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Professor Victor Mbarika

 Professor Victor Mbarika   

Executive Director, International Center for IT and Development, Southern University

A Good Farmer Should Not Complain of His/Her Tools:  Using A Hybrid E-Learning Approach at The ICT University to Reach Thousands in Developing Nations  

Victor Mbarika

The common complaint among academicians in both the economically developed and developing nations is the lack of “enough infrastructure” to operate E-learning successfully at their institutions.  While one would not argue the veracity of this complaint, Prof. Mbarika wants to challenge the audience to stop and think about how the academic community can make it happen with “what we have.”

The academic world has gone beyond the debate that Africa’s higher education institutions need information and communications technologies (ICTs) to be globally competitive while remaining locally relevant.  In the past few years, much of the work of our hybrid(online and face-to-face)  e-learning institution, The ICT University, has focused on looking at ways African, Asian and Latin American higher education institutions can take advantage of existing infrastructures to enhance student learning experiences and to facilitate the job of lecturers. In this talk Prof. Mbarika will focus on Africa’s challenges.  Three major challenges loom large:

  1. Research:  The lack of high level (quality) research on E-Learning produced by African lecturers in world renown journals and other academic outlets;
  2. Training:  Acute shortage of trained lecturers in the domain of E-Learning.  For example, we still have many lecturers with merely master’s degrees in ICT areas that are department heads of ICT at many African Universities.  There is dire need for terminal degree holders at the academic end that will in turn train other up and coming scholars to earn terminal degrees in ICTs.  E-learning does not succeed in the air.  It needs qualified academicians to provide content;
  3. Funding:  Most departments at African Universities still largely depend on funding from their respective Universities.  This is not sustainable.  There is a serious need to train lecturers and staff to develop other creative ways of attracting funding such as grants and contracts.  Supporting E-learning is just not yet a major priority area many African Universities currently invest in financially.  That is just what it is, whether or not we agree with the status quo.  Faculty members need grants to launch and sustain E-learning initiatives.  This is doable.

In this presentation, Prof. Mbarika will address all three challenges in greater details and practical steps on the way forward.  Essentially, Prof. Mbarika will offer strategies to address the issues of E-learning research, training and funding.  This will be done using lessons learned from The ICT University in the past  few years, and which has been done in collaboration with multiple African Universities.

Victor W. Mbarika. is Houston Alumnae Endowed Professor at Southern University and A&M College and is President of The ICT University which focuses on ICT training of stellar scholars based in developing nations worldwide from Bachelors through the Ph.D. level. He is founding Executive Director of the International Center for Information Technology and Development (ICITD). He is also Visiting Professor of ICT and health information technology and an external examiner at several Universities internationally. He is an ICT consultant with various governmental and private agencies. He holds a B.S. in Management Information Systems from the U.S. International University, a M.S. in MIS from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a Ph.D. in MIS from Auburn University.


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