BY ARTHUR MATSIKO
In order to catch up with the advancement in technology, the Foundation Studies workbooks have gone online, according to the information obtained from the Foundation Studies Department (FSD) and the University ICT Services (UIS).
Speaking to The Standard , the FSD quality assurance representative John Vianey Ahumuza revealed that among the many intentions for this technological move is to make studying interactive since there will be many links to various study materials such as relevant video and audio clips, which are not available in hard copy.
“This move will also contribute to UCU’s rankings and visibility,” Ahumuza said. “The department considered this because sometimes suppliers delay to deliver (hard copy) books and this is an inconvenience to both teachers and learners. e-Learning will thus save time.”
He added that it will also reduce on the over Shs500 million spent on printing the books every academic year.
“The idea was hatched by the FSD and was later considered by the vice chancellor and the quality assurance directorate,” Ahumuza said.
How e-Learning works
The FSD will always ensure that soft copies of the nine student workbooks are availed to the University ICT Services (UIS) to be uploaded on the Internet.
The UIS already has a free authoring programme, called Xerte which has been embedded into Moodle. Moodle is the E-learning platform through which UCU faculty and students access e-Resources.
After the workbooks have been uploaded, students will access them by using the email addresses they registered with the UIS (access email@example.com. ac.ug plus the password). By logging onto Moodle, a student will be directed to Xerte where the workbooks are located.
Sarah Kiden, the head systems at the UIS told The Standard that this platform is more interactive and convenient thereby making learning easier.
“However, this system requires that an individual exercises self-discipline since there is no one to instruct you to get on to your device,” she said, adding that there is a lot of content on line which also requires selective exposure.
When The Standard visited the UIS on July 13, a technical team was already uploading a copy of Understanding the Old Testament.
“When it works, the university invests in it and users embrace it, then we shall move on just as other universities are embracing e-Learning,” Kiden said.
The UIS manager Grace Iga said that the major aim is to make resources more accessible to the students and faculty.
“We want to serve the students better than we are currently doing,” he said.
The UIS, FSD lauded
During a meeting to demonstrate how the project will work, the Vice Chancellor, Dr John Senyonyi, appreciated the UIS and FSD for the initiative, which will make education more cost effective.
“We have got to do it at the best standards to achieve excellence,” he said. “Let us not settle for mediocrity.”
Senyonyi called upon the staff to embrace the programme and asked the technical team to equip users with necessary skills and information that would make it usable to all.
“The only way you must understand something is by using it (because) without practice you achieve nothing,” he said. “We need to move fast and change our thinking. There is no looking back.”
The e-Learning manager, Dorothy Mukasa, said that they will work with staff and heads of department to sensitive staff on how to use the platform efficiently.
All the books are expected to have been uploaded by May 2017.