Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Big Brain launches an online e-learning platform for high school students

Big Brain Zimbabwe a new e-learning platform for educators, administrators and learners was launched last week at Muzinda Umuzi Hub. During the launch more than twenty students participated in an online Geography ‘O’ Level exam competition. The competition was done to demonstrate and test Big Brain e-learning platform.

Speaking to the students present during the launch of the Big Brain e-learning platform the founder of Big Brain, Timothy Shava said

“What we are trying to do is to introduce an e-learning platform, and you guys must be grateful to be pioneers testing the great features of our system. We just hope you are going to learn something new from our e-learning platform. What we are hoping to do in the future is to provide online courses for you.”

Big Brain launches an online e-learning platform for high school students
 Another member of the Big Brain team Gabriel Nyamugama also had this to say to the students gathered.

“We want to introduce to you the concept of e-learning as the world is evolving. The way we used to learn back then whereby you seat on chair with pen and paper everyday is archaic, things have changed nowadays as people are now moving to the electronic side of things”

The students who took this ‘O’ level Geography exam on the launch of Big Brain were drawn from different schools and colleges in Harare. The geography exam paper was in multiple choice format. Upon completion of writing the exam the Big Brain e-learning system would promptly mark and display the results of the student in a blink of an eye.

Big Brain is planning on partnering with top training institutes, schools, colleges, universities and organizations, to offer courses online for anyone to take, both for free or for fee.

“We envision a future where everyone has access to world-class education. We aim to empower people with education that will improve their lives of their families, and the communities they live in” Timothy said

A number of interesting observations were noted during Big Brain launch that highlighted some of the challenges in rolling out e-learning programmes in the country. This includes.
  • Lack of digital literacy – for some of the students it was their first time to use computers or to use the computer for educational purposes.
  • No email address – very few students had email addresses needed to create an account on the Big Brain e-learning platform. Interestingly most of the students had facebook accounts mostly created using mobile phone numbers.
  • Absence of relevant e-learning content
Mr Moyana, a teacher from Enlight Senior School who had accompanied students from his school to Big Brain launch also highlighted some challenges frustrating widespread adoption of e-learning in the country.

“E-learning in Zimbabwe is very important. We are lagging behind as compared to other countries. In terms of education we are still using the manual system. So I would I like believe that if we improvise for e-learning we are going to improve our standards especially on learning. E-learning is also faster but the only challenge we have in Zimbabwe is how to implement it. It is a bit costly as we need computers and electricity. So that would be a challenge. But I would like to believe that if all things are together e-learning be in Zimbabwe” said Mr Moyana

Speaking at the end of the Big Brain launch the Community Manager for Muzinda Umuzi Hub Kudzai Mubaiwa thanked the students who participated and encouraged them to embrace e-learning

“So go and get basic computer skills, find out a computer next door or wherever and learn how to use one. Open an email address. I always say to people if you are a Christian, make sure you have an email address as you don’t know how Jesus Christ might come, maybe he can send an email. An email is very important.” said Kudzai.

Below are some videos in which some students speak after using Big Brain e-learning platform

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flN1LKi-Mi4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=us8aWE-VmO0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-27w_Ykc2k
Source: James Mlambo http://mobilelearningzone.com/mobi

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