Towards innovative teaching methods and technologies to improve performance of teachers in higher education

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Abstract The 21st century requires some innovative skills to teaching and learning. In Ugandan higher education institutions, teacher centered approach is mostly used. We explored participatory approaches to address innovation challenges as one way to improve performance through teaching methods and technologies. This paper reports findings from the integration of blended learning and problem-based learning at Gulu University in the context of a resource constraint setting. We used Future Workshop (FW) and Collaborative eLearning Design (CoED) to prepare participants for problem solving in groups in organizations. The two methods were strategically aligned to Participatory Design (PD) methodology that was developed with the motivation to empower workers. PD also strengthen user skills to improve product and process quality in the Scandinavian. The design process was aligned to show how technology augurs teaching and the infrastructure for learning. Specifically, this case shows an extension beyond Scandinavian settings into Ugandan higher education settings. Participants for these workshops were drawn from university management and teachers from humanities, science and social sciences. The workshops were serialized starting with FW to get the cultural historical perspectives and future directions in teaching and learning at the university. CoED method presented ways of designing courses, course modules and learning activities using participatory approaches using innovative and interactive tools for collaborative eLearning design. Innovation in teaching and learning is enhanced with appropriate use of information technologies. Our finding shows that teachers develop skills, attitudes and knowledge for innovative practices to teaching and learning using available resources. The unique case at Gulu University does not only present scarcity of monetary resources but the cultural historical perspective in its drive to community transformation through innovative ways of teaching and learning. Keywords: Participatory Design, PBL, eLearning, teaching methods, teacher performance 2 SHORT OVERVIEW In the current Ugandan education system, emphasis is on individual student’s performance based on their capability to memorize what they have learnt which is measured in an examination. The students therefore compete to attain good grades and get promoted to the next level. This system sees competition value more than cooperation (Laal & Ghodsi, 2012) among learners. It is assumed that these learners will learn to cooperate and ultimately maximize their productivity at their workplaces once employed. It is known that Collaborative learning offers higher achievements and greater productivity (Laal & Ghodsi, 2012). As such, Gulu University is in the process of introducing new pedagogical models that are aligned to collaborative learning approaches supported by Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs). This paper explores participatory approaches for improving teacher performance based on innovative teaching methods and technologies. We report findings from the integration of blended learning and Problem-based Learning in a resource constraint context of Gulu university (GU) in Gulu University in Northern Uganda. Participants for this workshop were drawn from the academic and management staff of Gulu university. The participatory Design Methodology was used in understanding how to improve teacher performance in this blended learning environment being built at Gulu University. The Future Workshop and Collaborative eLearning Design (CoED) methods are specifically used to study how to improve skills, attitudes and knowledge of teachers and to develop innovative practices to teaching/learning. We used the Future workshop (FW) approach to transform integration of PBL and eLearning – here called blended learning. This method developed in the 1970’s as a tool for the civil action groups striving for better enforcement of their future interest (Apel, 2004), doing problem solving for groups and organizations such as schools (Jungk & Mullert, 1987) is unique to our study situation. The FW, according to Jungk and Mullert (1987), has fundamentally five phases viz: preparation, critique, fantasy, implementation and realization. In this research project, we followed the phases of the method as described by Apel (2004) and Jungk & Mullert (1987) in our intervention workshop. The cultural historical perspectives from Uganda, collaboration and establishing a common vision by these groups is important. The Collaborative E-Learning Design Method (CoED) was created by Aalborg university researchers with the aim of structuring design workshops for courses, course modules and other educational activities using participatory approaches. The method is endowed with innovative and interactive tools for collaborative design. It presents many ICT tools for collaboration and design of eLearning. However, the strength of this method lies in its provision for negotiation and collaboration on establishing a shared vision among practitioners (Ryberg, Buus, & Nyvang, 2015). CoED and FWs are both methods well aligned on Participatory Design (PD) methodology that originated in Scandinavia and motivated by a commitment to empower workers and espouse democracy at the workplace (Spinuzzi, 2005). PD has had impact in strengthening users’ skills and improve product quality. User participation in the decision-making process on what affects their life forms the foundation to the FW and CoED methods. In this research the design process is towards how technology can augment faculty’s teaching and its information and communication technology infrastructure. We offer a case study on how these can be combined beyond their Scandinavian settings (Zander, Georgsen, & Nyvang, 2007) in an Uganda higher education setting. We use Gulu University as a unique case not only because of its monetary resource scarcity, but also because of its cultural historical perspectives and its drive to contribute to community transformation through new innovative ways of teaching and learning. Furthermore, we highlight how these methods have improved teacher performance in a blended learning environment where PBL and eLearning was introduced. Our workshops engaged the university community by integrating the experiences of managers and teachers. Participants voices expressed that the approach is better with some reporting that they already use in their teaching even though the approved curriculum is based on teacher centered approach. References Apel, H. (2004). The Future Workshop. Heino Apel The Future Workshop Deutsches Institut Für Erwachsenenbildung, 1–12. Jungk, R., & Mullert, N. (1987). The Future Workshops. How to Create Desirable Futures. London: Imediaprint. Laal, M., & Ghodsi, S. M. (2012). Benefits of collaborative learning. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 31(2011), 486–490. Ryberg, T., Buus, L., & Nyvang, T. O. M. (2015). INTRODUCING THE COLLABORATIVE E-LEARNING DESIGN METHOD ( COED ). In M. Maina, B. Craft, & Y. Mor (Eds.) (9th ed., pp. 75–91). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. Retrieved from Spinuzzi, C. (2005). The Methodology of Participatory Design. Technical Communication, 52(2), 163–174. Zander, P.-O., Georgsen, M., & Nyvang, T. (2007). Scandinavian Participatory Design - Beyond Design, Beyond Scandinavia. In Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age: Designing and Delivering E-Learning (pp. 1–260). Aalborg.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventeLearning Africa 2019 - Ivory Cost
Duration: 14 Oct 2019 → …


ConferenceeLearning Africa 2019
LocationIvory Cost
Period14/10/2019 → …

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