ICT FOR TEACHING, LEARNING AND RESEARCH
principles and practices
of becoming irrelevant tinkerers with technology.
on ICT-mediated education is...an inherently risky affair.
It can be doomed if it is perceived and implemented as
traditional residential education which is technologically
mediated...Institutions must guard against becoming so
enthralled by technology that sight is lost that technology
must be easily accessible and affordable to the various
target audiences. This is a crucial consideration, especially
in the context of Africa where the socio-economic circumstances
of the majority of the population are such that inappropriate
technology can exclude them from higher education.”
de Coning, "Embarking on ICT-enabled Learning: Lessons
learning is not about technology per se; moving from “talk n’chalk”
to innovative use of technology requires a new approach to teaching
and learning, both in a residential setting and for distance education
(DE). In his paper and presentation, Tobie de Coning focused on
lessons learned at the University of Stellenbosch on appropriate
use of ICT for distance education.
University of Stellenbosch established an E-learning program in
1997. Of the university's 24,000 students, 7,000 of them are enrolled
in distance education programs. They never come to campus. All
distance education at Stellenbosch is ICT enabled, but it is a
mixed mode that uses more than one technological platform. Although
interactive video is the main method of course delivery, CD-ROM
and the Internet are also used. In addition, students without
access to adequate ICT facilities can receive their materials
in print form.
university has decided that ICT should form the basis of both
residential and off-campus programs. This decision was driven
by two considerations. A well-educated citizenry, familiar with
ICT, is essential if South Africa is to meet the challenges of
the 21st century. Together with this, universities from abroad
were entering the higher education market in South Africa with
ICT-intensive program, and eroding the dominant position of the
country’s own universities and technikons. If students wanted
"technology-enabled programs," the University of Stellenbosch
wanted to peovide them. Thus, all academic programs began to use
technology. The university's economics course, for example, now
has only seven contact sessions (down from 20). The rest is student
centered and relies on ICT. Thus, for the University of Stellenbosch,
the distributed learning paradigm is no longer about physical
distance. Distributed learning applies to both residential and
distance; ICT is the glue that binds them together.
course modules was not without its vicissitudes. As is the case
everywhere, not every lecturer was equally enthusiastic. The university
therefore decided to provide both "intrinsic and extrinsic awards,"
within a context of rigorous evaluation. It put up seed capital
for which academic departments can apply for program planning
and development. Applications are judged in part on whether they
are needs-driven and whether they are aligned with the mission
and vision of the university. In addition, every program is assessed
for financial viability.11
Staff receive help in using the technology, curriculum development,
and evaluation. All content is owned by those who create it; there
is a complicated formula for how profits are shared, which is
found in the university's intellectual policy statement.12
When E-learning began in 1997, there were only two programs. Now
all of Stellenbosch's faculties are involved.
about other universities?
The experience of the University of Dar es Salaam
feasibility study is carried out for each program interested
in creating E-learning modules.
• Academics receive payment for their work—for program
development, for creation of content, and for evaluation.
This payment is in addition to their salaries.
UDSM provides the capital costs, which must be repaid
from any profits.
university’s Office for Intellectual Capital is responsible
for policy development and implementation. Academics working
on E-learning activities receive a contract from UDSM.
The Stellenbosch experience
with distributed learning can be summarized as follows:
and effective use of ICT requires a different approach to
teaching and learning. Even so, it is not wise to wait until
new course methodology is entirely in place because competition
for students and tuition fees is fierce. Learning by doing
should be considered a strategy.
students are not the same as residential students; distance
education requires a different approach to the teaching and
learning paradigm and sensitivity to the context in which DE
red tape is the bane of every student’s life. DE students are
not on campus; yet they need to handle administrative affairs
easily and efficiently. A one-stop service portal can reduce
red-tape induced frustration.
an integrated approach to the development of ICT-mediated courses
in order to ensure standardization, appropriate training, and
appropriate use of funds.
collaborating with private providers of distance education may
seem like a good idea, there are pitfalls attached to these
joint ventures, particularly when the philosophy and mission
of your institution are not in accord with those of the private
for your comparative advantage rather than attempting to be
all things to all people. "…Strategic logic dictates a niche
approach as a means to sustainable strategic positioning, according
to which specific target audiences are carefully selected…"
is essential to establish which activities are necessary for
your institution's ICT-mediated program, which ones are important,
but not critical, which ones can safely be eliminated from consideration,
and which ones should be added to enhance effectiveness. This
"value-added chain" is a key instrument in strategic planning.
dynamic of effective ICT utilization requires an awareness of
global forces in the development of both content and technology.
It also necessitates the need to establish a central unit, which
is responsible for working with the institution as a whole,
with faculties and departments, and with individual staff members.
departments, and staff adopt ICT-mediated learning at different
speeds. "Success breeds success." Skeptics can be won over if
they see their colleagues using ICT effectively.
application of ICT in the teaching and learning paradigm is
appropriate for both residential and distance learning. Moreover,
the definition of residential education will change as teaching
and learning become virtual rather than classroom driven.
Pilot projects at African universities
View from the United States
at the most knowledge-based entities of all—our colleges and
universities—the pace of transformation has been relatively
modest in key areas. Although research has in many ways been
transformed by information technology, and it is increasingly
used for student and faculty communication, other higher-education
functions have remained more or less unchanged. Teaching for
example, largely continues to follow a classroom-centered seat-based
of the universities represented at the workshop are beginning to
apply ICT for teaching and learning. This is the most complicated
piece of the puzzle, for, as the Stellenbosch experience makes clear,
it isn’t about “tinkering with technology.” It requires a new way
of thinking about what constitutes education. As Derek Keats of
the University of the Western Cape said in his presentation, the
goal is to move from an instructivist paradigm, “the sage on stage,”
to a learning-centered approach. Moreover, as the National Research
Council (NRC) report makes clear, this is proving to be as difficult
in the United States as it is on the continent.
presentations at the workshop focused on different aspects of ICT-enabled
learning.14 The University
of the Western Cape is pioneering the use of cutting edge software.
The University of Namibia (UNAM) is collaborating with Walden University
in the United States to train its staff on how to use technology
appropriately. UNAM is also using video conferencing to reach satellite
campuses and communities far from its main campus in Windhoek. Finally,
Tufts University is collaborating with the University of Dar es
Salaam and Makerere University to develop and teach a module in
of the Western Cape
of the Western Cape The University of the Western Cape (UWC)
was established in 1960 as a college for “coloured students.”15
In 1972 the university declared itself “non-racial,” and in 1983
it gained independence from direct political control. During the
apartheid era UWC was doubly penalized: first because non-white
universities routinely received proportionally less funding than
did white institutions; and secondly because UWC was at the forefront
of the liberation struggle, it was therefore a thorn in the side
of the government. Today UWC considers itself in the vanguard within
another context—using technology to transform pedagogy.
grappling with ICT development from two perspectives—experiments
with open source software and with open content development. These
activities are being undertaken within the context of ICT strategic
planning, the university’s Teaching and Learning Technology Unit,
and a new center in the computer sciences department. This center
is responsible fora range of technology research initiatives, including
projects "that bring cutting edge technologies to bear on teaching-and
first attempts to use the Internet for teaching and learning took
place in 1995 when undergraduate students were provided with a computer
room and 25 computers to access course materials on the botany Web
server. In 1997 these materials and other Web content were linked
together to create an integral learning package. The Internet Biology
Education Project started at this time, and included the development
of an online biology textbook and an "ecology tree."17
Other units within UWC using ICT intensively to date include the
Faculty of Law and an Intercontinental Masters in Adult Learning
and Global Change. This latter course was developed in collaboration
with universities in Sweden, Canada, and Australia.
courseware at UWC
has many of the same features as do commercial courseware packages,
but it is free and continues to evolve. You must register to receive
a log-in name and password. After logging in, the KEWL introduction
links you to numerous options including access to courses. Some
instructors, such as those in the conservation evaluation course
shown below, make more active use of KEWL than do others.
in 1992, the University
of Namibia has four campuses and nine centers spread across
the country. (See map below.) One is located in the north-central
region, where about 46 percent of the population lives. Inaugurated
in 1998, the northern campus at Oshakati was created to provide
educational opportunties for students in this region, which is still
relatively disadvantaged compared to the rest of Namibia, foster
economic development, and encourage community participation. Community
involvement is ensured through the work of the Northern Campus Advisory
Council, a community committee that is responsible for guiding the
development of the whole campus. In additional, annual meetings
to review progress bring together local people, university staff,
and invited guests.
Lacking the resources
to duplicate teaching staff, UNAM needed to find an effective way
to offer courses to students on the Northern Campus. The solution
was interactive video. UNAM took advantage of the country's good
telecommunications infrastructure by purchasing and installing state-of-the-art
video equipment on both the Windhoek and northern campus. Lecturers
on the Windhoek campus can now teach students on both campuses simultaneously;
the 800-kilometer distance between campuses is no longer an issue.
Since the establishment
of interactive video on the northern campus, UNAM has installed
systems elsewhere, including the Faculty of Agriculture and Natural
Resources campus in Ogongo, which is 50 kilometers from Oshakati
and where crop sciences are taught. Teaching staff are able to remain
on the campus where they work—either Neudamm or Ogongo—and
provide instruction to the other campuses.
Although use of video
conferencing has permitted the university to overcome many problems,
pedagogical problems remain, and they are similar to those experienced
elsewhere—establishing quality control methodologies, promoting
"best practices,"moving teachers away from reliance on
lecturing, etc. In addition, use of video has created a new set
of headaches for UNAM: the university experiences ISDN errors; costs
are very high ($2,800 a month plus maintenance); and bridging must
be done via South Africa. UNAM is now investigating the possibility
of moving from ISDN to IP, which would make the broadband connection
for voice, data, and video more cost effective.
Because 60 percent of
UNAM's students take courses by distance education, faculty needed
a new set of skills to teach effectively in this environment. The
UNAM-Walden University partnership was born out of this need. Negotiations
and planning lasted about a year; the first project, a course called
Teaching in the Online Environment, took place in 2001.
of the partners complement one another.
correspond with the nature and substance of the partners.
further positive social change.
capitalize on the respective and complementary strengths
of the partners.
Facilitated by Walden
University in the United States, the course was taught entirely
online using Blackboard and lasted for twelve weeks. Seventeen staff
from UNAM and the Namibia Polytechnic participated, but there was
a fifty percent drop out rate because bandwidth problems resulted
in frustratingly slow upload and download times. Course developers
used ten measurable outcomes to measure success, ranging from demonstrating
an understanding of basic elements of online courses to cognizance
of emerging developments affecting online education.
An evaluation was conducted
after the course. A large number of students found the technology
overwhelming, especially those who were not familiar with the Internet.
The terminology used by Walden as well as the course materials were
very US-centric; in the future course content should have more African
input. In addition, as indicated above, efforts were often frustrated
by low bandwidth. Finally, some students were unwilling to comment
online about the work of other people, which hampered true interactivity.
UNAM now hopes to work
with Walden University on creating its own online training course,
which would take into consideration the problems encountered in
the first phase. Insufficient funds, however, are hampering UNAM's
co-development with African universities
in a nutshell
bridges the barriers of distance and improves the quality of
education in each home site. Knowledge receivers are also knowledge
senders and vice-versa. The primary instructor is on the ground
with the students. The Web site is used to enhance teaching.
Co-Development (CCD) project got its start in January 2001 when
Tufts University, the University of Dar es Salaam, and Makerere
University began to collaborate in the development of a metacourse
organized around the theme of "Regionalism in Africa."
Using Blackboard software as a platform, the universities interacted
through two Web sites that connected their respective courses: Regionalism
in African International Relations (Tufts), Regional Integration
(UDSM), and International Relations (Makerere). The goals were to
use the technology to rethink the pedagogy of international studies
and to enhance the capacity to create new knowledge.
The project was hampered
by large class size and poor infrastructure on the African campuses.
At Makerere University, participate out of a total number of 3,000
students taking the course because there were so few computers in
the faculty, and even those 25 students were confronted with problems
resulting from broken computers. The university tried to compensate
by a liberal computer lab access policy—it was open six days
a week and until 10:00 pm, Monday-Friday.
Nevertheless, in spite
of these problems, enthusiasm was infectious, and other lecturers
realized the potential of using CCD techniques. Gabriel Jagwe-Wadda,
a sociology instructor, created an E-learning site for his Population
and Society class, for which 107 students registered. It was very
simple: Word files, links to relevant Web sites, narrative texts,
etc. There were no graphic images, no video, and no multimedia.
His site had over 36,000 hits over the course of the semester.
Perhaps the splashiest
achievement of the year was a virtual chat with Jendayi Frazer,
President Bush's White House Advisor for Africa. It resulted from
two African foreign policy debates on the UDSM and Makerere sites:
one on collective security structures and one on the war against
notwithstanding, the experiment has been a valuable learning experience
and a success. Collaboration among all three institutions strengthened
teaching and learning. Students and lecturers alike thought that
they had learned valuable lessons in communication and critical
thinking and analysis.
at the University of Dar es Salaam
Although many of the
students were uncomfortable with computers at the beginning of the
project. they were far more confident by the end of the year. The
two female students on the right were practicing using email by
sending a message to one of their lecturers, Datius Rweyemamu, who
was on study leave at the University of Florida. The student directly
above was relaxed and lucky to have access to a working computer—the
PCs in the background were all broken. CCD speakers at the workshop
emphasized that maintenance problems are not addressed sufficiently.
The copyright dilemma
came up on numerous occasions during our discussions about the preparation
and utilization of online materials. Does anyone own these course
materials? If so, who? Who receives any profits that accrue to selling
them? How can intellectual property rights be protected if they
are placed on the Web? These intellectual property rights (IPR)
difficulties are exacerbated by the fact that national IPR policies
for electronic media do not exist uniformly across the continent;
nor are there equivalent regulatory frameworks in place. This makes
cooperation within Africa difficult and places African universities
at a disadvantage when they establish "partnerships" with
northern universities, for universities outside of Africa typically
have well developed policies and offices to protect intellectual
were brought to the table. The first is that these teaching materials
are subject to copyright, in the same way that a textbook is protected.
At Stellenbosch and Dar es Salaam, the university IPR office is
responsible for multimedia materials. Formal contracts ensure that
ownership and payment are agreed to in advance. But many universities
do not have offices to deal with copyright. One way to deal with
this problem is to restrict access to the sites to students registered
for the course.
of the Western Cape is taking a different tack. UWC promotes the
use of open source software and is a signatory to the Open Content
Agreement on free and fair sharing of information, with attribution,
with what we have
solutions make a difference too.
we look for big solutions when small ones are in our grasp.
In 1993 at Eudardo Mondlane University, we started an Internet-type
thing, which was within our mandate. We had a 1,200 bps modem
and a 286 computer. After three months we had 300 people connected
to our system, using one telephone line. Our success was so
great that we managed to push other developments in the country.
One year later we had a 9.6 bps leased line. Those small pieces
brought us attention. We should act on three levels: small,
medium, and large. If we do well with the small things, we
will be able to validate our mandate outside the universities.”
Vice Rector, Eduardo Mondalane University
is to develop the capacity to create African-centric materials and
to enhance collaboration among African institutions. But what can
we do with what we have? This question gave rise to a rich discussion,
replete with examples:
the first year of the CCD project at Makerere University, there
was only one computer in the library for 25 students. This sorry
circumstance didn't stop the students. They went to the Internet
café and paid heavily to log on. Now there is a full computer
lab, which is open six days a week. Excitement is so great that
the Dean is trying to raise funds to build a larger lab.
University of Jos doesn't have sufficient textbooks, but it has
a fiber optic network with an Intranet. Staff have downloaded
material from the Internet and put it on the Intranet. They are
also trying to digitize course materials.
University of Dar es Salaam needed to find a way to provide teaching
staff with computers. UDSM purchased 300 PCs at a low cost and
lent lecturers the money to buy them. The loans are repayable
in 6-12 months.
international norm for the provision of computer facilities
to students is about nine students to a computer. In some US
universities, students are required to have their own laptops.
This is true at the Tufts University School of Medicine, for
for evaluating and selecting electronic media
Working from the specific
examples and projects that participants described, what are overall
criteria for selecting software, whether it is courseware or library
materials? This session was organized to take advantage of the experience
gathered around the table to outline a criteria checklist.
course development software
First of all, take into
consideration the computers your users have available to them. Ask
the following questions: What kind of hard disk capacity, RAM, and
processor speed do they have? Do they have multimedia capacity?
In addition, think about your server hardware. Is it sufficient
to meet the needs of the software that will be installed on it?
Criteria for selecting
software include the following considerations:
- Does the software
package have good training materials? Is there a good manual for
teachers who want to develop an online course?
- Content is only a
small portion of learning; if content were everything then textbooks
would be courses. It is essential to ask whether there are sufficient
tools available in addition to content—flexible discussion
forums, other interactive facilities, ability for students to
work in groups, communication tools, and worksheets. Can you manage
essays and other assignments online, etc.? Is the package suitable
for the development of pragmatic learning/teaching strategies?
- If you are purchasing
a commercial package, what are the licensing arrangements?
- Does the software
permit importing and exporting files and data?
- Does the package come
with an HTML editor?
- Are there "cultural
quirks," as was discovered at UNAM?
- Does the package also
have student management systems?
Bawa, Program Officer, The Ford Foundation
human resources, and rewards are critically important components
to distance education. As long as DE is at the edge of the university’s
perspective, people don’t get involved. Quality must rest
in the hands of the departments in the same way that it does
for residential courses. African universities have a tremendous
opportunity. Every university in the world wants to offer African
studies, African political systems, traditional systems, and
African languages. Who is better able to do this than we?”
- The determination
of quality rests with the lecturer choosing or building his/her
- It is not necessary
to reinvent the wheel. An appropriate online course may have been
developed elsewhere. The Open
University in the UK and the Indira
Ghandi National Open University were given as examples of
institutions with good DE courses.
- Producing courses
is expensive, but can we establish consortial arrangements and
take advantage of expertise at different institutions?
Librarians have considerable
expertise in selecting books and journals in print form, but are
now confronted with the need to choose electronic media. It is no
longer as simple as it used to be. Even the terms have changed,
and a glossary of arcane terms that was distributed at the meeting
will be found in Appendix Five.
At the University of
the Western Cape, where Ellen Tise is University Librarian, there
is an electronic resources committee in the library that meets monthly.
It organizes trials of electronic resources, during which users
complete evaluation forms. Based on costs and user feedback the
library then makes subscription decisions. Tise believes that this
process is important. As she said during the meeting: “An
enormous amount of information is becoming available electronically.
We need to change library processes in terms of our functions. We
need to examine staff roles. In some cases, someone is appointed
to manage electronic resources. Some librarians have not been able
to manage the change properly.”
But decision-making can
be complicated by the fact that many libraries receive free subscriptions
and may not want to look their virtual gift horse in the mouth at
the outset, but there’s no such thing as a “free lunch”
and when donations end, subscription costs can mount up. The Coalition
of South African Libraries (COSALC) has established detailed
selection criteria, which are found in Appendix
Major evaluation criteria
that the group discussed are summarized below:
- Is the content suitable
to program needs? Selection committees are important; they need
to involve all stakeholders.
- Even if the initial
subscription is free, there will still be costs involved. What
are they? What are the licensing arrangements?
- Journals need to be
archived on site or on a remote computer. What are the arrangements
for backfiles, particularly if you cancel your subscription?
- Does the package come
with access to the most current issue? How quickly are new issues
- Is the journal mounted
electronically exactly as it appears in print, or are there links
to other relevant databases?
assumptions and small groups
want to test a couple of assumptions with you. If this meeting
is about the effective use of ICT, we need a verb. Is it about
advancing, using this technology, or transforming? Why do
we use these technologies? Why will we continue working together?”
Representative, The Ford Foundation Office for Eastern Africa
We broke into groups several times, choosing topics that developed
organically from presentations and discussion during plenary sessions.
The small groups helped us hone in on what we considered important.
On the second day, we teased out recurring themes and tested our
assumptions on the importance of ICT and possible strategies. On
the last day, we drew conclusions on the way forward. Because several
topics were discussed several times during these sessions, this
section is grouped by theme rather than chronologically. The sections
on policy and bandwidth are far longer than the other small groups
because we devoted so much attention to these overarching issues
during the meeting—both in plenary and in breakout groups.
deliberated and agreed upon four assumptions:
wanted to continue working together.
represented a fount of expertise for further work on ICT at African
and energy are required if the group is going to continue networking.
Partnership is only one possible support mechanism for program
put potential goals to the test and concluded that the goal is to
advance, enhance, and transform institutions through the use of
reached consensus on goals, participants selected seven topics on
which to work in depth in small groups. Each group was given the
task of emerging with a possible action plan, once again taking
into account that each participant would have to find support from
funders, not necessarily the Partnership.
chose the topics below for consideration:
ICT for research
sharing and mapping
crosscutting issues were identified as relevant to each of the groups:
government support, sustainability, the knowledge gap, and gender.
We also recognized that libraries impact almost everywhere: on bandwidth,
on the availability of research information, on training, etc. Libraries
are sometimes left out of the discussion, but they should be at
the forefront of ICT decision-making because of their importance
to teaching, learning, and research.
a place at the table:
The role of universities in ICT policy setting
do African universities fit into the ICT scheme of things?
what extent will universities become the research and development
wings of society? Heretofore universities have been users
of ICT. Can they also become producers? We need to think seriously
about repositioning universities within the information society.
At international conferences we hear that universities are
too poor; they don’t have the expertise. We have departments
of computer science and information science. What are they
The extent of university
involvement in national-level policy-making runs the gamut—from
Eduardo Mondlane University and Makerere University, which have
been heavily involved in drafting their respective country's ICT
national policies, to Nigeria, where government sets policy without
input from the educational sector. We realized that this is a tricky
topic; participants did not represent their universities, their
countries, or their regions. They could speak only from their individual
Nevertheless, the group
emerged with a set of common and practical principles:
- Universities should
put their own houses in order. Many universities begin to implement
ICT without a policy. Universities should be encouraged to develop
ICT policies, learning from the experience of others. They would
then be better placed to attempt to influence their governments
on national ICT policies and regulation.
- ICT champions should
make use of structures that already exist—the vice chancellor's
forum or library associations, for example.
- Universities are not
always good at marketing themselves or ICT. They need to promote
the visibility of ICT wherever possible. The UDSM library exhibit
at the Tanzania Trade Fair was visible and successful; the presidents
of Tanzania and Zanzibar both visited.
- Make use of regional
organizations, such as NEPAD, bearing in mind the limitations
attached to each of them.
- Most governments engage
in stakeholder activities. How can universities capitalize on
these investments? Makerere University, for instance, considers
itself as a national resource; it is interested in ICT from the
perspective of both the university and of civil society. Telemedicine,
which is being implemented at Makerere, demands an adequate ICT
infrastructure and is an example of the juxtaposition between
the skills of professionals and service to the community. In South
Africa, TENET was able to convince Telkom to give universities
preferential rates because they were able to demonstrate that
higher education served national needs.
- Universities should
develop ICT research capacity in order to have an impact on policy
The policy group determined
as its objective: fostering an enabling environment for the development
of ICT policy within higher education institutions in Africa. Policy
was attacked from a number of different angles—why, how, crosscutting
issues, and information sharing. Information sharing actually came
up in every small-group session.
Why are ICT policies
- They create an enabling
environment for implementation.
- They are required
for optimal transformation.
- They enable the long-term
viability and sustainability of ICT use.
- They raise awareness
of ICT use in the institution.
What are the implementation
- Strategic and operational
plans are cyclical and should be considered an ongoing process.
- Setting realistic
priorities is important.
- ICT policies should
be linked to other policies and strategies within the institution,
including a change management strategy.
- Mobilizing sufficient
human and financial resources is imperative.
- Piloting draft policies
in advance of final implementation might help bring about consensus.
- It is essential to
have top management actively involved as ICT champions. But establishing
an ICT policy should not rely on a top-down approach. If all stakeholders
are involved, they will feel a sense of ownership.
The policy breakout group
dealt with cross-cutting issues at greater length than other sessions.
The group's observations are as relevant for policy as for other
ICT policy is an area of great importance, perhaps the most
important in securing the benefits of the information age for
girls and women. If gender issues are not articulated in ICT
policy, it is unlikely that girls and women will reap the benefits
of the information age. Decades of experience have shown that
without explicit attention to gender in policy, gender issues
are not considered in implementation. Despite the views of many...policy
makers that a well thought out policy benefits all, there is
no such thing as a gender blind or gender-neutral ICT policy.”
ICT has a differential
impact on men and women. Girls traditionally are not encouraged
to use computers for anything more than word processing. Universities
should be sensitive to the needs of female students and ensure equitable
use and access for all students. Key points include the following:
- IT policy should be
informed by institutional gender policy.
- IT policy should include
- IT policy should reflect
institutional gender goals, which are meant to redress imbalances.
When possible go beyond the expectations of institutional policies.
- ICT resource allocations
should be included as part of institutional and departmental budgeting,
i.e., as part of the overall strategic plan.
- Deliberate and sustained
approaches to staff development should be taken. This includes
designing strategies for retention of ICT staff, and for knowing
that those who leave must be replaced. Offering ICT training opportunities
is one strategy.
- Resources must be
made available for innovative experiments in curriculum development—with
special effort to build the capacity of staff to be creative in
- Donor funding for
ICT should be in accord with an institution's ability to implement,
manage, and sustain these activities.19
- Investigate generating
ICT income, but recognize the risks inherent in commercializing
services to the detriment of your user base. In addition, charging
for services implies that the customer will receive satisfaction;
you should not require students to pay for email or computers
if systems don’t function properly.
- Engage in multi-year
- Make a clear distinction
between internal budgeting requirements and external project funding.
- Several institutions
have ICT policies and plans in place, which can be shared among
African universities just beginning to carry out ICT planning
and implementation. The ICT strategic plans of Eduardo Mondlane,
Makerere, and Dar es Salaam are available on their Web sites.
- Networking is important,
both face-to-face and virtual.
- Building an effective
ICT infrastructure does not happen overnight. It is important
to share the process as well as the final product.
How much is enough?
The universities at the
workshop spend about $4,500 a month to $12,000 on bandwidth, depending
on the amount purchased. In general, bandwidth rates are usually
ten times higher in Africa than they are in North America and Europe.
At the workshop, we asked ourselves what could be done to bring
down bandwidth costs and whether establishing national or regional
consortia to aggregate bandwidth would be an effective strategy.
across an institution can have a ripple effect. The administration
must ensure that the infrastructure is capable of handling it, that
sufficient well-trained managers are in place to maintain and troubleshoot
the systems, and that appropriate mechanisms are in place to plan
for utilization—within the library, for administration, for
research, etc. We therefore also addressed training and management
in conjunction with cost. The group came up with a set of working
hypotheses and questions for attention by a bandwidth task force:20
- It is difficult to
calculate bandwidth needs because limited resources or inadequate
infrastructure result in limited use. Furthermore, experience
in South Africa is that as additional bandwidth becomes available,
the rate of user uptake increases rapidly. Whether the bandwidth
is put to good use or not is another matter.
- Conditions across
countries and between institutions vary. In some countries the
telecommunications system has been deregulated. In other countries,
it is still a government monopoly. Most institutions participating
in the meeting are using VSATs for Internet. At Makerere University,
however, the university does not use a VSAT because it is not
cost-effective. Deregulation has lowered costs considerably—from
$20,000 a month for 512Kbps to $3,500 a month. One-stop solutions
for bandwidth are not a solution without appropriate research.
- The universities buying
bandwidth for their VSATS are using middlemen and know they are
paying too much. Research on the economics and marketing of bandwidth
is called for, as is research on the regulatory environment.
- Excess bandwidth capacity
exists in satellites and fiber optic cables. The potential of
creating consortia to purchase bandwidth at wholesale prices should
be explored. This calls for collaboration between universities
and regional bodies.
- What can be learned
from case studies of the South African experience or that of other
countries in the developing world? Chile, for example, has been
a leader in the introduction of the Internet in South America
since the first Web server was set up at the University of Chile
An E-Learning group should
include someone familiar with content development, a librarian,
regional representation, organizational experience, and marketing
know-how. Experience with E-Learning would be a plus, but interested
novices would also be welcome.
E-Learning efforts are
to be grouped around the following themes:
- Increasing access
to E-Learning on the continent
- Increasing participation
in higher education using E-Learning
- Increasing collaboration
among institutions of higher education
- Making a meaningful
contribution to development using E-Learning
Following the Addis meeting,
Derek Keats established an E-LearnAfrica Web site. It is still in
the early stages of development, but users are invited to register
and contribute to the discussion forums. Registration is free of
charge. Go to the E-Learning URL to learn the group's terms of reference
and catch up on E-Learning news: http://www.elearnafrica.org/default.asp.
The libraries group made
its presentation to the plenary session with recommendations to
the Partnership and to the donor community:
- If the Partnership
funds an ICT project, it should ensure that the library within
the institution in question conforms meets an agreed minimum standard
in ICT use and status.
- If the Partnership
is engaged in a project, then it should ensure that library resources
(ICT, information resources, etc.) needed to support the project
are included in the project proposal and budget, as library-specific
- The Partnership should
recognize and encourage the perspective that libraries are central
to wider institutional ICT development.
A number of networking
and institutional recommendations were also made, which included
creating a virtual network in order to share information on ICT
status, and establishing a checklist for best practices and ICT
minimum requirements. On the individual library level, the libraries
present agreed to review their use of ICT and ICT policy, including
how well library policies fit in with the wider institutional ICT
policy; examine the feasibility of national-level consortia development
for sustainability, if this is not already being done; lobby for
equal weight and participation within institutional management,
sharing, networking and training
The group’s vision
is to achieve a measurable increase in effective and appropriate
use of ICT within the teaching, learning, research, information
management, libraries, and administration processes at tertiary-level
institutions in Africa.
Objectives and activities
- Training for ICT users
- Conducting a training
needs analysis at each institution
- Identifying available
resources in Africa and overseas
- Implementing training
- Skills sharing
- Creating an enabling
environment for staff to exchange ideas and experiences about
working with staff, students, management, and the community
- Conducting regular
reviews and assessments through virtual and physical meetings
- Carrying out case
studies of best and worst practices
- Developing an
institutional Web site to disseminate information on meetings,
training pro grams and materials; setting up discussion groups;
and establishing a directory of experts and a useful links
Skills sharing, networking
and training were discussed both separately and also collectively
because it is possible to plan inter-connected activities. Examples
include organizing ICT fairs and short courses at important meetings,
such as the AAU General Conference. This is an excellent way to
sensitize senior leaders to the importance of ICT, provide them
with hands-on training, and create networking opportunities for
African universities committed to ICT.
ICT for research
The group identified
five areas of engagement:
- Learning how to use
ICT to optimize the creativity of African scientists through participation
in international networks and working with datasets.
- Improving the capacity
of African institutions to share datasets and establish research
- Accessing various
kinds of research information, which would necessitate a link
to the libraries group.
- Learning new methods
for disseminating knowledge produced in Africa and using them.
- Optimizing the role
of African institutions of higher education vis-à-vis collaboration
with civil society.
The group also identified
a number of issues that require attention:
- Infrastructure (bandwidth,
technology, equipment, etc.).
- Policy and regulatory
frameworks, particularly intellectual property rights.
- Training for users
of research information. This includes training on accessing full-text
literature and also on using and distributing datasets.
- Delineating the role
- Determining minimum
requirements for carrying out the above activities.
- Maximizing the role
of African scholars in the diaspora.
- Optimizing research
into ICT in Africa and trying to ensure that universities are
linked to ICT research and development, as is the case at the
University of the Western Cape.
intersection between libraries and research capacity
of a library to make its holdings easily accessible to researchers
is essential. The UDSM library has an OPAC for its entire system.
Work started with the main collection, moving to faculties and departments
once users were convinced of its utility and viability. Go to: http://www.udsm.ac.tz/library/catal.htm
and click on OPAC.
would success look like?
- ICT would have
priority in African universities.
- African universities
would have an ICT policy and plans in place.
- Bandwidth would
- ICT training
and support would be budget items.
- African institutions
would be transformed from consumers of knowledge to world-class
producers of knowledge.
As a first step in wrapping up, the group made a list of ICT priorities.
Bandwidth, training, and policy were deemed most important, followed
by libraries and E-Learning. Of these activities, bandwidth and
E-Learning, in particular are moving forward, as described in the
Each of the groups was
charged with writing an action plan and timeline, with the understanding
that the participants gathered at the workshop could not necessarily
speak for their own institutions, much less for the continent. Moreover,
Partnership support could not be guaranteed for any activity. The
goal of the exercise would be to bring together a cadre of committed
people to propose a work plan and a set of activities, and to obtain
2003 Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Ford Foundation, the John
D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation.