Ministry of General Education Open Education Resources Phase 1 Project: ‘Enhancing Digital Literacy in Women Educationists in Zambia’

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Case Study by Jane Bweendo Nkomenshya 

In the quest to increase access to education for all, the Zambian Government, in collaboration with Common Wealth of Learning, and through the Notesmaster project, is currently implementing digital technology in the Ministry of General Education. The Notesmaster project phase 1 is aimed at not only enhancing access to quality equitable education for all but also to improve and increase digital literacy in both the learners and teachers.

On average, the Zambian women folk are not so much involved in Information Communication Technology (ICT). This is exacerbated by the various social and economic factors which negate women empowerment in the acquisition of ICT skills and knowledge.

By and large, there is a negative perception by women that ICT is a challenging area that can only be done by men. Additionally, the family influence on children especially the girl child in Zambia puts more emphasis on teaching them on what to do and their expected behavior as well as the jobs they are expected to perform. This generally affects their orientation in regard to choosing a career.

To mitigate these social ills that have hampered ICT development among women, a number of interventions can be implemented. One such intervention is the deliberate training of women in ICT and also sensitizing women on the current needs of the society in regard to ICTs.

ENHANCING DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY IN WOMEN EDUCATIONISTS

Technological innovations in the education sector will effectively foster development in various spheres of human endeavor. For example, the use of technology enable learning, can increase flexibility for students in terms of where, when and how they study thus Increasing accessibility to education. Technology enabled learning can also enhance digital literacy in students and teachers by improving on ICT skills and providing both teachers and students with additional opportunities to interact. Through technology enabled learning, education provision is maximized by ensuring that teaching and learning opportunities are available for geographically dispersed students.

The question is: How is technology enabled learning enhancing digital literacy in women educationists?

The following discussion shows reflections of one woman educationist involved in the Notesmaster project in Zambia based at Zambia College of Distance Education (ZACODE), a learning institution currently developing Open Education Resources (OER) on Notesmaster Learning Platform.

My experience with Notesmaster project is that I have gained knowledge and skills in authoring content that can sit on a learning management system. This has provided me with an advantage as regards to enhanced skills in ICT that I never had before the project was started. The skills I have acquired, have enabled me to successfully complete a Massive Open Online Course in Technology-Enabled Learning offered jointly by the Commonwealth of Learning and Athabasca University.  I believe that with such skills a number of women can be empowered with knowledge that can render them to be self-reliant in society. In many instances I have learnt that women are mostly assisted by the men folk in areas of ICT. This creates a challenge especially when women are assigned jobs or tasks which require them to use ICT. Although there has been a marked improvement in my work due to the fact that I have gained experience in digital literacy. It has really come with diverse challenges, among them the high cost of internet bundles, access to ICT equipment such and low bandwidth.

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