Professor Noel Sam
Microbiology and Immunology Faculty, Kilimanjaro Christian Medical College
Professor Noel Sam is a faculty member of the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical College (KCMUCo). He has been a faculty member since the inception of the college in 1997. He is a professor of microbiology and immunology. He teaches year two doctor of medicine and year one BSc lab, nursing and physiotherapy students. Professor Sam utilizes Learning Management System (LMS) to enhance teaching and learning at KCMUCo. Here is a brief highlight of his experience with adapting LMS in his classroom teaching:
1. How often do you use LMS?
I use the LMS quite often because I find it an effective way to reach out to my students. It has been user friendly for me in delivering my lectures and teaching materials as well as assessing my students.
2. Describe the ease of use of the Learning Management System?
I am very comfortable with using the system. The process of uploading and downloading learning materials is straight forward and easy. In connection with examinations, the only itch is the process of examination upload that consumes a lot of time but after that the process continues smoothly.
3. You have used Learning Management System for almost three years, do you think it has added any value to your teaching?
It has added a significant value to my teaching. The system has quite a lot of features that help in my teaching. First, there has been a lot of improvement in sharing lecture materials and conducting lectures. I upload the lecture materials a week prior my lecture which gives enough time to students to access and study. During the lecture time, my students are already aware of the content allowing more time for discussion. The online assessment system has helped me quite a lot. First of all, it has simplified my work. I do not need to correct the papers anymore. They are automatically corrected. Secondly, I can assess the student’s performance in all the classes as well as my own performance in writing test questions. This helps me identify if the questions are valuable in connection with the set course objective and if the students understood questions or not. Third, the LMS has enabled me reach out to a big number of students at the same time. Personally, I use the LMS for not only medical students but also for BSc in physiotherapy, health laboratory sciences as well as nursing students.
4. Have you utilized LMS in the training on the use of basic laboratory techniques?
I have not used the LMS in the training of basic laboratory techniques because it is not my expert area. But I do know that laboratory techniques are very important especially for a subject like microbiology. The colleagues who are dealing with laboratory management I believe need to use the LMS for the teaching of lab techniques. I know we have a lot of information, which can be downloaded to support the students in understanding the topic better.
5. Instructor’s attitude toward Learning Management System -Compared to Traditional Ways. What is your experience of teaching before and after the adoption of the LMS?
Before the learning management system was introduced, we used to prepare the notes manually meaning that you would write them down either on the board on the transparencies then give them to the students. The students needed to copy everything you wrote down. Most of the lecture time was used to copy notes and not discuss. So the learning process was just pure preaching rather than teaching. As we continued, we reached a stage where we were using power point projectors and then give the students notes using flash drives and that helped a lot. Currently we do not need to worry about that because the LMS takes care of everything. Our work is just to upload the notes; students will receive them instantly and download them onto their portable devices. Lecture sessions are used to discuss the difficulties encountered when reading the notes.
6. System Reliability: What can you say about the reliability of the LMS?
In connection with lecture notes, it’s very reliable. Helps to minimize my time and allows me to do some other things such as research and administration. In connection with online examinations, I have used it for almost two years and I am very comfortable with the system. I have no problem with the LMS at the moment
7. Challenges: Have you experienced any challenges with using the LMS?
The challenge I’m facing is only one, and that is uploading the exam questions. We need to improve on how we upload the examinations because it takes quite a long time and time is not on our side.
8. Sustainability: Do you see yourself using the LMS beyond five years of MEPI Project?
Definitely, I am expecting to continue using the LMS beyond the 5 years of the MEPI project. I don’t think I will leave behind what I have learned and acquired. The infrastructure that has been in place during the MEPI program needs to be utilized beyond the five years of the project.
9. What steps have you taken as a faculty member to encourage other faculty members to use and sustain LMS?
As a founder member of this college, I have seen the college grow day by day. I have seen us moving from one type of teaching and learning to another. Initially we used chalk boards and text books, but currently we are using online books, lecture materials, teaching pictures, and utilizing online facilities that can help students learn a better than what we were using before. So I encouraged my colleagues to embrace the technology around us. I have also encouraged the administration to support MEPI in whatever way possible like the purchase of more computers. This will enable more students to have access to the LMS especially those with no personal computing devices and smoothen the online examinations process.
I am also encouraging my colleagues who teach more than one class that they use the LMS. It will cut down their time of teaching each class differently, they will be able to share the materials together as well as discuss at the same time throughout the university. The quality of teaching is also maintained from one class to the next.
I have also encouraged my fellow faculty members to communicate with LMS specialists so that they can learn more about how to use the LMS. There is a lot in our LMS that we have not yet harnessed
10. Do you have any good practice tips you wish to share?
I encourage faculty members first to have objectives of what they want to teach. Let those objectives be given to the students before hand. Then prepare the notes well in advance. I normally say “if you can upload your notes one week before you teach a topic then the students will have enough time to read before”. I also encourage my colleagues to prepare their questions as they finish teaching each topic or module. That will decrease the pressure during the end of the semester exam preparations as they will have a bank of questions ready.