Learning for Success in ODeL: A Case for Systematic Use of Learning Analytics
For Open Distance and eLearning (ODeL) to hold all of its promises for improving quality learning, more hard evidence is needed on its effectiveness to justify the substantial amount of financial resources being invested by higher education institutions in Africa. Indeed, African ministries of education and their universities are increasingly integrating ODeL into their teaching and learning systems in a bid to expand access and improve quality. Expensive ODeL tools and systems are being procured and developed such as ICT equipment, instructional and learning materials, online courses and instructor training programs to improve the quality of online learning and its environment. However, there is still very little evidence of how these tools and systems are really improving learning. In a study carried out in Tanzania and entitled “Using Learning Analytics to Predict Students’ Performance in Moodle Learning Management Systems: A case of Mbeya University of Science and Technology” and presented at the 3rd AVU Conference in July 2016, Mwalumbwe and Mtebe looked into the increasing introduction of Learning Management Systems (LMS) into Tanzanian universities at high costs but with very little evidence of their effectiveness in improving learning and acquisition of skills and competencies. The justification of their study is based on the fact that almost 80% of institutions in Tanzania use LMS with Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment (Moodle) and that the majority of them tend to adopt and use these systems to: (i) improve the quality of on-campus delivery by completing traditional face-to-face with LMS; (ii) meet the growing students’ population through distance education. In spite of the use of the MLS and Moodle, they noted that there is little evidence to suggest that these tools are actually improving students’ learning performance.