30 Jun 2020
With the integration of information technology in education, online learning has been accorded due attention for enhancing teaching and learning at the University of Rwanda. The move has necessitated the creation of an online learning facility now dubbed the UR e-Learning Platform. This is a customized Moodle-based platform designed as a Learning Management System (LMS). The lecturers are enabled to upload their teaching materials online for their students to access remotely.
Students in a University Library
The Platform is managed by the Centre for Open, Distance and eLearning (CODeL) based in UR’s College of Education located in Rukara, Kayonza District of Eastern Province. The Centre coordinates all distance education processes and practices across UR Colleges.
When contacted about the use of the platform, Dr. Mathias Nduwingoma, the Director of CODeL, highlighted that in order to make their course content accessible and effective, each lecturer is first given credentials to get access to the platform. Lecturers in each department upload their modules assisted by the CODeL eLearning officers and school ODeL Champions. As a rule, all lecturers are trained to upload their modules.
For the Platform to be user-friendly, he indicated that modules uploaded are organized in five (5) categories : school/centre, department, year and trimester/semester. In addition, the addresses of the team of CODeL are posted on the banner page of the platform, which means that the user can contact one of them immediately in case one needs support.
‘’When a student logs in the system, he/she immediately accesses the page where modules can be seen for enrollment. Sometimes for different reasons, a lecturer may decide to hide an activity or a module which is on the platform. In such a case nobody can get access to it. This practice helps lecturers who prepare their modules at one time to disclose unit or topic according to the timetable set,’’ noted Nduwingoma.
‘’For a student to access UR eLearning Platform, at the beginning, they are given credentials made of a username and a password. These two are created by someone who has the administrator’s right for the system or IT support. Also, for a student to access the module, their identification has to be registered in the system and enrolled by the lecturer of the concerned module, ’’he added.
During the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, all lecturers have worked hard to avail online their modules so that students can remain engaged in their learning process. Current statistics indicate that 91% of modules taught at UR are hosted on the UR eLearning platform. End of June 2020 is the deadline for uploading all the remaining ones.
The UR e-Learning Platform used to record 200 to 300 users daily before COVID-19 Pandemic. Then suddenly grows by 9,000 daily during the lockdown with more than 27,000 users, both students and staff. What a leap !
Story by Shadrac Ntirandekura
In charge of Communication and Community Engagement