How can we ensure our group will actually want to use the ePlatform?
We know we have the skills to develop a great platform with Moodle without too much difficulty.
We also know that we have the knowledge and experience required to curate and create engaging content with video, audio, text etc.
From our discussionswith people in relevant government ministries and tech companies, we are confident that a growing number of people are quickly getting access to the internet and the devices needed to participate in technology-assisted learning.
From our many conversations with many organizations working directly with health workers, we know there is an appetite for using technology for positive change, but…
Will people be as excited as we are about the ePlatform?
The honest answer is that we don’t know.
This, ironically, could be one of our greatest strengths, and in fact, is very much in line with our socio-constructivist philosophy.
We are preparing as thoroughly as we can, identifying as many potential opportunities and obstacles as we can, and incorporating our learning to the design of the ePlatform – but more importantly, our plan is basically to invite our users to pick up the task of co-creating with us, an e-Platform that will be of value to them.
A platform that is easy to use
One of the first challenges is to make sure the ePlatform is perceived as easy to use – that our users believe that the use of the platform will require little effort. This is not easy, because we know that overall, there is a low level of digital literacy skills amongst our users. To address this, we are already developing courses to help people become familiar with the features of the ePlatform, and al
so establishing a network of ePlatform champions who will provide support to people who are new to mobile learning.
A platform that is perceived as useful…
Looking at the technology acceptance model (TAM) and the work of Davis (1989) and many others since, we learn that there is a strong link between a person’s intention to use a technology innovation and its perceived usefulness. Perceived usefulness is perhaps not surprisingly a stronger motivator than the perceived ease-of-use of the new technology. Our group must feel that the ePlatform supports them, not that it adds extra work to their load. This makes a lot of sense. How many people have had to do a course to learn how to use Facebook, for example? If people think something is useful, they will learn how to do it. In Tanzania, take a look at the uptake of USSD – this requires a level of skill – but because it is something perceived as having value, people have learnt the necessary coding skills to use it.
Communicating about the ePlatform
Furthermore, the value of the eplatform must be clearly communicated – as a place where health workers can access no-cost courses for the necessary CPD credits which they need to renew their license, a place to connect with other health workers to share challenges and successes, and feel part of a community that is learning to improve their performance and their lives.
Building flexibility into the design of the ePlatform
The design of the ePlatform must also allow for change, based on how our users experience the space, and how they want to use it – they need to have the opportunity to request the courses they want, the discussions they wish to table, the ways they would like to communicate with others whether it be through video, voice or written word.
And the secret to success
Computer self-efficacy is a belief in one’s capability to use the computer (Compeau & Higgins, 1995). It relates to the person’s belief that they can engage and persist to accomplish a task on the computer. All models of technology acceptance agree that computer self-efficacy affects perceived ease of use, which in turns is strongly related to perceived usefulness.
We are developing strategies to address all of these aspects. Would anyone like to suggest specific measures that may help us as we move forward?