The eLearning Africa 2014 conference in Kampala / Uganda has been a gathering of true excellence. Promising young startups met experienced entrepreneurs, practitioners from the field of education met decision makers from business and government. The conference was a melting pot of sharing ideas and expertise, discussing challenges and solutions. TheNewAfrica will introduce some of the most interesting participants. Today it is Southafrican entrepreneur Rapelang Rabana, founder of Rekindle Learning, a company that provides adaptive mobile learning solutions.
– TheNewAfrica founder Beate Wedekind .. The conference was a must for anyone involved in ICT for development, education and training in Africa. Rapelanf Rabana presented her application Rekindle Learning with the workshop AFRICAN SOLUTIONS, chaired by
The audience was just fabulous and four amazing young entrepreneurs, bright and dedicated, presented their applications for better e-learning. Please check them out here:
Please read today an interview with Rapelang, within the next days the three others will be portrayed too, as well as other personalities from the educational and entrepreneural sectors.
This article has been published at eLearningAfrica’s newsportal. The interview was conducted by Steven Blum:
As founder of Yeigo, one of the world’s first VoIP applications, Rapelang Rabana was named one of Africa’s Best Young Entrepreneurs by Forbes and included in Oprah Magazine’s “O Power List”. In her newest venture, she’s tackling two of eLearning’s greatest challenges: measuring impact and improving the retention of knowledge. Here she talks with eLearning Africa about what’s wrong with on-the-job training, why eLearning execs should be focusing purely on mobile apps and how to create more African female entrepreneurs.
How has it felt to be made somewhat of an icon for female entrepreneurship in Africa?
I am so continuously surprised that I still struggle to internalise it all. Certainly, when I wake up in the morning I don’t feel or even remember that – I still see myself as girl with some ideas I am trying to make happen, and the entrepreneurial journey is as complex and demanding as it’s always been. What does thrill me is that it seems to have inspired others, and if one person, or particularly one woman, has decided to become an entrepreneur after hearing my story, that gives me a tremendous sense of purpose.
The rate of female entrepreneurship is higher in Africa than in any other region of the world, according to the World Bank. Why do you think that is?
We need to draw some distinctions in the types of entrepreneurs to process that question. Broadly speaking, there are entrepreneurs of choice and entrepreneurs of survival. The vast majority of female entrepreneurs in Africa are entrepreneurs of survival, because they were excluded from better economic and educational opportunities to be able to find other income-generating activities and entrepreneurship was their only option. Female entrepreneurs of choice are much much fewer and that is what we need desperately because that is where female captains of industry will come from. We need women who have had an education and choose entrepreneurship over other jobs because they see opportunities to solve major problems in a sustainable way. We need the value system and ideas of the other 50 per cent of the population to be reflected in the kind of businesses that are created and how they are run.
What advice would you give other women looking to break into the eLearning field?
For starters, focus more on mobile than computers. Then it’s important to dissect the different aspects of learning and the learning processes that each entails and focus on improving a particular process. Too often, we look at eLearning as one big chunk of stuff, without looking at the learning or teaching process we are trying to address and fix. No one tool will ever address everything – learning is too complex. So it’s important to identify the real problem you are trying to address and not just jump on the coolest tool that comes up, which may well be addressing a different aspect of learning.
Please watch Rapelang talking at TEDx Capetown:
One of the greatest challenges facing eLearning today is how to measure impact. How does your company, Rekindle Learning, track engagement among students?
Our applications are focused on reinforcing and consolidating knowledge after a classroom session at school or a workshop / seminar in a corporate environment. We already know from learning theory that building retention of knowledge is about active retrieval, or asking questions in a manner that requires the learner to independently recall the information. Doing so a number of times over a period of time builds knowledge into long-term memory. We go beyond giving a quiz or test by randomly bringing the learner back to their weak areas as a lesson progresses until they demonstrate accuracy and retention. So a lesson is completed when accuracy and retention is achieved, not when a learner ‘gets to the end’, which is actually what we really want anyway. In this way, questions are used as a learning tool instead of an assessment tool.
Many of Africa’s economic sectors – like tourism, for example – show the potential for amazing growth. How can eLearning provide large-scale training to those in emerging markets?
I am pretty excited about the potential for mobile phones to provide large-scale training in emerging markets as the de facto device. We are often very good about getting people together for training workshops and the like, but the follow-up has always been the weakness in training, particularly in emerging markets. This where I believe mobile phones can play an instrumental role. While it is quite hard to conduct all learning processes on mobile devices, I believe [they] are well suited to provide that follow up, that reinforcement and consolidation to enable on-going measurement of the individual’s learning progress. More importantly, they allow someone to take ownership of their learning. Given the number of people to train and develop, the ownership must be shifted from the educator to the learner because we simply don’t have enough educators to cope. For example, I imagine a world where young high school graduates can learn on their mobile phones to qualify for entry level jobs in retail or call centres and be able to provide potential employers with objective evidence of the knowledge they have gained as a result their own ambition.
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