Friday, 23 September 2016

How learning, teaching and research are changing around the world

A personal reflection on our impact on others

It is interesting how, as an institution, we teach and create content for learners; the African Universities' Research Approaches (AURA) programme has helped us to reflect back on our impact: the impact of the learning journey of others. Even after so many years of practice, there is always a new way that we could improve and optimize the time offered us by the learners.  It is time to re-examine ourselves, our teaching styles, our approach to research, and how these impact on others; the learners.  As a provider of edu-technology; I ask myself,  how can I demystify the technology, so as to make it accessible to the faculty in a very simple yet profound way?

Therefore, to be in a room with people who have been there before and who can speak to both the faculty and the likes of me was a real honour and the only down side being the number of people who needed to be there!

There is a sense of self-discovery; a sense of continuous improvement, even just from the sharing of the challenges that lie before us. Those challenges that are new, and those that are not so new, yet the solutions, the approach to the solutions, are varied. This speaks to the diversity that was in the room.  This offered different perspectives - the public versus the private, and all of that.

Dealing with new learning environment for adult learners

Yet in all these years of experience, there is yet so much that is new, so much yet unknown and so much yet to learn. This field of education is expanding, and opening up in new ways in different contexts. The presentation on connectedness was a good case in point since it was on what Adult Learners bring to the learning environment, and experience to the table, and how the role of faculty can be as facilitator; not the sage in the room.

In short even, what may appear to have been settled in terms of learning theories have been sufficiently challenged with the newly emerging learning environment - where the people you teach may be more knowledgeable about aspects of the knowledge domain.

Hence the need to facilitate, concretise and formalise knowledge, and to encourage its utilisation as a skill. Encourage learners to learn from each other using social learning and to become a community of learners from remote locations.

Students learn how to take more responsibility for their learning and the teachers; how to prepare material for an independent learner and how to keep the learner engaged even in your absence. Teachers require stills to manage an online community and on how to measure the quality of their delivery as well as new ways to assess the learning outcomes.

Increasing role of technology in education

In terms of the role of technology, and the opportunity and challenges it affords, and how best to navigate the thin line between success and failure. Another important point in how to deal with the shortened feedback loop that has many more touch points.   The notes and curriculum that has worked well in the past may require major modification when offered for a technology mediated learning.

It was good to learn there are several attempts to structure the online delivery in the form of a framework. Admittedly this is still a changing process and going forward, opens a new avenue for research work.

All in all we are living in interesting times and we need to be more purposeful and proactive.

Julius Bwibo, B.COM (1st class, UON), Msc Information Systems (UON), MBA (Strathmore), MAPE (Strathmore), DBA Candidate (UON)

I have worked in the IT industry for over 21 years, I also have experience as a teacher, as a founding faculty member for the IDPM (now the IMIS certification) in Strathmore in 1992. Now I am involved in development: the end to end eLearning offered in Strathmore University, including consulting on how a proposed school of digital learning could be structured. I have travelled and consulted widely in Africa. I am currently working on my Doctoral Thesis having completed Degrees in formal education. business, IT and philosophy.

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