The Fourth Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF4)
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Pauline Ngimwa

An African Experience in Providing a Digital Library Service: the African Virtual University Example

Pauline Ngimwa
The African Virtual University

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     Last modified: August 25, 2006
     Presentation date: 10/31/2006 2:15 PM in NT Trelawny
     (View Schedule)

This paper will share the African Virtual University’s experience in making digital learning resources easily accessible to its partner institutions across Africa in the most cost-effective way. The first lesson we have learnt is that there is currently inadequate bandwidth to support access to these digital resources. This is supported by a number of studies that have been carried out in the course of the last three years. The studies further show the negative impact these low bandwidth levels have had on the overall access, utilization and usefulness of the digital resources to the learner and faculty in African universities. In addition this has directly impacted on the level of basic information literacy in a modern electronic environment which most of the Africa students for the first time when they join tertiary education.

A discussion about how the AVU is investing in alternative creative solutions in response to these access problems will be presented. This includes a project to expand bandwidth through VSAT deployment in the partner institutions at an affordable cost by aggregating demand. In addition to this, the paper will discuss how local servers are being used to store and make available digital content that would otherwise require huge bandwidth if they were to be made available online, thus making it possible to easily access targeted sets of resources in ways that are both pedagogically effective and cost-effective.

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