Wednesday 9 January 2019

Towards African SMART Universities: Services that Matter

In the 11th annual UbuntuNet Alliance networking conference held on 22-23 November 2018 in Zanzibar, Tanzania, Vice Chancellors were asked to turn their institutions into formidable members of their National Research and Education Network (NREN)s  in order to add value to their network’s negotiating power when procuring research and education networking resources.  

It was also noted that most universities are challenged with Prohibitive cost of band width, slow internet speed, lack of publicity and marketing, un-established communication channels, un-dedicated Personnel to mention but a few.

However, amidst the impediments, the delegate’s agreed to fast track the digitization of their Universities into SMART institutions so as to avoid lagging behind by creating platforms for SMART research, SMART teaching and learning environment and SMART governance. These they agreed to enforce by developing research and Learning Repositories, guidelines and compiling case studies for best practices on digital Migration, high quality course materials,staff exchange and training programmes,internet connections to remote Institutions to mention but a few.

SMART university was defined as the integration of physical and cyber connections through networks, systems, users, and devices for education delivery of Lecture-Hall based online/ e-learning.

Having a SMART university would result in improved physical and cyber security, more credible academic results, authentic research output, less financial burden and increased revenue.

These would require universities setting up financial and security priorities because SMART technologies require enablers like scalable, secure and resilient networks; internet connectivity and research-ability; technology, personnel etc. 

Therefore, the effective operation of SMART campuses would require life and career skills, information media and technological skills, learning and innovation skills of critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity to note but a few.

In conclusion, the development of SMART universities would require ICT readiness by procurement of relevant Infrastructure and network; having an ICT strategy and plan in place, training and adopting to the cause by all the relevant parties involved.

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