Virtual realities on the periphery: towards an anthropology of e-learning and Development
Izak Van Zyl
In South Saharan Africa there have been a few e-learning ventures — Khanya, MELISSA, Life Project — to strengthen educational capacity and encourage grassroots participation. But can we really measure the adoption or the impact of such programmes? How do we perform a social synthesis of this context? What are the narratives, the experiences?
The research will have an anthropological perspective of the previous ventures, incorporating other case studies (RE-ACT, PICTURE) and will hence perform an ethnography.
Argument: in interacting through digital media as a sociocultural practice, communities have begun to fashion “virtual realities” with have been significant in configuring modern forms of identity, participation, collective belonging, etc.
The dissertation will argue for an inclusive practical framework in which to adopt e-learning design, particularly given peripheral virtual realities, being the aim to localise social and cultural paradigms at the heart of ICT4D: an anthropology of e-learning and development.
Tim Unwin suggests exploring e-learning literature to frame the research.
Ismael Peña-López suggests exploring distance learning, web 2.0 ethnographic studies and storytelling.
MLearning: an Inclusive Approach
The MKFC learning model is based on Opit LMS plus online social and communication networks. The reason to use the mobile to provide e-learning is because most students live in remote rural areas of Pakistan, have scarce access to the Internet, but the penetration of mobile phones is very high.
The research will focus on collaboration, ubiquitousness, efficiency and quality of education. The goal will be to see how an hybrid learning model can enhance interactivity, inclusiveness, flexibility and accessibility.
The methodology will be based on a two-part online survey to the students: an online questionnaire and skype meetings and interviews.
Matti Tedre: if one of the results of the research is to build a model of m-learning for development, will it be a technological model? a pedagogical model? a financial model? The suggestion is that the research should be focusing on just one of these and not try to catch all. A: The project is just a part of a whole programme where a multidisciplinary team is covering all the different aspects.
Heli Haapkyla: How is it that the pedagogical model is based on mobiles, but the researcher explains that there’ll be a social networking site component that will take place online. A: This is the general model, now used in Sweden and the idea is that it can also be applied in Pakistan in a hybrid model (SMS + online where available).
Ismael Peña-López: How is it that we assess an m-Learning project and the questionnaire and interviews are on a web survey or via VoIP? A: The project has actually partnered with local schools that have Internet access, and they are collaborating in all the stages of the research, including assessment and online surveys and interviews.