Graduate Students’ Perceptions Regarding Blended Instruction Implementation at Kyambogo University, Uganda: Implications for University Management
Kasule, George Wilson
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Background: Undeniably, universities across the globe, particularly in African countries like Uganda, more than ever before are faced with acute challenges, e.g. coping with the ever increasing number of people that desire university education as well as conducting their core activities, such as teaching in pandemic situations like COVID-19. Kyambogo University (KyU) has made an attempt to position herself to adequately handle a huge number of students as well as to teach effectively in a pandemic era, such as that of COVID-19. The University Senate resolved that all programmes be offered through blended instruction starting with the 2020/2021 academic year. Problem: KyU management has not made a comprehensive effort to ensure that students are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills for online learning as well as ensuring that the students have the gadgets and other ICT accessories that make e-learning possible. There is no empirical data that gives insights regarding whether students have adequate knowledge and skills to use online learning platforms; the attitudes of students regarding online learning; adequate internet data; and reliable power/electricity which are basic considerations for e-teaching and e-learning to take place. Thus, this study set out to find out the views of graduate students regarding blended instruction implementation and the associated implications for KyU management. Research questions: Do graduate students have adequate knowledge and skills to use online learning platforms? What is the attitude of graduate students to blended instruction? Do graduate students have adequate internet data for online learning? Do graduate students have reliable power/ electricity for online learning? What do graduate students deem as vital for effective implementation of blended learning at KyU? Methods: The study employed a cross-sectional survey. Twenty-one graduate students from the Faculty of Education at KyU were selected purposively. Data was collected through an open-ended questionnaire. The data was analysed through percentages and content analysis. Results: The findings of the study indicate that the majority of the students (71.4%) have not been introduced to online teaching platforms; 81% do not have adequate knowledge and skills to use online learning platforms; 61.9% think that online teaching and learning at KyU is a good idea; 71.4% indicated that they cannot get adequate internet data that can enable them to be part of the online teaching and learning; and 61.9% stated that they do not have reliable power/electricity at their place of work/home that can enable them to effectively participate in online learning at KyU. Conclusions: Blended instruction is an idea that is very much welcome by the graduate students. However, aspects of such instruction, e.g. internet connectivity, power availability, internet data availability, knowledge and skills to use ICT, and attitude of the lecturers and students, are some of the obstacles that hamper effective implementation of blended instruction at KyU. Implications: An aggressive attitude change strategy for students and lecturers regarding the adoption of online teaching and learning is needed. Pragmatic measures to ensure that students and lecturers are trained and have adequate knowledge and skills in ICT, and have reliable internet, adequate internet data, reliable electricity/solar power, need to be undertaken.