How Can Cloud Computing Impact Higher Education Positively in Africa?

One could define cloud computing as an internet based computing where by shared resources, software and information are provided for computers and devices on demand. A lot of people have talked about cloud computing. Their ideas have summed up the basic task of cloud computing. Steve Jobs, late chairman of Apple (1997) said “I don’t need a hard disk in my computer if I can get to the server faster… carrying around these non-connected computers is byzantine by comparison.”

Currently, cloud computing has become a significant and major trend both big and small businesses, governments, individuals use cloud computing to make everyday life less complicated. One aspect of society which is strongly influenced by the concept of cloud computing is Education. Nelson Mandela once said that ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ Education is one essential tool which every individual is entitled to.

Before the introduction of cloud computing, the process of gaining Higher education was tedious and stressful one. Students and faculty were both faced with all sorts of dreary tasks like… ‘I WONT DO ALL THE WORK FOR YOU. Go look for said tasks’.

This is where the benefits of cloud computing comes in to make education less stressful on both to students and teachers. Since this paper is targeting higher education in Africa, let us discuss the roots of education in Africa. Africa is a continent that is in the process of figuring out its path in education in relation to advanced technology.

Cloud computing has the potential to change the face of Education in Africa while ensuring that everyone gets access to said education. Africa is made up of a lot of countries, some being much developed than others in terms of technology in education. But the baseline is ‘how can cloud computing effectively benefit and impact higher education in Africa?’

• It allows students to have access to learning materials from any location
• It facilitates the day to day operations of institutions that provide this service
• It helps teachers easily keep track of student progress
• Allows for easy identification and authentication meaning only those supposed to have access to materials and other stuff will as opposed to books and paper records where anyone can have access

With the integration of cloud computing services into higher education in Africa, the use of textbooks, hard copy papers on journals and handwritten notes will be at its minimal. Notes, articles and all other soft copy documents can be retrieved from the cloud server at any time to use. Students do not have to carry heavy books around any more. All reading material that has a soft copy can be uploaded to the cloud.

Also, the use of floppy disk, external hard drives, pen drives will be used less or possibly not all. Instead of carrying around these items that will contain your important documents, you can easily access it from your cloud provider. Currently almost all software supports the cloud. Adobe and others like Microsoft have made provision for these services and it is so convenient for individual use. So, you forgetting your flash drive somewhere and not having access to your documents will not be happening any more or your document being corrupted. You can have access to your documents anywhere at any time. Also, it will save a student’s money… You don’t need to spend money on a flash drive or an external.

To the benefit of both the teacher and the student, issuing assignments have become really simple and every student is assured of having access to it. The problem with copying assignments from friends is that the information is not always accurate. There is something always missing. So now, whether you are in class or not, a student is assured of having access to assignments in its original correct form. There is no need for a stack of printed assignments to be distributed to over a hundred students for instance.

It is not just the staff and the student body that can enjoy from the cloud. Administration of the school can also benefit from the cloud. School administration can send notices concerning the students via the cloud. Instead of pasting papers and postures on the notice boards, it can be uploaded to the cloud for easy access. How easy is that?

Technically, everyone benefits from the cloud. Last but not the least; virtual classrooms have become realistic in the African higher institutions using the cloud. On-line courses can now be put in full force because every activity, research notes, lecture voice tutorials, assignments and all relevant documents can now be uploaded to the cloud. All students can have full access to the same information at all times. With this, people who cannot attend class like regular students due to day time jobs or other related events can equally have access to information just as a regular student does.

I am concentrating on higher education because that is the level of education in Africa where the cloud concept can be effectively implemented. They have access to technological infrastructure like phones, laptops, tablets etc. that can support the use of the cloud and it is quite feasible to be implemented at this level.

There are still challenges related to implementing the use of the cloud in the higher education but it is a process that looks achievable. As Benjamin Franklin said ‘An investment in knowledge pays the best interest’.

Higher Education Quality – Quality Assurance Ideas For Higher Education

Even in the past, the primary focus not only of the government, but of every family, is basic education.

This means that there must be solid foundation when it comes to the learners’ elementary and middle school years.

However, what is always left as next in line is higher education. Sometimes, the improvement of higher education becomes a sole responsibility of higher education institutions. As such, higher education quality is sacrificed.

Yet, this scenario should not happen. The knowledge acquired by learners during their early school years would all be placed to waste should they get no quality higher education.

There must be a continuous acquisition of knowledge so that learners would turn out to be better and more productive individuals.

In order to assure the quality of higher education institutions as well as of higher education in general, here are some of the steps that must be undertaken.

If these recommendations were be put to practice, not only the students, but the entire education stakeholders, would benefit from the results.

1. Review and revisit each course curriculum. The main reason why some curriculums tend not to be effective anymore is that they are already outdated. Some of the contents only address the needs of the learners in the past.

As education is alive and evolving, so are the needs of the learners. Therefore, each higher education institution must see to it that there are updates to the curriculum.

It must integrate the changes that are currently arising. It must also have corrective feedback on the errors, if there are any, of the previous curriculum.

By this, learners would see the educational process as more relevant and responsive to the call of the times.

2. Check the learners’ ability to apply theories learned. Another issue why higher education quality is always questioned is the learners’ ability to put to life what they have learned in the four corners of the classroom.

Some learners might be mentally capable and excellent when it comes to theories. However, when asked to go to the field, they could hardly practice what they have learned in school.

In short, learners were not prepared for real life tasks. It is therefore another issue that must be given priority. The content of the courses they are taking must have practical applications. By this, even in school, students can already anticipate what might probably happen in the real scenario.

The students however, should be assessed individually. At the end of the day, there must be an assurance that people who need to learn at a different pace are given that opportunity.

3. Give focus on faculty development. Sometimes, the success of every curriculum also depends on the teacher. No matter how great the planned curriculum is if the teacher could not carry it out well, then it would be useless.

Therefore, along with the updating of the curriculum is the updating of the teacher as well.

This holds true not only to new teachers, but to those who are teaching for quite some time already. Everyone in the academe needs to update themselves with current trends in order to give a better point of view during the discussion of the lesson.

The worst part is if students know more than teachers do. As such, faculty development must also be one of the targets.

4. Stop rewarding poor student performance with the theory that no one is left behind. It’s ridiculous to assume that every single student should move forward with their class if they are flunking out of school.

Let those that need to be held back, GET HELD BACK. Perhaps the stigma attached to doing better in school would be reaffirmed if students themselves were held to higher level of accountability.

These four are only some of the steps that must be undertaken to ensure quality higher education.

There are definitely a lot more things to be done to come up with only the best environment conducive for higher education.

This must be a constant battle to be done not only by one, but the entire learning environment.

Non-boundary Governance of Entrepreneurship Education within Higher Education

Introduction

The focus of entrepreneurship and innovation education and research at institutions of higher education ipso facto implies a wish to enhance the quality of graduate and post-graduate business venturing prospects as well as business know-how in the normally pre-entrepreneurial stage. This should happen within a sense-making framework that integrates the research and education agenda for graduate entrepreneurship. Further, an entrepreneurship and innovation education and research approach should be followed that guide the content of the competitive landscape in which the prospective entrepreneur will function and not lag behind and thereby looses its relevance.

Of particular importance to entrepreneurial education lies the ability of institutions of higher education to shift and circulate information and technologies across faculties despite different academic disciplines, professional codes, and academic language that act as academic venture boundaries. These boundaries frustrate the need to integrate entrepreneurship education throughout a higher education institution, thus inhibiting the smooth functioning of entrepreneurial education. Thus, a need exists to overcome these barriers by amalgamating the various faculties socially across faculties whereby entrepreneurial educators could play “bridging roles” by acting as “boundary spanners” between faculties and forming close cohesive networks through the whole institution. This will enable educators in entrepreneurial higher education to link otherwise unconnected faculties to facilitate the development of unique knowledge and access to special knowledge and opportunities. This create an advantage over the traditional structural design where educators were only part of a specific faculty cohesive group.

In the new economy, technology and knowledge production on which it is based, have become an intrinsic part of the economy. As a result, it may be envisaged that education and research in institutions of higher education will need to support the whole technology development process, which also include the process of innovation. In this regard, it may be more appropriate to develop education and research policies that addresses the whole technology-innovation chain instead of merely the research-development chain, as the research-innovation chain involves taking ideas, turning them into technologies and taking these, through research and development, out of the laboratory and proving them in real-world situations.

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to propose an educational governance framework for entrepreneurship and innovation at institutions of higher education to foster the upgrading of entrepreneurial competencies in students whilst preserving the traditional academic competencies of students and the provision of unique entrepreneurial opportunities to students to perform entrepreneurial tasks.

Non-boundary governance

Firstly, with regards to the governance of entrepreneurship education at higher education institutions it is proposed that it should be managed by an “inter-faculty-inter-industry committee” (boundary-spanning leadership is provided) in order to achieve a greater measure of integration (common building blocks is created) in terms of generic entrepreneurial skills requirements that cross over academic disciplines, whilst simultaneously making provision for the unique disciplinary requirements and needs of specific disciplines. This implies a shift away from the traditional independent faculty approach (functional myopia) which lacks commonly shared interests that is adopted by most universities and substituting it for a new re-configured structure able to create entrepreneurial value through a holistic, yet focussed approach (integrated birds eye view) among various faculties. This largely represents the antithesis of the traditional academic governance approach followed at the majority of institutions of higher education. However, it is considered necessary, as it is able to strike out higher potential for entrepreneurship and innovation directions through the whole academic supply chain. In essence a virtual horizontal department – operating on the basis of value chains – is created, without necessarily increasing the staff operational cost to the institution. Creating a virtual horizontal department will ensure that all employees (lecturing staff) interpret the market signals better, and ensure that customer and entrepreneurial concerns become known to all faculties, regardless of their function in the university leading to a better customer focus. By establishing an inter-faculty-inter-industry committee, opportunity is created for healthy and critical curriculum content debate (knowledge interaction), whilst module developers become better informed on borderline subjects and aspects. Even more essential is the protection that will be provided to ensure that the disciplinary, inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary entrepreneurship field of study is not vulnerable to the “tactic of isolation” by claiming academic ownership in one faculty.

Secondly, entrepreneurship and innovation cannot flourish within institutional isolation. Cross-fertilisation of national and international academic and industry business networks is required not only to build leading edge relevant curriculum content, but also to keep up to date with the dynamics in the field. In this regard it would be important to create entrepreneurial knowledge champions in each of the faculties, whilst still operating under the academic guidance of an Entrepreneurial Centre of Excellence that could coordinate all activities and ensure proper co-operation between faculties. In essence, the Entrepreneurial Centre of Excellence’s focus is to orchestrate the entrepreneurial functions in all the faculties. This will further ensure that the “big divide” in entrepreneurial education between faculties is largely eliminated. With regard to its functions within the institution the Entrepreneurial Centre of Excellence’s role could be to:

·Establish an operating and repertoire-building entrepreneurship and innovation education framework and technique approach applying to real-time methodologies;

·Facilitate new entrepreneurial and innovation horizons for the institution through the diffusion of new information, the establishment of dialogue processes, and the exploration of new required dynamic capabilities;

·Build entrepreneurial talent for intellectual entrepreneurship leadership; and

·Establish bonding entrepreneurial networks that form the nucleus of the core of the university’s entrepreneurial value system through web-connectivity, conferences and seminars, mobilising critical mass of people for innovation and the management of Memorandums of Understanding.

Conclusion

This paper emphasised the need to create governance mechanisms that could properly address the disciplinary, interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary nature of entrepreneurial education in higher education institutions. It proposed the establishment of a joint-responsibility structure able to span the entrepreneurial holes in institutions of higher education whilst receiving guidance from a centrally Centre of Excellence that could coordinate all entrepreneurial education and ensure cooperation by all academic faculties. Implementation of these proposals could be done at minimum cost to the institution.