Thursday, 31 August 2017

Developing advanced ICT Skills Courses as Open Educational Resources

The University of Mauritius through the Centre for Innovative and Lifelong Learning, has entered in a contribution agreement with the Commonwealth of Learning for the developing of 4 advanced ICT courses which will be released as OERs and which will be used in our existing programmes and also offered as stand-alone modules to improve the employability of youth and mainly women in the ICT sector. 

The four online modules to be developed are as follows:

1. Digital Marketing
2. Internet of Things
3. Computer Forensics and Security
4. Big Data Analytics and R Programming

The project takes on board the Centre for Information Technology and Systems (CITS), the Faculty of ICDT of the UoM and the CILL as the coordinating body. The total project value is about CAD 50000 with a contribution of the Commonwealth of Learning to the tune of approx. CAD 22000. 

This project further strengthens the ongoing partnership of the University of Mauritius and the Commonwealth of Learning. The contact person for the COL in this project is Dr Sanjaya Mishra.  

Two workshops on course writing will also be organised during the project where coursewriters, instructional designers, educational technologies and web developers will meet to discuss about the design and development process, to ensure the highest quality of learning materials are released as open educational resources. 

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Australia-Africa Universities Network Funding 2017

After the successful implementation of the first funded project from the AAUN on the rapid elearning methodology, we were a bit disappointed not to have secured another project when the announcements were made in February 2017. But we had hope when the AAUN announced, that it had earmarked another 'three excellent' projects for funding in case they received additional funds. Here it is, yesterday the email restored the happiness back in the team when we were announced that our application has finally been successful! We thank the AAUN for their continued support to the University of Mauritius initiatives. It is the second AAUN project where the University of Mauritius is in the leading role. 

A summary of our project proposal is provided below:

We intend to conduct three workshops over a 1 year period with 20 educators who are interested to act as change agents to engage into a grass-root level transformation of their respective school environment. Innovation in Education and capacity building of educators in ICTs and Leadership form important elements of the knowledge society. The research team will engage into a discussion of the best educational philosophy and pedagogical model to run the capacity-building workshops to ensure transfer and acquisition of actionable skills and competencies. Once the educators are identified, we will conduct a training needs analysis with them along the themes proposed to refine our curriculum and strategy. The aim is to develop a tailor-made but adaptable and efficient continuous professional development model that can be later replicated and scaled up and applied in other developing country contexts. The approach will be a blend of online interaction, face-to-face meetings, and distributed work environment so that contact with the participants is maintained throughout the project. From the research perspective, this will take the form of an action-research project where the researchers will be mainly acting as coach, guide and critical observers. Through the online environment the educators will interact with the project partners to have access to their expertise and to engage in rich social exchanges. They will be requested to keep an online journal to regularly document and share progress made and issues encountered at school level so that collective strategies can be elaborated and tested. We expect that these change agents will be equipped with leadership skills and futures thinking skills to better influence school-based policy making to improve the overall school environment, and by extension progress towards a sustainable KS development initiative.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

My first week as Pro Vice-Chancellor (Planning & Resources)

The satisfaction and momentary feeling of happiness over, I assumed duty on 24th April 2017 and on the very first day itself, I could feel the responsibility and stress linked to this position. Too late now, its now to be or not to be…Three years, that’s a short time frame to turnaround the difficulties faced by this grand but complex institution. Three years, that’s a very long time in the career of an academic to move into management. I can understand now why all my colleagues who are Deans of Faculties often would be relieved when the end of the Deanship is near….

But I have accepted a challenge, and that is the main thing. The first week was mainly devoted to getting to understand the big picture, and the details of the modus operandi of the office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Planning & Resources). Everybody has expectations on this office to turn-around the financial situation of this University. I have said it to one newspaper, that maybe, there are some exaggerations in the form of the expectation. First, because this University is a public organization and operates in a quite rigid governance framework. This is why my vision, that I presented to the selection panel was that of a future where the teaching and learning model of the University is redefined. 

So coming back to the first week, I have been able to establish some key priorities to deal with in the first instance. The first one is a revision of our marketing strategy and the way we advertise our programmes in the press, and through other networks. The Vice-Chancellor and the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academia) and many other colleagues are fully agreeable to this. One way to generate more funds at the University is through internationalization, and the capacity to attract international students and international faculty. We want to streamline the process of online application and payment for international students, so as to improve their experiences right at the start. In so doing we will also improve our admission system for local students. 


Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Higher Ed Trends that could shape UoM potential futures

Mauritius as a small island state can no longer ignore the trends that are influencing the global higher education sector and more importantly about how the landscape will look in 10 to 15 years ahead. At least three of the main strategic directions of the strategic plan 2015-2020 of the University depend on how these main trends will affect the global higher education landscape and impact on the achievement of key objectives laid out by the institution. The key strategic directions that are directly affected by these trends are internationalization, financial sustainability, and research excellence.  

Publicly funded Universities and Government Grant  

It is generally perceived that Government subsidies to African Higher Education Institutions are not sufficient to promote sustainable research and development activities (Kavuma 2011). In many African countries and beyond, Government are even cutting on subsidies. There are now growing concerns with respect to sustainability of these institutions and fears of decline in overall quality of educational provisions (Loh 2005; Kavuma 2011; Else 2016).  

Borderless Education and Transnational Education Provision & ICTs  

There are four types of transnational education provisions namely franchise, branch campus, joint offer of programmes and online delivery. Technology is now playing a significant role in the digitization era and has revolutionized transnational education provisions leaving however new challenges from the quality assurance and legal perspectives (Santally 2016).  

Merging of Universities  

A wave of university mergers has been experienced in Europe as these universities embark on increasing ranking, foster innovation and research to keep control on a bigger share of the higher education market. University mergers make competition tougher for smaller and less renowned institutions in the fight for sustainability and survival (Mitchell 2015).  

Global Higher Education Partnerships for Transnational Research

There is clear indication that research outputs from the north are among the most cited and impactful on academia and industry. Universities such as Makerere University, in the African region that partnered for research, development and publications with researchers in Europe experienced an improved university ranking and higher research impact scores (Daily Output 2015). Global research partnerships also improve the chances of attracting funding for high end and interdisciplinary research.

Public-Private Sector Partnerships through linking academia with industry   

Universities engaging in high-end R&D are those who have received huge funding to work on industry related problems, or those are able to commercialize their R&D activities with the private sector. A number of initiatives in the European region have been developed based on the 4P model of public, private, people & partnerships to promote open innovation such as Living Labs (Quesado 2016; Santally et al. 2014).  

Higher Education Demographics & Outbound Student Mobility shifting towards the East   

By 2020, it is projected that China, Malaysia and India will be among the top 10 host countries of internationally mobile students. By 2020, four countries (India, China, US and Indonesia) will account for over 50% of the 18-22 year old globally. The other quarter will come from Nigeria, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Philippines and Mexico (British Council 2012).