Blended Learning Management Roadmap

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Ndung’u, Njuguna
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African Economic Research Consortium
The origins of the African Economic Research Consortium’s BLMS can be traced back to the JFE and SFSE, which were held annually in person at centralized venues in Nairobi, Kenya, and at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, for all students enrolled in the eight CPP degree-awarding universities, seven CMAP Category B universities and eight CMAAE-accredited network universities. The JFE and SFSE have produced wonderful results and was praised for contributions towards future collaborations and Pan-Africanism. However, its unit costs has been quite inhibiting. The Covid-19 global pandemic was the turning point. The decision for a virtual learning platform was to prevent learning or training shutdowns. This was accompanied with sustainable unit cost consideration that is now seen as manageable. The AERC switched to fully online delivery of all its elective courses. Consequently, the CMAAE, CMAP and CPP elective courses were virtually delivered to students in 2020 and 2021. Given the desire to maintain a face-to-face component, it would be optimal to have a hybrid learning module. The AERC eLearning platform is an interactive and upgraded Moodle-based LMS, supported by the eLibrary and Zoom platforms to ensure that users have an optimal learning experience. This enables both students and lecturers to interact through chats, discussion forums and wikis, and to access learning materials with ease. The AERC is focussed on making blended learning a success. This roadmap is underpinned by ideas enshrined in the AERC’s Mission and Vision as outlined in its 2020–2025 Strategic Plan. Blended learning is in line with the theme of ensuring sustainability, quality and wider reach; that is, AERC training and research activities will be more inclusive and at lower unit costs. It is, therefore, imperative for all stakeholders to work together and ensure that the roadmap is fully realized. The AERC is committed to fully implementing the roadmap by allocating the necessary resources and supporting all the activities required to realize this vision.