• Learning Design Voices
  • Table of contents
  • Introduction
  • Provocation: What might learning design become in the post-COVID university?
  • Provocation: Compassionate learning design for unsettling times
  • Provocation response 2
  • Provocation: The challenge of designing learning experiences
  • Provocation 3 Response
  • Translations
  • Development of a blended course for continued teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic: Experience and lessons

    Learning Management Systemsbloom's taxonomytransformative pedagogyfive stages model
    In this chapter, we share our collaborative practices of developing a Master of Science in Information Systems course at Makerere University in Uganda at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The course development process involved a team of course developers and aimed to support teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic while promoting transformative pedagogy. This chapter provides an analysis of the course development approach used, the value of evaluation of blended learning courses as part of the development process, a proposed checklist of key aspects to consider when developing a blended learning course and lessons learnt in the first-time journey to developing a blended course. We hope that this practice-based account can motivate and guide less-experienced but enthusiastic course teams in developing blended learning courses infused with transformative pedagogy especially in countries like Uganda where eLearning/blended learning adoption is still in its infancy and transmissive pedagogy is largely the preferred approach to teaching and learning.


     In this chapter, we share our reflections on the development of a blended learning graduate course for the Master of Science in Information Systems (MIS) at Makerere University, Uganda, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The course aimed to support continued teaching and learning but was also part of a drive to promote transformative pedagogy. Transformative pedagogy has been defined as:

    an innovative pedagogical approach that empowers learners to critically examine their contexts, beliefs, values, knowledge and attitudes with the goal of developing spaces for self reflection, appreciation of diversity and critical thinking. A transformative pedagogy is realised when learning goes beyond the mind and connects hearts and actions, transforming knowledge, attitudes and skills (UNESCO, 2017, p. ).

    This broad definition implies that transformative pedagogy targets holistic learning emphasising the cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains as well as appreciating the process of learning, unlearning and relearning. As an inquiry-based learning approach, transformative pedagogy is grounded in a constructivist approach to learning which advocates that each learner follows his/her own path to building and organising personal knowledge. Inquiry-based learning states that knowledge is built from experience and process especially context-based and socially based experiences (UNESCO, 2017). It is an active approach to learning and teaching that places students at the center of the learning process and involves self-direction (UNESCO, 2017).  Using transformative pedagogies, learners are empowered not only to challenge their perspectives but learn through experience-based, participatory, collaborative and active engagement in the learning process. The learning process is not linear but spiral, based on continuous reflection, discovery and learning-in-action. Arigatou International (2008) graphically sketches the key steps in transformative pedagogy (Figure 1).


    Figure 1: Elements of transformative pedagogy (Arigatou International, 2008 in UNESCO, 2017, p. 29).


    Figure 1 illustrates that motivation provides the impetus for successful transformative pedagogy. Why learn, what to learn, how to learn, when to learn, where to learn, with whom/what to learn and how learning will be rewarded are primary ingredients for learners’ extrinsic and intrinsic motivation to learn. It is these that set the pace for learners’ ability to explore more through research, dialogue with self and with others using various media, discover the unknown, reflect on what they have learnt and the learning process and act based on evidence and judgement. According to Arigatou International (2008 cited in UNESCO, 2017), the process is not linear nor straightforward but it can go back and forth since it is based on discovery.  Perhaps, to close the learning loop, action is not an end but it should provide a motivation basis for further learning, perhaps of more unfamiliar and complex knowledge, skills and attitudes. Therefore, transformative pedagogy is the foundation of transformative learning which Mezirow (2003) defines as:

    [. . .] learning that transforms problematic frames of reference – sets of fixed assumptions and expectations (habits of mind, meaning perspectives, mindsets) – to make them more inclusive, discriminating, open, reflective, and emotionally able to change (p. 58).

    Guided by the above conceptualisation and the authors’ own experience, in this chapter, transformative pedagogy is conceived as a radical teaching and learning process that empowers learners to creatively utilise the competences they have acquired through a blended curriculum to be successful in the world of work. Such a pedagogy emerges from a deliberately designed transformative student-centered, competence-based curriculum in terms of policy and implementation.

    Transformative pedagogy occurs when learning goes beyond the mind and connects with hearts and actions, thereby transforming knowledge, attitudes and skills (UNESCO, 2017). It emphasises and prioritises the process of learning rather than the association and memorising of information itself. The curiosity of the learners is more important than delivering knowledge and information. Common practices that foster transformative learning include open spaces for dialogic learning and immersion in authentic learning experiences (Omiunota, 2009). 

    Blended learning is an approach that deliberately combines face-to-face instruction with online or virtual learning to stimulate and support learning, probably bring about improved teaching procedures and increased productivity (Boelens et al., 2017; Graham, 2006; Graham & Robison, 2007). The blended approach to learning gained momentum during the COVID-19 pandemic when education institutions in most parts of the world were locked down to manage the spread of the disease. However, generally during the 21st  century, institutions of higher learning (IHL) are increasingly required to prepare students for jobs and technologies that do not yet exist to solve problems that we do not even know are problems yet (Fadel, 2008). There is an increasing need for graduates who are critical thinkers, problem solvers, creative innovators, collaborators with advanced Information and Communication (ICT) literacy and graduates who demonstrate agile leadership skills, are lifelong/self-directed learners, ethical professionals and socially responsible global citizens. Transformative pedagogy is one of the approaches afforded to IHL to prepare such graduates (Meyers, 2008; UNESCO, 2017; Zhang et al.; 2022). 

    Contextual background

    The initiative to promote transformative pedagogy was launched as part of a project on Enhancing Quality and Internationalisation of Study Programmes through Mobile Transformative Pedagogy (EQIP). The project is an ongoing partnership between Makerere University (MAK) Uganda, the University of Agder (UiA) Norway and the University of Rwanda (UR). The goal of EQIP is to increase the employability of graduates through joint review and delivery of curricula, student and staff exchange, internationalisation of study programmes and joint student supervision. The candidate programmes are multimedia and educational technology at UiA, instructional design and technology. Information systems at MAK, curriculum and instruction and software engineering at UR. The project promotes student exchange and credit transfer by integrating courses, master projects, work placements, joint teaching and supervision. The mutual student exchange involves students engaging in authentic learning activities face-to-face where possible and in online learning experiences at partner universities.

    Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the implementation of EQIP (which started in June 2019) was blended by combining physical and online learning activities. When COVID-19 became a global pandemic, all learning activities were moved online including students’ participation in courses at partner universities. As a result, all participating academic programmes required to be redesigned for online learning.

    Although public and private universities in Uganda had been using Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) since the 2000s to support delivery of blended learning, uptake of elearning among lecturers and students had remained low (Baguma, et al., 2019). As part of the COVID-19 lockdown instituted in March 2020, all tertiary institutions across Uganda were required to move to Open Distance and eLearning (ODeL) following the guidelines for adoption of an emergency ODeL system by the higher education institutions during the COVID-19 lockdown issued by the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE, 2020). Until that point, elearning implementation had not been institutionalised and most faculty did not have experience and skills with elearning. In response, Makerere University and other tertiary education institutions designed capacity-building programmes, mainly online webinars for staff covering theories and approaches to eLearning, using education technology tools notably the institutional learning management system (LMS). Even though the majority of the EQIP project team had a background in educational technology at degree or postgraduate diploma level, none had experience in developing and delivering fully online courses. Rather than join the capacity-building programmes that were tailored to faculty with either limited or no prior knowledge on elearning, the first author of this chapter thought it better to go practical and polish skills on the job.

    Due to the COVID-19 situation under which IHL hastily moved their teaching and learning online and the decision of the EQIP project to move students’ participation in courses at partner universities online, there was a rush to digitise courses with either limited or no prior experience among the course developers.

    However, good practice indicates the need for a broader blended learning strategy, structure and support. According to Graham et al. (2023), a blended learning strategy and structure focuses on technological, pedagogical and administrative frameworks that facilitate the blended learning environment including governance, models, scheduling and evaluation. Again, blended learning support is the institutional facilitation of the implementation and maintenance of its blended learning design, incorporating technical support, pedagogical support and faculty incentives (Graham et al., 2023).

    In this chapter, we share our reflections on the first-time undertaking to digitise a graduate course to support continued teaching and learning during the COVID-19 lockdown and as part of a drive to promote transformative pedagogy. The digitisation process was guided by Bloom’s  Bloom’s revised taxonomy  (Anderson & Krathwol, 2001) to ensure learning at both lower order and higher order cognition levels and Gilly Salmon’s five stage model of elearning (Salmon, 2000) that identifies typical activities for tutors at different stages of the learning process.

    Course development process

    The first author, Rehema Baguma, is a lecturer on the Master of Science in Information Systems (MIS) and a co-principal investigator of the EQIP project. The EQIP project covered four MIS courses namely: geographical information systems (GIS) and remote sensing, big data, database and data warehouse systems, human factors in information systems design and management for information science professionals. She was responsible for human factors in information system design and management for information systems professionals. The second author, Proscovia Namubiru Ssentamu, is a teacher educator, higher education curriculum and quality assurance specialist. She ensured that due diligence was followed during course development and that the course met the minimum standards as per the accrediting agency –  the Uganda National Council for Higher Education. 

    According to the MIS curriculum for Makerere University (2021), one of the terminal objectives of the Management for Information Systems Professionals (MISP) course is to introduce students to the management process to develop a critical awareness of current management issues relevant to IS professionals. It further enables examining the managerial decision-making process, techniques and their relevance to the management role of an IS professional. It allows for cumulative knowledge building on the understanding of managerial processes and functions to show how organisations can be analysed, interpreted and modelled as systems. It also provides an awareness and appreciation of the desirable attitudes and skills of a 21st century IS manager. It reviews current research trends and issues in management, relevant to information systems professionals and managers. Upon successful completion of this course, students are expected to be able to:

    1. Demonstrate a clear understanding of basic management concepts, principles and management issues of interest to information systems professionals.
    2. Match appropriate managerial decision-making techniques to IS management problems.
    3. Compare and contrast techniques for analysing organisations in a systematic manner.
    4. Appraise desirable attitudes and skills for a 21st century IS manager.
    5. Describe current research trends and issues in management relevant to IS managers.

     To achieve the above learning outcomes, the following modules are covered:

    1. Introduction to management and the management process.
    2. Managerial decision-making techniques and their relevance to IS management.
    3. Modelling organisations as systems.
    4. Current management issues relevant to IS professionals.
    5. Attitudes and skills for a 21st century IS manager.
    6. Current research trends and issues in management relevant to information systems professionals.

     The process started with the development of a study guide covering the following:

    The structure and relationship among learning activities, learning resources and assessment was guided by a combination of Bloom’s revised taxonomy (Anderson & Krathwol, 2001) and Gilly Salmon’s five stage model (Salmon, 2000). Bloom’s revised taxonomy was used to ensure achievement of learning at both lower order and higher order levels of cognition, while Gilly Salmon’s five stage model was used to define typical activities of a course tutor in the online learning process. 

    Use of Bloom’s revised taxonomy in the course digitisation process

    Bloom’s revised taxonomy (Anderson & Krathwol, 2001) specifies six knowledge levels classified from lower order cognition (remember, understand and apply) to higher order cognition (analyse, evaluate and create). According to Anderson and Krathwol (2001), for lower order levels of thinking, before we can understand a concept, we must remember it and before we can apply the concept, we must understand it. For higher order thinking, before we analyse a concept, we must be able to apply it and before we can evaluate its impact, we must have analysed it; before we can create something using it, we must be able to evaluate it. We used the knowledge levels to align the course learning outcomes and objectives with appropriate learning activities and assessment. Lower order cognition (remember, understand and apply) requires an instructional strategy that includes a lecture or presentation with examples, while higher order cognition (analyse, evaluate and create) is best assessed through case studies, presentations, comparing data or creation of a product (Quinnipiac University, n.d.). Further, we used the knowledge, assessment and verb wheel of Bloom’s revised taxonomy (Quinnipiac University, n.d.) to phrase intended learning outcomes, determine appropriate learning activities, learning resources and the nature of assessment for each topic.

    To explore each topic, we designed lower order cognition tasks to build a foundation for the higher order cognitive tasks. This includes being able to recall basic facts and concepts (remember), being able to explain ideas and concepts (understand) and being able to use information obtained in new situations (apply). This is followed by higher order cognition tasks which also cater for transformative pedagogy. Transformative pedagogy involves higher order cognition levels. Higher-order cognition/thinking is a problem-solving process for students to be able to identify and solve problems in their academic work and in life after school (Brookhart, 2010). If students are able to think, they can apply the knowledge and skills they acquired during their learning to new contexts (applications that the student has not thought of before). This way, they relate their learning to other elements beyond those they were taught. This is important given that life outside a learning environment is a series of transfer opportunities rather than a series of compartmentalised recall assignments.

    Brookhart (2010) defined higher order cognitive (thinking) skills as those that enable students to make sense of and use the knowledge they have learned in new contexts. Further, students engage in reasoning and reflective thinking that is focused on deciding what to believe or do (critical thinking) and use either one or both skills when they want to reach a specific outcome or goal, but do not automatically recognise the proper path or solution to use in reaching it (problem-solving). This is a match for transformative pedagogy that combines elements of social-constructivist and critical pedagogy to empower students to critically examine their beliefs, values and knowledge with the goal of developing a reflective knowledge base, an appreciation for multiple perspectives and a sense of critical consciousness and agency (Omiunota, 2009). Training programmes that target the development of higher order thinking skills among students respond to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals particularly goal 4: “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” (United Nations, n.d.). Such programmes empower students to continue learning long after formal training.

    The potential of transformative blended pedagogy

    Online courses can be well suited to transformative pedagogy because the online environment offers affordances that can challenge conventional understandings of power and authority in the college classroom (Palmer & Bowman, 2014). Students often feel a greater willingness to disclose information about themselves online probably because of the anonymity afforded by cyberspace (McAuliffe & Lovell, 1999, in Palmer & Bowman, 2014). Research on fostering transformative learning in the online learning environment suggests that there are many strategies that can be successful: (1) creating a safe environment; 2) encouraging students to think about their experiences, beliefs and biases; 3) using teaching strategies that promote student engagement and participation; 4) posing real-world problems that address societal inequalities; and 5) helping students implement action-oriented solutions (Meyers, 2008).

    Transformative pedagogy involves engaging students to ask critical questions and search for information from other sources in addition to those provided on the curriculum menu. The students are trained in advanced information literacy: searching, sorting and critically evaluating the information obtained. The evaluated information is then placed in context and creatively used to solve a problem(s). Further, students are required to collaborate and negotiate meaning with peers to avoid superficial learning and develop deeper understanding. Collaborative learning in transformative pedagogy is crucial for gaining experience in teamwork – one of the key 21st century skills. 

    Subran (2013) noted that many educators face the challenge of developing higher order cognitive skills among learners to make them more disposed to problem solving by raising complex questions, developing consistent arguments and expressing their opinions from critical perspectives. One way these attributes can be developed is for educators to expose learners to tasks that will motivate them to pursue inquiries from different perspectives (analysis-ability). Students should also develop skills to assess the sources of their information (evaluation-ability), reflect on their findings (analysis-ability), exchange ideas and adopt personal positions based on rational thinking (creation of new meanings/knowledge/solutions which is a problem-solving skill). 

    Moreover, we deliberately added transformative pedagogy principles into the MIS programme.  We applied Bloom’s higher order cognition levels in the formulation of learning objectives and outcomes, learning tasks/activities and assessment to make it transformative. To enable learning at the analysis level, we selected associated verbs to include learning tasks/activities and assessment that draw connections among ideas. For learning progression to the evaluation level, associated verbs were used to enable students to justify a stand(s) and decision(s). Finally at the creation level, we used associated verbs to include learning tasks geared at enabling students to create original work based on the knowledge obtained from the course.

    This was also aided using the following transformative pedagogic approaches:

    1.    The socio-constructivist pedagogy advocates for joint student tasks for knowledge co-construction and co-creation (and tutor encouragement to collaboratively discuss these tasks in class).

    2.    Critical pedagogy encourages students to give their own viewpoints, draw their own conclusions, dig further by asking questions such as: “why do you believe that?” or “why is that a good thing” to enable students challenge their own beliefs, break free from damaging social narratives and think independently (Lynch, 2019).

    3.    Pedagogy of work promotes learning by making useful products or providing useful services.

    We enabled activity-based learning in each topic through an introductory learning activity to activate students’ prior knowledge and experience. This was followed by a pre-task, a presentation from the lecturer/tutor, a reflection activity, a competence-based assessment to ensure that the learning outcomes are aligned to job-oriented assessment tasks and additional resources related to the topic for students to access and explore further. 

    Use of Gilly Salmon’s five stage model in the course digitisation process

    Gilly Salmon’s five stage model was used to design a scaffolded online learning experience for students. It aided identification of typical activities of the tutor in the online course. As illustrated in Table 1, the typical tutor activities according to Salmon (2000) (highlighted in column 2) provided a guide for definition of actual activities of the tutor for the MISP course (highlighted in column 3). Column 1 contains stages of the learning process.

    Table 1: Tutor activities for the MISP course based on Gilly Salmon’s (2000) model


    Typical activities of the tutor (Salmon, 2000)

    Tutor activities for the MISP course

    Stage 1:  Access and motivation


    Ensure the online group is set up with a welcome message

    The course is hosted in the University LMS-MUELE which is accessible to all students through their university email addresses.

    The course begins with a welcome message.

    Ensure students know how to access the online group

    The LMS has a video tutorial for those new to using Moodle LMS.

    On logging into the LMS, the semester courses for the student are displayed.

    The first page of the LMS has contacts of the support team in the Directorate of ICT Support Services that manage the LMS.

    Also, the unit has a technical support ticket system for logging trackable support requests, an email and phone number.

    For the class of 2021, the student class representative had prior knowledge of the LMS and offered to help peers with limited prior knowledge.

    Stage 2: Online socialisation

    Introductions with, perhaps, an online icebreaker

    There is an introduction from the lecturer (about herself and the course) with a picture and course guide.

    There is also a request for students to introduce themselves covering aspects such as names, places of work and post if employed, course expectations and personal interests.

    Welcome new team members or late arrivals

    Each introduction from a member is acknowledged by the lecturer and those that arrived late are invited to introduced themselves.

    Agree on group rules/netiquette

    Group rules/netiquette guidelines have been given and members encouraged to read them and abide by them.

    Tackle individuals that break rules (either privately or through the discussion group)

    Part of the netiquette is that breaches of rules will be pointed out on the forum and culprits requested to reform or subsequently face disciplinary actions.

    Encourage quieter members to join in

    One of the netiquettes is that inactive members will be called out and reminded to contribute.

    Stage 3: Information exchange

    Provide summaries of online discussions (summarising and synthesising content of multiple responses)

    Summaries of key points from discussions are provided at the end of the discussion by chosen/volunteer learners/lecturer (indicated in the instructions for forums).

    Provide highly structured activities at the start of the group life

    The Moodle LMS-MUELE has a simple layout that makes it easy to use even for new users.

    A course guide showing the structure of the course is provided on the LMS.

    Encourage participation

    Less active members are called out and asked to contribute (as per the netiquette guidelines).

    Ask questions

    Discussions are moderated by the lecturer who poses follow up questions where necessary, for deeper learning.

    Encourage team members to post short messages

    For each task, members are guided about the size and format of messages to post.

    Allocate online roles to individual members

    Some members are picked/called to volunteer from time to time to play some roles like summarise the results of a discussion, look up and share certain learning resources, share their views on an issue under discussion etc.

    Close thread(s) as of and when appropriate

    Dates for start and end of discussion forums are set in the LMS and communicated.

    Encourage the online group to develop its own life and history through metaphors, jokes, rituals etc.

    As part of the netiquette guidelines, members are encouraged to be natural, creative and where necessary light in the discussions

    Stage 4: Knowledge co-construction

    Provide more open activities

    Students are given research and project activities both individually and in groups.

    Facilitate the learning process


    The lecturer keeps monitoring the learning process and probing for any challenges, updating learning resources, providing additional information, providing additional learning resources, identifying less active participants and calling them to contribute etc.

    Pose questions for the group to consider

    During discussions, follow-up questions are given from time to time.

    Encourage group members to question theory and practice

    Students are encouraged and guided to share their personal views and opinions about course materials shared, respond to presentations from peers and comment on views of peers. In the forums, the lecturer challenges students’ views and helps them think independently.

    Encourage the group to develop its own life and history

    Members are encouraged to be natural, creative and where necessary light in the discussions

    Stage 5: development

    Encourage group members to lead discussions

    Students are encouraged to introduce new perspectives to discussions.

    Encourage group members to transfer their skills to other areas of their work

    Students are given analysis, evaluation and knowledge creation tasks for them to develop analytical, problem solving and transferable skills.

    Encourage reflection on different learning processes (individual and group)

    Students are given reflection tasks at individual and group level to develop a reflective mindset.


    Different stages of the Gilly Salmon’s model also addressed aspects of transformative pedagogy particularly in stage 3 (information exchange) and stage 4 (knowledge co-construction). Transformational tutor activities under stage 3 include: summarising and synthesising content of multiple responses which builds analytical skills, encouraging learner participation in class activities and allocation of roles to different learners in the learning process which builds teamwork and leadership skills. Those under stage 4 include: providing more open activities, posing questions for groups to consider, inviting group members to question theory and practice, encouraging students to introduce new perspectives and discussions which build critical thinking skills, encouraging learners to transfer their skills to other areas of their work which nurtures problem solving skills, and prompting reflection on the different learning processes which develop critical thinking skills. Some transformative aspects of the Gilly Salmon’s model overlap with those covered in Bloom’s revised taxonomy especially in stage 4, hence the two models complemented each other in making the course transformational.


    The study guide for the Management for IS professionals course aligned with Bloom’s revised taxonomy and Gilly Salmon’s model is provided in table 2 below.


    Table 2: The study guide for Management for IS professionals course aligned to Bloom’s revised taxonomy and Gilly Salmon’s Model

    Time (weeks & hours)

    Topic (what to be learnt)

    Intended learning outcome(s)

    Learning activities

    Learning resources


    Week 1 & 2 (9 hours)



    1. Introduction to management and the management process


    By the end of this topic, you will be able to:


    Describe basic management concepts and principles and management issues of interest to information systems managers.

    Watch two videos on introduction to management.


    Study the PowerPoint presentation.


    Read the given two book chapters on introduction to management and management issues for IS professionals.

    Two videos on introduction to management

    PowerPoint presentation

    Relevant book chapters


    Class-based reflective discussion.

    Self-graded quiz (7-10 questions)


    Week 3 & 4 (12 hours)

    2. Managerial decision-making techniques and their relevance to IS management

    By the end of this topic, you should be able to:


    Explain common managerial decision-making techniques.


    Match appropriate managerial decision-making techniques to IS management problems.


    Use managerial decision-making techniques (individual or combined) to solve IS management problems; and


    Develop novel/creative ways to address/solve localised IS management problems.

    Watch videos about managerial decision making in general and in information systems management.


    Study case studies of the managerial decision-making process and techniques in information systems.


    Study the PowerPoint presentation.


    Read the relevant book chapters and research articles.



    Case studies

    PowerPoint presentation

    Relevant book chapter and research articles.

    A group discussion on decision making processes and techniques for IS management problems/managers.


    A synthesis and problem-solving assignment in the IS management domain.

    Week 5 (8 hours)

    3. Decision support systems (DSS)

    By the end of this topic, you should be able to:

    Describe DSS.

    Explain characteristics of DSS.

    Classify different types of DSS and their applications.

    Describe the supporting roles DSS give to managers; and


    Design DSS solutions for IS managerial problems.

    Read the given book chapter and research articles.


    Study case studies of use of DSS in IS managerial decision-making.


    Study the PowerPoint presentation.

    Relevant book chapter and research articles.

    Case studies.

    A PowerPoint presentation;

    A group discussion


    An evaluative and solution design exercise and presentation in groups.

    Week 6 (8 hours)

    4. Modeling organisations as systems

    By the end of this topic, you should be able to:


    Demonstrate an understanding of the techniques for analysing organisations in a systematic manner.


    Justify why it is necessary to model organisations as systems; and


    Use proven techniques for modelling organisations as systems to remodel organisational systems.

    Case studies of modelling organisations as systems in general and for the IS function.


    Study the PowerPoint presentation.


    Read the relevant book chapter and research articles.

    Case studies


    Book chapter and research articles.


    A PowerPoint presentation.


    A practical assignment on modelling organisational systems using use cases and entity relationship diagrams.


    Week 7 (8 hours)

    5. Current management issues relevant to IS professionals

    By the end of this topic, you should be able to:


    Demonstrate awareness and understanding of common management issues IS professionals and managers face with possible solutions.


    Diagnose institutional settings culpable to different management issues IS professionals and managers face and prescribe (with justification) potential solutions.

    Read the relevant book chapter and research articles.


    Study case studies of management issues relevant to IS professionals


    Study the PowerPoint presentation.


    Relevant book chapter and research articles.


    Case studies


    PowerPoint presentation



    A mini research paper (extended essay) on current management issues faced by IS managers.

    Week 8 (8 hours)

    6. Skills & attitudes for 21st century IS managers

    By the end of this topic, you should be able to:


    Demonstrate awareness and appreciation of the desirable attitudes and skills for a 21st century IS manager.


    Match different desirable attitudes and skills for a 21st century IS manager to different information systems management roles and settings; and


    Demonstrate how practically IS managers can acquire and sustain the desirable attitudes and skills.

    Read the relevant book chapter and research articles.


    Case studies on attitudes and skills for a 21st century IS manager.


    Study the PowerPoint presentation.




    Relevant book chapter/research articles


    Case studies


    A PowerPoint presentation



    A practical exercise on recruiting an IS manager with attitudes and skills for a 21st century IS manager.

    Week 9 (14 hours)

    7. Current research trends and issues in management relevant to information systems professionals.

    By the end of this topic, you should be able to:


    Competently establish and describe current research trends and issues in management relevant to information systems professionals and their relevancy to information systems management.


    Match the research trends and issues in management relevant to information systems professionals to different information systems management settings; and


    Develop conceptual models to address/exploit the positive trends and address gaps.   

    Study research articles in the area


    Class presentations

    Curated research articles plus students’ recommendations


    Position papers of peers



    A position paper as part of the e-portfolio


    Peer assessment





    Building the course on the learning management system – Makerere University eLearning Environment (MUELE)

    The course space on the LMS is divided into two main sections: general information and course modules.

    The general information includes an introduction and welcome message from the tutor/lecturer with a picture, contact information and a course guide (also referred to as a syllabus or outline). We also provide space for students to introduce themselves to familiarise themselves with the system and with peers. We give information on when and where face-to-face meetings will take place for students to set their study goals and plans and what proportion(s) of the course is/are online and which one(s) is/are face-to-face. Other sections include group rules/netiquette to create order and harmony in communication among class members, a course guide showing the structure of the course and the start and end dates of learning tasks.

    In the course modules section, each topic begins with an introductory activity to activate students’ prior knowledge and experiences. This is followed by a presentation from the lecturer or a problem-based task in groups or individually. Additionally, reflective activities are embedded in learning activities for students to express themselves on what stood out for them in each topic, what they still want to learn more about and what they feel confident doing. Through reflective activities, students’ knowledge and experiences are captured and shared. In addition, progress on transformation can be tracked to a certain extent. Further, resources for each topic for further reading are provided.

    To enrich the learning with authentic learning cases, guest presenters with specialist knowledge and experience in information systems management are invited to share their industry experiences. Some guest sessions are physical while others are virtual depending on the preference of the speakers. Throughout the learning process, the lecturer and/or tutor keeps monitoring the learning process, noting challenges, updating learning resources and providing clarification among others. Additionally, students are encouraged and guided to share their personal views, opinions, new perspectives and any other concerns.

    Course evaluation feedback

    The course was evaluated through peer reviews and by a blended learning expert from the School of ODeL at Makerere University:

    Peer review feedback 

    The peer reviews involved bi-weekly joint review meetings during which course leaders of the four MIS courses covered by the EQIP Project shared their progress with the digitisation and the group jointly identified the strengths and weaknesses/gaps in each. The strengths were always recommended for adoption by other members while the team agreed on recommendations for the weak points.

     From the peer review process, several key points were noted. The key good points identified from the MISP course were: structuring of the course in the LMS into general information and course modules/topics, use of relevant videos as part of the learning resources, use of guest lectures to provide authentic learning experiences and having an assessment(s) for each topic.

     The weak areas identified were not including intended learning outcomes per topic and not indicating the schedule for learning activities and assessments on the course guide. Following this feedback, intended learning outcomes were included per topic and the schedule for learning activities and assessments for each module were added to the course guide.

    Blended learning expert feedback 

    Evaluation by the blended learning expert covered course organisation, instructional design and delivery, opportunities provided for learners’ engagement and availability of student support and resources within the LMS.

     The evaluation framework used was based on a review of the literature and scope of various checklists used for evaluation of blended learning courses to design a suitable course evaluation checklist involving best practices but adapted to the Makerere University context. The checklist contained 11 evaluation categories. Each category had varying quality elements that guided the evaluation: 

    1. General course information, orientation, overview and Introduction.
    2. Learner support.
    3. Navigation.
    4. Course-wide and unit level learning outcomes.
    5. Course content and materials.
    6. Instructional design and learner engagement.
    7. Course structure.
    8. Technology/media.
    9. Assessment.
    10. Integration of face-to-face and online activities. 
    11. Quality assurance and evaluation. 

     Of the 11 standard blended learning quality requirements, the course fully met only five: category three (Course wide and unit level learning outcomes), category six (Course structure), category seven (Technology/media), category ten (Integrate face-to-face and online activities) and category eleven (Quality assurance and evaluation). The remainder had several gaps to address in making the course meet the minimum standards of a blended course.

     The evaluation highlighted key strengths in the course design and development. In the paragraph below, we outline some key evaluation comments in relation to specific categories. For example, in relation to Category three,  the course fulfilled all the requirements under this category and were aligned to the relevant level of the course and Bloom’s taxonomy. For category ten, the course met all the requirements including fusing online and face-to-face activities in the learning process for what happens online to link to and build on what happens face-to-face and vice versa; the inclusion of appropriate face-to-face and online activities in the assessment plan and activities fostering both an online and face-to-face peer learning community: discussion forums, a class WhatsApp group and physical lectures/seminars on the course schedule.

     In the Lessons Learned section below, we discuss how the models we used enabled quality curriculum development and course design and how the models we chose failed to support the design process in certain key areas including assessment and teaching presences.

     Having a blended-learning expert evaluate the course using the checklist allowed us to identify which elements needed attention before the course was offered. The evaluation highlighted significant needs for course development and revision in relation to, for example:

     Out of this experience and the detailed guidelines and feedback from the blended learning expert (course evaluator), an action-oriented checklist for designing a blended learning course was generated to guide future blended course development efforts in the EQIP project, in other units of the university and beyond. The checklist covers a list of aspects under each of the 12 categories to include/check for when developing a blended learning course. The full checklist is given in the appendix. Overall, having a blended learning expert provided us with external perspective and feedback on our course design which we have missed otherwise.

     Lessons learned

     Several lessons were learned during the course development and implementation process. These included:

    A course guide helps to visualise the course design

    We found the course guide helpful in visualising the course design and later systematically guiding the building of the course in the LMS. Course guidelines offer an organised way to think about important aspects and easily bring out the gaps and misalignment. The guide includes the key course design elements which enhances standardisation across courses.

    Get feedback and compare notes with peers in the course development process

    For teams new to developing blended courses, working in teams and regular peer reviews are very helpful for peer learning and improvement. Through bi-weekly joint review meetings, we (the team developing blended courses under the EQIP project) identified the strengths and weaknesses/gaps in each other’s work. The strengths in each course were recommended for adoption by other members while members shared ideas on how to address the gaps. Examples of the strengths identified are indicating intended learning outcomes below each topic in the LMS and including relevant video content in the learning resources. The figure below shows the intended learning outcomes (ILOs) of topic one given below it and videos about management and the management process among the learning resources of topic one. 

    Figure 1: Intended learning outcomes (ILOs) of topic one given below the topic, and videos about management and the management process (topic one) among the learning resources of the topic (Makerere University, 2022).

    Iterative design provides a good framework for the development of Blended Courses

    Designing online courses is not linear. It requires several reviews and improvements from the review feedback. In our case, the review involved three peer review sessions and feedback from an eLearning pedagogy expert. This is in line with Design Based Research (DBR) which engages in iterative designs to develop knowledge that improves educational practices (Armstrong et al., 2020). DBR came out of the realisation that educational research often failed to improve classroom practices. The hallmark of DBR is the iterative nature of its interventions. From each iteration, the intervention is refined and reworked making the result take precedence over the process. Core processes of DBR include: analysis and exploration, design and construction and evaluation and reflection.

    Conclusion, recommendations and future work

    This chapter has described the process educators new to blended learning course development developed a blended course that is also transformative. It has demonstrated the approach and value of evaluation of blended learning courses as part of the development process, provided a checklist of key aspects to consider when developing a blended learning course and shared lessons learned in the first-time journey to developing a blended course. We hope this practice-based account motivates and guides more less experienced but enthusiasts of blended learning to embrace blended learning in practice. Future work will consider evaluation of the blended course with learners to generate more feedback for refinement of the design and checklist for the development of blended courses.


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    Appendix A –  Action-oriented checklist for designing a blended learning course

    Use this list as a checklist for key aspects about designing and hosting a course in a learning management system (LMS)

     Category 1 – General course information, Orientation, overview and introduction (ensure the course has the following)

    1. Course code and course title, instructor introduction through an online link, text or video, a photo and contact information.
    2. A forum for learners’ self-introduction to get to know each other.
    3. When and where face-to-face meetings will take place to help learners plan.
    4. What proportion(s) of the course is online and face-to-face.
    5. A calendar of course unit dates, deadlines and exam schedule.
    6. Course level (i.e, introductory or upper level, prerequisites required).
    7. A study guide in printable form to help learners know the nature of the course, content and how it is structured.
    8. An online orientation week to allow learners familiarise with the online environment and course requirements.
    9. Course schedule in a printer-friendly format for learners to know which activities will take place and when.
    10. Provide the aim of the course on the first page of the course.
    11. State clearly on the course page or a link the netiquette guidelines for online discussions, email and other forms of communication.
    12. State clearly the course grading policy/structure.
    13. Provide guidance on how social media and other communication tools like emails, forums, blogs will be used in the course.

    Category 2 –  Learner support

    1. A link to course and or institutional policies the learner is expected to comply with, if any.
    2. Information on how technical support can be received.
    3. How the institution or the program’s academic support systems can be accessed (e.g. library services).
    4. A list of hardware and software requirements for the course, if necessary.
    5. A social discussion forum (or café) for non-course related discussion.

    Category 4 –  Course-wide and unit level learning outcomes

    1. State clearly what the learners will be able to do upon completion of a program, a course and a unit or topic to help learners on self-evaluation.
    2. Learning outcomes should be measurable and aligned to the relevant level of the course and Bloom’s taxonomy.
    3. Learning outcomes will determine the topics, activities, resources, assessment strategy, estimated time to spend on each activity and the extent to tutor intervention.

    Category 5 – Course content and materials

    1. These are content or materials provided to enable achievement of learning outcomes e.g. mini-lectures, books, articles, videos, audios and pictures.
    2. Properly write and reference the materials.
    3. Take into consideration copyright issues.
    4. Include each unit’s brief indicative content at the beginning of the unit.
    5. Chunk course content for more manageable learning.
    6. Mention in each unit which other units in the course are linked to enable learners to integrate knowledge.
    7. The course design should promote interaction, peer coaching and peer review.
    8. Where colour and graphics are used, they should be used consistently to enhance the learning experience.
    9. Course content in the resources provided should be accurate, up-to-date and relevant to the labour/market.
    10. The references should be reliable, relevant and up-to-date.
    11. Learning resources should contribute to the achievement of the stated learning outcomes.
    12. To avoid plagiarism, the materials should properly cite and reference relevant sources.
    13. Minimise errors in the materials as much as possible regarding typos, format, style and content.

    Category 6 – Instructional design and learner engagement

    1. The kind of activities given and their sequencing is an important aspect of ensuring that learning takes place.
    2. Align appropriately learning activities/instructional materials to course intended learning outcomes.
    3. Use active learning strategies that engage the learner and promote the achievement of learning outcomes and learning styles.
    4. Ensure the facilitator’s presence is felt online especially through prose.
    5. Use the teaching voice throughout bearing in mind or addressing the individual learner not the entire group (e.g. using “you will …” instead of “students will …”).
    6. Integrate learning activities with specific learning resources/materials linked to learning outcomes.
    7. Where learners are referred to a book, article, website, avail the title or article or link, the author and page number(s), where available.
    8. Give clear guidelines for each task or assignment for learners to give responses as required.
    9. Attempt to create learning communities using strategies such as group projects/assignments/activities when appropriate.
    10. Distinguish online, in-class or offline activities.
    11. Make available access to external programmes/software where required.
    12. Minimise external links or documents to access.
    13. Guide learners on the estimated time to spend on each unit’s activities to help them in planning.
    14. Guide and refer learners to other resources/sources of information to enrich learning.

    Category 7 – Course structure

    1. The presentation must be logical, sequential, meaningful and appropriate to motivate learners to take the course and to learn and achieve the intended learning outcomes.
    2. The course structure should be flexible, allowing easy updating of units, activities, assignments and learning materials.
    3. The course should use appropriate variety of formats for course resources throughout (e.g. PDF, PPT, Doc, mp3, mp4, etc.) so that learners can easily access them using their everyday devices.
    4. The course structure should enable a good mix of learning resources and faculty support.

    Category 8 – Technology/media

    1. Use accessible technologies and these should support completion of activities.
    2. Learners should be able to access resources for offline use (e.g. downloadable files).
    3. The technology should enable learners to communicate and collaborate.
    4. The course site should be operational on mobile devices and multiple browsers.

    Category 9 – Assessment

    1. Include ways to progressively check whether learners are achieving learning outcomes as they take the course (formative assessment) and whether the learning outcomes were achieved when the course comes to an end (summative assessment).
    2. Assessment can be through assignments, self-reflection, quizzes, tests, exams, reports of participating in discussions etc.
    3. Closely align assessment with learning outcomes.
    4. Assessments should provide learners with ample opportunities to practice and apply concepts and skills in realistic and relevant ways that reinforce learning outcomes.
    5. Explicitly communicate assessment expectations including deliverables and guidelines.
    6. Give clear instructions on how to submit assignments/activities and when to submit.
    7. Ensure assessment strategies/tools selected are appropriate to the learners’ work being assessed. 
    8. Sequence and vary learner assessment on an ongoing basis throughout the course.
    9. Provide rubrics (specific and descriptive criteria) for the evaluation of learners’ work.
    10. Give an assessment at the end of each unit to enable learners to test whether the unit’s learning outcomes were achieved.

    Category 10 – Integration of face-to-face and online activities

    1. Fuse online and face-to-face activities as learning takes place so that what happens online links and builds on what happens face-to-face and vice versa.
    2. Include face-to-face and online activities proportionately in the assessment plan.
    3. Constitute both online and face-to-face peer learning community.

    Category 11 – Quality assurance and evaluation

    1. Use a blended learning expert to evaluate the course with the same rigour as a face-to-face course, as part of the quality assurance process.
    2. The evaluation should be based on standard blended learning quality assurance benchmarks to ascertain the quality of the course and provide recommendations for improvement before delivery.

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