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Why the future of e-learning should be mobile

Introducing guest blogger Clare Hardman, most recent  winner of the University of Sussex's Postgraduate Certificate in E-Learning Design course's Best Student award, which we're very proud to sponsor.  Some thoughts from her on the future of e-learning...

Last year I studied on the Postgraduate Certificate in e-learning design at the University of Sussex. Not only was the course interesting and fantastically helpful for my job, it is also sponsored by Wired Sussex with a £200 prize, which I was fortunate enough to win. So I’d like to use this blog post to tell you a bit about the course and what I plan to do with the prize money.
Before I started the PG Cert I thought of ‘e-learning’ as being all about technology.  However,  I soon realised that good e-learning is really about understanding how people learn and the many different ways of making that happen, be that via a conversation, many conversations, an individual assignment or a group activity – all of this can happen face-2-face or via your computer or mobile phone.
For me, the best thing about e-learning, other than the fact that it’s fun (I love analysing your audience, understanding their learning needs, storyboarding and designing creative learning materials), is knowing that you are increasing access to education, and this has helped me to decide how I’d like to spend the Wired Sussex prize money. 
In January I went on a trip to India and Nepal, where I visited an orphanage and met 30 children, all very enthusiastic about school. They told me about their favourite subjects and why they couldn’t wait for term to begin again: they consider themselves very lucky to go to school as education is not available to all children in Nepal.  The orphanage is locally-run and fundraising is an on-going challenge. So I decided to donate the prize money to go towards school fees as I know this will have a small but very positive immediate effect.  It would be amazing to come up with a more sustainable way to support education for children in Nepal and if you are reading this and thinking ‘I’d love to donate some money or time’, then please email me directly and I’d be really happy to tell you more.
But maybe there is another way to make a difference to education in countries like Nepal: via e-learning. The electricity in Nepal is unreliable and the orphanage I visited didn’t have a computer but one thing that they do have is mobile phones! For me mobile learning is an exciting opportunity with new potential to widen access to learning.

Clare Hardman
Student Experience Project Coordinator

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