Sunday, 29 June 2014

MRC-Funded Research on factors affecting student performances in online courses

General Objective

Providing ICT education using an online mode of delivery is a challenging process. Online courses in the IT sector have been running since 2009 at the University of Mauritius. The researchers want to establish if the online mode of delivery affects the students’ performances, with respect to first year students enrolled on the web and multimedia development programme of the University of Mauritius.

Short Summary of the Research

Since 2009, the University of Mauritius has been running the Diploma in Web and Multimedia Development programme online. Two modules in the first year are however offered on a face-to-face basis. In 2013, the enrolment on the programme has climbed to 150. However, in 2012, it was noticed that many students were terminated in the first year, or had to repeat the year or had at least one re-sit module. The project will investigate into this problem to try to establish the main reasons through the learning analytics approach using educational data mining. Learning analytics refers to the collection and compilation of data produced, which will then be used to assess the progress of learners, as well as, judge their performances. Assessing these learners might be in terms of different variables, such as their way of participating, their responses and their academic performances.

Main Research Questions

The main research questions based on the specific objectives of the project are as follows:
  • Is there a correlation between HSC grades of first year students and their performances in online modules?
  • Is there a significant difference between the performances of students in the online modules when compared to modules offered on a face-to-face mode?
  • Is there a correlation between student engagement in an online module and the performances of the student?

Training of Agricultural Extension Officers on Development of Multimedia-based Distance Education Materials

The training was conducted by the Dr Santally acting as consultant to the Commonwealth of Learning to train 15 extension officers of the Food and Agricultural Research Extension Institute. It was a 10-day training spanned over a period of 1 month in May-June 2014.

Training Objectives
The objectives were such that it was expected, that at the end, participants would be able to
  • Design a storyboard for an interactive multimedia course
  • Use an e-learning authoring tool to design good-quality interactive learning resources
  • Convert and burn interactive materials into DVD format
  • Design and implement self-assessment instruments in an elearning environment
  • Manipulate images and videos to create simple animations in a pedagogical context
  • Mount a full-fledge e-learning short course to be deployed on PC and/or mobile devices
Technical Competencies
  • Image editing and video manipulation software (Movie Maker and Photoshop/Gimp)
  • Stop-Motion Animation
  • E-learning authoring tools (Articulate Storyline Suite)
  • DVD production (DVD Maker) 
Participants working in groups to have hands-on practice on Stop-Motion Techniques....

Participants having hands-on practice on specialized e-learning authoring tools.


2014 Educator's workshop on the Microsoft PiL Network Program

35 Educators participated in a two-day training on the Microsoft PIL Network. The theme of the training was "Building Educator Capacity". The workshop was conducted at the University of Mauritius on 15-16th April 2014 and it was led by the VCILT team. The workshop was supported by Microsoft Indian Ocean and French Pacific once more. Two educators received a Windows phone offered by Microsoft through a lucky draw. 

VCILT and CPDL merge to become CILL (Centre for Innovative and Lifelong Learning)

Finally! A process that started about 7 years ago finally comes to fruition. The subject of merging the two centres of the University into one consolidated centre finally becomes a reality.

The new centre is called Centre for Innovative and Lifelong Learning. From the VCILT's perspective, the merging was always seen to be a reinforcement of the centre's activities related to eLearning development and to achieve the mission of making the University of Mauritius a dual-mode institution as well as the establishment of a modern ICT-based teaching and learning system at the University.

A first attempt was made in 2004 when the former Director, Prof Senteni and Prof Fagoonee, the then Vice-Chancellor, setup the Lifelong Learning Cluster board to act as a virtual faculty giving three university centres namely the CITS, the VCILT and the CPDL the capacity to mount innovative flexible online programmes. 

For some well documented reasons, the LLC worked quite well without really gathering the synergy to achieve the mission and vision of the University when the centres were respectively created in 1993 (CPDL) and the VCILT (2001).

Since 2007 or so, when the visionary Prof Fagoonee realised that the two directors were reaching the end of their respective contracts and career, he launched the idea of a merger of both centres to strengthen them into 1 core that will foster a more conducive environment that will reduce the concept of 'turf-wars' - a very common phenomenon in Mauritius (and may be in other countries also).

On one hand one centre wanted to stick to its main strength, that of doing paper-based on-campus and off-campus traditional DE, while the other Centre (VCILT) was always under the pressure to deliver as per its mandate. 

As a result the merger never happened. In 2011, the merger was finally approved by Senate but could not pass the Council step. Finally in 2014, the Centres became one as will as from now be known as the Centre for Innovative and Lifelong Learning. It will have one common vision and will work towards a common strategic direction. 

The website of the new centre can be accessed here.