In early 2009 Digital Campus started working with Mekelle University to help develop their elearning capacity. At the time, a few teachers from the Business College and Computer Science department had received training in how to create online course content and activities, but few students were really using online activities as a day to day part of their course. Given the rapid expansion of the university, the ability to deliver some course content and activities through blended learning, reducing the dependence on face to face lectures and improving the teaching quality, is a priority for the university.
Developing elearning skills
- 45 tutors completed certification
- more than 50 courses online
- visit the courses on the University elearning site
The Digital Campus team began a project to deliver the Certificate in Online Education to groups of teachers from the Engineering and Health Sciences Colleges, with a key aim being to create a team of elearning experts able to deliver the certification to their colleagues. The project focused on integrating blended learning activities into courses, rather than creating content for distance education, given that students generally have little internet access outside the university. The elearning training was given in parallel with a project to improve student computer access, after all, what use is putting courses online if students have no means to access them.
The first group of tutors were trained between November 2009 and June 2010 with 20 tutors completing the first level of the certification. The training consisted of 3 face to face workshops in November, February and May, with tutors studying online between the face to face sessions to develop their courses. Tutors delivered their courses online during the second semester of 2009/10, an important aspect of the certification is that tutors are actively involved in giving online activities and content. In our experience, training is too often given in a theoretical atmosphere, subsequently, skills learned aren’t put into practice.
The tutors on the programme were all willing volunteers, receiving no extra payment or other incentives, apart from the recognition of being awarded the certification. Our experience from the first presentation of the course reinforced our belief that although the training could, in theory, be given wholly online, a blended approach works far better. During the online periods there was a noticeable lower level of activity in the training. Entirely understandable, given the other workloads and priorities of the tutors.
The second presentation of the first level began in October 2010 running until March 2011, with face to face workshops in October 2010 and March 2011. Concurrently we began the first presentation of an advanced certification, for those who had completed the first level, with participants expected to be more self supporting (although the course still has face to face workshops and is facilitated for the online parts).
The next step is to continue to work with the elearning support staff, increasing their range of elearning skills and supporting their development of the University’s elearning programme, working towards the goal of the elearning team directly delivering the certification.