The Impact of ICTs Diffusion on MDGs and Baroclinic Digital Learning Environments in East and Southern Africa

  • G Kabanda


Information and communication technologies (ICTs) impact all the MDGs, especially in eradicating extreme poverty and hunger. The correlation between ICTs and high economic growth and education has not been well researched in most African countries. A learner is often inundated with massive volumes and different kinds of knowledge to learn from, i.e. learning vortices that are chaotic. Chaos theory is the qualitative study of unstable, aperiodic behaviour in deterministic, non-linear, dynamical systems, and from which the behaviour of the system is understood by reconstructing its attractor and gaining qualitative insight. The Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU) online platform has digital learning objects that increase opportunities for teaching and learning, supports ubiquitous learning and provides intuitive ways for identifying learning collaborators, learning contents and learning services in the right place at the right time. The specific objectives of the research are:
(a) To assess the impact of ICTs on MDGs
(b) To ascertain the ICT impact on economic growth, innovations and education in East and Southern Africa
(c) To explore the emerging trends in E-learning from ICTs for development
(d) To apply Chaos Theory to design a digital learning environment with fully functional interactive e-learning facilities at Zimbabwe Open University.
(e) To recommend a development model or a framework for economic growth for these African countries.
The methodology used was largely qualitative on technology capacity needs assessment that covered 6 countries, and also quantitative on GDP and Infodensity covering 18 countries in East and Southern Africa.GDP and Infodensity data was collected for 18 African countries to ascertain the link between ICTs diffusion and GDP density per country. The case study for the establishment of the ZOU Online platform is presented and discussed to show the baroclinic and birfucation nature of the chaotic system, in order to design a completely functional digital learning environment. The mean for the 18 East and Southern African countries with respect to main telephone density is 3.8%, mobile subscribers is 27.87%, and internet use is at 4.87%. Capacity needs assessment included both the human capital development and social capital aspects in order to achieve sustainable information and communication technology capacity development. Human capital development is central to capacity needs. There is a strong correlation between ICT diffusion and high economic growth, evidenced by high mobile density. The mobile phone has become a good measure of wealth for an average African, and can be used in education. The solution to poverty and under-development in these African countries is, therefore, knowledge and economic empowerment. The recommended sustainable technology development with an African model is proposed. Chaos Theory offers tremendous opportunities for handling the complexity associated with the design of a fully interactive e-learning environment available online. The paper proved the correlation and potential application of Chaos Theory to the design model for digital learning environments. In the ZOU Online learning environment, it was established that learning objects can increase course interactivity, give students additional opportunities to interact with a variety of learning content, provide opportunitiesf or active learning, enrichment, and remediation, and offer practice with the content which students need to master.

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eISSN: 0856-6739