The project shall be governed by the Makerere University Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program Steering Committee chaired by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Academic affairs. The day-to-day implementation shall be done by the Project Implementation Team comprising of staff from the Institute of Open, Distance, and e-Learning, the Directorate of ICT Support, and other co-opted staff.
This project was developed in response to a call for proposals by the MasterCard Foundation which aims at supporting Scholar Program universities to recover from the effects of COVID-19.
This project has three specific objectives:
- Develop high-quality and inclusive academic online content;
- Develop high-quality and inclusive learner support services online content; and
- Enhance access to and utilization of online content.
By developing high-quality inclusive e-content and improving the e-learning environment, Goal 2 of Makerere University’s Strategic Plan 2020-2030, which relates to innovation in teaching and learning, shall be attained. The project is implemented by Makerere University staff working on a part-time basis on the project.
A core team of 12 e-learning content development specialists shall be drawn from Makerere University Institute of Open Distance and e-Learning (IODeL). These 12 staffs are part of the 15 nominees from Makerere University who are participating in the Online Pedagogy and Instructional Design training (Work Stream A) offered by Arizona State University and the United States International University – Africa. The Institute of Open, Distance, and e-Learning has the mandate to mainstream Open, Distance, and e-Learning pedagogy within all units of the University. It also plays an oversight role for Open, Distance, and e-Learning integration into curricula at Makerere University. The 12 staff from the Institute of Open, Distance, and e-Learning shall be supplemented by 20 other trained e-content developers that are scattered across different colleges of Makerere University. Note that 17 of these 20 additional staff are not under the present Work Stream A training offered by ASU and USIU-A. However, they (the 17) have received and continue to receive training in online pedagogy and instructional design from the Institute of Open, Distance, and e-Learning. Three (3) of the 20 staff are together with the 12 staff from the Institute of Open, Distance, and e-Learning in the ASU and USIU-A Work Stream A training.
The 32 online pedagogy and instructional design (e-content development) experts shall work as mentors/coaches for subject matter experts (SMEs) who will be developing the content. On a quarterly basis, each of the 32 e-content development experts shall mentor/coach 10 subject matter experts (SMEs) to develop e-content for two (2) course units over the project period (4 quarters). The experts too will develop e-content for the courses on offer. Therefore, the project targets developing e-content for a minimum of 2,560-course units (32 mentors *10 SMEs *4 quarters * 2 courses per SME). The plan of development of the 2,560-course units is detailed in the project planner. Since the course units reside in already accredited study programs, there are no requirements for accreditation of the component of the course units.
Furthermore, Makerere University presently has permission from the National Council for Higher Education to roll out all its hitherto in-person study programs onto open distance and e-Learning systems. The e-content shall be developed following the development frameworks by the Institute of Open, Distance, and e-Learning while abiding by the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) minimum standards for virtual courses and Quality Matters rubric. Content shall either be developed from scratch or adapted/repurposed for use from open education resources.
In addition to developing academic content, content for learner support shall also be developed. The Counselling and Guidance Center of Makerere University shall be at the forefront of developing this e-content. To support the increased volumes of content and user traffic arising from the policy of requiring all academic programs (over 300 of them) to adopt Open, Distance, and e-Learning teaching, the project has included some infrastructural requirements, namely 1) high-end servers to support the Makerere University Electronic Learning Environment (MUELE) which will be hosting the content developed and online-based assessment, video streaming server to support streaming of multimedia content such as videos and audios, multimedia production studios to support the production of multi-media content. To enhance online facilitation, the project also proposes to secure licenses for online facilitation tools such as Mentimeter and Jamboard. To enhance the creation of employability skills and their visualization, an e-portfolio system will be developed. Since more than 76% of learners at Makerere University use smartphones to access content on Makerere University Electronic Learning Environment, the Makerere University Electronic Learning Environment Mobile App which has been in limbo shall be revitalized.
Project results shall include at least 2,560 academic course unit content developed while the overall impact of the project will be increased resilience of Makerere University in the wake of calamities and pandemics.