National Council For Higher Education-Uganda, visited Kabale university to monitor the Implementation and Progress of ODEL, that is two years after the university has been operating under emergency ODeL adopted during the COVID19pandemic.
According to https://www.igi-global.com/dictionary/open-distance-e-learning-odel/70701 Open Distance Learning (ODEL) is the type of teaching and learning that gives students, who have to fulfill multiple roles and are affected by the barriers of distance, cost, and time, an opportunity to pursue their studies online.
In March 2020, the government of Uganda suspended face-to-face/physical classes as an emergency measure to contain the further spread of covid 19 among students and staff which forced universities to devise means to see their students back in class.
In June 2020, the National Council for Higher Education developed and issued guidelines for Emergency ODeL for the lockdown period that were to be followed by all institutions of higher learning across the country before they are permitted to commence remote teaching during the ongoing lockdown.
Among them, universities were to avail a list of staff qualified and ready to support the rolling out of the academic programs through the ODeL system, secondly, the NCHE needed assurance on mainstreaming of disability and gender in all COVID-19 response recovery actions, thirdly the NCHE requested a description of the pre-training of both staff and learners to be offered before embarking on the ODeL system.
The other thing the NCHE asked for was evidence that Staff had been trained to deliver examinations online, Security and cheating avoidance using for example a lockdown browser
According to Rev.Dr. Cyrus Seera Ssebugenyi an official from NCHE, one of the things they wanted to know whether the examinations are still ongoing online.
“We come here in a spirit of learning”, – Dr. Cyrus said adding that they had come to discover the good things that were being done at KAB. Ssebugenyi said that Kabale university was leading in terms of digital learning on their side of the region away from Kampala.
“It is not really a surprise because when we came here in November, we saw the preparations and the potential, for me, it is not a surprise but also I am kind of thrilled with what is happening.” – Dr. Cyrus Seera Ssebugenyi, NCHE Officer,
Dr. Ssebugenyi with emphasis echoed that since the university was advancing online, the thinking of stakeholders and everyone involved should also change.
In conclusion, Dr. Cyrus said that the government was so keen on ODEL hence calling upon the university management to organize and position itself to tap into what the government has to offer and encouraging them to support other institutions through community engagement.
Presenting some of the achievements the eLearning unit has accomplished as of 2022, Senior eLearning Officer Robert Tumusiime said that they had had an upgrade of the backup system for the server and had also upgraded the eLearning platform.
The Director of ICT Services Unit Jones Murangira during his presentation said that the university’s internet had upgraded from 100Mbps in 2021, to 140Mbps currently, across three campuses. He added that Fibre cables had been laid to connect all campus buildings replacing the slower copper cabling. This extremely fast local Network coupled with high-speed Internet has enhanced eLearning at the university.
On the part of human capacity, Robert Tumusiime said that the University had recruited an eLearning officer in charge of studio production and multi-media, an Assistant Branding and Communications officer-Digital learning and communication, and an eLearning officer in charge of pedagogy and instructional design.
“Before implementing the eLearning, we needed to do a readiness assessment among the students as well as the staff, so we did a readiness survey involving both students and lecturers of which we realized that 85% of the students who participated in the survey were in support of eLearning’’ – Prof. Benon Basheka DVC AA
Part of the ongoing activities in the eLearning unit as presented by the Senior eLearning Officer are that the team was developing a custom monitoring and reporting tool for Moodle-based LMS called the eLearning Reporting Tool (ELERT) https://elert.kab.ac.ug as well as developing a real-time reporting tool for staff attendance based on data accessed from a biometric device. This system is designed to help the Human Resource and University Secretary’s office to monitor staff attendance.
This is not the first time NCHE is inspecting KAB to assess and monitor how far the university is progressing in terms of ODEL.
In September 2020 the National Council for Higher Education- Uganda inspected KAB to assess Readiness for Emergency ODEL Staffing, Policy, NCHE Accreditation, internet, and SOPs.
Aug 2021 NCHE Visited KAB for ODEL Online Assessment in terms of Staffing, SOPs, Proctoring, Exam Setting, PWDs, Practicals), November 2021, NCHE visited KAB to assess the Status of ODEL Staffing, PWDs, Proctoring, computers, Practicals.