Application of E-Learning in Teaching, Learning and Research in East African Universities

Application of E-Learning in Teaching, Learning and Research in East African Universities

Michael Walimbwa (Makerere University, Uganda)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-909-5.ch019

Abstract

The challenges of an increasingly borderless world, as seen in the advancements in information technology, have brought reform in universities and re-conceptualized what constitutes learning, teaching, and research. E-learning is often implemented as a response to increasing educational demand and an increasingly networked community. E-learning is considered as an interactive means to provide an alternative environment that stimulates practical learning and equips learners with the skills to manage technological change and innovations. This chapter evaluates the initial phase of e-learning, the importance of a rightful attitude, context, and instructional design in digital learning environments in Makerere University, Uganda, University of Nairobi, Kenya and University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The increase in enrollment in these universities brings in many challenges in service provision, negatively affecting instruction, learning, assessment and research services. A crisis-solving approach is presented as stimulating a creative context for the meaningful introduction of e-learning. It is also discussed whether the environment created so far through computer-mediated learning motivates institutions to integrate e-learning further. The sample involved instructors and learners from three universities in three different countries of Eastern Africa. Findings conclude that an e-learning environment must be introduced by creating relevant awareness to change attitude and empower users with an authentic approach without too much technological complexity. Review of curriculum, assessment and training around e-learning environments are also imperative as these interrelated factors form part of the e-learning process.
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Setting The Stage

Computers, multimedia (mm), interactive databanks and communication platforms in e-learning stirs expectation of the potential of ICT in education. Institutions of learning embarked on connections to the internet, formulation of ICT policy master plans and acquisition of learning management systems (LMS) sometimes called learning platforms. Meanwhile, there was demarcation of e-learning centers and intensive set up of other appropriate facilities for e-learning. It was felt that ICT in education have the potential to increase not only the effectiveness of the educational process but also its overall efficiency whether in terms of classroom activities or administration (Omwenga, 2003). Jonassen (2001) asserts that e-learning conforms to constructivism- a teaching and learning paradigm that allows one to learn what they want, at their own pace and to construct knowledge in a social environment. Jonassen describes a constructivist-learning situation as:

  • Active: where students are able to meaningfully process their own information into valuable personal and social knowledge.

  • Cumulative: where new learning bases and builds on prior learning; why personal experiences are a good basis for instruction.

  • Integrative: where learners elaborate on new knowledge and inter relate it with their current knowledge, just to suit the knowledge into prior knowledge.

  • Reflective: where learners consciously reflect on what they know and need to learn. This is a basis for transfer of learning and situational or practical learning.

  • Goal directed and intentional: where learners subscribe to goals of learning; enabling focus on ideas that fascinate learners most.

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