A local e-learning startup, Big Brain Zimbabwe, recently released a DVD tutorial for Ordinary Level ZIMSEC Physical Geography to assist students in their preparations for the October/ November examinations.
The 90 minute video which is also available on YouTube covers ZIMSEC typical diagrams, examination hints & tips, topics in ZIMSEC Physical Geography, techniques for answering questions, geomorphology video tutorials as well as typical ZIMSEC questions.
DVDs for all Grade 7 and High School subjects are set for release in the short term. They are available to all public & private schools for free and are priced at $2 to registered members of Big Brain Zimbabwe and at $5 for unregistered members.
Big Brain Zimbabwe is an online learning platform which was designed as a community to help students and teachers find each other. Teachers are able to create and upload study material which students are able to access. The content includes typical exam questions as well as video and audio tutorials.
According to the team lead at Big Brain, Timothy Shava, they have been getting assistance from other educational organisations to create video and audio tutorials. In the recent production of the geography video for example, they received volcanic video tutorials from the National Geographic Channel.
Although the Big Brain Zimbabwe platform has managed to attract some significant student traffic, it hasn’t been able to fully expand its reach because of challenges to do with data bundles costs, something that is a significant hurdle because the Big Brain Zimbabwe platform runs on the Moodle open source platform which requires a lot of bandwidth.
The DVD release is meant to provide offline access to material, as well as a revenue stream for the startup and the content creators. These creators are experienced teachers, approached individually, who have had involvement in ZIMSEC content formulation.
One of Big Brain’s other workarounds has been the use of social media to maintain engagement with learners.
Through Facebook and various WhatsApp groups distributed according to subject and level, Big Brain Zimbabwe has created platforms for academic discussion and revision.
The Big Brain Zimbabwe Facebook page which is easily accessible to most mobile internet thanks to options like bundles and zero rated access, has been used as a rally point where students get to inbox requests to be placed in specific WhatsApp groups. It is in these groups (aided in growth by WhatsApp bundles) that students get to crowd source solutions for questions and discuss subject concepts.
Shava says that his team has been taking note of the feedback that has been received from users of the Big Brain platform and its material. As such they are in the process of refining and improving their product.