The Association of African Universities has launched an initiative with a private partner to provide universities, academics and students across the continent with access to a low-data online learning management system that could provide support within the framework of the ongoing migration, due to COVID-19, for a blended and online learning environment.
The Association of African Universities (AAU), in collaboration with eLearnAfrica, has launched a Learning Management System which has been specially designed to serve universities on the continent by making distance learning tools available to academics. and students.
The platform, AAU-eLearnAfricaLMS, was launched on July 7, during the 15th Quadrennial General Conference of AAU on the theme “The Future of Higher Education in Africa”.
This comes at a time when higher education leaders and academics have highlighted significant challenges with online learning in the face of COVID-19.
During the conference, which kicked off on July 5, presenters highlighted the poor digital infrastructure, lack of internet access, affordable data and devices, and the ability of students and faculty to function effectively. optimally in the online environment.
In this context, higher education leaders also called on governments to show political will to address some of these concerns. Otherwise, they could be complicit in the devastating consequences that a lack of investment in higher education could have on the development of Africa.
Nodumo Dhlamini, director of information and communication technology services and knowledge management at AAU, said the new platform will provide more options for African universities.
According to Dhlamini, the AAU hopes the partnership will provide non-traditional students with flexible learning opportunities and enable disadvantaged communities to access higher education.
She explained that the new partnership will allow universities to expand their course offerings and even increase class sizes without the physical presence of students.
“The courses are user-friendly and available in a mobile format, to accommodate people who do not have access to a computer,” said Dhlamini.
According to Esther Karimi Malia, Head of Learning Management Systems Implementation at eLearnAfrica, the new platform will provide African universities with free web solutions that will allow them to integrate blended and online learning into their academic programs.
She said at the launching ceremony that by working with African universities, the goal is to serve African students and companies on the continent.
ELearnAfrica, an online education platform, focuses on expanding access to educational and professional development opportunities. It has partnered with universities to digitize the programs and make them available on the Platform.
Student-centric and little data
Malia said the idea of setting up the system aims to revolutionize traditional models of education delivery by providing access to distance learning resources that would increase the market value of college graduates by providing quality education. through world-class learning technologies.
The platform is student-friendly, with easy access to courses, but more importantly, Malia explained, is the fact that it has been highly optimized for low-data ecosystems.
“Students can download courses and work on them at their own pace,” she said.
Students can also access different universities in their regions, as well as across the continent. Malia said News from academia that students, through the system, can connect with leading professors and other academic experts across the continent.
Online courses are designed to give students some of the practical skills they need. They are supported from the moment they enroll in the system, at a cost of $ 10 per year, until graduation, and students are encouraged to choose the courses that best match their vision and passion. academic.
This means that, thanks to the AUA-eLearnAfricaLMS, students can learn at home and when it is convenient for them. The learning management system offers several degrees from fully accredited online universities. It could also offer support to students already enrolled in a university.
Free for universities and faculties
According to Brook Negussie, Managing Director of eLearnAfrica, the main goal of his company’s partnership with AAU is to improve access to university education in Africa.
“Funding for the design, development and deployment of online degrees is essential to meet the demands of our African universities,” Negussie said.
To achieve this goal, eLearnAfrica should work closely with academic staff and university administrators in Africa in terms of increasing the degrees and professional courses that will be offered.
The system will be free for universities and academic staff. Lecturers and professors will be able to download personalized course content that will not expire.
According to Malia, the platform has a built-in student tracking feature that will monitor the progress of work, while assessment reports can be sent to each university’s central results processing unit.
Academic staff will be able to message co-hosts, as well as engage students in question-and-answer sessions, while an online library will be available at all times.
The partnership has also set up an incentive program whereby a university will receive one dollar for each student enrolled in the AAU-eLearnAfricaLMS.
The learning management system virtual classroom is based on an easy to understand distance learning environment.
Malia said News from academia that the virtual classroom has the capacity to display videos, documents and slides, while quizzes and multi-format exams could be graded and graded automatically. Classroom discussion forums and seminar discussions could also be enabled.
Some other features built into the platform include guidelines on how to design and create courses, as well as an instructor dashboard that will help lecturers manage and edit courses.