Digital learning in developing countries

General remarks

The following concept was developed for a specific context and audience. Specifically, it is intended to provide a framework for learning in the following context:

  • Students with an academic background between EQF 5-7.
  • Shaky internet connection with low bandwidths and frequent disconnections.
  • High penetration of smartphones, but fewer desktop and laptop workstations
  • High demand for virtual and asynchronous interaction due to Covid-19 and distributed learning teams.

Template for learning units

To facilitate solution-based learning, self-paced learning materials meet the following requirements:

  • Quick orientation to the content and possible outcomes after interacting with the material,
  • initial processing in a manageable time frame (approx. 30 minutes)
  • action-oriented, to allow concrete testing of a method or solution directly in one's own context.

The flashcard format was developed specifically for this purpose. The learning cards are sorted according to problems that arise when carrying out a specific learning step (e.g. creating a project plan in a course on project management) and provide a quick overview of the relevant challenges and competencies to be acquired. Each learning unit includes a send-in assignment that allows learners to apply the new knowledge directly. The submission task should also have acceptance criteria that allow a subject matter expert to make a decision on the quality of the solution after completion and thus provide constructive feedback to the learner. The actual content, examples, and inputs are designed to help the learner apply the transfer task to his or her own context and are usually short, as application-oriented as possible, and refer to curated further information and methods. All inputs include at least one exemplary exercise to illustrate the learning.

Examples of such learning units can be found here

Didactic approach

The theme of the learning units can be described as "Mobile - Offline - Asynchronous". All content and didactic elements are optimized for distribution in an environment where Internet access is scarce and the primary digital device is a smartphone.

Therefore, content, exercises, and examples must be optimized for reading on a small device or printed on physical paper. At worst, students must be able to complete the exercises with a piece of paper and a pen. Accordingly, delivery formats must also be designed to be completed in a low-tech offline environment. All online and interactive elements must be understood as supplemental and should not be the focus of understanding the content.

When possible, online and interactive tools should be chosen to facilitate and simplify the learning process for students. For example, the ability to record and send their own answers in a voice message directly in the learning unit can allow students to complete a lesson directly on their smartphone.

An example of a learning unit that meets these principles can be found here.

Didactic Elements

Examples of the possible didactic elements can be found here.

A Word template and author's guide are provided for authors to create new learning units.


Online Interactive

All learning units will have a fully interactive online unit where the full range of didactic elements used in the unit can be used. Streaming video and integration of other online tools and templates is possible. This online unit is optimized for viewing on a smartphone or small tablet.

Offline interactive

Students are provided with an app to view and work through the interactive units on their smartphone, laptop, or tablet. These offline units use the interactive tools and also provide access to embedded video or audio files. Streaming online content or linking to other online tools is not available.

Printed version

Students can also download a print version of the learning unit. In this learning unit all texts, images, tables and diagrams are available, but no interactive tools can be used. Therefore, all exercises and delivery formats must be optimized for an analog offline format (see Didactic Approach).