Hybrid e-learning for Rural Secondary Schools in Uganda
Abstract: This licentiate thesis is concerned with the development of appropriate tools and implementation of hybrid e-learning to support science and mathematics education of female students in typical rural advanced-level secondary schools. In Uganda few rural female students participate in technology and engineering education in tertiary institutions because they perform poorly in science and mathematics subjects at advanced secondary school level of education. Rural secondary schools in Uganda are usually very poor and financially constrained schools. Generally, such schools have non-functional science laboratories and libraries. They also have difficulty in attracting and retaining qualified science and mathematics teachers, especially at advanced level of secondary education. The financial situations of the schools make capital investments in science infrastructures like laboratories and libraries impossible. Fortunately, such schools can afford to acquire computers preferably with multimedia capabilities. Hybrid e-learning can be introduced in such disadvantaged schools to support science and mathematics education. The main delivery tools under hybrid e-learning are the CD-ROMs due to their superior advantages over other portable storage devices: big memory capacity, high data transfer rate, multimedia capability and widespread standardization. Used computers with inferior capabilities that are being sold to rural schools cheaply are not useful for educational purposes. The cost of acquisition is low but the total cost of ownership is extremely high. The costs of Internet installation, bandwidth, commercial platforms and web-hosting make introduction of pure e-learning in Ugandan schools not viable, even in educationally elite secondary schools. Hybrid elearnin is the only realistic option in the complex financial situation of Ugandan secondary schools. Experience has shown that where there is Internet presence for use in education, open source web-hosting providers and open source platforms must be used. They are cheap and affordable even by poor rural secondary schools. Hybrid e-learning tools were developed to support such Ugandan schools using participatory methodology. The thesis is organized in three parts. Part I consists of six chapters including background information, concept discussions, problem statement, research questions, objectives of the study and research location. A justification of the use of participatory methodology in the research is also made in part I. Part II includes the four papers upon which the thesis is based. Part III contains a brief summary of the papers, conclusions and future research.
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