Home › Forums › Redesigning the Distance Learning Environment at the Makerere University › Online readiness programmes: Are they required and if so by whom?
Thanks for raising this question again Cath. There is good South African research to suggest that we can’t expect undergraduate university students to magically know what to do with the technology in their courses. In their research debunking the notion of the digital native Czerniewicz and Brown (2010) introduce the concept of the “digital stranger” as referring to “an important group in our study of students … who lack both experience and opportunities, as they have been using a computer for fewer than 4 years; and have no direct access to ICTs off campus. These students do not fit into Prensky’s notion of ‘digital immigrants’ as they are outsiders to the digital world as it is commonly conceptualized”.
Does this resonate with the experience and challenges in other parts of Africa? Would the concept of the digital stranger accurately describe some of the first year undergraduate students at Makerere University?
Brown, C. & Czerniewicz, L. 2010. Debunking the ‘digital native’: beyond digital apartheid, towards digital democracy. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning. 26(5): 357-369. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2010.00369.x.
Yes! Glad you referenced that very relevant article Tony. I can attest to the fact that “digital strangers” definitely exist, especially within a South African context, and that it is not even defined by age. I held a week-long series of workshops with “e-learning officials” from the education sector and some of them had never really worked with a computer before. They had trouble correlating the movement of the mouse with the motion of the cursor on the screen and even had difficulty executing a “double click”. It was definitely a long week of workshops but I think I managed some converts at the end! 🙂
Online readiness program are import to students, lecturers, staff, and administrators. Online technology is a new phenomenon in some institutions and even if it was not, there are some specific issues relative to technology being implemented in each institution and thus the need to for online readiness programs for all stakeholders concerned.
I agree with you Caroline – I am glad that you mentioned that ALL stakeholders, including students, lecturers, staff and administrators should be included. As you point out, it is important for everyone to have the opportunity to be informed. But with the huge variants in skills and experiences, how does one best cater for all these different scenarios?
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