Associate Prof. Wanjira Kinuthia

Learning Design for Personal Learning Environments: Engaging Emerging Technologies to Transform Online and Blended Instruction in African Higher Education

The demand for higher education in Africa does not always align with resources, and institutions are forced to find creative ways cater to a growing student population while maintaining effective teaching, learning, and research (Lwoga, 2012). Many institutions are increasingly considering new media to address the barriers. In turn, emerging online and blended learning spaces introduce considerations for how to engage learners. By design and by default, this encourages self-directed and informal learning, which consequently calls for learning designs that takes into consideration Personal Learning Environments (PLEs). Within social learning processes communication and interaction are crucial factors in educational paradigms and PLEs are a potentially promising pedagogical approach. This is particularly true in situations where the use of social media and mobile learning is gradually being integrated into curricula design and delivery (Dabbagh & Kitsantas, 2012). While PLEs concepts are not new (Buchem, Attwell, & Torres, 2011), conversations around this pedagogical framework are worth reexamining in relation to the use of new technologies. Further, it is important to meet the educational needs of an increasingly culturally diverse learners and also to prepare responsive educators who are capable of facilitating academic success (Gay, 1997). Considerations for PLEs in learning designs particularly as it relates to reliance on ICT, in contexts where higher education often has to play catch-up (Duffy, 2007; Selwyn, 2012) will be made. This discussion maintains awareness that while the growth of technology use in Africa has been among the highest globally, the spread has not been equal.


Wanjira Kinuthia is an associate professor of learning technologies at Georgia State University. Prior to that, she worked as an instructional designer in higher education and business and industry for several years.
Wanjira has a special interest in international and comparative education, with a focus on sociocultural perspectives of instructional design and technology. Her research focuses on educational technology in developing countries, looking at how information and communication technology (ICT) is infused into instructional setting.
Recent projects have included the role of Open Educational Resources (OER) and Mobile Technologies in bridging the digital and knowledge divide. She has edited several books and published articles based on her work in these areas.