Mekelle University has been hosting Moodle e-learning this week for its own lecturers and those from other universities in Ethiopia. The training has been delivered together by Computer Aid with its training partner the Worcester College of Technology. I flew up on Friday morning to see how the training had been going, to sit in on the last few sessions, and to thank and congratulate the 56 participants.
For those unacquainted with Moodle, it supports the lecturer to set up e-Learning courses, using a blend of web and non-web properties, such as presentations, YouTube videos, Twitter feeds and Facebook sites, mixed with the lecturer’s own notes or content. It’s open source, so no high software and maintenance fees, but it’s widely applied, so there is a community of users and supporters to maintain it. We take students through a week’s training, sufficient to allow them to develop, during the course exercises, their own e-Learning packages and courses.
The training was received enthusiastically by the lecturer-students, responding to the supportive style of our tutor Peter Kilcoyne of Worcester, ably supported by Kristen Houlton of Computer Aid’s Nairobi office. By the end of the course, there were more than a dozen complete e-Learning courses produced by the students, a tremendous result. A number of the students then presented on how they planned to maximise the impact of their training in their own colleges and departments when they get back.
In my closing remarks, I thanked tutors, students, and Mekelle University for hosting and supporting the course and allocating their IT guru, Girmay Berhane, to us for the week to reduce the possibility of any connectivity problems, and reminded them that Computer Aid stood ready to help them take their Moodle training to the next stage by supplying the donated kit with which they can enable their own colleges, departments, faculties and, most importantly, students.
At the close, Peter, Girmay and I gave out the certificates, while Peter and Kristen picked out a select few who attained Moodle excellence in a very short period of time, after which we took the usual end of course snap!
I was honoured to be invited to meet University President Dr. Joachim Herzig, who was very supportive of the course and opened it on Monday. Dr. Herzig outlined the key role that e-Learning plays in his vision for Mekelle University so that, while Mekelle is expanding its campuses, e-Learning enables Mekelle to deliver to many more students from that physical foundation. This was music to my ears – expanding and extending the role of Universities in education fits very well with Computer Aid’s objectives to deliver ICT4D, and Mekelle University’s promotion of e-Learning as a vehicle to reach many more students is something that we applaud and wish to support.
Dr. Herzig has asked Computer Aid and Worcester College to consider a second set of courses next year, sweeping up those unable to attend, refreshing the knowledge of others, and taking some onto developing further their e-Learning courses into programmes. Computer Aid would like to support all Ethiopian universities with this training, and together with Mekelle we will develop the next steps for e-Learning in Ethiopia.
Tom Davis, Chief Executive, Computer Aid International