ACU PEBL programme: advancing access to higher education through blended learning

ACU PEBL programme: advancing access to higher education through blended learning

Published on 03 June 2019

Some of the biggest names in higher education from across East Africa were brought together in Kigali, Rwanda, recently. The reason for this illustrious assembly of university leaders was the 2019 network meeting for the PEBL programme. The event, run over 4 days, had a variety of events to strengthen cooperation.

Day 1 was primarily focused on the Module Development Fund Committee and Steering Committee meetings. During these meetings local and international project partners deliberated on the 41 module proposals put forth by 15 of the universities, from which 9 modules were chosen for development. These modules, collectively, cover the 4 most highly sought after topics – Business, ICT, Health and Allied Sciences and Education.

Day 2 revolved around a series of presentations on project progress, use of Learning Management Systems (LMS) and Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning. All universities in the PEBL Network took the opportunity to voice some of the challenges they face, including a lack of capacity development support on the use of virtual tools and ambiguity in guidelines on the use of blended learning pedagogies. 

On day 3 participants received a live demonstration on the uploading of PEBL modules from OER Africa’s website, where the courses are currently hosted, to an LMS. Participants were especially impressed that quality assured blended courses, developed by another institution, could be easily incorporated into their university’s LMS. One of the attendees commented: ‘This session was very useful to me. We were able to incorporate two modules into our LMS, i.e. Research methodology and Entrepreneurship.’

Additionally, Dr. Rhoda Gitonga and Dr. George Onyango, from Kenyatta University, gave a highly interactive and engaging presentation on the practicalities of developing a module for PEBL. Participants were grouped together by institution and were asked to choose a course and introduce activities that would catalyse the achievement of learning outcomes. All groups suggested activities that would motivate students to use various technological tools and presenters provided constructive feedback. The session ended on a high note as participants, including presenters, agreed that ‘all of us are learners here’.

The final day brought together lecturers and module developers, giving them the space to interact, exchange ideas and ask questions. Developers of the Biochemistry and Research Methodology in Business courses presented their modules to the tutors and highlighted how the content could be delivered in a blended fashion. One participant said, ‘This presentation changed my thinking on how to approach teaching’.

Dr Lucy Ikiara, Director Of Quality Assurance at Kenya Methodist University said, 'PEBL will help universities deliver their programmes and reach out to counterparts in other countries or regions so that we can share experiences, and ensure we deliver our programmes in a comprehensive way.'

In between sessions, the Commonwealth of Learning shared presentations on the Quality Assurance tools being used for the project, while Higher Education Commissioners from Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania spoke about their engagements.

The Partnership for Enhanced and Blended Learning (PEBL) is supported by DFID's SPHEIR programme.