Utilising Rich Media

"Web 2.0 Should Complement eLearning"

Harare (ZWE), May 2008 - At eLearning Africa, Raymond Tsongorera is representing the University of Zimbabwe. His passion is in Web 2.0, Multimedia, webcasting and eLearning. He believes that in this fast-growing family of ICT, scientists and researchers should share the vast amount of knowledge available by all means possible so as to come up with meaningful contributions to the ICT family structure. He answered some question for CHECK.point eLearning.

Do you think that a development phase from eLearning to Web 2.0 might be necessary?

Raymond Tsongorera: I would not say a development phase but rather an adoption of the traditional eLearning systems to web 2.0. I would agree with some authors to the introduction of a new term: "eLearning 2.0" - creating ad-hoc learning communities through the use of complementary tools and web services (e.g. blogs) and other social software.

This is feasible if eLearning is not viewed as a single application or system but rather as an environment (a collection of interoperating applications) where eLearning content is syndicated, much like a blog post or podcast, for example. Learning has become more of a creative activity where the appropriate venue is platform driven and not application driven; it's slowly evolving with the World Wide Web as a whole.

Therefore I would conclude by saying Web 2.0 should complement eLearning. We do not really need a development phase.

Do you think that problems are only linked to technical issues such as bandwidth? Or might cultural aspects also play a role and have an influence on acceptance among users?

Raymond Tsongorera: Of course bandwidth is an issue, but not the only one. Bandwidth issues are usually raised by those who would have accepted the concept. I do agree that cultural aspects also play a role and have an influence on acceptance among users.

For example, training or learning is generally viewed as something that requires experts, classrooms, and learners - there is an assumption that it's not possible for the trainees or learners to learn on their own.

There is a "resistance to change" factor and a lack of trust. The traditional learning systems users tend to trust their (black board) traditional way of learning rather than taking risks of hopping on to something new. It's seen as a radical idea whose effectiveness is yet to be established. Some even think it may end up replacing the instructor, thereby leaving them jobless. That is certainly not the case.

I think people should be more aware so that they can "culturally" accept and trust the concept before it's thrown to them.

In your opinion, which applications currently being used on Web 2.0 are essential for modern learning environments?

Raymond Tsongorera: I would say wikis (collaborative writing), blogs, (interlinked through the mechanisms of RSS), and podcasting. For example, blogs can be used to pose questions, make comments, publish work, etc. There is also media sharing through applications like Flickr - for images, presentations, etc.