By Staff Reporter
Online learning remains relatively unknown and untapped in Zimbabwe but a Zimbabwean academic based in the United States of America, Dr Claudius Mundoma has started an initiative offering an online mathematics course. The course takes 3 years to complete.
For the third year running, Zimbabwe Online Portals through its content providers, World Education Portals (WEPS), is offering free online Mathematics courses (Calculus I) geared to those preparing to go to University.
According to the website all the classes are online. Students can get expert support from Professors, lecturers and graduate students during studies.
This course is offered world-wide and one is able to take the same course as students in Finland and receive University level credit from University of Helsinki, Finland if they pay tuition to the University of Helsinki.
This means Zimbabweans can obtain a qualification without spending a lot of money in living expenses.
The course will introduce students to differential and integral calculus of single variable functions and demonstrate its usefulness in selected applications. After completing the course, students will develop a clear understanding of the fundamental concepts of single variable calculus and a range of skills allowing them to work effectively with the concepts.
Key concepts include functions, their limits and continuity, differentiation, and integration. Students will learn to apply differentiation and integration techniques in practical situations. The course provides a great foundation to future courses in mathematics and other areas of sciences as well as in engineering. The course will require 6-8 hours of time a week, and we will dedicate computers to course members on particular days/times for those who do not have Internet access at home.
Initially the course had very slow intake but Zimbabweans are becoming more interested as many try to upgrade the education qualifications.
Impressive internet penetration rates have made it possible for Zimbabweans living in Zimbabwe to have access to online learning institutions. This means that Zimbabweans can now access online education although internet access remains largely available through mobile phones which are not suitable to conduct learning.
Most people still do not afford personal computers such as laptops and wifi in their homes but state owned Netone has rolled out wifi provision in public areas such as Mupedzanhamo and 4th street bus terminus. Public libraries also have wifi internet which citizens can take advantage of.
But what inspired the initiative to provide online mathematics courses to Zimbabweans? ‘Less Zimbabweans are taking up science subjects and there was a need to fill this gap and improve science skills in the country.’ said Dr Mundoma
Statistics show that fewer students took up science in secondary schools for the 2014 ZIMSEC examinations as they opt for what they consider easier options but this has a profound effect on the skill base of the country.
Educators are trying to fill this gap by offering science subjects such as mathematics online. ‘We can only develop our country through the training and equipping of a new crop of scientists who will offer solutions to the country’s problems.’ Dr Mundoma said.