Alone Kimwise PhD MIS, MBA-IT, BSE
Educator and HOD Computing
At Kampala International University (KIU) blended e-learning approach has been partially adopted and is being strengthened with the use of face-to face classroom techniques and digital library. Digital library has been preferred by KIU since the Medical School has worked towards improving its Local Area Network and internet accessibility and availability to students, staff and researchers.
The digital library option has been found not requiring a strong internet connection or bandwidth and it can simply be accessed via computers and tablets on the university local area network as well as through other available intranet where students are able to access webcast, e-books, and publications from within and outside the university. The school of Medicine transformed one of the computer laboratories into an eLearning Lab with forty brand new desktop computers. This lab is intended to facilitate students to conduct research and also participate in local (with other local universities) and international Grand Rounds (with Johns Hopkins University).
In the above pictures, the grand round is going on with one of the medical student participating by asking questions.
Management of Kampala International University – Western Campus has formally recognized the importance of eLearning as one of the options available to support educational institutions in delivering learning materials. To backup their commitments, concentrated efforts are in progress to develop different management policies (i.e. development of an e-learning strategic plan) to cater for eLearning as one of the methods to support training of medical students. At KIU many students who gain admission to the University are not well conversant with the techniques and terminologies used in ICT and eLearning. Therefore, the institution is well aware of the ICT literacy level of these students, and training plans have been put in place to prepare the students to upgrade their ICT skills to cope up with the eLearning strategic plan of the institution. ELearning user support structure is being developed to support students in acquiring the necessary skills to use eLearning techniques and tools. IT helpdesk offices have been created to provide support for hardware and software issues related to eLearning.
Some of the challenges KIU is facing are that when it comes to field training (COBERM sites), operation costs are very difficult to anticipate because many of the health centers where students do their training have common problems of poor infrastructures (power failure, poor or no internet services, bad roads and others). Secondly, KIU faces a challenge with increasing the bandwidth in order to be able have live broad-casts using videoconferencing facility to reach a large number of learners and running of heavy folds in form of graphics, and images. A Storng financial base to support a strong e-learning staff support team.
The Way Foward
The KIU MEPI/MSEAU ICT team decided that by August, 2014, due to poor and limited internet accessibility, all web-cast recorded DVDs, PowerPoint presentations and pdf lecture materials will be accessed by medical students on the local hosted server connected to the university intranet via the local area network.