MIT course beamed to Africa
Over 190 students from eight sub-Saharan countries are taking an MIT course without leaving their continent thanks to a joint initiative
Educational Services (CAES) and the African
Virtual University (AVU). Participating countries are Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya,
Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
The collaboration began when AVU, a technology-facilitated higher-learning
institution, contacted CAES. AVU uses modern information and communication technologies
to give students in sub-Saharan Africa direct access to some of the highest-quality
learning resources from around the world.
CAES put together a six-week curriculum loosely based on MIT Course 1.00, which
teaches the Java programming language. The resulting course, Java Revolution,
can be uniformly distributed regardless of equipment and bandwidth.
Java Revolution features videotaped lectures delivered via satellite, a web
site for course materials, e-mail moderated by teaching assistants, and two
live videoconferences with Professor Steven Lerman, director of CAES’ Center
for Educational Computing Initiatives (CECI), and Dr. Judson Harward, a CECI
principal research scientist. Lerman is also affiliated with the Department
of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
MIT faculty members also directed students to a Java User Group web site specific
to the users of Java in Africa so that live interaction can continue long after
the course has ended.
"There is a tremendous hunger for knowledge, particularly in the areas
of science and engineering, in many parts of the world. We hope that this is
just the beginning of a partnership between CAES and AVU to bring MIT intellectual
content to wider audiences," said Professor Richard Larson, director of
According to Sidiki Traore, senior program officer at AVU, "AVU has a
five-year history of beaming quality education to university students and professionals
in Africa from the best institutions around the world. We are pleased to announce
that another distinguished institution, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
has joined AVU. The availability of Java Revolution is a historic event in education
in Africa because, for the first time, students will be able to receive course
certificates from world-renowned universities such as MIT while remaining in
their own countries. Thirteen Learning Centers are currently participating in
MIT’s Java Revolution course, and we expect to enroll more African students
in MIT courses in the future."
AVU students include university students and staff, professionals working for
information technology companies, and unemployed individuals trying to find
their way into a new career. At least 15 percent of the participating students
Established in July 1997 as a World Bank project, AVU has just completed its
first phase and is now a premier provider of technology-based distance education
with 31 Learning Centers across the continent. This year, AVU was established
as an independent non-profit organization with headquarters in Nairobi.
James Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank, will be MIT’s 2002 Commencement
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