Electronic-learning technologies provide a window of opportunity for educational institutions to exploit and use technology to complement and support the teaching and learning processes for example, learning management system (LMS) is used as support for delivering, tracking and managing training/education to provide good academic outcomes. E-learning is the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT)-supported teaching and learning methods whose use in educational institutions is gaining momentum with the passage of time (Omwenga, 2004).
Information Communication Technology (ICT) is increasingly becoming more wide spread throughout University education worldwide. This is in line with UNESCO’s policy paper for Change and Development in Higher Education which urges Higher Education institutions to make greater use of the advantages offered by the advancement of communication technology to improve the provision and quality of their education. Many universities around the world are turning to the use of ICT, now generally referred to as e learning, as a complement to teacher led tuition on campus (Hazemi and Hailes, 2002).
The University of Copenhagen / Faculty of Life Sciences (UC/LIFE) –Denmark is among the leading universities in Denmark regarding e-learning. Approximately 95% of the teachers at UC/LIFE use ICT to communicate with the students and to plan their teaching. Around 14% mix in addition their face-to-face teaching with online exercises such as tests and online discussions, and UC/LIFE has moreover developed a number of complete online courses at Master level and as continuing education. E-learning is highly prioritized at UC/LIFE, and investments in development and support of e-learning have been made in the past five years. In 2009, the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation asked the e-learning unit at UC/LIFE (ITLC3) to analyze and document its experiences with the applied model for online learning (Monty, 2009).
Numerous universities in Asia are implementing innovative strategies to ensure the success of e-learning for academic success but three issues that are critically important for the success of these initiatives relate to the design of learning tasks which is not well instituted which lead to variation in academic performance of the students, support and resources in the learning environment, and reorganization of methods of communication and mode of delivery of instructional materials. The inconsistency of these three issues brings a negative impact on academic performance (Lim, 2004). It is a view that the organizational structures and processes that constitute the educational environment have a major impact on how teaching and learning is conducted in that environment for academic performance of students. Consequently, suggestion that how a particular VLE or MLE is designed and constructed for the purposes of management can have a profound impact on how likely it is to constrain or facilitate the use of a variety of pedagogical approaches in academic (Conole, 2004).
South Africa’s academic community’s interest in the use of e-learning technologies has climbed steadily over the last couple of years. The University of Zululand has been wrestling with the concept of “e-learning" for the last eight years before becoming steady due to poor infrastructure, proper e-learning technique and mode of delivery of instructional learning materials. At the University of Zululand it started with the supplemental use of technology in the classroom in 2000, mostly through blended courses consisting of a mixture of face-to-face and online course material (Boere and Kruger, 2008).
Like other developing countries, Kenya’s e-learning technology utilization is still limited to computer literacy training only without employing any e-learning technique and other related mode of delivery of instructional materials in e-learning. The present ICT curriculum merely deals with ‘teaching about computers’ and not how computers can be used to transform the teaching and learning in Kenyan schools. Integration should consider e-learning technologies, the pattern of student use of ICT, and the extent of use in teaching and learning programmes. A wide range of e-learning technologies should be selected and incorporated into the teaching and learning program (Muriithi, 2005).
In Uganda currently, Makerere University (MAK) is making a comprehensive analysis of the Learning Management System (LMS), the e-learning resources, and the connectivity pattern. Before 2008, MAK was using three different LMSs, but in 2008 they decided to harmonize the university use of LMSs and “Moodle” is chosen as the central and common platform. Today, about 675 courses, which is almost all courses, are transferred to the platform, however only 25 % have content. At the moment, the e-learning unit conducts training for the teaching staff in the use of the LMS, MS Office programs and e-portfolio; however additional funds are required to finalize the training for all faculties and this training is not well circulated to students. There are no “best practice” exemplars, and the training is focusing on conversion of content to fit the online format but the challenge is the implementation and equal distribution to the entire campus (Ndidde, Lubega, Babikwa and Baguma, 2009).
The Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) is one of the universities in Dar es Salaam where e-learning activities are managed by the Computer Center (CC). E-learning is in the initial stage at SUA and the CC has just installed the Learning Management System (LMS) and is about to test it. Presently no e-learning courses have been developed yet at SUA because the appropriate mode of delivery of e-learning technology materials is not well developed and instituted. SUA has an Institute of Continuing Education (ICE), that conducts some distance education, but the institute has no experience with use of ICT in the teaching in e-learning (SUA, 2010)
Academic varies according to the techniques, mode and approaches used in delivering instructional materials in e-learning education. In Kampala International University- Dar es salaam College, there is moderate utilization of e-learning technologies in teaching and learning especially for computer based students. There has been consistent progress in teaching and learning in recent years because of improved ICT facilities and other e-learning technologies which are the backbone of e-learning. However, students perform better in a good ICT environment as stated by Stepp-Greany (2002) that technology helps weak students by “redistributing teacher and classmate attention so that incapable students can become more active participants in the class”.
Purpose of Study
This study explored the utilization of e- learning technologies and its opportunities among Universities in Tanzania, the following research questions guided the study;
i. To what extent is the utilization of e-learning technologies among the Universities in Tanzania?
ii. What are the opportunities provided by the e-learning technology utilization among Universities in Tanzania?
The study covered the University of Dodoma, Tumaini University, University of Dar es Salaam and Kampala International University- Dar es salaam College; these institutions were chosen because they are among the good institutions in Tanzania in terms of the quality of education, student population and ICT utilization.
Utilization of e- Learning Technologies
Increasingly, a number of universities worldwide including some in Africa are making positive attempts to implement e-learning strategies in order to enhance equity, quality, share instruction technology resources, compete in global environment of higher education and meet the rising demand for tertiary education. The problems that bedevil Africa’s tertiary education sector are compelling for the implementation of e-learning strategies (Stephen M. Mutula, 2003).
Poon et al. (2004), Folorunso, Ogunseye, and Sharma (2006), Selim (2005) and Volery and Lord (2000) reported that students’ characteristics such as their satisfactions with time and place flexibility of the system; students’ involvement and participation; students’ cognitive engagement; students’ level of selfconfidence; students’ technology self-efficacy; students’ initiative and motivation and students’ anxiety could influence the utilization of e-learning among students.