e-learning @ the University of Mauritius - The case of the VCILT
e-Learning @ University of Mauritius (UoM)Case of the Virtual Centre for Innovative Learning Technologies (VCILT) http://vcampus.uom.ac.mu http://vcilt.blogspot.com Santally Mohammad Issack Officer-in-Charge email@example.com
Menu of the talkDistance Education Concept in MauritiusFrom DE concept to e-learning: the VCILTEducational Philosophy of the VCILTThe three axes: Content, Pedagogy and TechnologyProjects, Achievements and Related Issues
‘Distance’ Education at the UniversityReport from Lord Young and Sir John Daniel 1988/1989 Recommendation “University of Mauritius has the opportunity to expand its curriculum rapidly by the use of Distance Education Courses” Outcome The Centre for Distance Learning was established in 1993 at the University of Mauritius
‘Distance’ Education at the University Initial Strategy (1993-2003) (1993-Take on-campus courses with large cohorts and convert them into self-learning mode • Enrolment on traditional university course is necessary • Instead of 45-hr lecture, 15 hours of face-to-face contact 45- face-to- focusing on tutorials supported by print course manuals • 10 years without any programme fully on ‘’DE’’ mode
‘Distance’ Education at the University Questions Is it Distance Education? Is it expanding the curriculum? Is it increasing access?Not Really – Instead it provides flexibility and convenience in the learning process of on-campus learners to some extent Highly competitive to secure a place at the University
Paradigm shift in University Education: the need to focus on the outcomes (needs) rather than meansThe need to enhance teaching and learningThe need to tap on potential of new educational technologiesAdhering to Government vision - increasing access to tertiary education - building a knowledge society - dissemination of quality education - promoting lifelong learning through a flexible education system system Education is education – it cannot be distant but the means to achieve educational purpose may differ
Virtual Centre for Innovative Learning Technologies 2001 - 2011 Promote innovative teaching and learning practices through the use of technologiesExperiment with new educational delivery systemsEstablish a partnership with the academic staff to help them meet teaching andlearning requirements which attains user satisfactionIncrease access to university education through innovative modes of delivery
VCILT- early operational issuesHuman resourcesLack of qualified personnel in instructional design, educational technology,multimedia developmentNo clear pre-defined structure in terms of HR for the centreStarted with a few trainees and temporary research assistantsHired people with right skills but mismatched job descriptions
VCILT- early operational issuesPolicy and IncentivesNo predefined policy on how e-learning would be integrated in the Universitysystem What would be the right incentives to involve academics in the integration of technology in their courses? The confusion was whether to have online courses or to have multimedia aids for teaching and learning
VCILT- early operational issuesAhead of its timeInternet access and penetration very limited Students access courses in computer labs No funding for heavy upfront investment in technology infrastructure
Blended Learning ConceptMixed mode and web-enhanced teaching (2002-2003) web- (2002-Demarcates from the fully online course concept Academics are given online space to share course materials with students and to engage in online discussions Financial Incentives proposed
First ProjectsThe Mass Computer Proficiency Programme (2002)Aim is to make Mauritius become a cyber island by providingtraining to citizens on ICT on a very minimal fee VCILT involved in developing the content and train-the-trainers Learning-by-doing Concept First online Test Centre developed for exams for the CPP
First Projects The i-Learn Platform VCILT hired a manager Learning Technologies in 2003 The IT team embarked on a costly project to develop an in-house learning platform Project abandoned after 3 years due to the rapid growth and population of open-source learning platforms like MOODLEA clear example where ICT tends to (erroneously) drive business strategies!!!
The Interactive DVD on History and Geography (2003) CD is lying in filing cabinets of our primary schools
Lifelong Learning Cluster (2004-) Aim LLC synergy will entail that could eventually sustain the University in its development path VCILT CPDL CITSCurriculum Development Research ConsultancyA shift in focus (from a policy perspective) from DE to innovative andalternative modes of delivery to promote lifelong learning
Curriculum Development and Pedagogy Content-based ApproachThe classical approach : e-book equivalentFits well with content management systemsFollows a tell and ask approachSupported by basic communication tools, learning management tools etcMaps well on traditional approaches to (distance) learning
Curriculum Development and Pedagogy Activity-based Approach
Curriculum Development and Pedagogy Why Activity-based approach? Inspired from Daniel Schneider (2003)
Curriculum Development and Pedagogy Why Activity-based approach? Inspired from Daniel Schneider (2003)
Curriculum Development and Pedagogy A sample Learning Activity Intialisation Closing Phase Create a new learning(Activity Scope C C (Evaluation of activity Definition) learning) C C C Planning Phase Monitoring & (Work Breakdown Control Phase Structure) Execution Phase (Manage the (Achieve the activity) projected outcome)
Curriculum Development and Pedagogy A sample Learning Activity
Curriculum Development and Pedagogy Inspired from Daniel Schneider (2003)
Best Practices using Activity-based ApproachesDefine outcomes and competencies (expected) beforehand Learners like to know about the big picture
Best Practices using Activity-based ApproachesHave a reasonable outcomes list and number of learning activities Students get overloaded, panicked and frustrated Difficult to manage – quality issues as timely feedback might not be available Support of instructional designer and experience of the teacher is important
Best Practices using Activity-based ApproachesAlways have opening and closing activities for a course Setting the context Getting important feedback on student’s learning and their perception of the learning environment
Best Practices using Activity-based ApproachesProvide a reasonable time-span for completion of learning activities time- Experience and previous feedback play important role in the accurate estimation of effort and time Learning Designers need to take into account that students might be engaged in other parallel learning activities
Best Practices using Activity-based ApproachesProvide learners with examples of what is expected from them Worked out examples and sample of previous work is very helpful Minimizes confusion and boosts student self-confidence
Best Practices using Activity-based ApproachesUse technologies wisely – do not overly focus on them It is not necessary for students to build a concept-map for every lesson! If students can meet, do not force them to use Skype
Best Practices using Activity-based ApproachesAllow students to give honest and constructive feedback on theirlearning experiences The need to realise that students are the main stakeholders in the process Feedback should not be anonymous as it kills objectivity of the process Learners feel valued to know they count!
Constructive DisruptionQuality assurance processes have to be altered Traditional QA forms and stereotype questions do not apply The ‘classroom’ is not a centralised physical location but a virtual and distributed location in cyberspaceEducational Processes and Learning Support Processes Assessment methods differ Online learner support, tutorial activities Need for flexibility
Content – Open Educational ResourcesSIDECAP - Transnational EDULINK funded project– 32 months duration since June 2008OU UK, UOM, UWI, USP and UHI (Lews CastleCollege)Research Focus on OERs and Capacity Buildingof Staff for Educational Innovations using ICT
Content – Open Educational Resources Repurposing OERs for Courses in Mainstream Educational Programmes
Content – Open Educational Resources Content from OpenLearn, UK Imported and restored on Local Platform
Content – Open Educational Resources Interactive Video Lectures HTML Content Value Addition in terms of pedagogical design to imported OERs
Content – Open Educational ResourcesOER in Courseware design: • as building blocks of new courses • as supplementary and complementary materials to existing courses • as ready-made courses that are imported in the local e- learning platform
The Case• Low Budget• Limited Resources• Have to Increase Intake Why should I? I can’t• Have to Give More Access• Generate Revenue!! € 4,000 Yes We Can!! Be Wise – Sustain it!
From Prototype to Scale Student Population (2010)~ > 200 (2008) ~ >15
MOODLE Development ProjectsPersonalisation Module Allows learning objects to be customized depending on learner preferences Proposes the most appropriate learning path for the learner based on his/her profile
MOODLE Development ProjectsE-Portfolio Module Existing e-Portfolio module of MOODLE was a failure – pedagogy, usability and functionality Currently reworking on requirements for a completely new e- portfolio system that can be applied for the student population in general
e-learning (rapid) technologies Cartoon-based educational material
Research in Interactive Pedagogical MultimediaEffects of split-attention elements in multimedia learningenvironments on students’ learning experiences and learningoutcomesOutcomes of using multimedia learning environments withprimary school kids suffering from ADHD (attention andhyperactivity)Design elements of interactive pedagogical multimedia for mobiledevices
Major ProjectsSideCAP ProjectSADC ODL KMS ProjectE-Learning Platform Deployment for COMESACourseware Digitization for Dubai e-UniversityICOOL Series The Learning Conference 2011
Local Context IssuesIn early days of operation – unflinching management supportChange in Top Management – same vision of University butdifferent prioritiesDecision making (poor) and leadership styles can be problematic – academicinstitutions need leaders and not administratorsE-Learning, ICT in Education, Educational Technology and Teaching andLearning enhancement are not currently the operational prioritiesTurf-war issues and mindset (lack of open-mindedness) is a big problemNo clear educational policy that promotes innovation and creativity
StrategiesThe Lifelong Learning Cluster Concept was instrumental in thesurvival of the centre.Alternative modes of funding – from research projects toconsultancy assignments.Focusing on international recognition – no one is prophet in his countryEmbarking on formal teacher training programmesRelying a bit on luck by chance!
The futureTrying to create a critical pool of ‘change agents’ to bring aboutthe needed mindset changeThe Open University of Mauritius – supposedly be a scaled upmodel of the VCILTThe need for a specific educational policy on making e-learning integrated to a mainstream educational modelRevisiting the concept of Quality Assurance which currentlylinks to rules and regulations
ConclusionICT should be seen as an enabler to improve existingprocesses and/or to create innovative ones – an not an end initselfEducational Research should focus on pedagogies and the roleof (accessible) technologies to facilitate or support thesepedagogiesUniversity Policies should be needs-driven and outcomes-basedUniversities of the 21st Century should be driven by leadersand visionaries rather than administrators and managers
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