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E learning at the University of Mauritius - Case of the VCILT


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E learning at the University of Mauritius - Case of the VCILT

  1. 1. e-Learning @ University of Mauritius (UoM)<br />Case of the Virtual Centre for Innovative Learning Technologies (VCILT)<br /><br /><br />Santally Mohammad Issack<br />Officer-in-Charge<br /><br />
  2. 2. Menu of the talk<br />Distance Education Concept in Mauritius<br />From DE concept to e-learning: the VCILT<br />Educational Philosophy of the VCILT<br />The three axes: Content, Pedagogy and Technology<br />Projects, Achievements and Related Issues<br />
  3. 3. ‘Distance’ Education at the University<br />Report from Lord Young and Sir John Daniel 1988/1989<br />Recommendation<br />“University of Mauritius has the opportunity to expand its curriculum rapidly by the use of Distance Education Courses”<br />Outcome<br />The Centre for Distance Learning was established in 1993 at the University of Mauritius<br />
  4. 4. ‘Distance’ Education at the University<br />Initial Strategy (1993-2003)<br />Take on-campus courses with large cohorts and convert <br />them into self-learning mode<br /><ul><li>Enrolment on traditional university course is necessary
  5. 5. Instead of 45-hr lecture, 15 hours of face-to-face contact focusing on tutorials supported by print course manuals
  6. 6. 10 years without any programme fully on ‘’DE’’ mode</li></li></ul><li>‘Distance’ Education at the University<br />Questions<br />Is it Distance Education? <br />Is it expanding the curriculum? <br />Is it increasing access?<br />Not Really – Instead it provides flexibility and convenience in the learning <br />process of on-campus learners to some extent<br />Highly competitive to secure a place at the University<br />
  7. 7. Paradigm shift in University Education: the need to <br />focus on the outcomes (needs) rather than means<br />The need to enhance teaching and learning<br />The need to tap on potential of new educational technologies<br />Adhering to Government vision <br />- increasing access to tertiary education<br /> - building a knowledge society<br />- dissemination of quality education<br />- promoting lifelong learning through a flexible education system<br />Education is education – it cannot be distant but the means to achieve educational purpose may differ<br />
  8. 8. Promote innovative teaching and learning practices through the use of technologies <br />Virtual Centre for Innovative Learning Technologies<br /> Experiment with new educational delivery systems <br />2001 - 2011<br />Establish a partnership with the academic staff to help them meet teaching and <br />learning requirements which attains user satisfaction<br /> Increase access to university education through innovative modes of delivery<br />
  9. 9. VCILT- early operational issues<br />Human resources <br />Lack of qualified personnel in instructional design, educational technology,<br />multimedia development<br />No clear pre-defined structure in terms of HR for the centre<br />Started with a few trainees and temporary research assistants<br />Hired people with right skills but mismatched job descriptions<br />
  10. 10. VCILT- early operational issues<br />Policy and Incentives<br />No predefined policy on how e-learning would be integrated in the University<br />system<br />What would be the right incentives to involve academics in the integration<br />of technology in their courses?<br />The confusion was whether to have online courses or to have multimedia<br />aids for teaching and learning<br />
  11. 11. VCILT- early operational issues<br />Ahead of its time<br />Internet access and penetration very limited<br />Students access courses in computer labs<br />No funding for heavy upfront investment in technology infrastructure<br />
  12. 12. Blended Learning Concept<br />Mixed mode and web-enhanced teaching (2002-2003)<br />Demarcates from the fully online course concept<br />Academics are given online space to share course materials with students and to engage in online discussions<br />Financial Incentives proposed<br />
  13. 13. First Projects<br />The Mass Computer Proficiency Programme (2002)<br />Aim is to make Mauritius become a cyber island by providing training to citizens on ICT on a very minimal fee <br />VCILT involved in developing the content and train-the-trainers<br />Learning-by-doing Concept<br />First online Test Centre developed for exams for the CPP <br />
  14. 14. First Projects<br />The i-Learn Platform<br />VCILT hired a manager Learning Technologies in 2003<br />The IT team embarked on a costly project to develop an in-house learning platform<br />Project abandoned after 3 years due to the rapid growth and population of open-source learning platforms like MOODLE<br />A clear example where ICT tends to (erroneously) drive business strategies!!!<br />
  15. 15. The Interactive DVD on History and Geography (2003)<br />CD is lying in filing cabinets of our primary schools<br />
  16. 16. Lifelong Learning Cluster (2004-)<br />Aim<br />synergy will entail that could eventually sustain the University in its development path<br />LLC<br />VCILT<br />CPDL<br />CITS<br />Curriculum Development<br />Research<br />Consultancy<br />A shift in focus (from a policy perspective)from DE to innovative and<br /> alternative modes of delivery to promote lifelong learning<br />
  17. 17. Our Educational Philosophy<br />Technology<br />Authentic Learning<br />Learning <br />community<br />Competencies and Skills<br />Content<br />Pedagogy<br />
  18. 18. Curriculum Development and Pedagogy<br />Content-based Approach<br />The classicalapproach : e-book equivalent<br />Fitswellwith content management systems<br />Follows a tell and askapproach<br />Supported by basic communication tools, learningmanagement toolsetc<br />Mapswell on traditionalapproaches to (distance) learning<br />
  19. 19. Curriculum Development and Pedagogy<br />Activity-based Approach<br />
  20. 20. Curriculum Development and Pedagogy<br />Why Activity-based approach?<br />Inspired from Daniel Schneider (2003)<br />
  21. 21. Curriculum Development and Pedagogy<br />Why Activity-based approach?<br />Inspired from Daniel Schneider (2003)<br />
  22. 22. Curriculum Development and Pedagogy<br />A sample Learning Activity<br />
  23. 23. Curriculum Development and Pedagogy<br />A sample Learning Activity<br />
  24. 24. Curriculum Development and Pedagogy<br />Creativity and Innovation<br />Quality Assurance, Outcomes focus<br />Inspired from Daniel Schneider (2003)<br />
  25. 25. Best Practices using Activity-based Approaches<br />Define outcomes and competencies (expected) beforehand<br />Learners like to know about the big picture<br />
  26. 26. Best Practices using Activity-based Approaches<br />Have a reasonable outcomes list and number of learning activities<br />Students get overloaded, panicked and frustrated <br />Difficult to manage – quality issues as timely feedback might <br />not be available<br />Support of instructional designer and experience of the teacher<br />is important<br />
  27. 27. Best Practices using Activity-based Approaches<br />Always have opening and closing activities for a course<br />Setting the context<br />Getting important feedback on student’s learning and their perception<br />of the learning environment<br />
  28. 28. Best Practices using Activity-based Approaches<br />Provide a reasonable time-span for completion of learning activities<br />Experience and previous feedback play important role in the accurate<br />estimation of effort and time <br />Learning Designers need to take into account that students might be<br />engaged in other parallel learning activities<br />
  29. 29. Best Practices using Activity-based Approaches<br />Provide learners with examples of what is expected from them<br />Worked out examples and sample of previous work is very helpful<br />Minimizes confusion and boosts student self-confidence<br />
  30. 30. Best Practices using Activity-based Approaches<br />Use technologies wisely – do not overly focus on them<br />It is not necessary for students to build a concept-map for every lesson!<br />If students can meet, do not force them to use Skype<br />
  31. 31. Best Practices using Activity-based Approaches<br />Allow students to give honest and constructive feedback on their<br />learning experiences<br />The need to realise that students are the main stakeholders in the process<br />Feedback should not be anonymous as it kills objectivity of the <br />process<br />Learners feel valued to know they count!<br />
  32. 32. Constructive Disruption<br />Quality assurance processes have to be altered<br />Traditional QA forms and stereotype questions do not apply<br />The ‘classroom’ is not a centralised physical location but a virtual and<br />distributed location in cyberspace<br />Educational Processes and Learning Support Processes<br />Assessment methods differ<br />Online learner support, tutorial activities <br />Need for flexibility<br />
  33. 33. Content – Open Educational Resources<br />SIDECAP - Transnational EDULINK fundedproject – 32 monthsdurationsinceJune 2008<br />OU UK, UOM, UWI, USP and UHI (Lews Castle College)<br />Research Focus on OERs and Capacity Building of Staff for Educational Innovations using ICT<br />
  34. 34. Content – Open Educational Resources<br />RepurposingOERs for Courses in MainstreamEducational Programmes<br />
  35. 35. Content – Open Educational Resources<br />Content from OpenLearn, UK Imported and restored on Local Platform<br />
  36. 36. Content – Open Educational Resources<br />Repurposing == decontextualisation (optional) recompose  recontextualisation <br />
  37. 37. HTML Content<br />Interactive Video Lectures<br />Content – Open Educational Resources<br />Value Addition in terms of pedagogical design to imported OERs<br />
  38. 38. Content – Open Educational Resources<br />OER in Courseware design:<br /><ul><li>as building blocks of new courses
  39. 39. as supplementary and complementary materials to existing courses
  40. 40. as ready-made courses that are imported in the local e-learning platform</li></li></ul><li>The Case<br /><ul><li>Low Budget
  41. 41. Limited Resources
  42. 42. Have to IncreaseIntake
  43. 43. Have to Give More Access
  44. 44. Generate Revenue!! </li></ul>Why should I? I can’t<br />Do more withless!<br />€ 4,000<br />Yes We Can!!<br />Be Wise – Sustain it!<br />
  45. 45. Student Population <br />(2010)~ > 200<br />(2008) ~ >15<br />Diploma in Web and Multimedia<br />MSc Educational Technologies<br />BSc (Hons) Educational & Instructional Technology<br />From Prototype to Scale<br />
  46. 46. e-learning technologies<br />
  47. 47. MOODLE Development Projects<br />Personalisation Module<br />Allows learning objects to be customized depending on learner preferences<br />Proposes the most appropriate learning path for the learner based on his/her profile<br />
  48. 48. MOODLE Development Projects<br />E-Portfolio Module<br />Existing e-Portfolio module of MOODLE was a failure – pedagogy, usability and functionality<br />Currently reworking on requirements for a completely new e-portfolio system that can be applied for the student population in general<br />
  49. 49. e-learning (rapid) technologies <br />SCORM Compliant Multimedia Learning <br />
  50. 50. e-learning (rapid) technologies <br />Cartoon-based educational material<br />
  51. 51. Research in Interactive Pedagogical Multimedia<br />Effects of split-attention elements in multimedia learning environments on students’ learning experiences and learning outcomes<br />Outcomes of using multimedia learning environments with primary school kids suffering from ADHD (attention and hyperactivity) <br />Design elements of interactive pedagogical multimedia for mobile devices<br />
  52. 52. Major Projects <br />SideCAP Project<br />SADC ODL KMS Project<br />E-Learning Platform Deployment for COMESA<br />Courseware Digitization for Dubai e-University<br />ICOOL Series<br />The Learning Conference 2011<br />
  53. 53. Important Achievement<br />
  54. 54. Local Context Issues<br />In early days of operation – unflinching management support<br />Change in Top Management – same vision of University but different priorities<br />Decision making (poor) and leadership styles can be problematic – academic institutions need leaders and not administrators<br />E-Learning, ICT in Education, Educational Technology and Teaching and Learning enhancement are not currently the operational priorities <br />Turf-war issues and mindset (lack of open-mindedness) is a big problem<br />No clear educational policy that promotes innovation and creativity<br />
  55. 55. Strategies<br />The Lifelong Learning Cluster Concept was instrumental in the<br />survival of the centre.<br />Alternative modes of funding – from research projects to consultancy assignments.<br />Focusing on international recognition – no one is prophet in his country<br />Embarking on formal teacher training programmes<br />Relying a bit on luck by chance!<br />
  56. 56. The future<br />Trying to create a critical pool of ‘change agents’ to bring about<br />the needed mindset change <br />The Open University of Mauritius – supposedly be a scaled up model of the VCILT<br />The need for a specific educational policy on making e-learning integrated to a mainstream educational model<br />Revisiting the concept of Quality Assurance which currently links to rules and regulations<br />
  57. 57. Conclusion<br />ICT should be seen as an enabler to improve existing processes and/or to create innovative ones – an not an end in itself <br />Educational Research should focus on pedagogies and the role of (accessible) technologies to facilitate or support these pedagogies<br />University Policies should be needs-driven and outcomes-based<br />Universities of the 21st Century should be driven by leaders and visionaries rather than administrators and managers<br />