The importance of students’ awareness and usage of AVU Open Courseware
For a number of African institutions, it is difficult and expensive to afford the requirements of study materials for their students. The Open Educational Resources (OER) movement partly seeks to address this need and calls for different initiatives around the world to share resources through networking. The African Virtual University (AVU) was established with the aim of sharing educational resources and improving the quality of higher education through the use of ICT with minimal cost particularly within African countries. Under AVU open courseware, there are modules developed for science subjects, ICT basic skills, ICT integration, mathematics and professional courses in education. Those modules can also be accessed in printed booklets for face to face sessions, on CDs/DVDs for offline learning, in Learning Management Systems (LMS) for online learning and in OERs. However, despite the relevance and perceived benefits of a virtual OER library, it seems there is limited use of the AVU open courseware among African university students. For instance, evidence available from the Open University of Tanzania (OUT) suggests that the open courseware material is not utilized to the maximum by the students. Therefore, it would be important to assess the usage of AVU open courseware, students’ perception and awareness about them. This is what informed the subject of a study by Zamzam Nyandara and Janeth Kigobe that focused on students at the OUT and whose findings were presented at the 2013 1st International Conference of the African Virtual University.