If you thought that learning only happened inside brick walls with blackboards and seats, then you are about to be shocked.
One University, fully licensed by the Uganda National Council for Higher Education has introduced a new paradigm to education. One, that brings education to where you are, wherever you live at anytime you want.
Virtual University of Uganda is the first online university in the region offering postgraduate online courses in the fields of Public Health, ICT for Development, Executive Business Administration and International Development.
Their target as you can tell are professionals with an undergraduate degree who would like to further their careers.
Virtual, but not all too virtually virtual
Even though they are fully online or virtual as they like to refer to themselves offering online learning(e-learning), they have real buildings in the real world.
But this isn’t your conventional university on vast acres of land. When I visited the Virtual University of Uganda main campus located at Muyenga, Kampala Uganda, the whole university is built on less than an acre of land.That’s on purpose according to Professor Michel Lejeune, the Vice-Chancellor of the university.
Prof. Lejeune said they wanted to prove to the world that you don’t need exorbitant resources to run a fully fledged university — at least not when you have the power of technology at your disposal.
Running an online university has enabled Prof. Lejeune to run Virtual University of Uganda on a lean budget. With only about 5 staff members physically present at the brick-and-mortar campus, the university spends only a fraction on administration costs compared to conventional universities.
Prof. Lejeune does not just rely on only 5 people, he collaborates with tens of other freelance tutors and lecturers from across the world who offer online education to their widely distributed students from across Africa.
About 30-25% of all the students who are currently about 65 are not from Uganda. They are from Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Malawi and other countries according to Prof. Lejeune.
The classroom anywhere anytime
Having attended a brick-and-mortar university for my undergraduate studies at Makerere University, I could not understand how anyone could attend lectures, accomplish assignments and do exams outside of 4 corners of a classroom. The secret is with all of us — modern technology.
Virtual University of Uganda uses Moodle (acronym for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment), a popular free software e-learning platform with a user base of 83,008 registered and verified sites, serving 70,696,570 users in 7.5+ million courses with 1.2+ million teachers.
The platform is so robust that it offers everything you would ordinarily get from the conventional teaching style, and perhaps even more.
The platform features assignment submission, discussion forums, supports file downloads, grading by lecturers, instant messages, an online calendar, online news and announcements (college and course level), online quizzes, wikis for notes and meetings and more.
When Lindo Ndagire Victoria , the University Secretary at Virtual University of Uganda took me trough the system with live students, assignments, I was completely blown away at how simply the system works.
Another interesting thing is the university library integrated with Google Scholar. This gives students access to millions of academic journals and books from across the world freely to students.