The Research Methodology and Design for Business Course, developed by Makerere University, Uganda, is the first course to launch as part of the ACU-managed Partnership for Enhanced and Blended Learning (PEBL), which is part of the UK-Aid-funded SPHEIR (Strategic Partnerships for Higher Education Innovation and Reform) programme. This is one of six courses that are being developed in the first batch. 24 universities in Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda will be able to offer these courses in the coming months as part of their own degree programmes.
Research Methodology and Design for Business is intended to equip students with the knowledge and practices of research in organisations as well as the emerging changes in the research environment in light of new technologies. The course will focus on the practice of research in contemporary businesses, organisations, the economy and society. Students will learn how to design research projects and how to choose appropriate research designs, sampling methods, data collection methods, data analysis, data presentation, proposal and research report writing.
Professor Paul Muyinda, PEBL Coordinator and part of the module development team at Makerere, commented: 'Given the increasing number of learners willing to undertake university education and the shortage of institutions of higher learning that can take on all of them as full time students, blended learning is the key alternative in Africa. Further to this, several individuals are calling for institutions to enable them to learn at their own pace as they work or attend to other needs. The same is the request by employers who wish that their workers get new skills but yet continue working. Blended learning is again a solution to this.'
Fiona Khandoker, PEBL Programme Manager, added: 'Blended learning brings the best elements of online and face-to-face learning. It reduces the amount of time academics need to teach a course without eroding the quality of the course. This means that now, these same academics have the capacity to develop and offer more courses. Through sharing and collaboration, they can cater to a larger student body across the region.'
In order to address the critical academic staff shortages facing many East African universities, the Partnership for Enhanced and Blended Learning (PEBL) enables universities to share teaching resources through quality assured, credit-bearing degree courses, delivered through blended learning.
With support from the technical partners in terms of pedagogy (SEDA), learning technology (Edinburgh) and quality assurance (Commonwealth of Learning and the Commission for University Education), six partner universities have developed blended learning courses. 18 participant universities will offer the courses as an integral part of their own degree programmes and award their own degree credit to students enrolled in existing degree programmes.