Mak vision for blended learning is alive, Prof Kakumba

Makerere University’s vision for blended learning which was adopted during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, is on track, the Acting Vice Chancellor (VC) who doubles as the Deputy VC Prof Umar Kakumba has said.

Prof Umar Kakumba said Makerere has already integrated Open, Distance and e-learning (ODeL) into the teaching and learning of students.

He said the institution has ensured capacity building with two high-end servers installed to support the generation of course content.

“The servers are very powerful and will be enabling tools for lecturers during repository of heavy files, videos and other learning materials,” DVC said.

 He was speaking at the dissemination workshop of Comprehensive Evaluation of Blended Learning (CEBL) Phase II at the university’s main campus in Kampala recently.

Researchers led by Mr Arthur Mugisha, the principal investigator (PI) of CEBL, conducted research to assess the e-learning model integrated into teaching and learning.

Their research launched in 2021, was aimed at evaluating long distance learning, how it works and the requirements to ensure effectives in higher institutions of learning.

The first phase of the study was conducted on undergraduate students.


The study revealed that the students called for sustainable resources, technologies and methods to improve the learning of students.

The study evaluated the learner’s status, to establish readiness, satisfaction and challenges they were facing and also establish potential solutions to the challenges they had.

“51 percent of the students were willing and were ready to take up blended learning for purpose of continuity because they were under lockdown,” the research finds revealed.

Prof. Kakumba Umar, the Acting VC.

The study also indicated students were not consulted much but it was something that was helping them as well.

However, 49 percent of the students from the samples were a little bit skeptical, critical and were reluctant to adopt blended learning.

“60 percent of the respondents had not received adequate learner support but as students were looking for support, the lecturers were also looking for support,” the research further stated.

Mr Mugisha added: “89 percent of undergraduate students were getting support from their lecturers via zoom. And accessing this platform was mainly through smartphones and laptops.”

CEBL research also revealed how students at the end of the day, accepted that e-learning was the only way to go.

“We suggested that there should be a one-student support centre because students were asking how they can be supported,” the project PI said.

The support needed included a number of players that is the technical support, academic support, social support, equipment and resources and non-academic support.


E-learning evaluation phase II looked at graduate students and how they understood ODeL.

According to the research, graduate students were yearning for quality blended learning and were so interested in it because it is convenient.

However, they noted people had misunderstood blended as the use of Zoom which was not correct.

Being a working class group, they believed if the university provided a cross-cutting course during entry to introduce them to how e-learning workers, it would be helpful to them.

Mr Arthur Mugisha the PI.

e-learning infrastructure

IoDEL scholars led by Prof Kakumba worn a grant of Shs7bn to enhance capacity building including upgrading of the Makerere University e-learning (Muele) platform.

The University management has ensured the internet at campus is strengthened.

“Muele has been upgraded to increase on the operating speed because we received complaints that it was not stable and could not provide a conducive learning environment to students.”

“In the capacity building process, all the programmes offered by Makerere both at undergraduate and post-graduate level have a slot on Muele,” Prof Kakumba said.

Introduction of e-learning course for Mak staff

Working with the Institute of teaching and learning under the College of Education, the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Makerere looks at capacity building.

A short certificate course is in the pipeline to equip academic staff with the skills needed, Prof. Kakumba said.

He said Senate and the University Council passed a proposal of retooling lecturers and once approved, all staff will be subjected to that course.

The short course is expected to take four-six weeks of training focusing on how to design course content, assessing competitiveness of learners and setting learning outcomes among others.

The proposal was informed by the Directorate of Quality Assurance after learning that some academic staff lacked delivery skills when teaching o-line.

Implementation of the e-learning Policy

Makerere’s learning agenda through the policy framework was passed by Senate and University Council concerning blended learning and a brief report will be sent to parliament.

Prof. Masagazi, the chair Grants management committee of MakRIF.

The policy the DVC said is a pillar of innovative teaching and the Mak revised teaching and learning policy 2023 has enshrined the blended teaching and learning.

Principal of the College of education,Prof Anthony Muwagga Mugagga, noted that all lectures at his college have already adopted blended learning.

“As a leader in the educational pedagogy and ICT, we will be able to help the entire university to adopt blended learning and teaching and to help our students,” Prof Mugagga said.

Call for government support towards research

Prof Fred Masagazi Masaazi, the Chairperson of the Grants Committee/Makerere University Research and Innovation Fund (Makrif), called for government support.

He noted that the university receives Shs30 billion every financial year but he was concerned that for this fiscal year about Shs5 billion had not been received.

“Applications are overwhelming but there are no funds currently to facilitate research. We request the government for funds before the end of this financial Year,” he said.

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