Using Alternative Learning Mode (ALM) in Engaging Students at the University of Sierra Leone During the Ebola Outbreak

24 – 28 August 2015

What happens in an higher educational institutional setting when you are suddenly faced with a deadly epidemic such as Ebola that turns everything up side down? In this one week seminar Dr. Daniel Stevens from the University of Sierra Leone will discuss Alternative Learning Modes (ALM) and give some insights into the measures needed to be taken during the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. This seminar will begin on Monday 24 August with an online live session at 12:30 pm (South African time – GMT+2) followed by asynchronous discussions for the rest of the week.

Synopsis: Due to the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, the University of Sierra Leone decides to engage its students on some alternative learning mode. These include uploading lecture notes on the website, burning of lecture notes on CDs/DVDs, provision of hard copies to students, radio programs etc. The ICT directorate therefore created official email addresses for all its students at the university. These students includes; all students from the Fourah Bay College, College of Medicines and Allied Health Sciences and all students from the Institute of Public Administration and Management. The directorate also created official email addresses for all the academic and administrative staffs of the university. Also, mailing lists were created for all the programs and levels in the university to ensure that lecturers can then develop their learning materials and then send these materials as attachment to their respective students. Within the different mailing list, all the students who are registered for a particular module would have their respective email addresses that were created for them. By so doing all the students of the University of Sierra Leone were engaged during the period of the Ebola epidemic as this epidemic prevented them from attending lectures or any other form of learning for more than eight months. The University of Sierra Leone is one of these old universities that have not been using ICT for any purpose whatsoever. There has been no ICT infrastructure in place before the Ebola epidemic hit the country. Looking at the environment and the situation, the only solution to the problem was the use of the Alternative Learning Mode (ALM) in its inception stage. This paper would discuss the different steps taken to accomplish the ALM, the challenges encountered, lesson learns and the way forward for the university

View resources for this seminar on on the seminar landing page

Dr. Daniel Stevens is head of the ICT Directorate at the University of Sierra Leone


The paradox of opening up higher education within the traditional university paradigm

17 – 21 August 2015

Come and join us for this seminar with Bernard Nkuyubwatsi from the University of Leicester, UK on policies and the implementation of open access and open distance learning. Please sign up using the form below

This online seminar provide insights and a challenge to stakeholders in tertiary education who are interested in the use of open, distance and e-learning, open educational practices and open learning practices to reach underprivileged learners. It is particularly relevant to those who are implementing or planning to implement opening up tertiary education in under-resourced settings.
Open, distance and e-learning, open educational practices and open learning practices have enabled the expansion of learning opportunities beyond physical university boundaries. The implementation of open, distance learning by a conventional education university can however be challenging when the university does not have a specific open education agenda. My paper offers a critical discussion of the challenges of opening up tertiary education in Rwanda within a traditional education mold. Despite a completed open distance learning project and a plethora of political rhetoric on the use of open distance learning to accelerate the transformation toward knowledge-based economy, half of students who were admitted in the public tertiary education in 2014/2015 could not attend their undergraduate education.
I argue that transformation towards a knowledge economy which is politically championed cannot be achieved without servicing the overwhelming majority of secondary education graduates who qualify and wish to attend tertiary education. Government and institutional policy documents that champion open access and open distance learning in Rwanda are surveyed and contrasted to practices among different categories of stakeholders. Using a framework for collaboratively opening up education, I will make recommendations for reaching learners who wish to attend tertiary education but are not included due to their underprivileged situations.

This seminar ended on Friday 21 August – Please view the resources on the landing page here!

Bernard Nkuyubwatsi is a PhD research student at University of Leicester under the Commonwealth Scholar Award. His research focuses on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and Open Educational Resources (OER) for widening participation in higher education. Bernard is also a member of the Global Open Educational Resources Graduate Network (GO-GN), The Open Education Working Group, The Open Policy Network (OPN) and Global Scholar Network (GSN).

Benchmarking e-learning with the e-Learning Maturity Model (eMM)

10 – 14 August 2015

This event has ended – presentation resources are still available here

More and more institutions have eLearning programmes in place and many have had for quite a while. On the question on how to assess the maturity of eLearning programmes Antoinette Mukendwa from Polytechnic of Namibia  will lead this one week seminar on e-Learning maturity models in Higher Educational Institutions. The schedule for the week will be the following:

Monday 10 August: Presentation resources and discussion forum will be made available on e/merge Africa live site. Presentation resources and discussion forum will remain available until Friday 14 August.

Tuesday 11 August at 2 pm (South African time GMT+2): Antoinette Mukendwa will host an online live presentation via Adobe Connect giving participants a good opportunity to engage with the topic. Please access our Adobe Connect meeting room here. At the prompt please choose Enter as a guest, provide a name then choose Enter room. For more details on how to join our Adobe Connect sessions please view this short guide

Friday 14 August: Official closing of this seminar. Presentation resources and online live session recording will remain available

Please sign up using the form below.

The e-Learning Maturity (eMM) model is a powerful and sophisticated business process model which has been customised for use in benchmarking e-learning systems and processes. This seminar will assist you in considering how to use the eMM to assess and/or compare the capability of your institution/organisation to sustainably develop, deploy and support e-learning.
The eMM was conceptualised as a benchmarking framework to guide and support institutions collaborating or working individually on their e-learning capability (Marshall, 2012). The eMM does this by providing a clear picture of an institution’s strengths and weaknesses, combined with a pathway for improving capability. The eMM provides a mechanism for organisations to determine their own priorities, with sufficient flexibility to select technologies and pedagogies that are appropriate to learners, staff and stakeholder expectations (Marshall, 2010). A key aspect of the eMM is that it does not rank institutions, but rather acknowledges the reality that all institutions will have aspects of strength and weakness that can be learnt from and improved (Marshall, 2010).


Marshall, S. (2010). A quality framework for continuous improvement of e-learning: The e-learning Maturity Model. International Journal of e-learning and Distance Education, 24 (1), p. 143 -166.

Antoinette Mukendwa is Coordinator: Educational Technology at Polytechnic of Namibia