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Propelling an ICT Led Pedagogy at Makerere University

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INTRODUCTION

This research was funded by the Swedish Program for ICT in Developing Regions (SPIDER) and spear headed by the Department of Open and Distance Learning. The research was motivated by the fact that since 2001, Makerere University and its development partners had invested significant resources in a number of educational technology infrastructures but their adoption for pedagogical purposes was not significantly evident on the ground.  There was therefore need to get empirical data to explain the lackluster pedagogical ICT adoption. The research was underpinned by the SAMR Model (Puetendura, 2010). SAMR is Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition.

In Substitution dimension, ICTs are simply used to replace manual processes with no functional improvement, e.g. using a word a word processor to replace a type writer. In Augmentation dimension, ICTs are used to replace manual processes but with significant functionality increase, e.g. using word processor with a spell checker, grammar checker, etc. to replace a typewriter. According to the SAMR model, the Substitution and Augmentation dimensions play an enhancement role in pedagogical processes. On the other hand, ICTs can be used to transform (Modify and Redefine) the pedagogical processes.  For instance, in the Modification dimension technology allows for significant task redesign (e.g. teaching and learning processes integrated with email, spread sheets and graphing packages) while in Redefinition dimension, technology allows for creation of new tasks previously inconceivable (visualizations tools, simulations, etc.).

Under the SAMR framework, the research sought to develop concrete interventions for enhancing the uptake of ICTs in the pedagogical process at Makerere University. Specifically, the research sought to: i) establish Makerere University’s current level of ICT integration in pedagogical processes following the SAMR Model; ii) account for the current level of ICT integration in the pedagogical processes following the SAMR model and iii) draw interventions and strategies for propelling an ICT led pedagogy based on the SAMR Model

CURRENT LEVEL OF ICT INTEGRATION IN THE PEDAGOGIC PROCESSES AT MAKERERE UNIVERSITY

There were traces of integration of ICTs at Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition levels. The level of integration diminished as one moved from the Substitution through to Redefinition levels.

At the Substitution level, 74.4% of lecturers used ICTs to prepare lecture notes, assignments, tests and examinations which were hitherto handwritten before being submitted to examinations officers. The hardware infrastructure employed the most (84.6%) in teaching and learning were personal computers/laptops. To Substitute the traditional chalkboard, 48.5% of the lecturers used LCD projectors to present their lectures. The institutional learning management system (MUELE) was mainly used as a store of content by 40.2% of the lecturers. The least Substitution ICTs were video/audio recordings of lectures. Generally speaking, integration of ICTs at the Substituted level was a little pronounced.

At the Augmentation level, the research established that most academic staff were more likely to adopt Augmentation ICTs that abetted their scholarly research work than those that were are for pedagogical activities in and outside the classroom. One of the reasons advanced for this scenario was the high level of training needed to use Augmentation ICTs than that which was needed to use Substitution ICTs. For scholarly work, search engines (e.g. Google) were the most frequently (77.0%) used Augmentation ICTs. This was followed by editorial tools in word processors (59.0%), online dictionaries (48.5%) and online libraries (45.5%). It should also be noted that the social interactive tools like Skype were less used for pedagogical purposes despite having great potentials for ubiquitous reach to students and lecturers. The reasons for not adopting such technologies were attributed to lack of knowledge by the students and lecturers on how to use them. Also the technologies were not readily available to the staff and students. Thus, more pedagogical activities in and outside the classroom were mainly ported onto Substitution ICTs than Augmentation ICTs.

Use of Modification ICTs was decimal. However, the most commonly used Modification ICT was the Internet. Others were open education resources (OER), social learning ICTs, MUELE, cell phones, Internet to cell phone SMS messaging, content authoring tools, Facebook, online assessment tools and video conferencing.

Redefinition ICTs were the least used.  However, of the lecturers who were using MUELE, 63.1% indicated that they asked students to make their own notes from group discussion threads. Other Redefinition ICTs were OER, online assessment, group discussions through MUELE, electronic games/simulations/second life and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

 

ACCOUNTING FOR THE CURRENT LEVEL OF ICT INTEGRATION IN THE PEDAGOGICAL PROCESSES

Generally speaking, there is low adoption of ICTs for pedagogical purposes at Makerere University. Of all levels of ICT integration, it is only Substitution level where above average uptake was seen. Usage at Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition levels was far below average. This low adoption level was largely attributed to i) limited or lack of knowledge on how to use the technologies at those levels, ii) limited or no infrastructure for ICT integration, iii) time constraint on the part of the lecturers, iv) existence of policies which unfavorable to use of educational technologies, e.g. high preference for teacher-centered paradigms and v) lack of a central unit with technical and human resource capacity to nurture research in and use of educational technologies; vi) outright lack of interest for ICT integration in the teaching and learning processes; and big student numbers

INTERVENTIONS AND STRATEGIES FOR PROPELLING AN ICT LED PEDAGOGY

From the findings, four (4) key interventions were identified. These are: 1) strengthening eLearning Unit, 2) enhancing the lecturer skills and knowledge in educational technologies, 3) improving educational technology infrastructure, and 4) putting in place an educational technology policy.

Strengthening the eLearning operational, research and management structure

The e-learning unit should be upgraded into a center for educational technology and well equipped in terms of human resources and infrastructure. The unit should be equipped with educational technology researchers, educational technologists, instructional designers and programmers. The unit should be well funded to enable it undertake research, develop educational technology solutions and train other units in ICT integration.

Skills and knowledge in educational technologies

Findings indicated that the number one reason for non-use of a number of educational technologies was lack of knowhow on using a particular equipment or application. The University should mobilize existing pockets of educational technology expertise to train other staff in ICT integration. Also concerted effort should be made in sending staff for masters and PhD studies in educational technology related fields. The College of Education and External Studies should be triggered to take up its rightful role of being the leader of traditional and ICT pedagogy at the University.  

Infrastructure

Lack of access, low bandwidth and lack of appropriate hardware and software were the other major causes for non-use of ICTs in teaching and learning. All Colleges should be sensitized about the importance of ICTs in authentic learning. Students and staff ICT infrastructure should be prioritized in College budgets. Makerere as a whole should allocate more resources for centralized ICT infrastructure such as bandwidth, network and ICT support. The use of personal computing devices such as laptops, mobile phones, Ipads, Ipods, etc. should be encouraged by the University increasing and strengthening its WiFi hotspots. The Bring Your Own Device concept should also be encouraged amongst students.

Educational technology policy

Although Makerere University has an ICT policy which articulates integration of ICTs in different process, the policy is not so articulate on using ICTs for teaching and learning.  Only technology savvy lecturers are attempting to use ICTs in their teaching functions. Staff see use of educational technologies as an additional burden. The ICT policy has no incentives to encourage innovative integration of educational technologies.  The policy should be amended to encourage use of ICTs in teaching and learning. As a strategy, the policy should be amended to provide incentives to staff who innovatively integrate educational technology in their teaching. Non-monetary incentives, e.g. attending conferences, providing ICT devices, providing certificates of recognition, giving employ of year awards, etc. should be put in place to recognize staff that are innovatively using educational technologies. The university should invest resources in the creation online degree programmes in regionally demanded programmes. These will act as springboards for intensive ICT led pedagogies at Makerere University.

Acknowledgement

We acknowledge SPIDER for having funded this project