Developing library products and services to support blended learning at Uganda Christian University and its affiliated campuses
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Blended learning (also referred to as online learning) support at Uganda Christian University (UCU) is still at its initial stages at both the Main Campus and Affiliated Campuses. Blended learning is the combination of different training media such as technologies, activities and types of events which are used to create an optimum training program for a specific audience (Bersin, 2004). Blended learning offers use of multiple teaching styles (that is lectures, action learning activities and demonstrations within the lecture room) to retain the students’ attention by accommodating the differing learning styles and thereby enhancing the learning experience of the students (Garrison and Kanuka, 2004). Prior to this research the library supported blended learning by providing a link to the library platform which currently houses thousands of online journals and a few e-books on different databases such as; AGORA, Wiley Inter Science, Oxford University Press, Cambridge Journals Online, Oxford university scholarship, HINARI, Emerald, OARE, JSTOR and many others which students and staff can access and retrieve for future reference with the provision of getting a print copy (UCU, 2013a). In an effort to better support blended learning this study attempted provide answers to the following research question: What online support services should be developed by the University Library in order to optimise the online component of blended learning initiatives at UCU? Several sub-questions were used to gain full understanding of the requirements for online support services. These are: What is blended learning and how does it differ from e-Learning? What is UCU’s strategy regarding the implementation of blended learning? What is the current state of online learning support services provided by UCU library and its Affiliated Campuses? Is there a need for expanding the services at UCU? What further services could UCU and the libraries of its Affiliated Campuses develop to support online learning? What are the benefits and the challenges of online learning support services be to library patrons at UCU and its Affiliated Campuses? And how can the library strategise to overcome challenges and sustain online learning support services? The methodology used to carry out the study focused on explaining the systematic ways used to solve the research problem of the study. The discussion under methodology covered the research design, research approach and the research strategies which were used to guide the study in exploring issues of developing the library services and products to support blended learning at UCU Main Campus and Affiliated Campuses. The chapter also discussed case study design, population of study, sampling method, data collection methods, data collection instruments, data quality control, data analysis; and ethical issues. This chapter ends with conclusion and gave an introduction to chapter four The key findings resulted from the empirical study described in the methodology, was divided into two parts. The first part presents the findings captured, and the second discusses the findings against the backdrop of the literature review reported in Chapter 2. The researcher administered both questionnaires and interviews to collect data. The questionnaires resulted in feedback from 30 respondents. 20 of which were academic staff, and 10 librarians based at UCU Hamu Mukasa Library. This was with an aim of capturing new ideas about developing library products and services to support blended learning at UCU, and comparing them. The interviews were scheduled and administered to 20 Heads of Departments. They were selected as key respondents because of their roles in decisions making and planning for the University. The findings were presented and discussed according to specific themes. The themes presented and discussed the description of respondents, technologies associated with online instructions, familiarity and access to technology to operate blended learning, and the proposed solutions to address the challenges faced. The study concluded with specific research objectives designed within the context of blended learning to; identify UCU’s strategy regarding the implementation of blended learning, explore the current state of online learning support services provided by UCU library and its Affiliated Campuses, identify the benefits and the challenges of online learning support services to the library patrons at UCU and its Affiliated Campuses, and formulate strategies to overcome challenges and sustain online learning support services. All these objectives were successfully achieved. The study recommended that there should be skills trainings, support, technology, pedagogy and human factor.