The College of Education and External Studies held a successful media day and exhibition on Thursday 15th December 2011. The event was attended by journalists from local print and broadcast, students, staff and other stakeholders. A media briefing was held to kick start the media day. During the media briefing, the Deputy Principal, Associate Professor Jessica Aguti welcomed all present and thanked members of the media for their continued support of Makerere University. She briefed the media about the College, its strategic direction and challenges in higher education. The two projects highlighted in the media briefing included:
Mobile Distance Learning at Makerere University
The Department of Open and Distance Learning with funding from the Uganda Communications Commission and Makerere University is undertaking research aimed at developing applications using mobile phones to support the great student numbers wishing to pursue university education. Already, the Department has implemented a mobile broadcast system which provides one way asynchronous communication.
The Head of Department Dr. Paul Birevu Muyinda said, “the Department has a mega plan to establish an integrated mobile application system that encampuses various functionalities. Currently, the Uganda Communications Commission is funding a mLearning project at the Department aimed at enhancing communication and collaborative and cooperative learning amongst distance learners.”
The UCC funded project will develop three mLearning components, namely: – 1)a virtual mobile learning notice board (VmNoB) to provide administrative and academic support information to distance learners. The component will be developed using USSD protocol similar to the one used in the mobile money application. 2) collaborative virtual mobile learning (Colla VmLearn) and 3)cooperative virtual mobile learning (Coop VmLearn) to spur collaborative and cooperative learning amongst learners. Dr Muyinda said that more financial resources were being sought from Makerere University to support a postdoc research aimed at implementing a component for accessing and utilizing learning objects on mobile phones, procuring mLearning equipment and training at least one masters student in the area of mLearning applications development.
The integrated mLearning applications will be implemented across the Department’s four programmes namely; Bachelor of Education External (BED), Bachelor of Science External (BSX), Bachelor of Commerce External (COX) and the Commonwealth Youth in Development Work Diploma Programme (CYP).
Literacy, Employability and Enterprise development training for out of school and work youth in Western and Northern Uganda
The School of Distance and Lifelong Learning (SODLL) in partnership with Mountain of the Moon University (MMU is working on a project that will equip 500 non literate youths in Western and Northern Uganda with the means to establish their own micro-businesses and secure gainful employment. This follows completion of the Education in Partnership Project (EPA) conducted by SODLL together with Leeds Metropolitan University which successfully developed an employability and entrepreneurship skills development programme for school leavers.
The Dean School of Distance and Lifelong Learning Dr George L Openjuru said, “the project is funded by DFID through British Council to the tune of £40,000 over a period of 18 months starting August 2011. It will contribute to overcoming youth unemployment in Uganda through its entrepreneurship and employability initiatives. Other project partners are Kings College London, Leeds Metropolitan University Liverpool Hope University and Warwick University.”
Under this project, non literate youths will gain reading and writing skills required to run simple businesses, hands-on experience of micro-enterprise management and assistance to start their own small business and to obtain gainful employment. The project will lay a solid foundation on which a Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship can be established at the Mountains of the Moon University including the creation of two model micro enterprises on brick-making and agricultural tools to stimulate the creation of effective micro-enterprises in Western and Northern Uganda. Networking efforts between the participating universities during and after the project will be enhanced.
In 2010, the Vice Chancellors of Makerere University and Mountains of the Moon Universities signed a Memorandum of Understanding stating their willingness to engage in joint projects, networking and information-sharing. This project will be the first initiative between the two universities.
At the colorful exhibition, staff and students showcased their innovations. Projects on display included; a demonstration of E- learning at Makerere University, E-Learnig and Teacher Education materials and Distance education study material. A selection of the best masters’ dissertations and PhD thesis by students of the East African School for Higher Education Studies and Development were also on show.
Biology education students showcased a solar powered box cooker made of organic material, science teaching aids made of natural products (e.g. wood, seeds, bark cloth) and Cds on the teaching of Science in the Digital Age. Also on display were sculptures and paintings from art education students. Distance and Education students shared their learning experiences at the College.
By Sheila Mwebaze Tindi