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 International Journal of Education and Development using ICT > Vol. 3, No. 4 (2007) open journal systems 


Assessment of the effectiveness of the CAD eLearning Certificate at the University of Botswana

Daniela Gachago, Edinburgh University, United Kingdom
Spoon Mafote, University of Botswana
Anne Munene-Kabanya, University of Botswana
Marilyn Lee, University of North Alabama, USA


Abstract
The introduction of eLearning in higher education has brought a challenge for higher education institutions to train their faculty to equip them with the necessary skills needed to embark on eLearning activities. The University of Botswana (UB) is no exception. The UB first introduced eLearning in 2002 to enhance instruction and students’ learning. eLearning at the University of Botswana has been defined as the ‘appropriate organisation of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for advancing student-oriented, active, open, collaborative and life-long teaching-learning processes’ (Educational Technology Unit, n.d.a) The Centre for Academic Development (CAD) eLearning Certificate, introduced in 2003, a workshop series on eLearning related topics, has been designed to cater for the needs of academic staff embarking on eLearning at UB. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the Centre for Academic Development (CAD) eLearning Certificate and its individual workshops. The study employed both qualitative and quantitative data collection strategies. By August 2006 more than 800 academics and support staff had attended one or more workshops, which were in general very well received. Main reasons for attending the workshops were the acquisition of technical skills, the use of eLearning and the wish to obtain the Certificate. Preferred workshops were a very general workshop on course design, an introduction to PowerPoint and, only in third place, an introduction to eLearning. The majority (74%) of respondents claimed to have applied skills and knowledge acquired in the workshops, mainly technical skills, such as the use of PowerPoint, online information skills and information management techniques. A minority of 17 % of the participants had developed online courses. Alarmingly, about a quarter of the respondents (23%) claimed not to have applied any of the skills and knowledge covered in the trainings. Furthermore, only 16% of respondents managed to complete the Certificate. Respondents indicated that non-application of skills and non-completion of the Certificate was mainly due to time constraints lecturers are facing when balancing demands of teaching, research and administration. The study provides recommendations on ways to improve the CAD eLearning Certificate. The combination of skill-based workshops with online learning seems to be the preferred option in international literature for eLearning staff development, to expose participants to the world of online learning. The participants indicated that parallel development of an online course could facilitate the immediate application of knowledge and skills acquired. A more structured programme approach would help in developing a community of practice between staff active in eLearning at UB. Issues of recognition and reward for lecturers embarking on eLearning also need to be addressed.


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International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology. ISSN: 1814-0556