Makerere University’s Master Card Foundation Scholars eLearning Initiative introduced to CoVAB staff.
Staff at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB) have been introduced to the Master Card Foundation Scholars eLearning Initiative, during the onboarding meeting held at the college Friday 13th January 2023.
A team led by Prof. Paul Birevu Muyinda Head, Department of Open and Distance Learning, in the School of Distance and Lifelong Learning at Makerere University was at the Centre for Biosecurity and Global Health where they interacted with a number of staff drawn from a number of departments.
Prof. Paul Birevu Muyinda while giving the background to the project said the Master Card Foundation Scholars Program e- Learning initiative is a project of the University Council, supported by MasterCard Foundation and coordinated by the Institute of Distance and e –Learning. He highlighted the objectives of the project that include developing high quality and inclusive academic online content, inclusion of learner support services online content and enhancing access to and utilization of online content.
He said the it was designed to support the university recover from the effects of COVID-19 which greatly constrained access and continuity of teaching, learning, Research and community engagement activities. Although Master Card Foundation provided support for their scholars for continued learning, it was realized that they belonged to the wider university community, hence the extension of the support to the entire university.
Prof. Muyinda said the proposals were developed under the leadership of the Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Academic affairs, Dr. Umar Kakumba and that the Institute of open and distance learning was identified and tasked to come with viable interventions that were presented to Master Card Foundation for funding.
He further explained that the eLearning activities were not new to the university but were only strengthened during the COVID -19 interruptions that forced the university to embrace it more. He noted said a number of staff were already teaching and learning through Makerere University E-Learning Environment (MUELE) where statistics show that CoVAB as a College had a number of programs online.
As a matter of emphasis as to the importance of the initiative, Prof. Muyinda informed the meeting participants that the university has included online presence one of the parameters of assessment for academic staff in the performance appraisals.
The project will transform Two Thousand, Five Hundred Sixty Courses (2,560) into well instructionally formed e-courses and have them uploaded onto MUELE, taking into consideration the people with special needs. It will also develop well instructionally formed e-courses for wrap around learner support services that include psychosocial support, counselling and wellness as well as leadership development.
Dr. Mayende makes a presentation about sustainability
During the deliberations, it was revealed that a number of units in the college had already taken the initiative and sought support from IoDEL in identifying programs and all other schools were urged to follow suit, specifically targeting the graduate programs where issues of attendance were a concern. Each School was assigned a mentor to support the process.
He said through the Initiative, a number of issues were to be addressed and these included the low capacity to have truly blended programs, the need for capacity building for online pedagogy, e-content creation, enhancement of infrastructure as well as e learning ecosystem development.
While discussing the concern of sustainability of the initiative, Dr. Godfrey Mayende from the Institute of Open, Distance and E- Learning said the University was committed to have the activities fully embraced through policy and guidelines, the establishment of school level e- learning coordinators, continued training and mentorship of students and staff, strengthening the Institute of Open and Distance E- Learning and allocation of funds to e learning. He also urged the college management to ensure increased allocation of budget resources and commitment towards e- learning at that level.
A number of concerns were raised in the discussions including the need to have a mobile multi media center to cater for the unique needs of the teaching done at CoVAB that necessitated documenting some experiences a number of which are rare for purposes of using the material for future training.
Staff expressed concern that the staff and students were left to fend for themselves to find the needed resources like computers and Internet access, electivity and other gadgets necessary to have quality online content and deliverables as per the expectation of the university. It was proposed that the university provides logistical support to staff and students to facilitate the processes for instance having laptop banks.
The other issue of concern was the need to put in place measures to handle students that may want to sit for exams without paying university dues fully.
The issue of Intellectual Property was also raised as one of the fears among the staff where individual’s’ work was to be uploaded and the possibility of loss of employment since the materials, once well developed, can be used by any person.
During the meeting, the College champions in CoVAB were introduced to the staff and these included Dr. Tamale Andrew, Dr. Peninah Nsamba and Anita Ajambo, the e-learning support officer stationed at the College.
Dr. Samuel Oketch, makes his contribution
Dr. Rose Azuba, makes a submission
Dr. Nyakarahuka raises a concern about online examination administration
Prof. Waiswa shares the need to have mobile multimedia units
Staff actively participating