Digital technologies provide all manner of new opportunities for the recording and dissemination of local knowledge and histories, outside of the already established chains of cultural transmission. Greater access to the Internet and the proliferation of mobile phones and other digital devices, coupled with the multiple ways in which people in the present are engaging with the past, points to the potential of these new technologies to facilitate new modes of recording and sharing local knowledge, cultural practices and histories.
The democratising potential of these digital technologies is great, in that they offer opportunities for traditionally marginalised groups to record and share their local knowledge and histories on the Internet, from their perspectives. They have therefore given rise to (amongst other things) the broad category of “digital memory projects,” including undertakings such as community-run museums, community archives, so-called indigenous cultural centres and alternative approaches to those commonly employed by cultural institutions (Sandell, 2002). The variability of digital technologies is vital to the success of these, and is seen to encourage dialogue, multiple authorship and the exchange of ideas and opinions. In contrast to the closed authorship, fixed ideas and practices of museums, libraries and heritage institutions, digital files circulate more freely and are open to further editing, co-authorship and interpretation. This suggests a more democratised mode of production as different constituencies can collect, interpret, alter and create new meanings for digital content as they see fit (Parry, 2007). Continue reading
In recent years, a global increase in access to the Internet, a demand for quality and affordable higher education and the willingness of some international higher education institutions (HEIs) to experiment with Web 2.0 tools and concepts, has resulted in the substantial growth of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).
These courses allow for new ways of learning skills and gaining accreditation and, as such, offer much in the way of skills development.
In this section, the concept of MOOCs will be introduced and their application for digital media skills training explored with reference to some of the major resources available.
MOOCs: An Introduction Continue reading
In recent years, a global increase in access to the Internet coupled with a demand for quality and affordable higher education and a willingness on the part of faculty at some international higher education institutions (HEIs) to experiment with Web 2.0 tools and concepts has resulted in the substantial growth of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). The growth in these courses is driven primarily by issues of cost and access, as outlined by Cathy N. Davidson in her article ‘Are MOOCs Really the Future of the University?’. In parts of the developing world, in particular countries in Africa, an already-existing skills shortage is exacerbated by limited access to HEIs and the sometimes prohibitive cost of obtaining a degree. In contexts such as these, MOOCs have been proposed as a potential solution. However, the utopian vision put forward by proponents of the system – free, quality education delivered online – is countered by anxiety from some faculty members at HEIs, focused predominantly on what this would mean for the traditional university system.
Education standards at some schools in SubSaharan Africa is poor, with mathematics and literacy highlighted as key problem areas. According to the report Teaching and learning: Achieving quality for all (2014), published by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation Education (Unesco), almost half the children in this region had difficulty reading at a basic level.
This issue is reflected to a large extent in South Africa. The Department of Basic Educations’ National Education Evaluation and Development Unit (NEEDU), in a 2012 report, highlighted the fact that almost three quarters of scholars at schools evaluated in South African could not read at a normal level. This was attributed to a number of reasons, including a lack of reading content available in classrooms. Where schools did have books, these were often locked away in a store-room or only available for use for short periods in the class. Coupled with this is a large percentage of teachers with limited subject-knowledge and a general “lack of understanding … of what it means to be literate, and the specifications of the official curriculum” (NEEDU, 2014:10). The report concludes that programmes are needed to develop literacy and English proficiency and that for “language and the content subjects scholars should write at least 4 times a week” (NEEDU, 2014:11). Continue reading
I am very excited about an event I have been invited to present at next week in Cape Town, the 2013 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) Global Libraries Peer Learning Meeting.
The BMGF’s Global Libraries program supports efforts to supply and maintain free public access to computers and the Internet in ten countries around the world. According to the BMGF, quick and easy access to information and knowledge can transform the lives of individuals and strengthen communities. Yet, approximately 5 billion people – almost 90 percent of the world’s population – do not have access to computers connected to the Internet.