Written by: Richard A. Powell – RUFORUM Communications Consultant

1For many years, pedagogues have been fixated on the bricks-and-mortar approach to knowledge transfer and learning: the goal primarily being to increase ad nausea the number of students living on a physical campus.

But advances in technology mean that the model of teaching has been re-evaluated. E-learning – the ‘e’, according to Bernard Luskin, a pioneer of the field, being interpreted as “exciting, energetic, enthusiastic, emotional, extended, excellent, and educational”, rather than simply “electronic” – is the use of electronic media, educational technology and information and communication technologies (ICT) in the process of education. It entails the numerous types of media that help deliver text, audio, images, animation, and streaming video, and includes technology applications and processes such as audio or video tape, satellite TV, CD-ROM, and computer-based learning, among others, and can be asynchronous self-education, synchronous and instructor-led (i.e., in real time), or a blended hybrid of the two.

The possibilities offered by e-learning are considerable. For those students with pressing personal or family problems or obligations, or whose lives do not lend themselves to attending a traditional university, the flexibility offered by a self-paced, asynchronous course can prove highly attractive. Indeed, the popularity of e-learning among such students is clear. In the USA in 2006, approximately 3.5 million students participated in on-line learning at higher education institutions. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) continue to prove popular, offering classes to global audiences.

However, as Nodumo Dhlamini and Lisbeth Levey observed in their side event at the 4th RUFORUM biennial conference – entitled “A new architecture for learning: looking into the future of ICT for teaching and learning” – for many years in Africa such pedagogic ambitions for the continent were entirely fanciful in nature. In 1996, Ms Levey recalled, there were only three African countries with more than 64 Kbhs of bandwidth, with dial-up modems emitting idiosyncratic noises into the night. However, four years later the internet had begun to take root on the continent and currently there is a recognition of the critical role ICT can play in teaching in many African higher education establishments. But as Ms Levey noted, agricultural colleges often lag behind the rest of their university counterparts.

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By Vanilla Amadeu


Na conferência participaram estudantes, docentes e outros, das cerca de 42 Universidades de 19 países africanos membros da RUFORUM, sendo algumas das quais a Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Universidade Kenyatta, Universidade de Makerere, Universidade de Eldoret.A mesma tinha como lema: “celebrando a contribuição das universidades e parceiros para o desenvolvimento agrícola da África”. O objectivo era de os participantes reflectissem sobre o papel da agricultura para o Continente africano onde mostra-se necessário o investimento por parte dos governos na área, de modo a que possa contribuir significativamente para o crescimento económico.


Prof Alidipala o chefe de RUFORUM com alguns participantes.

Portanto, estiveram governantes de alguns países participantes, e não só, com o destaque para Reitor da Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Orlando Quilambo, o Secretário Executivo da RUFORUM, Adipala Ekwamu, A Presidente da Comissão da União Africana, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, docentes e estudantes das Universidades membros da RUFORUM. Read More

By Pauline Atim
I had the opportunity to attend the Center for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA) meeting at the #RUFORUM@10 when it called a number of stakeholders including university deans, vice-chancellors, policy makers, lecturers and students to discuss strategies to strengthen the research-training-farmer continuum and the youth agenda in the SADC region. The event was overall interesting and intellectually stimulating as I heard different standpoints and suggestions concerning agricultural research for development (AR4D).

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