity to voice their views on mLearning and hear those of other eLearning professionals, including ICT4D practitioner Wayan Vota, a well-known blogger and Senior Director at Inveneo, and Cheryl Douglas, Programme Director, Teaching Biology Project of the Africa Genome Education Institute, South Africa.

According to Rebecca Stromeyer, founder of eLearning Africa and Executive Director of the international events and media company ICWE, “Whilst it is certainly not new, the use of mLearning has never been so widespread. eLearning Africa unites educational and ICT professionals from across all sectors in Africa and throughout the world, creating a unique platform for reviewing the latest issues in technology-enhanced education and training. This year’s eLearning Africa conference will therefore be the first of its kind to tackle the issue of mLearning from such a wide range of perspectives and within the context of other approaches to technology-enhanced education.”

Indeed, mLearning is just one of 14 aspects of technology-enhanced education which will be explored in detail under the overall theme of eLearning and Sustainability at eLearning Africa 2012, the largest gathering of high-level policy makers, decision makers and practitioners from education, business and government. This year’s conference will feature 12 pre-conference workshops, up to 60 sessions and over 300 speakers from Africa and beyond. For more information, please visit


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