From 24-26 May 2023, the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) participated in the eLearning Africa conference for the very first time. Now in its 16th year, this is Africa’s largest conference and exhibition on technology-enhanced learning, training and skills development. This year eLearning Africa took place in Dakar, Senegal.
Together with my colleague César Moreira, we ran a hands-on workshop on AKF’s cost-effective blended learning course development methodology. We also promoted The Learning Hub; AKF’s online learning platform aimed at strengthening development practitioners and empowering communities. Launched last year, The Learning Hub is home to a plethora of learning content developed by AKF, the communities we work with, and many of our partner organisations.
This is not the first time our free online learning platform has been presented on the global stage; in February, we took it to Comparative & International Education Society 2023. In May, it was presented at the 75th NAFSA Annual Conference & Expo, and the WILD Network’s virtual Women in Global Development Leadership Forum. At all these events, The Learning Hub’s unique offering sparked the curiosity of many participants and attendees – and eLearning Africa was no different.
The view from the stand in Dakar
With some 1,000 people in attendance, AKF’s Learning Hub drew a lot of interest! Visitors loved the emphasis on localisation in our courses. The fact that The Learning Hub offers content in 25 different languages was a big draw, as well as the fact that AKF’s courses use authentic footage from the countries where we work. Several people commented on how refreshing it was to see people from the communities we work with in our courses and instructional videos.
Representatives from Ministeries of Education – including from countries where AKF doesn’t work – were keen to discuss integrating learning content from The Learning Hub into national curricula and working with us to localise into other languages, including French. English teachers loved the videos for use as conversation starters in their classes.
The courses focused on Creating an Inclusive Learning Environment (from our Education portfolio), on regenerative agriculture (from our Climate Resilience portfolio), and on entrepreneurship (from our Work and Enterprise portfolio) drew a lot of attention as critical learning themes.
Colleagues from several civil society organisations (CSOs) were thrilled to learn there are currently more than 65 courses around civil society strengthening on The Learning Hub – courses they could use to train their own staff and volunteers and those of their CSO partners in the region – for free.
All of The Learning Hub’s courses, instructional videos, toolkits, and webinars are offered completely free, as a public good. We explained to those visiting our stand that there was no catch – that we just want to ensure that people working in education, in civil society strengthening, and in government know that AKF offers a range of learning resources, and that they can include them into their curricula, training programmes, and capacity building initiatives, as they see fit.
Throughout the three-day event, it became clear that AKF’s value proposition with The Learning Hub is unique, in several respects:
- The Learning Hub puts emphasis on localisation and offers learning content in 25 different languages
- Our delivery model is adaptable and flexible – as most courses content are modular and can be delivered in either a fully self-paced, online manner, or in a blended fashion
- Our course content is produced at minimal cost
- AKF empowers colleagues and partner organisations to design, develop, disseminate, and deliver their own video-based learning content
- AKF has its own custom-built learning management system (LMS) that allows us to scale our course offering without charging learners
Throughout eLearning Africa, I was especially thrilled by three things.
Second, the content on The Learning Hub really stood out in terms of quality. By this I mean several things. It stood out by:
- the technical quality of the content,
- the pedagogical quality of the instructional design, and
- the production quality of the videos.
And third, we were struck by the sheer range of people who were interested to learn more about The Learning Hub. From teachers to ministers, from local and international CSOs to large global training organisations. Training providers were interested to make our learning content available on their platforms – from a large, European government-funded digital learning platform to a learning platform for the humanitarian sector, and even platforms run by some of the best and best-known universities in the world.
The AKF Learning Hub workshop
Empowering others and making learning accessible is at the very core of The Learning Hub’s mission, which is why we focused our three-hour workshop on this very practical angle. Titled ‘Accessible, relevant, and engaging video-based learning for the world’s remotest communities – in 25 languages!’, our session aimed to show colleagues from other organisations how we make low-cost, high-quality, and engaging instructional videos and to give them the opportunity to start learning how to create such content themselves.
What’s next for the Learning Hub?
Attending eLearning Africa made one thing very clear. The Learning Hub has huge potential to help facilitate new partnerships, to extend and enhance the visibility and presence of AKF, and to make a positive impact on people in many new and emerging areas of learning and development.
The Learning Hub will continue in its mission to offer accessible, relevant, localised, engaging and high-quality learning; helping to drive change through the development of new skills, new ideas, and new perspectives on the issues which affect us all.
This article was written by Ana Barfield, Global Practice Manager at AKF