ICT and distance education in Makerere and Kyambogo Universities
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Distance education in Ugandan universities has not been exploited to its full potential. Yet it is a solution to many who want to upgrade but do not find conventional class time favorable. Distance education needs to be properly supported to benefit those who undertake it as does education in a normal setting. The study entailed exploring the use of ICTs to enhance distance education and it was conducted in the universities of Makerere and Kyambogo, which represented all universities that offer distance education programs in Uganda because they offer more vibrant distance education than others. It should be noted that the support system in distance education in both universities is not fully developed. The study was a non experimental co-relational survey and was mainly quantitative because variables measured with numbers and was analyzed using statistical procedures. The two variables were tested for any significant relationship using Pearson’s Product Moment Co-relation Co-efficient. Instructors and students involved in distance education in the two universities were sampled. Questionnaires and Interview guides were designed to collect views from instructors and students concerning distance education with the objective of establishing the utilization of synchronous as well as asynchronous ICTs in enhancing distance education in Ugandan universities. The research discovered that distance education in both universities is not fully supported and the utilization of ICTs is on a small scale. Asynchronous ICTs were found to enhance distance education on a small scale in Ugandan universities. This was mainly because apart from the e-mail which was being utilized to some degree, web pages, discussion boards, audio cassettes and television were not so much being utilized. Asynchronous ICTs were used mainly by students to interact with instructors. Instructors used them in their delivery and development of distance education. Synchronous ICTs were found to enhance distance education more than asynchronous ICTs. This was probably because they involve real time communication between the learners and the instructors. Telephones, more especially mobile telephones were being used more than other ICTs. Video conferencing was not being used in distance education because the facilities were not in place. Text based chat and projectors were being used on a very small scale. All in all, synchronous ICTs were being used mostly in interaction between learners and between the learners and the instructors. It should also be noted that students were found to use ICTs more than instructors but not in their distance education. Full implementation of distance education in Uganda requires maximum use of all the available ICTs on one part. Education should also be given a priority in the country and it should be fully supported. Everyone involved in distance education should have skills in adapting to new technology. Generally, more studies in distance education are still needed and these will improve skills exploited and will help to upgrade it to international standards in all Ugandan universities.