It is no longer deniable, the internet and electronic technology has penetrated every sector and field, including education.
It is, therefore, commendable that the education sector is alive to these realities so much that this year, we saw more initiative and innovations geared towards cultivating electronic/ E-learning at both primary and university levels by private and government players in the sector. Here are a few highlights in E- learning that transpired in 2018.
To better both teacher and learner experience in class, Kaino Africa, a smart school management tech company, this year launched their flagship product, the Kaino Tablet crafted for the Ugandan primary pupil.
This Education Technology (EdTech) tablet comes with curriculum aligned teacher guides that show the teacher lesson plans; how they are supposed to proceed with the class, what examples to give as well as time the lesson is supposed to start and end.
Video conferencing lessons
On the other hand, among advantages that urban schools have over rural schools is the access to the best teachers and learning resources. To bridge the gap, the government has this year piloted video-conferencing lessons in rural schools to allow students there benefit from teachers in urban institutions.
George William Nyombi Thembo, the director of Rural Communication Development Fund at the Uganda Communications Commission noted that, “We want to connect those big secondary schools such as Kisubi, Kings College Budo, Nabisunsa with rural schools to start teleconferencing this year so that they can share knowledge.
We want a situation where a good Mathematics teacher in St Mary’s College, Kisubi, is giving a lesson, and some 100 rural schools in Karamoja should be able to follow.”
Additionally, the Uganda National Association for the Deaf and the Swedish programme for ICT in developing regions developed a digital content platform for learning sign language this year.
This is expected to be piloted in schools for the deaf, including primary, secondary schools and higher institutions of learning and public places such as hospitals and police stations.
This will become a vital tool in alleviating communication with this minority group if and when fully implemented.
Integrating e-learning in university programmes
In appreciation of e-learning, a number of universities this year rolled out e-learning courses and plans to include e-learning in the services they offer.
Uganda Technology and Management University (UTAMU) introduced a fully online course where anybody can study from anywhere anytime without coming to the University.
Furthermore, Makerere University also announced intentions to implement e-learning under the new revived information and communications technology policy.
According to Dr Vincent Sembatya, the university quality assurance director, this is set to improve research since much information can be accessed using digital gadgets.
Gradually, universities are realising that learning should not be limited to physical space, but with the possibilities that the internet enables, it should be open and easily accessible.
Though this is not a new trend and universities around the world and in Uganda (like the Virtual University of Uganda) are already running such courses, its appreciation by different universities this year has been more pronounced.
Introducing the e-library
To further cultivate e-learning, ISBAT University in October launched its first e-library. Here students have access to books, journals, reports, articles or any other information over the internet for 24hours a day. The enrolled students can access the e-library at anytime from anywhere in the world through their laptop, tablet and mobile phone.
This is part of the paradigm shift in the concept of the present-day library.
Students will access over 10,000 books on information technology, 20,000 books in the business and commerce field and more than 15,000 books in engineering field and all the latest versions of reading materials available.
Around the continent, Prof Jude Lubega the deputy chancellor of UTAMU represented Uganda when he was recognised among the top 100 individuals in Africa fostering e-learning in the ‘African movers and shakers in corporate online learning’ in London in September.
In conclusion, there is still a lot of innovations in and around e-learning to be explored by players in the education sector. However, some of the issues that still stand are the rigid parent and student mentalities towards e-learning.
While speaking at the Virtual University of Uganda (VUU) stakeholder’s event at Serena Hotel, Patrick Mangeni, the chairman board of governors VUU, shared that e-learning still seems hard to some students and parents.
“I remember a parent coming to me and saying, “My child came and said you do not keep students at school and yet I want my son to be in class. I want him to stay there.’ So, I told the parent that here, you stay home and access education, so, that distance still feels very strange to some people, but that has started to change,” he said.