A Collaborative E-learning Approach : Exploring a Peer Assignment Review Process at the University Level in Uganda
Abstract: There is an increasing need, driven by the job market, for quality education and that requires expertise which is continuously being developed. The integration of e-learning into the education system is viewed as one way to meet this growing need for high-quality education. In developing country contexts, however, where there is a genuine need to join the knowledge society there is limited knowledge about the use of e-learning to facilitate learning. In fact, the actualization of e-learning for this purpose is very limited and in some cases lacking altogether.This thesis is about how collaborative e-learning can be integrated in the teaching and learning process to support learning at the university level in a developing country context. The main research question to be answered is how collaborative e-learning support can student learning at the university level in Uganda. In an effort to answer this research question three exploratory case studies were carried out at Makerere University, Uganda. A mixed-methods approach was adopted to collect data and analyse the findings. The thesis explores an approach to supporting students' learning, a peer assignment review process model for collaborative e-learning employing development research. The model uses students to support each other’s learning through four process stages: familiarization, assignment, review and feedback.Initial findings indicate that the current learning and teaching environment challenges the adoption and effective use of collaborative e-learning to support student learning. This is mainly attributed to the pedagogical culture and curriculum which is predominantly traditional, lecturers’ ability to use ICT pedagogy effectively, and the readiness of the environment to support collaborative e-learning. Notwithstanding the challenges, it was established that the peer assignment review process model for collaborative e-learning facilitated the students' learning. Students were able to participate actively in the course, gain experience in critical reading and evaluating peers' work, and reflect on their own work.This thesis provides a practical approach for designing and implementing collaborative e-learning approaches to support student learning at the university level in a developing country context. It further highlights factors that are pertinent to supporting and sustaining student learning in a collaborative e-learning environment under the following categories: Institutional Readiness (44 factors), Technology/Infrastructure Readiness (40 factors) and Pedagogical Change (45 factors).
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