THE EPICA PILOT IN OPEN UNIVERSITY OF TANZANIA
OUT implemented the pilot in five Bachelor programmes: Bachelor of Science in ICT, Social Work, Accounting, Educational Psychology, and Laws. However, five postgraduate students from Accounting showed major interest in the project and participated too.
The ePortfolio was added as an additional independent activity to each of the programmes as it was integrated throughout the academic year and not from its beginning.
By doing so, OUT managed to introduce the EPICA methodology and the ePortfolio to all faculties and added to the courses a practical component that students would benefit from.
OUT functions fully online, as for the pilot it was mostly delivered online and only a few face-to-face meetings were carried out. The OUT coordination team had various meetings with the course coordinator and lecturers responsible for the pilot in each faculty. They prepared a virtual classroom to guide students and programmed some interventions via text messages to mark the important steps.
Five teachers were involved in the pilot, each from a different faculty and for a different program. All five teachers were involved in the self-training, they participated in the Open Day and had been involved in the EPICA project from the beginning; they also showed high motivation, and positive collaboration.
Regarding students, OUT invited 120 students to participate in the EPICA project and predicted to have officially 20 students participating per programme so in total 100 students. Although 108 of those invited to the different pilot launching activities prepared in the different zones of Tanzania attended and signed the student user agreement, only 41 students submitted their evidences for evaluation. The number decreased for different causes such as working and studying.
OUT chose four skills to be piloted, three common skills selected for all and one elective. Problem Solving, Creative Thinking, in addition to Communication and Interpersonal Skills were the common mandatory skills for all faculties, as for Digital Skills, it was selected by OUT given its importance in blended delivery mode and the digital world of today.
Being a distance-learning institution, OUT students are distributed in all eight zones of Tanzania. In order to train all these students, a training session prepared by the local coordinator and a teacher was planned for each zone.
Each of the students had the opportunity to contact the employers selected for his/her programme to check his/her video and ePortfolio. As such, students had more than one employer appraising their work. Nine employers were selected in Tanzania for this process.
EPICA ePortfolio was a good project for me because it shapes a student to be competent both at practical and in theory for the matter of academics.
Example for me as a lawyer in the making I was able to solve different legal issues and even to participate in legal drafting such as to draw different contracts. Furthermore, EPICA ePortfolio expands capacity on Information and Communications Technology because the major means of communication was computers with internet connection. I advise my fellow students to participate in the EPICA ePortfolio project next time. I will keep participating in other coming ePortfolio. I do believe EPICA ePortfolio can be the best source for me to continue showcasing my skills for employability.
Being a focused, ambitious and experienced person in legal matters, I will be able to seek for an opportunity that suits my career where my skills can be utilized and where I can be able to develop professionally.
Jahlan Remtula, Student at the Open University of Tanzania
My name is Dr. Helen Benjamin Kiunsi, one of the Lecturers involved in the EPICA ePortfolio project. I am grateful for this project as I learnt a lot of relevant issues in my career as a lecturer in the Institution offering programmes in ODeL mode. At the first place, I learnt a competence-based approach in teaching which requires students to be assessed based on rubrics to test the ability of students or learners to implement what she/he has learnt. For example, communication skills, ability to use equipment, ability to handle professional matters that is ability to work and physical skills. All this is done by using digital. Consequently, the EPICA Project enhanced my online (digital) teaching with my students who are located in various places. In addition, the project created an ability for students to keep records of what they have learnt which are capable to be presented to their employers and potential customers.
The most important thing is that I have been using knowledge obtained from the EPICA Project to teach my undergraduate and postgraduate students. This approach helps me to impart knowledge, skills and ability to students not only to defend their work but also ability to apply knowledge and skills obtained in real life. In this way, most students have been able to have self-confidence in various fields they are studying.
Dr. Helen Benjamin Kiunsi, Lecturer at Open University of Tanzania
ePortfolio to students has succeeded in many ways for students not only to rely on resumé or CV while looking for employment but also they are able to provide practical evidences to support what is in their resumes/CV. Also with E-portfolio available online students have chances of Employers to find his/her credentials for a particular position more easily than just waiting to send only CV needed for the positions. All Employers need competent employees with highest academic performance but also the ability to use what he/she got in a practical way (onsite). So when Students share their eportfolio advertising things which they are capable of doing, for example problem solving, I interact professionally with clients etc. It gave Employers the best choice of the employee by choosing what’s best for the company needs through portfolios of job seekers. Things I will love to see concerning the e-portfolio, are many if not all the Universities in Tanzania to adopt and practice it fully and solving issues between employers and job seekers (students) in the future.
Glory Assey, An Employer at Wapo Mission International.