From the rise of smartphones to the expansion of Internet connectivity in Africa, a lot has been written about the potential of digital technology to accelerate the continent’s economic and social development. But what about in the realm of education? Does the fact that a high school student in rural Kenya can enroll in one of Harvard’s Massive Online Open Courses in pursuit of a degree mean that Africa can leapfrog the need for a traditional university system? If we can put a tablet loaded with the latest secondary education curriculum into the hands of a poorly educated teacher, does it give his or her students a greater advantage, despite their instructor’s limitation? Can elementary school students learn to read via educational video games if their teachers fail to show up for class? Studies have shown that people learn best when learning is active, yet digital education is being touted as the solution to Africa’s education crisis.
As the World Economic Forum on Africa convenes in Kigali, Rwanda, this week, TIME is moderating a debate Thursday between education professionals and digital technology evangelists to discuss the potential and pitfalls of digital education. Joining us will be Temitope Ola, Chief Executive Officer of Koemei, a conversational speech recognition engine that allows for search in video and head of MOOCs for Africa for the Swiss Institute of Technology; Jean Philbert Nsengimana, the Minister of Youth and Information Communication Technology of Rwanda; Colin McElwee, Co-Founder of Worldreader digital library; Rapelang Rabana, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Rekindle Learning,an interactive, digital-based learning platform; and Fred Swaniker, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of African Leadership University.
The panel is scheduled to start at 9:45 a.m E.T. You can also take a brief poll for the session here, and share your thoughts on Twitter using the hashtag #digitaleducation.
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