eLearning at the University of Zambia, School of Medicine (SoM)
Celine Maluma Mwafulilwa
Medical librarian, School of Medicine
eLearning Focal Personnel:
Dr. Changwe Mashilipa, Moodle Coordinating Specialist
Dr. Moses Simuyemba, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist
Mrs. Celine Maluma Mwafulilwa, Medical librarian/Moodle specialist
Mr. Taslim Mukabe, ICT specialist (MEPI)
What solutions to e learning were implemented?
The e learning program in the SOM has been in existence in the past four (4) years. The School realized that in the four years of e learning (Moodle) existence, not much has been achieved. In order to attain the e learning Mission, vision and goals of the school a number of solutions were carefully thought of and implemented as follows: The introduction of cascading training session for both faculty and students. This is an on going program. When the first solution did not yield the much needed results, the second solution that was implemented was that the three (3) focal MOODLE personnel in the SoM are now creators or are now responsible for uploading all newly senate approved SoM courses in Moodle on behalf of the teaching staff.
Why it was decided to implement the solutions:
It became necessary to implement the solutions because of the perceived poor faculty attitude towards e learning; faculty lack of competence and some students lacking ict competence in Moodle. Another factor that led to the introduction of the second solution was the lack of adaptation to change in teaching methods by school and lecturers. Most of all, the reluctance to accept e learning meant that staff might find themselves irrelevant due to e learning. Which could not be the case, as lecturers would be required to create and upload the much needed teaching materials for the student’s access. The only problem is that there would probably be less face to face student/ lecturer relationship instead of the intended blended learning the school wishes to encourage.
Basically the ICT capacity building also required great attention. There was limited bandwidth in the SoM. The school needed better and faster intranet or internet connectivity. The weak maintenance of the ICT equipment was another hindrance to the e learning program. Just like the lack of proper maintenance of ICT equipment and technological obsolescence seemed to slow down the progress of e learning in the school of medicine.
How was it done?
The School conducted Moodle training for Heads of Departments and Course Coordinators. The training had a total of twenty-four (24) participants and the following areas were covered: Introduction to e learning/ and Moodle egranary; how to plan an e learning course; creating course in Moodle; planning and writing a unit of e learning; uploading and managing content in e learning; registering/enrolling and assigning roles on e learning; principles of assessment and grading students in e learning; managing tutorials and chartrooms and many more.
Thirty-two (32) student Class representatives were also trained. Their role was to collect and upload lecture materials for courses already created in Moodle by the course creators. Their other role was to teach their fellow students they represented how to create own accounts and access the teaching materials.
In the pictures above the Librarian (Celine) is demonstrating to students in the computer lab how to create their accounts in e learning plat form.
Students were given privilege rights of creating their own e learning accounts; Students given the privilege to enroll themselves to the courses they needed to access. The librarian who is also a Moodle focal personnel and easily available in the medical library will provide the pin and any other assistant needed by the student to access their teaching materials and in conjunction with the Moodle focal personnel to be responsible for uploading on the e learning platform all teaching materials in the School of Medicine (SoM).
CHALLENGES: To convince faculty staff to make time for e learning lessons has always been a challenge. They are always very busy in clinics with students, supervising PG students, teaching, setting and marking exam scripts etc. The most senior professors would rather be taught in their individual offices one one to one basis. They are too busy to come to the Board room for an e learning session. Another challenge is the amount of work to be done in the school is so huge, the courses load is enormous. But the students are always eager to be taught how to use the e learning plat form. The challenge is to get them in big groups than teaching them individually. Often times they are busy with clinics in the mornings CBEs (Community Based Education); labs etc.
SOLUTIONS: Course Coordinators are collaborating with the Focal personnel and the teaching staff. Faculty members who have not received e learning training are demanding to be taught the 21st century teaching skills. The RESULTS are already beginning to show. All the SOM courses are appear in the Moodle, some lecturers are sending their teaching materials to be uploaded by the Focal Personnel i.e. (Dr. Changwe Mashilipa - School of Medicine Moodle Coordinator Specialist; Dr. Moses Simuyemba-Monitoring and Evaluation Specialis; Mrs. Celine Maluma Mwafulilwa Medical librarian/Moodle specialist and Mr. Taslim Mukabe (ICT specialist (MEPI).
KEY SUCCESSES: Students are now able to create own Moodle accounts and do self enrollment and access the courses of their choice which was not the case before. Furthermore, faculty staff are now appreciating the benefits of e learning. They have realised that instead of replacing them, e learning is strengthening their role in teaching and learning; e learning will definitely lessen their teaching workload and this will result in improved quality of teaching as well as increased flexibility. As for students, it widens their accessibility to their course materials as long as they follow the best practices in e learning. Through e learning, the school has realised that e learning is cost effective and that at the end of the day it will produce IT literate Healthy personnel!
The Internet problem has also since been solved as the school has been allocated more Internet bandwidth. The ICT department housed in the library carries out weekly hardware maintenance procedures. Finally, there is progress in e learning at the School of Medicine! Because things are beginning to happen!
NEXT STEPS: Implement the program of uploading teaching materials for all created SoM courses by the end of July that is before the beginning of the next academic year which starts September 2014. This simply means that by the beginning of next academic year all teaching materials will have been uploaded in e learning.