The CN Challenge Program at the University of Rwanda
Introduction to the CN Challenge Program
CourseNetworking (CN) launched the CN Challenge for Global Learning and Engagement Program (short name “The CN Challenge Program”) in 2019 through collaboration with IUPUI and its CyberLab. The University of Rwanda became one of the first institutions to accept the “challenge”. (In 2018 a ‘Memorandum of Intent’ was signed between our universities which paved the way for this collaboration). The purpose of the CN Challenge Program is to offer the next generation of learning technology (thecn.com) free of charge to institutions in developing countries and help their students and faculty bring their learning and teaching to the next level. In this process, CN, the technology provider, will continue to improve its product and services based on the feedback received from the end-users.
Free Licensing Agreement
The University of Rwanda has reached an agreement with CourseNetworking to receive a three-year free license of the CN platform (thecn.com). After three years, individual faculty and students may continue using CN for free, or the institutional license could be renewed. This agreement is governed by a contract signed between the CourseNetworking and the University of Rwanda in December 2019.
The CN, thecn.com, is an academic, social networking-based learning platform created in 2011 at the IUPUI CyberLab. Its unique features include, but are not limited to, social discussion, Learning Management System (LMS), life-long ePortfolio, badges, gamified engagement engine, and analytics. As of today, CN has users from more than 160 countries. Through the CN Challenge Program, a multitude of benefits will be generated for all parties:
- Students at the University of Rwanda will get the opportunity to use innovative learning tools and experience enhanced learning engagement and outcomes. Meanwhile, they will be able to build and extend their academic network with learners from around the world. They will also have the opportunity to create an academic ePortfolio to demonstrate their learning accomplishments, which will help them succeed in their job searches.
- Faculty at the University of Rwanda will be encouraged and supported to explore new teaching tools and pedagogies, which will improve their teaching efficiency and effectiveness.
- Both the University of Rwanda and IUPUI will benefit from the strengthened partnership, new teaching and research collaboration opportunities, and potential technology transfer outcomes.
- CourseNetworking will be able to expand its global user base and provide extended networking opportunities to its users. The feedback provided by users at the University of Rwanda will assist the CourseNetworking team in product refinements and service improvement.
Ambassador of the CN Challenge Program
Dr. Jean Claude Byungura has been appointed the ambassador of the CN Challenge Program at the University of Rwanda. He will be leveraging his expertise in instructional design and technology to provide CN training and faculty support, along with assistance from the Center for Teaching and Learning Enhancement at the University of Rwanda and Directors of Teaching and Learning Enhancement (DTLEs) at the college level.
Project Timeline and Expectations
The first trimester—short-term expectations
The first cohort of faculty (12-15 members) will be recruited, receive training, and begin the pilot of CN by early March 2020. During the pilot, the faculty are expected to:
- Create their courses on CN and enroll their students (detailed instructions will be provided to make this easy to complete).
- Engage students in social discussions on CN and award the best participants with badges. They will be encouraged to explore and use other LMS features, such as Quiz, Task tool, DropBox, and GradeBook.
- Incorporate CN ePortfolio as a course activity (detailed instructions and examples will be provided during training).
Following trimesters—long-term expectations
We hope to generate successful use cases and champion users from the first cohort and to bring the program to more faculty and students at a more extensive level in the following semesters. Each semester, the program will try to involve at least 12 new faculty members. After the first semester, we will also try to pursue “an ePortfolio for every University of Rwanda student” to give the University of Rwanda a competitive advantage and leading role in preparing students for their future careers among institutions not only in Africa but also around the world. We will also explore opportunities to connect courses offered by IUPUI and the University of Rwanda on same subjects, such as engineering and technology, public health or tourism, to encourage global learning and teaching collaboration at both institutions.
Dr. Jean Claude Byungura, with assistance from the Center for Teaching and Learning Enhancement, will be the primary source for faculty support on campus. The CourseNetworking team will hold regular meetings with Dr. Jean Claude Byungura and related university parties to seek feedback and ensure project progress. Individual users are welcome to email CN help desk firstname.lastname@example.org whenever they need technical support.