2016 in retrospect

2016 was, overall, a good year for Virtual University of Uganda. Our student numbers are creeping slowly up, and we are confident we will be able to reach our targets this year and be sustainable for the future thereafter. Not only are our student numbers rising, we are also adding to our administrative staff.

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Mrs Maria Renee Rada joined us as Programme Leader in ICT4D and as IT Consultant. Her contributions to our young university are most appreciated.

One significant event occurred towards the end of the year: on 9 December, VUU turned 5.This is still a small figure but it is a sign that we are moving on and gaining strength and acclaim. Our international body of teaching staff continues to provide us with premier services from England, Holland, Belgium, Ireland, Scotland, Tanzania, Bolivia, Malaysia, and, of course, Uganda.

We are currently working on new programmes in the management area (human resource and organizational behaviour) and are hoping to recruit students for these programmes for the August intake. We continue adding courses to our Corporate Academy, this year Spanish and Excel (and we continue to offer Moodle training and courses for librarians).

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Our Vice Chancellor Prof. Lejeune was busy this year with his work as Chairman of the Board of Directors of RENU (Research and Education Network) and as Chair of the Uganda Vice Chancellors’ Forum. Both organizations are happy to gain from his many years of experience in higher education in Africa.

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Professor Carabine was in demand on the conference circuit this year. In May she spoke at Education Innovation Africa in Nairobi; in December she gave the keynote address at the UbuntuNet Alliance conference in Kampala, and she participated in a panel discussion at the Times Higher Education Summit on BRICS and Emerging Economies in Johannesburg, also in December.

Our coverage in the Times Higher Education sparked a number of engagements ), not least of which was a podcast for The Academic Citizen on virtual learning in Uganda which came out in October. And an article about the first five years of VUU will appear in an upcoming issue of World University News.

On the social front, we enjoyed our Drop-in Day in May, and many students and well-wishers came to chat and exchange experiences.

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Our second graduation, presided over by Chancellor Lady Justice Flavia Senoga Anglin, was held in July where our first honorary award (M.Phil) was given to Mr Ahmed Ibrahim Ahmed Bholim for services to accountancy in East Africa.

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It has been a busy year indeed and we look forward to an even more exciting 2017. With new programmes and new staff, we hope to forge even deeper alliances with sister universities across the globe. Wish us well as we pioneer online learning in Sub-Saharan Africa!

THE BRICS and Emerging Economies

Virtual University of Uganda has been asked to participate in the Times Higher Education BRICS and Emerging Economies Universities Summit. We are delighted to get this recognition. We shall be talking about the opportunities of mLearning and eLearning for BRICS and EEs. Other speakers include John Aubrey Douglass of the University of California, Berkeley, on ‘The Flagship University’ and distinguished social scientist Simon Schwartzman of Brazil’s Instituto de Estudos do Trabalho e Sociedade. This conference takes place in Johannesburg between 30 November and 2 December this year. Prof. Carabine will represent VUU.

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Education Innovation Africa

Professor Deirdre Carabine attended the Education Innovation Africa Conference in Nairobi last week. She was a panelist speaking about the future of mobile learning on the African continent. It was an exciting topic and generated a lot of discussion from the attendees (around 120 experts in the delivery of education at all levels). Her main point was that while the future of mobile learning is certainly clear, stakeholders are coming to appreciate its benefits rather slowly. All panelists spoke convincingly about the need to sensitize more people about the benefits of learning online rather than in the traditional brick and motor institution that is becoming increasingly expensive. You can visit the conference website at: http://www.educationinnovationafrica.com/.

 

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Here at Virtual University of Uganda, we think we are finally beginning to make inroads into the market for mobile learning as more professionals are coming to appreciate its benefits. A very powerful example of the flexibility of mobile learning: three weeks ago one of our Kenyan students had to leave the Live Classroom halfway through the discussion because he had to catch a flight from Nairobi to Mombassa. Ten minutes later he was back “in class” in the taxi to the airport via his smart phone!

Visit our website to find out more about us and what we do; and read about our approach to online learning at our Open Access Publications site.

eLearning in Africa

Although Virtual University of Uganda will not be attending this year’s eLearning Africa Conference, we are making sure to keep up with all the latest news and innovations on the elearning scene. We know we are at the cutting edge of online teaching and learning on the continent, and we are proud to be spear-heading this development. We have just completed our Strategic Plan for the next 5 years and are pleased to announce that we will be adding two new specializations to the Executive MBA programme: Tourism and Hospitality Management and Health Services Management. These are in addition to our already-existing Oil and Gas specialization. Indeed we have come a long way from chalk and talk to click and learn!

You can keep up with all the recent news at: http://ela-newsportal.com/

study online at VUU

Virtual Classrooms

Visit us today online to find out more about the postgraduate programmes we offer and how you could study online wherever you are in the world.

A virtual classroom for the 21st century.

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New Intake

Applications are invited for our postgraduate programmes:

Public Health

ICT for Development

Business Administration

International Development

Visit our website to find out more about these distance-learning programmes.

www.virtualuni.ac.ug

Distance Learning with a Digital Dimension

VUU offers three modalities for its postgraduate programmes: online (fully virtual), blended ( a mix of online activities and teaching), and distance learning with a digital dimension. The last modality means that all learning materials are neatly packaged on our website where they can be downloaded at any time. All online activities can also be accessed by distance learners. We offer Public Health, International Development, Business Administration, and ICT4D. Visit our website to find out more about us. www.virtualuni.ac.ug

VUU — bringing you into the digital age!!

A Paperless University

David Okwii’s write up gives a good and well-written account of what we do here at VUU. You can read it here. David works at http://www.dignited.com.

Blended Learning, Flipped Classrooms, and Yellow Notes

One of the latest buzz words in higher education is the “flipped classroom”. This approach to teaching and learning is a blended approach where the lectures are moved onto an asynchronous learning platform while the classroom becomes a place to reinforce student engagement and deepen their mastery of skills. So the teacher moves away from being the “sage on the stage” to being the “guide at their side” (as one website puts it).

I like it; it makes a lot of sense. After all, why do I have to spend time reading notes to my students when they can read them for themselves? A real teacher (in the Socratic sense) should be a support, a prod for deepened thinking on the part of the student.

This is what we do at VUU. The lectures and classnotes (including videos, reading materials, audio briefs, and links to urls) are situated on our learning platform (Moodle). We then use the synchronous sessions (live classes, and from September the face-to-face sessions also) to guide, discuss, and share ideas. Such an approach moves sharply away from the rote learning of yesterday and focusses on how to think and what to do with facts. Most of us carry encyclopedias around with us on our phones, tablets, and laptops — we do not need to learn facts; we need to be able to think and apply skills to all sorts of situations.

However, this approach can take the teacher out of our comfort zone. I cannot simply upload a presentation, even with audio (the craze for PPPs drives me mad in that it represents a serious dumbing down of education). I am forced to think, to read, to keep up-to-date.  What do students do when given an assignment? The generally “google” it. We teachers who dish out the same old same old each year to a fresh group of first-year students will have to start to do the same lest our students become the teachers! If we deliver quality, up-to-date learning materials online, and become midwives in the classroom, we could create a win-win situation all around.

For more on the flipped classroom see:

www.cst.usc.edu/teach/strategies/the-inverted-classroom.

New Intake

Next intake: applications now open for 2 September 2014. PG programmes (remote learning) in Public Health, International Development, and Business Administration.

First intake for ICT4D. Apply online now at: http://www.virtualuni.ac.ug.

All course materials available online 24/7. Various levels of interaction with lecturers available. Visit our website now for more information.