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HOW MUNI UNIVERSITY BEAT COVID -19 WITH BLENDED LEARNING

Prof. Christine Dranzoa, Muni University Vice Chancellor

BY RICHARD DRASIMAKU

ARUA: WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2021

At the onset of its inception and intake of pioneer students in 2014, Muni University in Arua city incorporated into its operating philosophy a concept of blended learning which involved combining face-to-face classroom lectures with on-line teaching.

As a result of that approach, Muni’s students are oriented on online learning at the beginning of every academic year when students are enrolled before commencing full-scale lectures.

When the novel coronavirus pandemic hit the country in March 2020, triggering closure of schools and tertiary institutions, Muni University was not an exception.

However Prof. Christine Dranzoa, the Vice Chancellor says the university kept open the virtual line of communication to make sure that 383 students and lecturers kept in touch throughout the lock-down.

“This was to ensure that learning continued and learners were abreast with what was in the academic arena at all times,” she said.

But the government required the institutions of higher learning to formally seek permission to implement online teaching.

Associate Professor Simon Anguma, Deputy Vice Chancellor in-charge of academics reveals that for Muni University, this requirement was merely a matter of obedient formality.

Associate Prof. Simon Anguma, Deputy Vice Chancellor in-charge of academics

In October, the government relaxed some of the stringent measures, allowing finalists to return to school to complete their academic cycle.

The academic staffs at Muni say that for them this was an opportunity to mainly teach what could not be accomplished virtually such as practical sessions in the laboratories, teaching practice for Bachelor of Science with education students and clinical practice for nursing students in the hospital.

The finalists concluded their academic year successfully and planning for a “scientific” graduation is underway.

Prof. Anguma said that further assessment by the national council for higher education and the ministry of education resulted into additional recommendations and instituted what the ministry terms the Open and Distance e-Learning (ODeL) programme.

“We are very ready to welcome the other students from March 1 to begin the last lap of their academic years which should take us up to July,” he asserted.

However, the lecturers lamented about lack of access to high speed internet albeit in this era of broadband internet and fourth generation of cellular telecommunication technology.

“We appeal to the government to support us with better bandwidth. The staff are well trained for ODeL but without improving the internet bandwidth, we shall continue to grapple with fastening learning,” Prof. Dranzoa said.

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