E-Learning Provides a New Facelift to Education Sector

Arthur W. Chickering, an American Researcher and Author once noted that “students do not learn much by just sitting in classes listening to teachers, memorizing prepackaged assignments, and spitting out answers. They must talk about what they are learning, write reflectively about it, relate it to past experiences, and apply it to their daily lives. They must make what they learn part of themselves.”

The adage still rings a bell, and e-Learning brings with it new dimensions in education with exciting and unique features. E-learning is the use of Internet technologies to enhance knowledge and performance. E-learning technologies offer learners control over content, learning sequence, pace of learning, time, and media, allowing them to tailor their experiences to meet their personal learning objectives. Uganda Technology and Management University (UTAMU), has decided to focus on the mission of driving the development agenda and is considered the top most institution in Uganda that full blends use of digital/technology in education.

0n 17th August 2016, UTAMU was recognized as the best institution in Uganda that uses digital infrastructure in transforming lives through education at the 2016 Digital Impact Awards Africa held at Kampala Serena Hotel. This achievement celebrated UTAMU’s archetypal provision and use of digital infrastructure in transforming lives, furthering digital inclusion, financial inclusion and cyber security over the past year.

Over the years, learning and teaching has transitioned from the traditional class room setting to learning on the move. Everywhere you go, everywhere you are, you can attain your dream qualification, knowledge and skills. Thanks to the digital revolution and smart gadgets boom that has triggered dramatic changes in how we access, consume, discuss and share content. UTAMU is the one university that prides in its excellent e-Learning and e-Library platform.

Books are seemingly boring, tasking and quite a long term process that requires one to have a dedicated mind. And what a better way to create an engaging and exciting learning experience than e-learning!

This study mode has attracted UTAMU many graduate students because they can be able to comfortably study without compromising their ability to meet the daily obligations in the work place. As you must notice, one does not have to fore go his/her duties to advance his/her career. In today’s dynamic business environment, we can’t shy away from the crucial need to attain new and better skills and acquire knowledge despite the busy work schedules.

 “ELearning or online learning or virtual learning has only been in existence since 1999 and since then, the traditional way of teaching and learning has experienced major changes, increasingly making the role of an instructor more optional than ever before.

With eLearning, students have the freedom to learn at their own convenience, at a pace that is right for them wherever they go. A student can read a book or access course content anytime anywhere. Elearning too has significantly reduced on the time away from the workplace by eliminating the need for travel making learning more flexible and enjoyable.

Technology has advanced so much that the geographical gap is bridged with the use of tools that make you feel as if you are inside the classroom.

The learning process steers communication since both the lecturer and the students can engage online, discuss, exchange ideas, submit course works and even be examined online.

This form of learning incorporates various digital platforms in form of audio, videos, text, slide shows, and webinars, among others which break the monotony of learning by taking notes. Someone can listen to an audio book, they can watch a lecture video or chat with the lecturer in an organized academic chat room.

Prof Benon C. Basheka, the Vice Chancellor of UTAMU, says fully embracing the use of an e-learning system has given the university an edge among not only local rivals but also the global universities.

“Our use of IT in delivering programmes is supported by an interactive model of teaching, where lecturers engage directly with their students to identify problems affecting the society and their solutions.”

“This has helped us realize the university core functions of teaching, research and community outreach to facilitate growth, profitability and sustainability,” says Prof Basheka.

With e-learning, educators no longer serve mainly as distributors of knowledge or skills, but have become more involved as facilitators of the learning process. Their role has been reduced to educational assistants.

Education was known as a reserve for the youth but the recent phenomenon has seen more adults drastically sign up for more courses, attain more qualifications, acquire competitive skills and compete favorably for jobs on the market.

These days, learners use and own smart gadgets like smart phones and tabs and participate more in course online activities, something that has made learning more of a  simple affair.

ELearning too is interestingly affordable and convenient. Learning back then involved procuring of textbooks which were a bit expensive or even paying a fee to read a book in any public library.

Students are facilitated to become critical thinkers, risk takers and being accountable to themselves as opposed to learning which involves students who are entirely dependent on the lecturer/teacher.

Networking skills, computer skills, appropriate online behavior, valuable employable skills in a digital world, self-discipline in a virtual world, online marketing skills are some of the skills learners acquire from using elearning platforms. 

Designed to suit the needs of the learner, eLearning allows students to choose content and tools appropriate to their differing interests and needs.

Caution however must be exercised as Christopher Pappas once note, “When it comes to eLearning, content means everything. If eLearning content is not masterfully designed, all the rest will just go down the drain.” – 

Needless to say, ELearning has provided a learning alternative that makes the education more exciting, faster and relatively affordable.

Article By: Ms Harriet Ayebare

Contributor: Ms Anita Ashaba

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