African Students Take MIT Course Without Leaving Home Campuses
More than 190 students from eight sub-Saharan countries have been taking an MIT course this semester without leaving their home campuses. A joint initiative by MIT’s Center for Advanced Educational Services (CAES) and the African Virtual University (AVU) has brought an advanced computer programming course to students in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
The collaboration began when AVU, a technology-facilitated higher-learning institution, enlisted CAES to help provide students in sub-Saharan Africa direct access to high-quality learning resources. CAES put together a six-week curriculum loosely based on MIT Course 1.00, which teaches the Java programming language. The resulting course, Java Revolution, can be uniformly distributed regardless of equipment and bandwidth.
Java Revolution features videotaped lectures delivered via satellite, a Web site for course materials, e-mail moderated by teaching assistants, and two live videoconferences with Professor Steven Lerman, director of CAES’ Center for Educational Computing Initiatives (CECI), and Dr. Judson Harward, a CECI principal research scientist. Lerman also is affiliated with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
“There is a tremendous hunger for knowledge, particularly in the areas of science and engineering, in many parts of the world. We hope that this is just the beginning of a partnership between CAES and AVU to bring MIT intellectual content to wider audiences,” says Professor Richard Larson, director of CAES.
MIT faculty members also directed students to a Java User Group Web site specific to the users of Java in Africa so that live interaction can continue long after the course has ended.
“AVU has a five-year history of beaming quality education to university students and professionals in Africa from the best institutions around the world. We are pleased to announce that another distinguished institution, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has joined AVU. The availability of Java Revolution is a historic event in education in Africa because, for the first time, students will be able to receive course certificates from world-renowned universities such as MIT while remaining in their own countries. Thirteen Learning Centers are currently participating in MIT’s Java Revolution course, and we expect to enroll more African students in MIT courses in the future,” says Sidiki Traore, senior program officer at AVU.
Established in July 1997 as a World Bank project, AVU has just completed its first phase and is now a premier provider of technology-based distance education with 31 Learning Centers across the continent. This year, AVU was established as an independent nonprofit organization with headquarters in Nairobi.
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