ICT in Education/Change Projects/2014C Tanzania Improving Quality Computer Education

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Will be updated on 10th February 2015 in a training program by the participants

Change agent


Name of the organization:University of Dar es Salaam

Title of the change project: Piloting the use of MOOCs to Enhance the Quality of Computer Science Education in Sub-Saharan Africa

Case of the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania


Started date:November 2014

Status (finished/ongoing):On going on

Last Updated on: 6th February 2015

1. Background

The significance of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to enhance every sector in Sub Saharan countries cannot be overstated. Sectors such as banking, transportation, education, communications, and medical services can improve service delivery and gaining advantage in the completive market through utilization of ICT. So far however, many countries have not made full utilization of ICT in many sectors of the economy. This is due to the fact that computer science education in Sub-Saharan countries like Tanzania faces several challenges.

First, the majority of institutions do not have well-trained faculty to teach computer science courses more effectively (Chetty, Buckhalter, Best, Grinter, & Guzdial, 2007). According to Rai et al. (2013), many senior faculty  who are currently teaching computer science were graduates of mathematics and other related field at undergraduate level who were trained at MSc or PhD level in disciplines related to computer science. As a result, most of them tend to lack aspects of computer science foundation.

Second, there is also a massive shortage of doctoral-level faculty to as low as 20% in many institutions in the region which impacts on their ability to provide quality instruction and research (Bezy, 2013). It is not uncommon to find a bachelor’s degree faculty member teaching at university level symptomatic of the further decline of the quality of education in Sub-Saharan institutions (Tettey, 2010). 

Third, many existing curricula are outdated. For instance, Bezy (2013) found that one major South African university had not updated their curriculum for the last 20 years. Bezy (2013) further pointed out that some courses such as mobile and wireless technology, mobile software development, human computer interaction are rarely found in these institutions, although they are critical for Africa. This is a biggest problem as many students are not trained on the new skills that could enable them competitive in global market as well as to be able to meet the needs of local IT industry.

Finally, the majority of faculty members rely on behaviorism pedagogical approach where students become recipient of instruction from their teachers (Bezy, 2013). In this approach, students are evaluated based on their capacity to remember and repeat the content of the course taught by their teachers. Bezy (2013) pointed out that his approach is not suited to teach complicated materials like that of computer science that require students be critical thinkers, solve problems and develop creative solutions.

Given these challenges and many others facing computer science education, the mismatch between the degrees offered and the skills required by the labor market has been evident (Bezy, 2013). Many graduates suffer from unemployment while many jobs remain unfilled (Bezy, 2013; Sawahel, 2011) as graduates do not have the skills that industries seek in the candidates (Bezy, 2013; Trucano, 2013).

This change project aims to pilot the use of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to improve the quality of computer science education Sub-Saharan countries. The pilot project will be conducted at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM). The MOOCs are free, open access and scalable online courses with open-ended outcomes (Mcauley, Stewart, Siemens, & Cormier, 2010). These courses have been developed and offered by elite academic institutions or by independently by facilitators in conjunction with start-ups firms (Mcauley et al., 2010).

2. Objectives

The main objective of this change project is to pilot the use of MOOCs to improve the quality of computer science education in Sub-Saharan countries specifically at University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

The specific objectives of the project are

(a)     Identify relevant MOOCs course from MOOCs platform that fit a certain course in computer science.

(b)     Determine pedagogical strategies to integrate MOOCs into in the current face-to-face teaching

(c)     By using selected strategies (b) above to pilot the MOOCs course in one semester at University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The pilot will be conducted in collaboration with faculty members at the department of Computer Science and Engineering.

(d)     Conduct assessment and evaluations from students and the instructor about the usefulness of MOOCs to enhance computer science education.

(e)     Propose how institutions in the Sub-Saharan countries can utilize MOOCs for their institutions based on the findings  

3. Stakeholders·      

  • Instructors teaching Computer Science

and Engineering at the University of Dar es Salaam.

  • Students undertaking degree in

Computer Science and Engineering

  • Life Academy
  • Center for Virtul Learning (CVL)

4. The Scope of the project

5. Activities

6. Expected or final result

  • Students

to acquire skills that are not being met by existing curricula at the University and therefore, be equipped with employable skills for both local and international IT industry.

  • Faculty

members will be able to improve their academic competences through accessing latest courses that are available in the MOOC platforms.

  • Faculty

members will be able learn new pedagogical strategies to integrate face-to-face teaching with eLearning solutions 7. The Project organization

8.      Reference

Bezy, M. (2013). Africa Oye: Raising the Bar in Africa’s Higher Education Quality - The Impact on the ICT Industry and the Danger for Africa. Retrieved May 26, 2014, from http://brel54.blogspot.com/2013/09/raising-bar-in-africas-higher-education.html

Chetty, M., Buckhalter, C., Best, M., Grinter, R. E., & Guzdial, M. (2007). Description of Computer Science Higher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa : Initial Explorations. Georgia. Retrieved from https://smartech.gatech.edu/bitstream/handle/1853/20060/07-14.pdf?sequence=1

Mcauley, A., Stewart, B., Siemens, G., & Cormier, D. (2010). The MOOC model for digital practice. Retrieved from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/MOOC_Final.pdf

Rai, I. A., Rodrigues, A. J., Venter, I. M., Suleman, H., & Edumadze, J. (2013). Relevant Computing Curricula in Sub-Saharan Africa. E-Infrastructure and E-Services for Developing Countries, 119, 239–248. Retrieved from http://pubs.cs.uct.ac.za/archive/00000749/01/Final_v5.pdf

Sawahel, W. (2011). AFRICA: Serious mismatch between skills and needs. University World News. Retrieved May 26, 2014, from http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20110520184126297

Tettey, W. J. (2010). Challenges of Developing and Retaining the Next Generation of Academics: Deficits in Academic Staff Capacity at African Universities. Calgary, Alberta Canada. Retrieved from http://www.foundation-partnership.org/pubs/pdf/tettey_deficits.pdf

Trucano, M. (2013). MOOCs in Africa. World Bank blog on ICT use in Education. Retrieved May 22, 2014, from http://blogs.worldbank.org/edutech/moocs-in-africa