TEACHING AND LEARNING IN THE ARTS: ACCESSING THE ARTS IN POOR COMMUNITIES IN SOUTH AFRICA
There is little doubt that the dramatic technological advances of the past decade have significantly impacted the work and recreational habits of human beings across the globe. The increased focus by major corporations such as Apple, Samsung and Microsoft on specialized sectors such as business, health and education have paved the way for unprecedented development and growth within these and other sectors. The growth of E-Learning environments such as Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs), Management Information Systems (MIS) coupled with the use of social media, blogs and wiki’s have significantly broadened the platforms upon which information can be disseminated. This new and innovative platform has tremendous implications for education.
Within most African countries education tends to lag behind many of the developed nations due largely to poor infrastructure. Accordingly to Prakash (2004), less than 5% of students in African countries have access to tertiary education compared to the world-wide average of 16%. The author states further that demand for education in most African countries far exceeds the deliverability of education. E-Learning provides an excellent mechanism of the delivery of education to the majority of rural and under-developed African countries at a significantly reduced cost. It could prove to be the ultimate solution not only to most countries on the African continent but also to several European countries that are facing educational challenges due to the current economic crisis.
The University of South Africa is one of the preeminent institutions for distance education. The university currently boasts approximately 400,000 ‘distant learners’across the African continent. In 2013, the university celebrated its 140th year in existence boasting such distinguished alumni such as former president Nelson Mandela, Ahmed Kathrada, Reserve Bank Govenor Gill Marcus and several leading CEO’s and supreme-court justices, the majority of whom obtained their qualifications through distance education. The University of South Africa has effectively managed to develop one of the worlds most advanced distance education models at a time when E-Learning, social media and technology were non-existent. With the full-scale embracing of E-Learning and the other technologically driven media, the university is once again pushing the envelope in terms of access to education via non-traditional and technologically driven means.
The arts are a specialized field which has historically employed a hands-on approach to education. Within the University of South Africa, an E-Learning model is being utilized that is paving the way for access to the arts specifically music education to remote and rural based students. While the model is beneficial to students within the country, it has far-reaching implications for most countries within Africa and beyond as an E-Learning approach. The ability to teach music to students in rural locations across the continent is now a possibility due to advances in technology.
This proposed session will present ways in which E-Learning is being utilized to allow students to have access to the arts, specifically music in rural and remote locations. The session will also focus on ways in which more developed nations can improve their educational programs via E-Learning. The presenter will also present ways that individuals outside of academia, such as professional artists and the music industry can benefit from advances in technology and E-Learning.