17 elearning in a small african university strathmore
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17 elearning in a small african university strathmore 17 elearning in a small african university strathmore Document Transcript

  • CASE STUDY<br />ELEARNING EXPERIENCE IN A SMALL AFRICAN UNIVERSITY<br />Tags: African Universities, Webometrics, Moodle, Kenya, Strathmore University <br />Abstract<br />Strathmore University, in Nairobi, Kenya, started its undergraduate degrees with a Bachelor of Business and Information Technology and a Bachelor in Commerce. From the beginning it tapped the skills of the Information Technology Department and sought the most cost effective way of enhancing the learning of the students. This was done through elearning. For this Moodle was chosen Power Point was also introduced and its used encouraged among the faculty. SU had two tasks, to entice lecturers to use both packages; and to entice students to also use them. The success of the strategy was surprising; Webometrics ranked it the top University in Africa outside Egypt and South Africa from 2007 to 2010 ( ADDIN EN.CITE <EndNote><Cite><RecNum>0</RecNum><Note>http://www.webometrics.info/top100_continent.asp?cont=africa</Note><DisplayText>http://www.webometrics.info/top100_continent.asp?cont=africa</DisplayText></Cite></EndNote>http://www.webometrics.info/top100_continent.asp?cont=africa). Last year the University started a Masters in Applied Philosophy and Ethics. Due to the constituency –professionals of any field who continue working-the university agreed to tried a mixed based program blending distant elearning with normal lectures in campus The paper gives the experiences of training of faculty and students in using Moodle and Power Point; the difficulties encountered the pedagogical advantages and disadvantages observed, and the current strategy being implemented.<br />Introduction/<br />In 2007 an university in East Africa hit the news; it was ranked highest university in Africa outside Egypt and South Africa by the Spanish CSIC ( ADDIN EN.CITE <EndNote><Cite><RecNum>0</RecNum><Note>Consejo Superior de InvestigacionesCientíficas</Note><DisplayText>Consejo Superior de InvestigacionesCientíficas</DisplayText></Cite></EndNote>Consejo Superior de InvestigacionesCientíficas). It maintained this position from 2007 to 2010. <br />This was surprising because Strathmore is a relatively small university, very young, and with few degrees on offer at that time.<br />This had immediate consequences. Many African universities took stock of what the founders of Webometrics intended “We intend to motivate both institutions and scholars to have a web presence that reflect accurately their activities. ( ADDIN EN.CITE <EndNote><Cite><RecNum>0</RecNum><Note>http://www.webometrics.info/</Note><DisplayText>http://www.webometrics.info/</DisplayText></Cite></EndNote>http://www.webometrics.info/)<br />Evidence of this is a staff paper at Makerere University which analyses its position in webometrics versus Strathmore and University of Cape Town being the oldest university in East Africa (established in 1922) in a staff paper (http://blogs.mak.ac.ug/staff/tag/webometrics/). <br />According to our research SU good ranking is due to the quality of SU website and the use of elearning. Here we are going to dwell only on the elearning component.<br />Figure 1, Webometrics comparative ranking East African Universities<br /> Background<br />Strathmore University<br />To appreciate Strathmore University’s use of IT for teaching and learning it is good to its history.<br />Strathmore University is one of the 14 Private Chartered Universities in Kenya. There are another 7 Public Chartered Universities and another 9 Private Universities that operate with a Letter of Interim authority from the Kenya Commission of Higher Education and two more are Certified (cfhttp://che.or.ke/status.html). These 32 universities with their constituent colleges (19 as at end of April 2011 serve the about 145,000 university students ( ADDIN EN.CITE <EndNote><Cite><RecNum>0</RecNum><Note>Data at the time the Handbook on Processes for Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Kenya, Commission of Higher Education, Nairobi 2008 was published.</Note><DisplayText>Data at the time the Handbook on Processes for Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Kenya, Commission of Higher Education, Nairobi 2008 was published.</DisplayText></Cite></EndNote>Data at the time the Handbook on Processes for Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Kenya, Commission of Higher Education, Nairobi 2008 was published.http://che.or.ke/status.html), 85% of which study in Public Universities. ( ADDIN EN.CITE <EndNote><Cite><RecNum>0</RecNum><Note>Data at the time the Handbook on Processes for Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Kenya, Commission of Higher Education, Nairobi 2008 was published.</Note><DisplayText>Data at the time the Handbook on Processes for Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Kenya, Commission of Higher Education, Nairobi 2008 was published.</DisplayText></Cite></EndNote>Data at the time the Handbook on Processes for Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Kenya, Commission of Higher Education, Nairobi 2008 was published.)<br />3313430239395Of the 21,750 undergraduate students in the 14 private universities Strathmore has only about 2,116 students (10% of the private universities, 1% of the total). This indicates that the University is small compared to national and private universities.<br />4438650337820Other indicators that SU is an emerging university are; a) the number of degrees offered at present b) type of degrees offered c) the recent granting of its charter d) its recurrent budget. (When the Commission of Higher Education in August 2002 granted SU the Letter of Interim Approval the University offered only 2 undergraduate degrees (Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com) and Bachelor of Business Information Technology (B.BIT). To date this number has grown to 10 cfhttp://www.strathmore.edu/aboutus.php?id=43&Course=0 )<br />
    • SU offers 10 undergraduate degrees, while the University of Nairobi offers 49, Kenyatta University 41; The Catholic University of East Africa 24. ( ADDIN EN.CITE <EndNote><Cite><RecNum>0</RecNum><Note> http://www.kenyaplex.com/discussionforum/1424-University-of-Nairobi-Degree-Courses.aspx </Note><DisplayText> http://www.kenyaplex.com/discussionforum/1424-University-of-Nairobi-Degree-Courses.aspx </DisplayText></Cite></EndNote> http://www.kenyaplex.com/discussionforum/1424-University-of-Nairobi-Degree-Courses.aspx ; ADDIN EN.CITE <EndNote><Cite><RecNum>0</RecNum><Note> http://www.ku.ac.ke/index.php/20112012-intake</Note><DisplayText> http://www.ku.ac.ke/index.php/20112012-intake</DisplayText></Cite></EndNote> http://www.ku.ac.ke/index.php/20112012-intake)
    • The degrees offered are mainly on business, economics, IT and accounting, that do not require expensive laboratories and consumables;
    • The University obtained its Charter in 2008, barely 3 years ago ADDIN EN.CITE <EndNote><Cite><RecNum>0</RecNum><Note>SU Nevertheless offered university degrees from 2002 when it go the Letter of Interim approval by the Commission of Higher Education.</Note><DisplayText>SU Nevertheless offered university degrees from 2002 when it go the Letter of Interim approval by the Commission of Higher Education.</DisplayText></Cite></EndNote>SU Nevertheless offered university degrees from 2002 when it go the Letter of Interim approval by the Commission of Higher Education.).
    • The 2009 audited report shows a recurrent expenditure of Shs 953 million, equivalent to USD 12.6 million at 75.8 the mean rate of CBK at Dec 2009.
    It also has a small land footprint. (42 acres) Situated in a low middle class income area on the South West of Nairobi (see map), separated from the Nairobi Hill by the famous railway line from Mombasa to Kampala which was the cause of Kenya’s existence ADDIN EN.CITE <EndNote><Cite><RecNum>0</RecNum><Note>A very readable paperback that narrates the history of the discovery of East Africa and the construction of the railway is “The Lunatic Express, An Entertainment in Imperialism”, by Charles Miller, MacMillan Publishing Company (January 1971) ISBN-10: 0025849409</Note><DisplayText>A very readable paperback that narrates the history of the discovery of East Africa and the construction of the railway is “The Lunatic Express, An Entertainment in Imperialism”, by Charles Miller, MacMillan Publishing Company (January 1971) ISBN-10: 0025849409</DisplayText></Cite></EndNote>A very readable paperback that narrates the history of the discovery of East Africa and the construction of the railway is “The Lunatic Express, An Entertainment in Imperialism”, by Charles Miller, MacMillan Publishing Company (January 1971) ISBN-10: 0025849409) and not far from one of the biggest slums in Africa were SU students do social work ( ADDIN EN.CITE <EndNote><Cite><RecNum>0</RecNum><Note>Informal Settlements and the Role of Infrastructure: The case of Kibera, KenyaSamuel O. Akatch, Silvester O. KasukuDiscovery and Innovation Vol 14, 1, 2002 ISSN: 1015-079X ; for a fast view check http://www.kibera.org.uk/Facts.html</Note><DisplayText>Informal Settlements and the Role of Infrastructure: The case of Kibera, KenyaSamuel O. Akatch, Silvester O. KasukuDiscovery and Innovation Vol 14, 1, 2002 ISSN: 1015-079X ; for a fast view check http://www.kibera.org.uk/Facts.html</DisplayText></Cite></EndNote>Informal Settlements and the Role of Infrastructure: The case of Kibera, KenyaSamuel O. Akatch, Silvester O. KasukuDiscovery and Innovation Vol 14, 1, 2002 ISSN: 1015-079X ; for a fast view check http://www.kibera.org.uk/Facts.html).<br />2872105297815The University started in a single building (Phase I; 10,000 sqm completed in 1993, when it was still a tertiary college), later expanded (Phase II, 12,000 sqm completed in 2,002 ), and now is in the process of duplicating its surface (Phase III, 22,000 to be completed in August) which makes a total of 44,000 sqm including the library, auditorium and three residences.<br />With this we can establish that Strathmore is a young emerging university.<br />Mission and Vision and its influence in IT and Elearning development<br />Mission: To provide all round quality education in an atmosphere of freedom and responsibility; excellence in teaching, research and scholarship; ethical and social development; and service to Society. Vision: To become a leading out-come driven entrepreneurial research university by translating our excellence into a major contribution to culture, economic well-being, and quality of life. ( ADDIN EN.CITE <EndNote><Cite><RecNum>0</RecNum><Note>http://www.strathmore.edu/aboutus.php?id=1</Note><DisplayText>http://www.strathmore.edu/aboutus.php?id=1</DisplayText></Cite></EndNote>http://www.strathmore.edu/aboutus.php?id=1) <br />SU involvement in IT is linked to its mission and vision. It is not possible nowadays to provide all round education without the fundamental tools for learning, self-development and communication which are computers and the internet. Quality education requires the most advance methodology and instruments. It is difficult to think, even in Africa, that excellence in teaching, research and scholarship can be achieved these days without an industrious use of electronic technology. “Excellence”, a word that appears both in the mission and the vision also requires state of the art instruments. Instruments alone are not sufficient the academia needs to e value research as a means to contribute “to culture, economic well-being and quality the quality of life”. Excellence in an educational institution has two components, the content and the methods. None can be neglected. None can be achieved in an excellent and effective way without the use of IT. Scholars have to be both, good researchers and good teachers and for this they need the right tools. IT at present offers the best of tools for any university in Africa. <br />SU, has an Academic Development Unit, which is in charge of ensuring that all lecturers have excellent teaching skills, and the most suitable means to transfer their knowledge to the students and a Research Service Office, which encourages all lectures to develop their academic status by organising interchange of scholars among universities, attendance to congresses and symposia and doing research.<br />In this paper we limit ourselves to the use of the electronic teaching technology in the University, which we believe is somehow at the forefront of promoting this technology in East Africa, in spite of its meagre size and resources.<br />The origin of IT in Strathmore University<br />The introduction of IT in Strathmore was very modest. In 1985 Dr. Joseph Sevilla, then a lecturer of in the School of Accountancy lecturing on Operations Research, Management Mathematics. He brought a Sinclair ZX Spectrum small computer from UK. It needed to be linked to the only TV available. Later the School of Accountancy managed to buy Kaypro computer taking advantage of a trip of the director to U SA. Later a second hand IBM computer from one of the foreign embassies in Nairobi. He a few short courses for students on Programming in Basic. These classes of computing attracted so much interest among the students that the School of Accountancy decided to start preparing students for IDPM a UK professional diploma in 1989, which later was discontinued when Strathmore started its own diploma DBIT and degree BBIT. Strathmore was the first institution in East Africa to offer this Diploma. Now it is widely offered by many institutions in East Africa. Strathmore is still offering it and it was the origin of the present Faculty of Information Technology. It was also the beginning of the training in IT to faculty members in electronic media.<br />Development of the different areas of IT <br />SU has an integrated approach to IT, which tries to combine all its possibilities and expose all its members (lectures, administration and students) to its benefits. This influences the lecturers’ and learners’ approach to elearning, seeing it as a tool more of their academic pursuits. At present the main IT areas are: E-management, E-communication, E-library, E-learning and E-teaching.<br />Rather than describing each in isolation we prefer to relate them as the students are exposed to them. Learning and teaching are the core activities of the university and their main target are the students.<br />The student’s experience<br />For many student’s the first contact with Strathmore University is done through the web site. Many of them have done research on the courses and universities they want to attend using cybercafés or the school or homes computers. Even if the internet penetration in Kenya is only (10% of the population; ADDIN EN.CITE <EndNote><Cite><RecNum>0</RecNum><Note>KE - 40,046,566 population (2010),3,995,500 Internet users as of Jun/10, 10.0% of the population, per ITU. 864,760 Facebook users on August 31/10, 2.2% penetration rate. </Note><DisplayText>KE - 40,046,566 population (2010),3,995,500 Internet users as of Jun/10, 10.0% of the population, per ITU. 864,760 Facebook users on August 31/10, 2.2% penetration rate. </DisplayText></Cite></EndNote>KE - 40,046,566 population (2010),3,995,500 Internet users as of Jun/10, 10.0% of the population, per ITU. 864,760 Facebook users on August 31/10, 2.2% penetration rate. ) , those applying for Strathmore are mainly urban dwellers, and have more connectivity. In Kenya the number of cybercafés is higher than in most neighbouring countries, especially after the Government stop considering IT and computers as a luxury item and started considering them a tool for development (now computers have zero rating excise duty since 2003 ADDIN EN.CITE <EndNote><Cite><RecNum>0</RecNum><Note> http://www.ciafrica.com/oindex/index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=article&amp;id=912:kenya-leads-african-peers-in-computer-literacy&amp;catid=23:publications&amp;Itemid=43</Note><DisplayText> http://www.ciafrica.com/oindex/index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=article&amp;id=912:kenya-leads-african-peers-in-computer-literacy&amp;catid=23:publications&amp;Itemid=43</DisplayText></Cite></EndNote> http://www.ciafrica.com/oindex/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=912:kenya-leads-african-peers-in-computer-literacy&catid=23:publications&Itemid=43).<br />The website is attractive, regularly updated and unsupectedly was honoured in Australiac( ADDIN EN.CITE <EndNote><Cite><RecNum>0</RecNum><Note>The University&apos;s website got an honourable mention in the 2010 Association of Commonwealth Universities Public Relations, Marketing and Communications awards announced last month in Melbourne, Australia http://www.strathmore.edu/News.php?NewsID=434</Note><DisplayText>The University&apos;s website got an honourable mention in the 2010 Association of Commonwealth Universities Public Relations, Marketing and Communications awards announced last month in Melbourne, Australia http://www.strathmore.edu/News.php?NewsID=434</DisplayText></Cite></EndNote>The University's website got an honourable mention in the 2010 Association of Commonwealth Universities Public Relations, Marketing and Communications awards announced last month in Melbourne, Australia http://www.strathmore.edu/News.php?NewsID=434). The University is using some of the Web.2 elements, which allow students and guests to comment on the news and articles posted (www.strathmore.edu). They can also follow events by subscribing to facebook, twitter, of google buzz and about another 160 web integrators, some of which are synchronously updated with the main web site.<br />On admission students are given their bar-coded ID card with their digital photograph and students’ details. The card allows them to access the university facilities. In the library students access the catalogues directly on computers. The books borrowed are recorded in the system using the bar-coded ID cards. Reminders are automatically sent to the students and lecturers by email when books are about to be overdue. The IT department recently updated the system to allow both students and lecturers to access the electronic books, international periodical subscriptions and past exam banks from anywhere they have access to the internet. This was made possible by the use of the open source KOHA ILS ( ADDIN EN.CITE <EndNote><Cite><RecNum>0</RecNum><Note>http://www.koha.org/</Note><DisplayText>http://www.koha.org/</DisplayText></Cite></EndNote>http://www.koha.org/). Integrated Librarian System, which was adapted to the specific needs of the University and is continually being improved.<br />Students also benefit of the e-management systems put in place by the University IT department, for example when paying fees, obtaining credit, etc. they use the open source internally modified program KWALI which is the program to integrate all financial management.<br />Other areas of e-management include the kitchen and cafeteria, repairs and maintenance, bookshop, and transport each with their own e-management system which have been developed from open source code. The university tries, in as much as possible, to use and train students to use, open source programs in order to make them more resourceful, tailor the programs to the specific needs of the University and to make IT affordable.<br />All these systems are in a continuous process of maintenance, revision, development and open to innovation, for example just few days ago SU has set up a service by which all students can pay fees through their mobile phones using the Mpesa platform. ( ADDIN EN.CITE <EndNote><Cite><RecNum>0</RecNum><Note>http://www.strathmore.edu/News.php?NewsID=555</Note><DisplayText>http://www.strathmore.edu/News.php?NewsID=555</DisplayText></Cite></EndNote>http://www.strathmore.edu/News.php?NewsID=555)<br />To foster interaction and communication among students and between students and staff, each student has a personal email account, which allows him to communicate with colleagues, lecturers and administration using the internal email system. In order to facilitate communication and improve the collaborative aspects of electronic education the University is in the process of changing from an internal Exchange Server to Google Applications Gmail. This will facilitate chats, video conferencing, group work, and storing of documents. It is also in the process of integrating Moodle with Google Apps and with TurnIn platform.<br />Each student has also access to the AMS (Academic Management System) where they can see online their attendance and academic records. The core of this system was donated by the University of Navarre, and developed for the specific needs of the University by the IT department over a period of five years.<br />Students can pay for meals and photocopies in advance and use their credit electronically, thanks to the open source system also tailored to the specific needs by the IT department. At present the University is using 6 Kyocera TaskAlfa 420i KX linked to the intranet that can be used by all students, lecturers and administrative staff from the University computers or from their laptops, for all their scanning, faxing and printing needs.<br />Students are encouraged to bring their own laptops, especially those doing IT related courses. The University has 90% wifi access and gives internet connectivity to all students and staff via a optical cable through KENET (Kenya Education Network Trust; Kenya Education Network Trust (KENET) is a National Research and Education Network that promotes the use of ICT in Teaching, Learning and Research in Higher Education Institutions in Kenya. http://www.kenet.or.ke/)<br />So far we have spoken about the main e-management and e-communication, as background to the e-learning and e-teaching experiences.<br />E-learning<br />We can consider e-learning at three different levels a) as the total IT experience students have while at the University, and this includes all e-administration routines they are exposed to; b) in a more specific way as any electronic mean to assist in the learning and teaching formal setting of the lecture rooms and c) in a very restrictive way, as the specific learning management service LMS they use which in Strathmore case is the open sources Moodle.<br />E-life<br />In the broader meaning, the IT overall experience has already been mentioned as the exposure students have to e-management, e-communication and e-library system. <br />The University IT department is doing ample research and teaching on mobile applications and is in the process of starting a degree on Telecommunication. <br />An aspect of this applied research is the use of mobile phones by some students and a number of staff members as mini e-libraries where they carry the electronic version of the books they use more frequently. One of the lectures published a CD that makes 700 books available to the general public using the isilo e-reader format ( ADDIN EN.CITE <EndNote><Cite><RecNum>0</RecNum><Note>The CD is “Basic Electronic Library”. The program can be downloaded from www.isilo.com</Note><DisplayText>The CD is “Basic Electronic Library”. The program can be downloaded from www.isilo.com</DisplayText></Cite></EndNote>The CD is “Basic Electronic Library”. The program can be downloaded from www.isilo.com). Lectures can also publish their own notes or books in this format and make them available to the students. We know that, at least one lecturer has done this for his master’s students.<br />E-learning in the classroom<br />In a more restrictive way the University has tried to facilitate the use of Audiovisual Equipment (AV) and trained their staff to use it. Of the 26 classrooms and lecture theatres 24 are fitted with permanent electronic overhead projectors and one networked computer at the lecturer’s desk with UPS. Some classrooms have permanent speakers and there are portable speakers available for those who require them. There are also 8 computers laboratories where special classes take place, and that are available to students when not being used for classes. <br />Regarding e-teaching, all 246 full-time lecturer are provided with a desktop. Part time lecturers (about 176 ADDIN EN.CITE <EndNote><Cite><RecNum>0</RecNum><Note>Strathmore University Facts and Figures as at 3rd June 2011 http://www.strathmore.edu/aboutus.php?id=28</Note><DisplayText>Strathmore University Facts and Figures as at 3rd June 2011 http://www.strathmore.edu/aboutus.php?id=28</DisplayText></Cite></EndNote>Strathmore University Facts and Figures as at 3rd June 2011 http://www.strathmore.edu/aboutus.php?id=28) also have access to desktops in their places of work, though some have to share. This allows them easy and quick access to all e-library, internet resources and preparation of audiovisual material for their lectures and e-learning modules.<br />Special mention at this level is the increasing use of the overhead projectors for Power Point presentations, which has practically taken over the use of TV (all but one TV have been removed from the classrooms and meeting rooms), of transparencies (the last lecture using them has transferred them to e-slides this year) and in some cases of the blackboards. The program used is mainly Power Point because the University has licences for all lecturers’ computers for the latest version of Windows and Microsoft Office. Some few use Linux, but mainly for IT related activities, and only two, so far use Apple computers or programs, mainly because of licences compatibility and cost.<br />LMS Moodle<br />To maximise the interaction between lecturers and students; to allow students and lecturers to access the learning materials at any time and from any place SU decided to incorporate a LMS Learning Management System to its site. For this since 1990 ? SU introduced Moodle. SU chose an open source package for similar reasons than with the other IT systems <br />2902585-102870After testing it and seeing the benefits obtained, and with the intention of diminish the CO2 footprint and reduce printing expenses, SU suggested lecturers to distribute less printed notes and post the notes in the e-elearning system recently installed. <br />2762250408305SU was not aware of the impact this was going to have in the webometrics, which at that moment was totally unknown in Kenya. In fact it was a surprise for all and was discovered when a Newspapers published the first article comparing Kenyan Universities with the rest of Africa.<br />40132001141095The use of Moodle by the different SU academic units is based more on the type of course (IT lectures and students are more proficient and have more IT resources –laptops-) than on enrolment (Management and Commerce and the School of Accountancy have more students than IT). The School of Humanities and Social Sciences has courses that all undergraduate students have to take. So, in term of number of students served is the largest, though it is not in number of subjects offered (16, some of which are optional), while an average undergraduate course has about 24 subjects.<br />The ranking of the first 50 courses according to number of hits during the last 11 months confirms this as shown in the table below. <br />4846955827405260985118110At present lectures use it mainly as a resource store for the materials they use in class. 83% as compared to all other activities. It is interesting to see that among the activities the forums are the most popular 6%. This goes well with the original intention of Moodle based on social interaction pedagogy.<br />In the last eleven months Moodle registered 1,101,766 hits, which is equivalent to 245 hits per student (this number includes masters, phd, certificate, diploma and professional students).<br />3632835-502920In the table below the number of hits has been divided by the number of enrolled users to get and index which makes up for the difference in class numbers. <br />The perception of the students as per the unpublished paper of A.Kirigha, 2010 indicates that what the figures in the chart above show; at present most of the papers are lecturer’s notes which they seem not to take advantage of all the collaborative tools Moodle offers to foster communication among students or between students and their lecturer, and that they are not practical enough. ADDIN EN.CITE <EndNote><Cite><RecNum>0</RecNum><Note>“The response to the above research question received these noteworthy responses: 30 (61.2%) students agreed that e-learning encouraged teaching and learning; 31 (63.3%) students concurred e-learning helped to achieve course objectives, 26 (53.1%) disagreed that e-learning made knowledge more practical, with a further 21(42.9%) disputing that e-learning fostered interaction. This meant that the material being provided through e-learning was mainly theoretical (37 students, 75.5%).” A. Kirigha Kitawi The impact of e-learning strategy on student academic performance within Strathmore University, 2010. To be published.</Note><DisplayText>“The response to the above research question received these noteworthy responses: 30 (61.2%) students agreed that e-learning encouraged teaching and learning; 31 (63.3%) students concurred e-learning helped to achieve course objectives, 26 (53.1%) disagreed that e-learning made knowledge more practical, with a further 21(42.9%) disputing that e-learning fostered interaction. This meant that the material being provided through e-learning was mainly theoretical (37 students, 75.5%).” A. Kirigha Kitawi The impact of e-learning strategy on student academic performance within Strathmore University, 2010. To be published.</DisplayText></Cite></EndNote>“The response to the above research question received these noteworthy responses: 30 (61.2%) students agreed that e-learning encouraged teaching and learning; 31 (63.3%) students concurred e-learning helped to achieve course objectives, 26 (53.1%) disagreed that e-learning made knowledge more practical, with a further 21(42.9%) disputing that e-learning fostered interaction. This meant that the material being provided through e-learning was mainly theoretical (37 students, 75.5%).” A. Kirigha Kitawi The impact of e-learning strategy on student academic performance within Strathmore University, 2010. To be published.<br />E-teaching<br />None of SU lecturers had previous training in the use of Moodle, and most have little training in Power Point. SU has to train them and give them the necessary tools to achieve this. <br />Younger graduates, especially those graduating from SU or IT related courses from other universities are better prepared than older lecturers.<br />SU does not have a special unit to develop or train in elearning and eteaching. Even the Education department in its courses up to now makes little reference to computers. This maybe due to the small computer penetration in Kenya (see Introduction above) in spite of the recent Government efforts to spread computer literacy in schools and universities.<br />The SU Academic Development Unit (ADU) has spearheaded the training of lecturers. The main aim is to make their teaching active and student centred. ADU annually organises two courses for training new teachers, where the SU specific IT systems are explained. They are initiated to Moodle and encouraged to use it. The ADU sponsored some 8 lecturers to attend a special course on elearning in 2010 at the Kenya Institute of Distance Learning with the idea of each of them becoming a seed of change in his/her department. In 2011 the ADU organised a training session for all lecturers given by four of the trained people. The aim was to divide the lecturers in 4 groups and help them to develop their own style under the guidance of one other lecturer. Both initiatives have helped some of the lecturers but the many still find it difficult to use elearning as a regular teaching tool. For example in the last eleven months there were 89 active courses in Moodle out of more of 300 academic subjects. The ADU is still looking for ways of making the lecturers to a) use Moodle regularly b) use the most participatory tools in Moodle c) to use other IT tools for enhancing the learning experience. Some of the ADU have proposed to organise a compulsory certificate for lecturers that they have to complete as part of their initial training, and make it a requirement for promotion. <br />The Blended Master of Arts in Applied Philosophy and Ethics<br />In September 2010 the first blended course was offered. Students to the Master of Arts in Applied Philosophy and Ethics came for two weeks intensive lectures in three subjects. This master is for professional people, with at least two years working experience, and with responsibilities in decision making that may affect other people’s lives, like doctors, politicians, lawyers, journalist, clerics, managers, etc. During the induction they were also trained in the use of Moodle. The rest of the semester they went back to their places of work and from them, they studied the reference materials, did their research and assignments, did two continuous assessment tests and they came back to sit their final exams back to campus.<br />It is still early to compare the results of these system with the traditional classroom method of study for a similar master, but the experience of the first two semesters (the students are doing the third semester now) is very positive. <br />Students are benefiting of materials that otherwise will be difficult for them to find, they can pace their own studies, they can access the library resources from any place, and they can interact with the lecturers in person at the beginning of the semester and then by the elearning platform or email during the rest of the semester. <br />The difficulties they have faced are mainly technical, the connectivity both on their side and on the university server has problems from time to time, which makes them miss some assignments or lose them in cyberspace. SU is trying to replicate the elearning site abroad, to minimise the time down, and the country is in the process of making internet connectivity a backbone of development. <br />Conclusions<br />SU being an emerging university, nevertheless seems to be one of the institutions that is spearheading the use of IT technology in all areas of its activity (e-management, e-learning, e-teaching, e-library and e-communication) through the IT faculty, ADU and Research Office unit. <br />SU due to its mission and vision tries to be at the forefront of research in education technology and content within its limitations.<br />SU fosters IT development and tries to use open source IT services that allows it to adapt the technology to its specific needs and possibilities.<br />SU has not yet establish a department of IT and Education, but it’s trying to promote the use of IT among staff and students and giving the necessary training ad hoc. This is one of the most immediate challenges, to enthuse lecturers in the use of the most effective IT systems for their tasks.<br />SU at present, its perceived, as one of the leading universities in IT in East Africa, thanks to the investment in IT.<br />…<br />