Makerere Launches an e-learning centre (Telematics receiving studio) for Food Scientists
The Project PI MAK, Prof. John Muyonga speaking live on screen from South Africa
Makerere University in partnership with Stellenbosch University of South Africa and Jomo Kenyatta University of Kenya has launched a telematics receiving studio to support Food Science and Human Nutrition training at the University.
The facility, which is the first of its kind in Uganda was launched on Wednesday 10th February, 2016 in room A2-04 at the School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio engineering (SFTNB).
The function was presided over by the Deputy Director, Directorate of Graduate Research and Training Prof. David Owiny and the Deputy Principal, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Assoc. Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga. The function also attracted University staff from different units including the ICT.
Deputy Director, DGRT, Prof. David Owiny speaking during the centre launch
The centre will enable students to receive transmissions from telematic transmission studios in Stellenbosch University. The facility was procured under the European Union (EU) –Edulink II funded project titled, “Partnerships to strengthen University Food and Nutrition Sciences training and Research in Eastern and Southern Africa (PASUFONS).
PASUFONS is a three years project running from 2013 -2016 at a total cost of 583,747 Euros approximately UGX. 2.2 bn. The project main partners are Makerere University (MAK), Stellenbosch University (SU) and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT). Associate partners are the Regional Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) and the South African Association of Food Science and Technology ( SAAoST). Prof. John Muyonga who is also the Dean SFTNB, is the Principal Investigator of the project, Makerere University.
The launch of the e- learning center is part of the project activities that will enable Graduate students (MSc & PhD) as well as staff from partner universities to share human resources, information, research and innovations without physical movements to the respective host countries.
Other project activities include review and update of existing academic programs in participating higher institutions of learning, Development of course materials and Joint research by partnering institutions and private sector. Other activities are Short term courses for technical and academic staff, Joint research activities and Dissemination of project outputs through diverse media.
The overall object of the project is to enhance the contribution of Higher education Institutions to food and nutrition security of communities in Eastern and Southern Africa.
Speaking on behalf of the Principal Investigator of the project, Assoc. Prof. William Kyamuhangire said the facility will facilitate joint teaching between partner institutions.
“One of the components is to share information, human resources and infrastructure that is existing among partner universities. Stellenbosch University has been using this technology for the past 20 years and it will be feeding Uganda which is embracing this technology for the first time”. Said Assoc. Prof. Kyamuhangire.
Assoc. Prof. William Kyamuhangire (standing) addressing participants on behalf of the project PI
He said, the project will benefit Masters and PhD students but the number of programs and students will not be limited.
“The question is how many programs you want. So, the curriculum has to be synchronized to benefit the students so that if a lecture is going on at Stellenbosch University, they can receive it live and ask questions.” Assoc. Prof. Kyamuhangire stated.
He said the lectures can also be pre-recorded on CDs and sent to Stellenbosch to broadcast for other universities which don’t have the broadcasting studios. He added that the instead of students going to Stellenbosch, they will study from Makerere University. He further said the benefits go beyond graduate students to academic and technical staff, university food and nutrition science departments among others.
The Deputy Principal College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Assoc. Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga described the project as the university’s right step towards embracing ICT based learning.
“We are putting training in a virtual sphere where access is going to be easier for students and for the tutors. One of the challenge we are going to have is the infrastructure because this is a web based training where we need a lot of infrastructure that is IT based which at Makerere we are trying our level best to have given that we are embracing electronic learning and it is our obligation to invest in it”. She said.
She said the technology will be cheaper than having tickets transporting students and professors to visit other universities adding that the platform is going to enable Makerere University students and staff share information instantly.
Deputy Pricipal CAES, Assoc. Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga giving her remarks
“Time is key in research, so if you don’t get information in time, you lose out on it. This platform is able to demonstrate visually what an agricultural student should really see when they visit the field. So students are going to see a virtual field, it will be visible online and they will be able to participate because it is interactive. So the students do not need to move to the field but will be in the classroom and be able to follow all experiments in relation to agriculture”. Assoc. Prof. Nabanoga explained.
The in-charge of e- learning platform at Makerere University Mr. Tito .O. Okumu explained that there is a transmitter set at Stellenbosch University. The two universities - Makerere and Jomo Kenyatta have got receiver sets for the time being. The receiver set receives signals directly from the Stellenbosch University and it can be viewed from Makerere and Jonmo Kenyatta Universities live. Tele means it has to do with transferring signals so the telecommunications is done, pictures are received so you can watch and ask question send via sms.
Mr. Okumu added that in this setting , Stellenbosch has a transmission set which uses satellite signals just like Digital TV set technology to broadcast signals except that the technology is being used for educational purposes.
The panel as viewed and heard live fom South Africa. L to R is the Moderator, Vice Rector Stellensbosch University, Prof John Muyonga (MAK) and Prof Kenji (JKUAT)
“When they say they have launched, it means they have started transmission from Stellenbosch to Makerere and Jomo Kenyatta University. Eventually Makerere University will be able to teach from here and send the signals to other universities but at the moment, signals are coming from Stellenbosch university”, The ICT expert explained.
Officiating at the launch of the centre, the Deputy Director, Makerere University Directorate of Graduate Research and Training, Prof. David Owinyi applauded Prof. John Muyonga (MAK, PI) and the team, the School of Food Technology Nutrition and Bio engineering and the college for initiating the idea.
Prof. Owinyi described Stellenbosch as one of the powerful universities in Sub Saharan Africa that has come up with a lot of innovations. He observed that the partnership with such a powerful university was based on Makerere’s good performance in research, publications and being Number 3 in Africa.
The session moderator as seen and heard live on screen from the transmission studio at Stellensbosch University South Africa
“This is a very good initiative. It looks simple but I wish the whole university embraces it. Stellenbosch is very powerful and has done a lot of innovations but whenever they do something, they blow it out to publicize. I implore you to work with them, improve our system and be on top of Africa and even in the world”. The professor implored staff.
Prof. Owinyi, expressed the University and Directorate’s commitment to support the college and the school towards realizing the project goals and objectives.
Report compiled by:
College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences.