In joint effort to strengthen the online academic interaction, the University of Rwanda-College of Education and the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) through the women’s Leadership Programme (WLP) project have introduced the Brainshare. This is a social-academic platform that enables online learning, consultation, assessment and evaluation. The pilot exercise was conducted to students in Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) who will be using the system along with periodic meetings with lecturers.
Some of the participants during the training.
In his remarks, Dr Otara Alfred who is the Deputy Dean of the School of Education and the WLP Project Investigator said that through Brainshare lecturers and students will be able to share online materials which include notes, assignments and other multimedia contents. He added that the system is designed in a way that it can incorporate discussions between lecturers and students while the latter can also read instructions and deadlines set for particular assignments.
Otara relieved students’ concern about the access to internet by revealing that the system does not require a constant internet connection. According to him, the internet will only be needed to download materials for later use. Besides, the download system is auto-generated into the platform i.e. available materials can be downloaded every time the internet signal is detected. As a result, he encouraged lecturers and students to use the system as much as they can in order to move away from handouts which are much expensive and time consuming.
Speaking during the training, Epaphrodite Habarugira who is the class representative for PGDE cohort, commended the initiative saying that it alleviates the teaching and learning process. According to him, the access to learning materials will no longer be a challenge to students since everyone has a computer gadget to retrieve or upload any information needed. He went on adding that the system provides a platform through which users can simultaneously share knowledge on different subjects.
“With brainshere you can consult either a student or a lecturer anywhere anytime,” noted Habarugira, adding that the programme is cost friendly because students will not be obliged to hand in printed assignments or other tests.
So far, a collaboration between Microsoft and UCLA made possible the provision of computer gadgets in a bid to boost lecturers and students ability to be conversant with online content and therefore facilitate the e-learning process. Brainshare is managed locally at UR-CE under the responsibility of an IT personnel trained for this purpose. More of his responsibilities include managing the learning platform by assigning classes and subjects to instructors, creating news and announcements, sending message to students and instructors as well as administering other functions.
The Women’s Leadership Program is a project that operates in the University Of Rwanda- College Of Education. It is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), implemented by UCLA UR-CE. The project strives to increase the number of highly qualified and gender-sensitive female teachers in Rwanda by promoting and supporting women’s access to UR-College of Education and affiliated Teacher Training Colleges.UR-College of Education and affiliated Teacher Training Colleges.