Mobile phone technology as an instrument for student support in Africa

Johan Hendrikz, Unit for Distance Education,Faculty of Education, University of Pretoria, South Africa.


The University of Pretoria is the largest contact university in South Africa. The university runs a distance education programme for more than 10 000 teachers to upgrade their qualifications. The speaker will use the experience of the distance education programme to illustrate the use of mobile phones as an instrument for student support.

The realities with regard to the availability of computers in deep rural South Africa and other African countries and the challenges facing providers/sponsors to make computers available, have shaped the University’s e-learning strategy to accommodate the technology profile of the distance education students.

A brief overview will be given of the history of mobile phones in Africa and how this technology has changed Africa. The changes in mobile phone technology will be illustrated.

The practical use of mobile phones in the distance education programme will be discussed. This will include the application of this technology for administrative as well as academic purposes. Examples will be given of both types of applications. This will include results of pilot projects on the use of mobile phones as e-learning/m-learning support tool in a predominatly paper based distance programme.

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