Development of a blended course for continued teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic: Experience and lessons

Learning Management SystemsHigher EducationLearning Designbloom's taxonomytransformative pedagogyfive stages model
In this chapter, we share our collaborative practices of developing a Master 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. The chapter provides an analysis of the course development approach used, the value of evaluation of blended courses as part of the development process, a proposed checklist of key aspects to consider when developing a blended course as well as lessons learned 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 courses infused with transformative pedagogy, especially in countries like Uganda where e-learning adoption is still in its infancy, and transmissive pedagogy is largely the preferred approach to teaching and learning.


At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, all learning activities at Makerere University, Uganda were moved online following a directive from the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE, 2020), the national regulator for higher education. The NCHE directive required all academic programmes to be redesigned for online learning. Rather than join capacity-building programmes tailored to lecturers with either limited or no prior knowledge of e-learning, the first author, Rehema Baguma, who had already obtained a postgraduate diploma in Education Technology at the University of Cape Town, thought it better to “upskill on the job”. As a lecturer in the Master of Information Systems, Rehama was responsible for human factors in information systems (IS) design and management for IS professionals. Further, Rehema was a co-principal investigator on a new project to Enhance Quality and Internationalisation of Study Programmes through Mobile Transformative Pedagogy (EQIP), under which courses in the MIS programme were to be made transformative and blended. The EQIP project was six months into implementation when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. The second author, Proscovia Namubiru Ssentamu, a teacher educator, higher education curriculum and quality assurance specialist, came onboard to ensure that due diligence was followed during course development and that the course met the minimum standards as per the NCHE (2019). 

In this chapter, we share our reflections on the first-time undertaking to develop a blended graduate course to support continued teaching and learning during the COVID-19 lockdown and as part of a drive to promote transformative pedagogy. In this course, all teaching and learning activities, and formative assessment were online while the summative assessment was kept face-to-face. E-learning gained momentum when education institutions in most parts of the world were locked down to manage the spread of the COVID-19 disease. The course development process was guided by 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 e-learning (Salmon, 2011) to guide the definition of appropriate tutor and student activities at different stages of the learning process. Iterative internal feedback and expert feedback guided by a checklist were included in the course design process. 

Contextual background

The initiative to promote transformative pedagogy was launched as part of the EQIP project, a partnership between Makerere University in Uganda, the University of Agder in Norway and the University of Rwanda. 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 mutual student exchange involves students engaging in authentic learning activities face-to-face where possible and online at partner universities. One of the programmes was the Master of Information Systems on which the first author is a lecturer.

Although public and private universities in Uganda have been using learning management systems (LMS) since the 2000s to support the delivery of blended learning, the uptake of e-learning among lecturers and students was low prior to the pandemic (Baguma et al., 2019). As part of the COVID-19 lockdown, all institutions of higher learning (IHL) across Uganda were required to move to Open Distance and e-learning (ODeL) following the guidelines for adoption of an emergency ODeL by the higher education institutions during the COVID-19 lockdown issued by the NCHE (NCHE, 2020). Until that point, e-learning implementation had not been institutionalised and most lecturers did not have experience and skills in e-learning. In response, Makerere University and other institutions designed capacity-building programmes, mainly online webinars for staff covering both theoretical approaches to e-learning and the use of educational technologies, including the 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 blended or online courses. 

Institutional and project pressures led to the digitisation of courses despite limited experience of, or lack of experience in, blended and online learning among the course developers. However, good practice indicates the need for a broader e-learning strategy, structure and support. According to Graham et al. (2013), an e-learning strategy and structure focuses on technological, pedagogical and administrative frameworks that facilitate the online learning environment including governance, models, scheduling and evaluation. E-learning support is the institutional facilitation of the implementation and maintenance of its e-learning design, incorporating technical support, pedagogical support and faculty incentives (Graham et al., 2013). This level of support needed to be explored further.

Designing the Management for Information Systems Professionals course

According to the Master of Information Systems curriculum for Makerere University (n.d.), one of the terminal objectives of the Management for Information Systems Professionals (MISP) course is to introduce students to the management process in order to develop a critical awareness of current management issues relevant to IS professionals. The course further enables examining the managerial decision-making process and 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, reviewing current research trends and issues in management, relevant to IS professionals and managers. 

The course development process started with the development of a course guide (see Appendix A for the final version). We designed 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 or tutor, a reflection activity and a competence-based assessment to ensure that the learning outcomes were aligned to job-oriented assessment tasks. We also provided additional resources related to the topic for students to explore further. The course guide covered the following:

The structure and relationship among learning activities, learning resources and assessment were guided by a commitment to a transformative pedagogy (UNESCO, 2017), shaped by a combination of Bloom’s revised taxonomy (Anderson & Krathwol, 2001), and Salmon’s Five Stage Model (2011). Bloom’s revised taxonomy was used to ensure achievement of learning at both lower order and higher order levels of cognition as well as transformational aspects, while Salmon’s Five Stage Model was used to guide the definition of typical activities of a course tutor in the online learning process. This course guide was also shaped by both internal and expert review processes, which are discussed later.

Transformative pedagogy

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. 4). 

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 student follows their own path to building and organising personal knowledge. Inquiry-based learning states that knowledge is built from experience and processes especially context-based and socially-based experiences (UNESCO, 2017). Using transformative pedagogies, students 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. 

Common practices that foster transformative learning include open spaces for dialogic learning and immersion in authentic learning experiences (Omiunota, 2009). Increasingly, IHL are required to prepare students for 21st century jobs and technologies that do not yet exist and 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 Technology (ICT) literacies as well as graduates who demonstrate agile leadership skills, are lifelong or self-directed students, ethical professionals and socially responsible global citizens. Transformative pedagogy is one of the approaches afforded to IHL to prepare such graduates (Meyers, 2010; UNESCO, 2017; Zhang et al., 2022). 

The potential of transformative e-learning 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, as cited in Palmer & Bowman, 2014). Research on fostering transformative learning in the online learning environment points to many successful strategies:

  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, 2010, p. 219). 

Subran (2013) noted that many educators face the challenge of developing higher order cognitive skills among students 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 students 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 or solutions which is a problem-solving skill). 

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). We applied Bloom’s taxonomy in the formulation of learning objectives and outcomes, learning tasks and activities, and assessment to make MISP transformative. Lower order cognition (remember, understand and apply) requires an instructional strategy that includes a lecture or presentation with examples. According to Anderson and Krathwol (2001), 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. Higher order cognition (analyse, evaluate and create) is best assessed through case studies, presentations, comparing data or the 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 as both higher order cognition and transformative pedagogy aim at developing problem-solving and critical thinking skills, and creative innovators among students. As noted by Brookhart (2010), higher-order cognition is a problem-solving process for students to be able to identify and solve problems in their academic work and in life after school. For Brookhart (2010), higher order cognitive (thinking) skills are 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.). 

Use of Salmon’s Five Stage Model in the course digitisation process

Salmon’s Five Stage Model was used to design a scaffolded online learning experience for students. It aided the determination of typical activities of the tutor in the online course. As illustrated in Table 1, the typical tutor activities, according to Salmon (2011), provided a guide for the definition of the activities of the tutor for the MISP course. 

Table 1

Tutor activities for the MISP course based on Gilly Salmon’s (2011) five stages of e-learning 

Typical activities of the tutor (Salmon, 2011)Tutor activities for the MISP course
Stage 1: Access and motivation 
Ensure the online group is set up with a welcome messageThe course is hosted on the University LMS, Makerere University E-learning Environment (MUELE), which is accessible to all students through their university email accounts.
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 manages the LMS.
Also, the unit has a technical support ticket system for logging trackable support requests, with an email address. and phone number.
N.B. In a previous year, 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 icebreakerThere is an introduction from the lecturer with a picture and course guide.
There is also a request for students to introduce themselves covering aspects such as name, place of work and post (if employed), course expectations and personal interests.
Welcome students Each student introduction is acknowledged by the lecturer and those who arrive late are to be invited to introduce themselves.
Gain agreement on group rules/netiquetteGroup rules or netiquette guidelines are provided by educators and students are encouraged to read them and abide by them.
Engage individuals that break rules (either privately or through the discussion group)Breaches of rules will be addressed and students will be required to follow the rules or subsequently face disciplinary action.
Encourage quieter students to join inOne of the netiquettes is that inactive students will be called on and reminded to contribute or participate.
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 or volunteer students or the lecturer (indicated in the instructions for forums).
Provide highly structured activities at the start of the group lifeThe Moodle LMS 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 by the lecturer on the LMS.
Encourage participation. Less active members are called on 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 students to post short messagesFor each task, students are guided about the size and format of messages to post. 
Allocate online students Some students are selected or asked to volunteer from time to time to play roles such as summarising the results of a discussion, looking up and sharing certain learning resources, sharing their views on an issue under discussion, etc.
Close thread(s) as of and when appropriateDates for the 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 activitiesStudents are given research and project activities both individually and in groups.
Facilitate the learning processThe lecture 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 out to contribute etc.
Pose questions for the group to considerDuring discussions, follow-up questions are given from time to time.
Encourage group members to question theory and practiceStudents 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 historyMembers are encouraged to be natural, creative and where necessary light in the discussions
Stage 5: development
Encourage group members to lead discussionsStudents are encouraged to introduce new perspectives to discussions.
Encourage group members to transfer their skills to other areas of their workStudents 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.

The different stages of the Five Stage Model also address aspects of transformative pedagogy particularly in Stage 3 (information exchange) and Stage 4 (knowledge co-construction). Transformational learning activities under Stage 3 include: summarising and synthesising content of multiple responses which builds analytical skills, encouraging student participation in class activities and allocation of roles to different students in the learning process which builds teamwork and leadership skills. Transformational activities 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 engage with new perspectives through discussions. These activities build critical thinking skills, encouraging students to transfer their skills to other areas of their work which nurtures problem-solving skills, and prompting reflection on the different learning processes which develops critical thinking skills. Some transformative aspects of 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. 

Building the course on the learning management system 

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 lecturer or tutor with a picture, contact information and a course guide. We also provide space for students to introduce themselves to familiarise themselves with the system and with peers. We provide information about key events such as national holidays and upcoming assignments. Other sections include start and end dates of learning tasks and group rules/netiquette to create order and harmony in communication among class members in order to make the learning environment safe, one of the common practices for fostering transformative learning (Meyers, 2010).

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. 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 IS management are invited to share their industry experience. Throughout the learning process, the 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 through forums provided under each topic.

Course design evaluation feedback

The course review involved three peer review sessions and feedback from an e-learning expert from the School of ODeL at Makerere University. 

Internal peer review feedback 

The internal peer reviews involved bi-weekly joint review meetings during which course leaders of the four Master of Information Systems courses covered by the EQIP project shared their progress and the group jointly identified the strengths and weaknesses or 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 strengths and areas for development were noted. The positive 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 formative assessment(s) per topic. The areas identified for development were: not including intended learning outcomes per topic and not indicating the schedule for learning activities and assessments in the course guide. Following this feedback, intended learning outcomes were included per topic and the schedule for learning activities and assessments was 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 students’ engagement and availability of student support and resources within the LMS. 

The evaluation framework used was based on the revised Bloom’s taxonomy, the Five Stage Model and key checklists used for the evaluation of blended learning courses such as the Blended Course Learnability Evaluation Checklist by the Commonwealth of Learning (Commonwealth of Learning, 2018). The checklist (Appendix B) contained 11 evaluation categories. Each category had varying quality elements that guided the evaluation. The categories include:

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

Of the 11 e-learning quality requirements, the course fully met only five: category three (course level 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 learning course.

The evaluation highlighted key strengths in the course design. For example, in relation to category three, the course fulfilled all the requirements under this category and was 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 namely indication of the date and format of summative assessment on the course schedule, discussion forums, and a class WhatsApp group.

In the lessons learned section below, we discuss how the models we used enabled quality course design, and how the models we chose needed adaptation to support the design process in certain key areas including assessment and teaching presences, peer review and expert assessment.

Having an e-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 design and revision in relation to, for example: 

As a result of this experience and the detailed feedback from the blended learning expert, an action-oriented checklist for designing an e-learning course was generated to guide future e-learning 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 11 categories to include when developing a blended course. Overall, having a blended learning expert provided us with external perspective and feedback on our course design which otherwise we would have missed.

Lessons learned

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

A course guide helps to visualise the course design

We found the course guide (Appendix A) helpful in visualising the course design and later systematically guiding the building of the course in the LMS. A course guide offers 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 enhance standardisation across courses. However, in future we suggest expanding the course guide to make it more comprehensive to cover all teaching and learning aspects of the course to the minutest detail to make it a one stop document for the design and delivery of the course. Examples of extra details can include official holidays, schedule of assessments, schedule of guest lectures and course breaks.

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. This teamwork enabled course designers to share synergies and cover each other’s capacity gaps. 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. An example of such strengths was adopting strategic placement of 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 of topic one and videos about management and the management process among the learning resources of topic one.

Figure 1

Intended learning outcomes below the topic

Figure 1 is a screenshot of a learning management system displaying the Intended learning outcomes below the topic

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. The iterative design approach provides a good framework for the course development process. Also, using the blended learning expert to evaluate the course provides valuable feedback for improvement and flexibility in course delivery, and facilitates continuous improvement of the course. This is in line with design based research (DBR) which engages in iterative design to develop knowledge that improves educational practices (Armstrong et al., 2020). The hallmark of DBR is its iterative approach to designing interventions. From each iteration, the intervention is refined and reworked making the result take precedence over the process which is what we aimed at in our online course development process. 

Using established instructional design and e-learning design frameworks helps the course meet basic standards of a blended course

Using Bloom’s revised taxonomy and the Five Stage Model in the development of the blended course helped the course meet the basic standards of a blended learning course early in the development process. Examples of the basic standards met early in the development process are structuring the course into general information and course modules or topics and the use of guest lectures to provide authentic learning experiences. However, the Five Stage Model has a particular focus. It does not refer to course level and unit level intended learning outcomes that pertain to course content. Therefore, it is necessary to combine the Five Stage Model with Bloom’s taxonomy. 

Bloom’s revised taxonomy and the Five Stage Model support transformational teaching and learning

Whereas Bloom’s revised taxonomy is focused on fundamental principles of teaching and learning, Salmon’s Five Stage Model is tailored to the structure of e-learning and transformative pedagogy puts emphasis on the development of 21st skills and attitudes, Bloom’s higher level of cognition and transformational pedagogy share aspirations such as developing problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity skills among students. Also, the Five Stage Model’s information exchange and knowledge co-construction stages nurture transformational behaviour. Information exchange tasks, such as summarising and synthesising content of multiple responses, build a reflective mindset. Knowledge co-construction tasks, such as providing more open activities, posing questions for groups to consider and inviting group members to question theory and practice, encourage students to introduce new perspectives and discussions, and build critical thinking and problem-solving skills.


This chapter has described the process of developing a MISP course for blended delivery and promotion of transformative pedagogy during the COVID-19 pandemic. We found value in an iterative process, underpinned by an early course design evaluation and supported by key instructional design and e-learning frameworks. We provide a checklist of key aspects to consider when developing a blended course and share lessons learned in our first journey to developing a blended learning course. Given the complexity and level of demand in the context, we believe that following a checklist, which incorporates key elements of learning design, can make course development more accessible to lecturers without a learning design background. 

We hope this practice-based account motivates and guides less experienced designers and developers of blended courses to embrace blended learning in practice. Future work will consider evaluation of the blended course with students to generate more feedback for refinement of the design and checklist for the development of blended courses, and development of another blended course based on the checklist to establish the practicability of the checklist.


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Appendix A: Course guide for MISP course

Time (weeks & hours)Topic (what to be learnt)Intended learning outcome(s)Learning activitiesLearning resourcesAssessment 
Week 1 & 2 (9 hours)

1. Introduction to management and the management processBy the end of this topic, you will be able to:
  • Describe basic management concepts and principles and management issues of interest to IS 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 presentationRelevant book chaptersClass-based reflective discussion.Self-graded quiz (7-10 questions)
Week 3 & 4 (12 hours)2. Managerial decision-making techniques and their relevance to IS managementBy 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 IS management.
Study case studies of the managerial decision-making process and techniques in IS.
Study the PowerPoint presentation.
Read the relevant book chapters and research articles.
Case studiesPowerPoint presentationRelevant 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 systemsBy 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 professionalsBy 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 managersBy 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 IS 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 IS 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 IS professionals and their relevancy to IS management.
  • Match the research trends and issues in management relevant to IS professionals to different IS 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

Appendix B: Action-oriented checklist for designing a blended learning course

Use this list as a checklist for key aspects of designing and hosting a course in a learning management system (LMS). Ensure the course has the following:

Category 1 – General course information, orientation, overview and introduction 

  1. Course code and course title, instructor introduction through an online link, text or video, a photo and contact information. 
  2. A forum for students’ self-introduction to get to know each other.
  3. When and where face-to-face meetings will take place to help students 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 students know the nature of the course, content and how it is structured. 
  8. An online orientation week to allow students familiarise with the online environment and course requirements. 
  9. Course schedule in a printer-friendly format for students 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 – Student support 

  1. A link to course and or institutional policies the student 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 level and unit level learning outcomes

  1. State clearly what the student will be able to do upon completion of a program, a course and a unit or topic to help students with 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 of tutor intervention.

Category 5 – Course content and materials 

  1. These are content or materials provided to enable the 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 students 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 student engagement 

  1. The kind of activities given and their sequencing is an important aspect of ensuring that learning takes place.
  2. Align appropriate learning activities/instructional materials to course intended learning outcomes.
  3. Use active learning strategies that engage the student 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 student 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 students 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 students 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 students on the estimated time to spend on each unit’s activities to help them in planning.
  14. Guide and refer students 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 students 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 an appropriate variety of formats for course resources throughout (e.g. PDF, PPT, Doc, mp3, mp4, etc.) so that students 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. students should be able to access resources for offline use (e.g. downloadable files). 
  3. The technology should enable students 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 students 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 students 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 students’ work being assessed. 
  8. Sequence and vary student assessment on an ongoing basis throughout the course. 
  9. Provide rubrics (specific and descriptive criteria) for the evaluation of students’ work.
  10. Give an assessment at the end of each unit to enable students 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.
Rehema Baguma

Makerere University

Rehema Baguma is a Senior Lecturer & Researcher at the School of Computing & Informatics Technology, Makerere University, Uganda. Her Research interests include: Digital Inclusion, Human Centered design and accessibility of computing systems and services to persons with disabilities, Education Technology/eLearning and E-Governance. Previously, she also served as the Head Department of Information at Makerere University and a Research Fellow at United Nations University Operating Unit on Policy Driven Electronic Governance (UNU-EGOV). She holds a PhD in Information Systems from Radboud University, Netherlands, a PGD in Education Technology from University of Cape Town, a Masters in Computer Application Technology from Huazhong University of Sc &Tech, China and a PG Certificate in Monitoring and Evaluation from Saarland University, German.
Proscovia Namubiru Ssentamu

Uganda Management Institute

Proscovia Namubiru Ssentamu is an associate professor of education and head of the quality assurance department at Uganda Management Institute (UMI). She facilitates education-related Masters and PhD programmes and supervises graduate research. She is an external examiner on PhD programmes and a member of three Editorial Advisory Boards within and beyond Uganda. She has a Doctorate of Philosophy of Education (University of Bayreuth, Germany), MA in Curriculum Studies (London), MEd in Curriculum Studies (Makerere), PGDip in Human Resource Management (UMI), PGDip in Education Technology (Cape Town); Graduate Certificate in Quality Assurance (Melbourne), and BA/ED - Literature in English, English Language, Education (Makerere). Proscovia is a scholar, practitioner, trainer, researcher and consultant in quality assurance in education; curriculum design, development and evaluation; pedagogy and andragogy; educational research, monitoring and evaluation; and teacher professional development, and has published in these areas. Contact: psnamubiru@umi.ac.ug;

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