This is an exciting development for VUU. We are now offering short, intensive courses in Oil, Gas, and Energy Management for individuals and corporate clients. Our course menu reflects the latest theories and practices in the oil and gas sectors and the courses are available online or face-to-face in Africa or Europe. Visit our Corporate Academy to find out more.
When Virtual University of Uganda was conceived in 2010, a lot of work lay ahead to prepare for the provision of education to graduate professionals who could not afford to leave work to gain a higher qualification. As the first online-only postgraduate university in Sub- Saharan Africa, VUU is built on the idea that tertiary education that is sourced globally and locally, and enhanced through appropriate technology, can provide solutions to the perennial problems of quality and access by transforming the educational experience for students and teachers alike.
This young university is a testimony to the fact that technology-supported learning can save human-power hours and cut costs; it can enhance content quality; it can bring the very best content to more students, and it can enhance the development of critical minds through the provision of education that is truly fit for purpose. But most of all, it can enable young professionals add to their skills and knowledge portfolio without sacrificing their salary. We build on the fact that students no longer need a desktop with a dial-up internet connection: cheap tablets and smart phones can connect to the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) via an app that enables students to study offline as well as online.
Governing Council VUU: old and new teams
As a pioneering e-learning university, VUU delivers online education in a creative and challenging way to provide first-class education that can rival, and even surpass, the traditional full-time programme where one teacher stands in one classroom, teaching one class, for one timetable hour. In a world where multi-media is no longer a set of different technologies to be brought together in one learning package but is encompassed within the computer itself, stimulation is a major component of an online course. Given Uganda’s generally poor reading culture, engaging with online materials that include video and audio clips at the click of a mouse makes the learning experience much more pleasurable and satisfying for the self-regulated learner using a VLE.
Globally, online education is being used in a creative and challenging way to provide first-class education that can rival the traditional full-time programme. In a Sub-Saharan Africa context, despite the often-cited difficulties, VUU was successfully set up as a result of much creative thinking that compensated for limited financial resources. VUU uses the best Open Source Software (OSS), and was the first fully cloud-based university in Africa. Using the OSS Moodle as our VLE (All teaching materials are uploaded to the VLE which is hosted and backed-up in The Netherlands), and we make the most of Google Apps for education as shared work spaces to host our administration files, and our curriculum, while the documents for and minutes of our meetings are shared webpages (with security certification) with all documents stored in Google Drive. VUU has no servers on site and uses Google Apps for mail, chats, documents, hangouts, sites, and a number of other apps that enhance our internal networking and our student communication. In order to deliver quality online content, we pioneered an IT architecture that is made up of many parts, all of which work together to deliver what we need in a very cost effective way. This approach obviates the need to re-invent the wheel and lets the experts at Moodle and Google do what they do best.
At VUU, we believe the university teacher who is on his/her toes is more like a curator than a repository of knowledge. In searching the Internet for content, VUU lecturers compile course materials that are a mixture of their own notes, online lectures from world-renowned authorities, videos from the YouTube education channel, scholarly articles, and podcasts from universities worldwide. As “virtual” teachers the quality of the learning materials our online students receive are much better than the materials we could deliver in a traditional classroom. Putting the content online for students to read as “homework” and then discussing the materials in the live classroom (the flipped classroom approach) constitutes a satisfying learning experience.
And while online learning programmes are still relatively new in Africa, we at VUU are convinced that it is only a matter of time before they are recognized as being equal to, if not better than, conventionally-taught university courses. Rethinking the traditional idea of the university and its practices will take time. In today’s world a university does not necessarily need physical classrooms, lecturers’ offices, and student hostels, but it does need investment in appropriate technology as a key priority in setting up programmes for tomorrow’s student. A slim physical infrastructure means that more can be spent on sourcing the best materials and tutors. In this way, servers (whether local or in the cloud) become the centre of the university.
Through our Moodle platform, our students can access learning materials, post assignments, enter discussions with their peers and teachers, search, download, and read in our e-library, and keep in constant contact with their course tutors. Our e-library is an extensive collection of resources that can be accessed by staff and students 24/7. The tutors for the courses are drawn from highly-skilled, well-qualified educationalists and professionals from Uganda, the region, and globally. Their wide range of skills, competencies, and strengths will ensure that all students are exposed to a variety of viewpoints and knowledge in the pursuit of knowledge enrichment.
Students login to their classroom for eight hours each week. This means 64 hours online for the duration of each course. Our student care service monitors student activity on the platform closely. For self-regulated learners (as in distance learning), the course materials are carefully designed to facilitate students learn at their own pace and in their own place. Group discussions are built into the course and all students must participate. Again, this is monitored by the Registry and is participatory on the part of the tutor. Wikis are also part of the learning experience and students are encouraged to participate in these shared learning spaces. One hour per week is dedicated to a Live Classroom. This software works in a similar way to video conferencing but is adapted to simulate a classroom. Here, students discuss the various topics they have been introduced to, and tutors have an opportunity to answer questions and throw more light on some difficult topics. Individual course libraries with required and recommended textbooks and articles are available 24/7 online and can be downloaded to read offline.
This approach to higher education represents a golden opportunity to make a clean break from the “Yellow Notes” paradigm of the past, as it challenges teachers to search for innovative ways to enhance student learning. It is in this way that VUU is trying to provide creative, reality-rooted education that takes learning today to the level of tomorrow. At VUU we are convinced that online learning initiatives are a creative and challenging response to providing tertiary education in a world that is becoming increasingly smaller as a result of information technologies. We look forward to better and better academic practices in the future as we continue to embrace recent and newly-emerging software and technologies to the benefit of the entire higher education sector.
Job Title: Community Marketing Officer
Preferred Start Date: August 1st 2017
Current position is for a dynamic and social media savvy marketing professional
The Community Marketing Officer will administer the University’s marketing and advertising activities. The successful candidate will combine marketing and social media skills to develop brand awareness and reputation, increase social media presence, create and promote brand-focused content, and help expand opportunities for business growth. Will work with management and other team members to administer innovative social media campaigns and optimize marketing performance.
Specific duties include:
• Grow and expand company social media presence into new social media platforms, plus increase presence on existing platforms including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. Manage social media accounts.
• Administrate the creation and publishing of relevant, original, high-quality content (images, video and written). Develop relevant content topics to reach target customers.
• Implement a content editorial calendar to manage content and plan specific, timely marketing activities. Manage implementation schedule.
• Promote content through social advertising. Design, create and manage promotions and social ad campaigns.
• Support social media marketing campaigns.
• SEO (search engine optimization) and generation of inbound traffic.
• Become an advocate for the company in social media spaces, engaging in dialogues and answering questions where appropriate. Manage efforts in building online reviews and reputation. Monitor online reviews and respond to each review.
• Daily monitoring of social channels. Develop and maintain a KPI dashboard for marketing metrics. Compile reports for management showing results (ROI). Analyze campaigns and translate anecdotal or qualitative data into recommendations and plans for revising social media, content marketing, SEO and social advertising campaigns to improve future campaigns and results.
• Monitor trends in social media tools, applications, channels, design and strategy.
• Research and monitor activity of competitors.
Qualifications and Experience:
• Possesses knowledge and experience in various forms of marketing, with particular focus on social media marketing. Marketing degree is welcomed but not required with relevant work experience.
• Displays in-depth knowledge and understanding of social media platforms, their respective participants (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube etc.) and how each platform can be deployed in different scenarios.
•Demonstrates high level of digital literacy. Possesses good technical understanding and can pick up new tools quickly.
• Exhibits the ability in both the creative side of marketing and the analytical side, able to demonstrate why their ideas are analytically sound.
• Maintains excellent English writing and language skills. Displays ability to effectively communicate information and ideas in written and visual format. Knows how to engage an audience through social media posts and interactions.
• Is a confident and enthusiastic self-starter, team player, good at time management and relationship building, comfortable addressing diverse audiences.
Please submit your CV, copy of diploma / degree and two references (not related to you by blood or marriage) to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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/.
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.
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/
We have some new publications on our publications site. Please visit to have a look. We have also uploaded our most recent Master’s dissertations. Enjoy!
Elsewhere, I remarked that transformative higher education using technology-supported learning is a golden opportunity to make a clean break from the “Yellow Notes” paradigm as it challenges teachers to think outside the traditional box for innovative ways to enhance the student learning experience. Online education also requires us to re-think traditional approaches to assessment and ways of knowing because today’s world demands a different kind of education and a different kind of lecturer: one who is not solely a distributor of knowledge, but also a creator of knowledge and a curator of information. Creative, reality-rooted education which is “fit for purpose” can become a reality in all universities today if we embrace the idea of academic networking to deliver quality online learning materials.
I believe that today’s university teacher who is on her toes is more a curator than a repository of knowledge. In searching the Internet for up-to-date information, lecturers can compile course materials that are a mixture of their own notes, videos from the YouTube education channel, podcasts from universities worldwide (the Oxford ones are wonderful), lectures online, even whole courses online, and integrate these with discussions, wikis, and interactive debates. Putting the materials online for students to read as homework and then engaging with the materials in discussion in the (either online or physical) classroom – the flipped classroom approach – constitutes an enhanced learning experience for students. Given Uganda’s generally poor reading culture, engaging with quality online materials that include video and audio clips at the click of a mouse makes the learning experience much more pleasurable and satisfying for the self-regulated learner using a Virtual Learning Environment such as the Open Source Moodle.
The world’s foremost intellects in the university world have numerous videoed lectures uploaded to the internet; we can easily use these to stimulate and broaden our students’ learning experiences. We could listen to Amartya Sen on peace building, Martha Nussbaum on capabilities, Stephen Hawking on the future of robotics, Peter Singer on ethics, Germaine Greer on gender … all these are much more interesting than listening to me for three hours every week for a full semester. It simply takes a little creativity and time. I imagine an online academic course a bit like a long street. At various stages, there are books to read, notes to learn, and activities to complete, but we could also envisage more doors to the left and right of us that students could be encouraged to open and explore some side streets on their own. This enhances their experience and enriches the content – even moreso when two or more academics team up and curate content together. All this is possible using an elearning platform and embracing the flipped classroom approach.
But what about taking this even further? What if we network by pooling the best of our national, regional, and international resources. What if every first-year student of mathematics in six major Ugandan universities could simultaneously hear Professor Paul Mugambe on the importance of mathematics. Here we have one teacher, years of learning and experience, 1000 students in attendance at six locations. Mugambe does not have to deliver the lecture six times, but once only and it is recorded for posterity: future students also get to hear the lecture. Video-conferencing is a much under-utilized tool in higher education. If one university has an renowned international guest lecturer speaking about maternal health, for example, networked universities all get to listen to and see the guest speaker. They could share the costs and everyone’s a winner. And what about co-teaching: I teach in situ while my colleague’s class can follow the class while at a different location, and then the next week we swap places. Two creative minds, interested students, and more importantly, increased inter-university student interaction.
If teachers can relax, be a little more humble, learn to share knowledge and content, and stimulate student learners to think critically and outside the box (or rather as if there is no box) through various levels of networking, we would slowly bring our sharing of knowledge in the university setting into the twenty-first century. If we recognise the fact that the paradigms of the past no longer work, that our students are not empty containers waiting to be filled or dull mirrors to be neatly polished so that they reflect our notes back to us, then we can start the journey. Facts are certainly important, but knowing what to do with them is more important. Facts are on our smart phones in our pockets: we no longer have to keep them in our heads. Spoon-feeding and rote learning are no longer appropriate in a world that needs critical thinkers and innovators. And with a little more creativity, we can create semi-formal student networks for use in the blended or fully online teaching environment. Facebook, Twitter and What’sApp can also be used to deliver key messages to our student groups and being them into contact with each other. After all, who can resist a FB notification?
Taking tertiary education to the next level will mean a huge effort on the part of administrators and lecturers, but it is an effort that will reap rewards at all levels. Breaking the barriers that prevent us from sharing and working together in teams to be curators of the best possible teaching materials will not be easy. Here at VUU we have been trying with some limited success and we shall keep on looking for ways to network and work together to change the face of higher education.
One of our biggest obstacles is that online education suffers from a certain amount of stigmatization both as a result of ignorance and confusing it with traditional distance education. It will take time before the public and prospective students come to appreciate the value that results from designing online pedagogically-sound learning materials using technology and multi-media resources in higher education provision. As an online teacher, I can truly say that the quality of the learning materials my online students receive are much better that the materials I could deliver in a traditional classroom. For example, when discussing an author or a concept, we can create a link to information about that person or concept or create a clickable link to works s/he may have written. These are the side doors I mentioned earlier – doors that students can chose to open and wander around.
And while online learning programmes are still in their infancy in the region, I believe that it is only a matter of time before they are recognized as being equal to, if not better than, traditionally-taught university courses and certainly distance-learning programmes. I am convinced that online learning initiatives are a creative and challenging response to providing tertiary education in a world that is becoming increasingly smaller as a result of information technologies. But online learning that mimics the traditional classroom practices will take us backwards and not forwards. Academic networking is one of the core components for the creation of quality online materials. You know the saying about many hands making light work? The same concept applies here.
Virtual University of Uganda
Postgraduate Certificate Course: Project Management for Development
18 May – 20 June 2015
Uganda’s first open online course!
You may have heard of MOOCs, well, we at VUU have just opened our first LOOC: that means: Little Open Online Course. We have around 25 students registered — our target class size. We hope that more people will become familiar with online learning and perhaps sign up for a full degree course.
We are excited to be on the frontline of online education in the region.
We shall be offering another topical short course mid-October to mid-November.