E-Learning Project in South Africa

I’ve posted a  video documenting a successful ICT program in South Africa that used e-learning technology.  The project established the Ligbron Academy of Technology in Ermelo, South Africa that used Smart Board technology in their classrooms (Here’s the wikipedia for Smart Boards: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_Board). There is a lack of trained math and science teachers in rural South Africa because to train in math and sciences it is necessary to attend universities in urban areas.  Once the teachers move to urban areas, they are reluctant to return to the rural areas to live and share their skills. The Smart board technology not only allows one instructor to reach many classrooms, but the students can actually interact with the instructor through the board by posting questions or receiving assignments.  The school has seen a great increase in test scores in math and science subjects.

While this video shows what a great impact technology like Smart Boards can have in a school, its important to keep in mind that this video is coming from the Smart Board company’s YouTube channel, and therefore doesn’t mention any potential obstacles in implementing a similar program in a school they are not sponsoring directly. It’s also likely that Smart Board sponsored this program and provided the school with the equipment and instruction. While I do think this is an example of the potential of e-learning in rural areas, I thought of the following problems while watching the video:

– How can rural communities afford to buy this technology?

-Do they have the infrastructure (electricity, internet, relationships with urban teachers) to support the program?

-If there are no teachers in math and science in these rural areas, isn’t it even more likely that there are no computers or computer teachers who would be responsible for the equipment or teaching the children to use it?

Can you think of any other obstacles facing the implementation of this program in a rural area?

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