Framework for an open e-learning system to enhance collaboration between students a case of universities in Kenya
There has been an increase in the use of Learning Management systems by institutions of higher learning worldwide. Various E-Learning systems are currently being utilized by various universities from commercial Learning Management systems such as Blackboard to open source developed systems such as Moodle Platform. Despite the various benefits that institutions obtain from implementing Learning Management Systems such as increased student participation, prompt feedback, easy access to content etc. their adoption in universities in Kenya is quite low. Challenges faced by these institutions include high cost, slow uptake by students as well as lecturers, slow development in terms of infrastructure and weak collaboration mechanisms. Furthermore, currently there the use of a platform that allows for collaborative learning between the various universities in Kenya via the E-Learning platform is not widely implemented and is still in its infancy. In developed countries in Europe and the Americas, various collaboration mechanisms via E-learning exist allowing students across various universities to access educational content stored in a different university’s learning management system portal. For example, Massachusetts Institute of Technology “Coursera” platform facilitates educational collaboration. This research proposes a framework that allows for collaboration between the various E-Learning platforms used by universities in Kenya. This raises several important issues that concern virtual group formation techniques, group regulation and role-playing by students. Other important aspects are related to the pedagogical side and include setting project development phases, assessment, tutor role, student tracking, and the tutor’s understanding and awareness of the social and cognitive processes. The framework proposes the amalgamation of student accounts using an Active Directory system to enable students to access a particular university’s extranet portal thus allowing students to access educational content of another university. Thus one student account can access various universities extranets hence enhancing educational experience for the student. Students’ views regarding the current E-learning platform they currently use and the perceptions envisaged in the implementation of an Open E-Learning platforms were captured using questionnaires which aimed to capture which facets of E-Learning would augment its use in addition to traditional face to face classroom learning. The questionnaire captured responses pertaining to system performance, system functionality, system response and system interactivity of an E-Learning system.