Inter-College Lecture: Still Offline and Behind in this Digital World? Join in the Sakai LMS Experience

Prof. Yaw Oheneba-Sakyi, former Dean of the School of Continuing and Distance Education (SCDE) and Mr. Gainford Amponsah, Instructional Technologist and Designer at SCDE have delivered a lecture on the topic: Still Offline and Behind in this Digital World?, Join in the Sakai LMS Experience, as part of the Inter-College Lecture Series.

Professor Oheneba-Sakyi, who did the presentation, noted that the world’s economy and social landscape have been significantly transformed by the internet, which has enhanced the lives of individuals, promoted business growth and stimulated economic development. Not having access to the internet comes with a high probability of being left behind in the digital world, where many apps and programmes exist to make our lives easier. The offline population increasingly suffers from constrained prospects of education, class mobility, employment opportunities, and other factors related to quality of life, and there is therefore the need to explore ways in which the online population can be increased to enable this group take advantage of new and emerging opportunities.

Professor Oheneba-Sakyi spoke about the impact of the internet on our lives, and stressed on the conclusion by McKinsey and Company (2014):

“…as the Internet becomes even more embedded in every facet of our lives… we risk leaving substantial portions of the global population at a disadvantage that they might never overcome.”

 “….The voices, ideas, and contributions of the offline population can’t be heard and often can’t be made until they’re connected.”


Professor Yaw Oheneba-Sakyi

Professor Oheneba-Sakyi emphasized that institutions must be positioned to adapt quickly, leverage technology and deliver education in new ways, and noted that identifying trends is an important part of strategic planning and preparing for the future. For academic institutions, it is important that students, faculty and staff are encouraged to use technology for all transactions.

Still highlighting the importance of ICT skills, the lecture, touched on the changing meaning of literacy: yesterday’s literate person was a person who could write a letter, report or an essay. Today’s literate person is one who can write an email, make a PowerPoint presentation and write a blog post but tomorrow’s literate person would be one who can work in a virtual community, and program.

Professor Oheneba-Sakyi took the audience through an introduction to Sakai, which is a free, community source, educational software platform designed to support teaching, research and collaboration. Sakai is used by hundreds of institutions across the world and has many uses, including document distribution, a gradebook, discussion, live chat, assignment uploads, and online testing. Sakai can also be used as a collaborative tool for research and group projects.

The audience was taken through the benefits of the Sakai LMS, including lower cost of academic work, control, ownership, empowering IT professionals, flexibility and ease of use. There has been a systematic and rapid growth in the usage of SAKAI for academic purposes in the University of Ghana, primarily for online-blended learning under the distance education programme, through access to instructional materials online, mobile network coverage and increasing mobile internet adoption, and the expansion of computing services to the Regional Learning Centres. He shared some success stories of Sakai, as well as comments by Sakai users from across the University of Ghana.

A section of the audience

Professor Oheneba-Sakyi also highlighted some challenges in using SAKAI; noting that the majority of mature students who are taking DE courses are concentrated in the Regional Learning Centers and are more likely to be offline, and to have challenges in adopting internet use.

He gave ten best practices in online-blended teaching including being regularly present at the course website, creating a supportive online course community, participating a variety of large group, small group, and individual work experiences and other best practices.

Professor Oheneba-Sakyi stressed that a digital economy requires digital skills and as a nation, there is the need for more work to be done to increase lifelong learning and skills development for all through the use of ICT, and the adoption of innovative teaching practices for 21st Century learners. He called for the establishment of a Centre for Excellence/Innovation in Teaching and Learning in the University of Ghana (UG-CEITAL) to champion the use of student-centered pedagogy, the extension of learning beyond the classroom, and the integration of various teaching and learning technologies.

The lecture was chaired by Professor Michael Tagoe, Acting Provost of the College of Education, and Dean of the School of Continuing and Distance Education.

Professor Michael Tagoe delivering closing remarks




Question and answer time

Please click on the link for a playback of the lecture: