Modeling Connectivity for e-Learning in Tanzania : Case-study of Rural Secondary Schools

Abstract: In response to address different development challenges, Tanzania is striving to achieve its fourth attribute of the National Development Vision, i.e. to have a well educated and learning society by the year 2025. One of the earmarked methods is to integrate ICT in education through e-learning. However, e-learning initiatives are challenged by limited or lack of connectivity to majority of secondary schools, especially those in rural and remote areas. One of the limitations for connectivity problems in rural areas of Tanzania is the high cost to establish connectivity infrastructures. The cost of connectivity varies from one technology to the other and at the same time, the cost is also different from one operator (service provider) to another within the country. It should be noted that providing network connectivity to rural regions in developing world is an economically challenging problem, especially given the low income levels and low population density in such areas. Many existing connectivity technologies incur a high deployment cost that limits their affordability. This research is focusing on the connectivity component of the ICT for Rural Development project which aims to provide in e-learning services to rural secondary schools. The other components are: Development of an Interactive e-Learning Management System and Development of e-Learning Contents and Delivery for Self Learning Environment, which collectively form the Tanzania Secondary Schools e-Learning system, abbreviated as TanSSe-L. The research employed was interdisciplinary and inspired by Participatory Action Research (PAR) Methodology. It spans from software engineering in connectivity cost calculator system development, Teletraffic engineering and simulation modeling in the connectivity performance evaluation. This is an applied type of research to solve a practical problem. Thus, the end product of this part of research is a model of an optimal connectivity solution in terms of cost and performance for rural secondary schools in Tanzania to access e-Learning resources from TanSSe-L. The licentiate thesis presents development of software system prototype to calculate cost of connectivity for the pilot rural secondary schools in Tanzania. The system is developed to make an easy access of connectivity cost from different technologies and different operators. The development of the calculator follows the V-model software development lifecycle. Furthermore, the licentiate thesis presents a simulation modeling approach to study performance of the earmarked connectivity technology. The thesis is organized into four (4) chapters: introduction, theoretical framework, research methodology, and finally a chapter on concluding discussions.