Sunday, 30 November 2014

CILL - a work in progress

It will be soon 6 months into its existence following the merging of the two centres namely CDPL and the VCILT. Some of the activities that the CILL has been engaging into (excluding existing ongoing work prior to the merging) are as follows:

1. Research and Development
As Associate Professor in the Centre, my main aim is to leave a mark on research and development activities of CILL. I am currently working on the CRIG Project with Uptoten Ltd (previous blog post) to be funded by the MRC, and another similar one with the State Informatics Limited.There is already an ongoing research project that is looking into the elements affecting students’ performances in online courses (previous blog post). I am setting up a living lab for teaching and learning at the CILL and the project is ongoing and it has made quite some progress. The project involves a bunch of our students too. Hopefully next year CILL will aim to become a member of ENOLL and the Living Lab project will get into another phase of its activity.

The work I engaged myself in 4-5 years ago in rapid elearning is into a later stage of activity where we have already started capacity-building activities on a regional scale to disseminate the technique. A project has been submitted to AAUN for funding the development of courseware in the context of a post-graduate certificate in teaching and learning.

2. Teaching and Learning

The first achievement is that the Diploma in Management and its top-up component has been migrated online (to the elearning platform). We are still in the process of refining the presentation of the content. This course is currently offered on DE mode with face-to-face components every Saturday on a full day basis. The modality will be reviewed for more flexibility in the programme. A University-wide e-learning policy has been worked out by the academic team and submitted to management back somewhere around April 2014. It will aim at transforming the teaching and learning landscape at the University. Administrative processes related to the management of the teaching and learning component of commissioned courses (re: Certificate in Police Duties) have been improved and done with more rigor to ensure adherence to University standards. CILL Quality Assurance Team has been recently set up to look into all quality issues and general issues related to teaching and learning and delivery of programmes at CILL. We are working with the Commonwealth of Learning to deliver two programmes of studies namely the Quality Assurance in Higher Education and the Education Leadership Masters. An MOU has been drafted and will hopefully be implemented soon. We have reviewed the structure of our MSc in Educational Technologies to make it in line with recent developments in the field and in line with our forthcoming collaboration with GESCI for the African Leadership in ICT. The programme structure has been reworked in such a way that it will be conducive to reach out to foreign students who can follow the course while being in their home country, and at the same time we have taken steps to ensure quality will be maintained. Similarly the three new programmes are being worked out that will help the University in its strategic directions 2 and 3 with a particular emphasis on internationalization.
The three programmes are as follows:
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Rapid e-Learning Methodologies (Support of COL)
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Quality Assurance in Higher Education (Collaboration with COL)
  • Masters in Education Leadership (collaboration with COL)
3. Service to the University

CILL has maintained the VCILT’s tradition to be a highly efficient unit when it comes to supporting the University’s activities in general. CILL technical staff (web multimedia developers, visual communication designer and research assistant) has been providing unflinching support to the following activities:

  • Assisting the CITS in the redesign of the UoM website
  • Newsletter design and artwork as well as brochures
  • Mounting of the UoM Strategic Plan 2015-2020
  • Assisting in Court meeting PowerPoint Presentation
  • Technical support for the Use of Moodle e-Learning Platform
  • Working on the UoM 3D modeling project, to improve visibility of UoM on Google Maps and to improve student experience on campus (Strategic Direction 4)
  • Conducting workshops for educators on the use of 21st Century teaching and learning skills (Strategic Direction 5 on Community engagement)
  • Annual research week website and abstract handling system

4. Challenges of Leadership and Management

  • Moving all staff to the CORE without major complaint and resistance, occupying classrooms as offices, to work in difficult situations with no running water, intermittent Internet connection and with no access to UoM intranet services (MIS/SIS etc), and difficulty of transport for dispatch, and no fax.
  • Handling two different generation of work cultures (CPDL and VCILT), different aspirations and multiple grades of staff in one Centre (Academics, IDs, Web Developers and Administrative Staff). This is a unique situation at the University.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

CRIG Collaborative Research and Innovation Grant

Mobile (Tablet) Adaptation of the Flash-Based Edutainment Website

Its been a long time no post on the blog! But things have been happening and I will be slowly updating the posts over here.

The MRC has recently launched the CRIG scheme where a private company can apply for research and development grant jointly with a collaborating academic/institution. The proposals should be for innovative, collaborative research and development projects with commercial potential.

I have been working with the Uptoten Ltd company, which is mainly a fun based learning website for kids and Uptoten Ltd has submitted a project for funding to the MRC. The collaborating institution is the UoM and I am the Principal Investigator of the project along with my colleague Roopesh Sungkur from the Computer Science Department. The project has been accepted in principle for funding and the last step is being awaited to finalise the process.

The technical abstract of the proposal is as follows: is a kids fun learning website with a worldwide visibility deriving its major traffic from France, the US, Canada and India. The main problem is that in 2014, 80 percent of the new visitors to the site access it via a tablet or a Smartphone. Given that the site is mainly in Flash and not tablet-compatible, such visitors spend only an average of 2 minutes and visit only 2 pages maximum on the site prior to opting out of it, compared to an average of 15 minutes and 15 pages when the site is accessed on a desktop/laptop computer. UPTOTEN is currently struggling to maintain its customer base due to the exponential growth of tablet utilisation among its primary customers. The aim of this project is to develop a rapid methodological process that can be applied on a large scale to re-adapt flash-based games to mobile mainly tablet-based environments. This will eventually help in improving the financial sustainability of the company by retaining its customer base through the development of a redesigned product that is responsive to their needs that is a tablet-compatible environment.