Adama University is an interesting case in Ethiopia as it now has a German President and several other senior expatriate staff – such as the ICT Director. So they have implemented many changes which have yet to reach other Ethiopian Universities.
Their elearning programme seems to be going well, they have a team of 5 staff dedicated to uploading and developing the elearning materials – more information about their team can be found on the Adama University website. Although they have a very similar approach to the one we’re taking with the Digital Campus project, there are some crucial differences. Firstly, their team are uploading the materials for tutors, whereas we are supporting the tutors uploading their own materials (I have previously blogged about this). Some of their activities and assignments form part of the students final grades, as we are not including the whole course cohort in our program, we are unable to use summative assessment. Their better IT infrastructure and lab access allows them to offer the online courses to many more students.
One the other side, we have our system available off campus too, whereas at Adama their Moodle is (currently) only available through the local network. I’m still unsure that having a centralised team is the best way forward. I can understand it’s advantages, in quality control, consistency etc, but unsure that it will encourage teachers to feel they actually own the course and should be keeping content up to date, participating in discussions etc.
Their ICT infrastructure looks very well organised and they have common computer labs which are open 24/7 – this obviously gives them much more opportunity to push courses out to students and know that the students will get access. We’re trying to push the University here to having similar levels of access times for students, but I think it will be a while yet before Mekelle reaches 24/7 access to labs which have a large proportion of machines fully functioning.
Although it was a long way to go for half a days visit, it was well worthwhile for me to meet the team there and look at the different approaches they are taking.