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Appears in:
Pages: 7460-7465
Publication year: 2016
ISBN: 978-84-608-8860-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2016.0627

Conference name: 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2016
Location: Barcelona, Spain

VIRTUAL COMMUNITY AS A STRATEGY FOR THE DELIVERY OF DISTANCE LEARNING: THE CASE FOR DIASPORA INVOLVEMENT IN WEST AFRICA

P. Ankomah, T. Larson

North Carolina A&T State University (UNITED STATES)
The economies of sub-Saharan African countries are in extreme stress due to overdependence on the export of a few primary commodities, including agricultural products and extraction of minerals and fluctuation of world prices for these products. The World Bank estimated that in 2015, the terms-of-trade deterioration for the sub-region was 18.3%, with oil exporting countries experiencing as much as 40% in their terms of trade deterioration.
To address the vulnerability of economies in the sub-region to the perennial unstable global commodity prices, several countries are exploring relatively new economic models to diversify their mostly single-crop or mono-cultural economies. It is the view of the authors of this paper that one of the most promising and effective approaches to economic diversification is via the adoption of the knowledge economy as a framework for priming these economies. Most of the countries that are experiencing rapid economic growth are those employing their human capital (knowledge) as foundations for development. The term knowledge economy has its roots in the 1960s (de Bode/Panos, 2015). It refers to a shift in economic paradigms from traditional economies to economies where production focuses on the use of knowledge. To function effectively, the paradigm requires academic institutions to actively engage in research and development (de Bode/Panos, 2015).

According to the World Bank, the skills for the knowledge economy are mostly created at the tertiary education level. Consequently, if the strategy of knowledge economy is to be fully realized in the sub-region, the Sub-Saharan African universities and other tertiary institutions have to be at the forefront and provide leadership through the training of skilled personnel necessary to support and sustain this new engine for growth. Some specific academic areas and skills relevant to the knowledge economy include: engineering, ICT, critical thinking, communication and problem solving skills, the ability to work in teams, workplace competencies (interpersonal and intra-personal skills), etc.

However, available evidence in Sub-Saharan Africa suggests that the sub-region’s institutions of higher learning are ill-equipped to assume this role. Poor infrastructure, a shortage of qualified faculty, limited funding and lack of other critical resources are likely to constrain the efforts at knowledge development from ever taking-off. To address the problem of lack of qualified faculty, this paper proposes that West African countries rely on their diaspora abroad to deliver the skills for the development of the knowledge economy via distance learning employing the concept of the virtual community. Virtual community will be used as a framework for instructional delivery. Courses would be designed for synchronous and asynchronous offering to accommodate the schedules of potential learners within countries of West Africa. Additionally, efforts would be made to transfer educational materials onto CD-ROM, create e-books to supplement course content and to develop virtual reality applications. This paper also identifies some of the challenges that might be encountered through this effort and provides some suggestions to address them.

References:
de Bode, C./Panos (2015). What is a knowledge economy? Accessed 28 April 2016 from http://www.scidev.net/global/knowledge-economy/feature/knowledge-economy-ict-developing-nations.html
@InProceedings{ANKOMAH2016VIR,
author = {Ankomah, P. and Larson, T.},
title = {VIRTUAL COMMUNITY AS A STRATEGY FOR THE DELIVERY OF DISTANCE LEARNING: THE CASE FOR DIASPORA INVOLVEMENT IN WEST AFRICA},
series = {8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN16 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-608-8860-4},
issn = {2340-1117},
doi = {10.21125/edulearn.2016.0627},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/edulearn.2016.0627},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {4-6 July, 2016},
year = {2016},
pages = {7460-7465}}
TY - CONF
AU - P. Ankomah AU - T. Larson
TI - VIRTUAL COMMUNITY AS A STRATEGY FOR THE DELIVERY OF DISTANCE LEARNING: THE CASE FOR DIASPORA INVOLVEMENT IN WEST AFRICA
SN - 978-84-608-8860-4/2340-1117
DO - 10.21125/edulearn.2016.0627
PY - 2016
Y1 - 4-6 July, 2016
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN16 Proceedings
SP - 7460
EP - 7465
ER -
P. Ankomah, T. Larson (2016) VIRTUAL COMMUNITY AS A STRATEGY FOR THE DELIVERY OF DISTANCE LEARNING: THE CASE FOR DIASPORA INVOLVEMENT IN WEST AFRICA, EDULEARN16 Proceedings, pp. 7460-7465.
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