E-learning specialist Cheryl Muir. Image courtesy of The Training Room Online.
Muir works at The Training Room Online in South Africa and has a passion for training people in technology.
HumanIPO: Do you think South Africa can be considered as a leader in e-learning or online content?
Muir: I actually think we are a leader.
A lot of the work at the moment is still being outsourced to India. We also know that we are able to develop much better quality and higher quality than what they do currently.
So we’d like to ideally get the point where instead of, for example, the United States or the United Kingdom will outsource to India, they actually see South Africa as a viable field towards which to outsource development of e-learning training requirement.
Would you consider other African countries as competitive on e-learning platforms or would you say South Africa is still taking the lead?
A lot of our clients...are in other African countries.
It makes it a lot easier to be able to get a consistent message across, to not only be including South Africa, but also Africa and elsewhere in the rest of the world.
The Southern African countries are very keen to grow their e-learning industry as well.
There is definitely a need for it. People have seen the benefits of being able to provide something to people online.
Especially here, we have a lot of people that are in rural areas and don’t necessarily have the access to big centres and having to travel to big centres to do a course or write an exam.
Online learning, or technology in general, means they don’t have to fork out or dish out the money to traditionally to do so.
What is your take on mobile e-learning?
Mobile makes it even more accessible. The development is a little bit different because of screen sizes and things like that that you have to bear in mind.
Accessing a website on a mobile phone is a lot harder than it is to access on a laptop or even on a tablet. So development needs to change with that as consideration.
The global need is massive for a mobile app because everyone has a cell phone. Not everybody has a laptop or tablet or PC.
Do you foresee schools relying predominantly on online sources?
It will remain a challenge until you get to the point where everybody has access to it and there are ways of getting around it.
Online courses are very easily deployed to a CD or a DVD if somebody plugs it in and still have access to the same core content. It’s just a different way of giving them access still through a digital platform as opposed to an online platform.
Once it is digital, it’s very easy to give it to people in a different format if internet access is a challenge.
Are devices a key to better engagement in classrooms with teachers?
Absolutely. There is some development that we have done along with some of our clients where e-learning development has been much more educator-focused.
Instead of being student-focused, e-learning devices they used along with a teacher or a lecturer... provide them with the digital tools to be able to not only make their lives a little bit easier, but it will also make sure there is a consistent matrix that are going through to students or learners in schools wherever it might be.
How do you engage further with the community?
We are constantly updating our website. We have a number of people going to speak at conferences. We really do try and make sure that people get access to what it is that we are finding in our industry.
The one thing that we know is that we can’t change things by ourselves. It is definitely something that becomes a partnership.
If we want to do something for the benefit of education or for the whole of Africa or even the world, there is no way that we can do it on our own.
Collaboration is the only way that interaction can be able to make a meaningful difference.
What role do you think social media plays in online learning?
Social platforms are great, but then also from a learning perspective one of the criticism of online learning particularly is that you lose the social interaction that you would normally have in the classroom environment.
Social media means you don’t have to. You can still collaborate with peers, working through the same courses with you and still get the kind of benefits of sharing ideas with each other, getting into group discussions etcetera.