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ONLINE TEACHING BY USING MATHEMATICAL SOFTWARE PACKAGES AT RUSANGU UNIVERSITY IN ZAMBIA: A CASE STUDY

M. Goga1, S. Dayakar2, R.A. Nedelcu3

1Technical University of Bucharest (ROMANIA)
2Rusangu University (ZAMBIA)
3University POLITEHNICA of Bucharest (ROMANIA)
This paper concerns the ussage of computerised techniques in math education in Africa, Zambia, a place where few studies of this kind are presented in the scientific literature. First it present a study regarding the general situation of using math software in tertiary education in Zambia and after that, based on the conclussions drawn from the first study, it reports an online educational experiment of using math software for teaching grade 3 and 4 math students at Rusangu University, Zambia.

Computer knowledge is changing and developing. Hence, it is imperative to keep up to date with latest software packages. It is penetrating our daily lives in every moment and aspect. Education is not escaping from this penetration. Software is used more and more in educational programs, in all levels and domains. In this paper we concentrate on the use of software for mathematics in higher education.

Another important remark is that while in other continents there are many studies that discuss the impact which software has in education, there are few studies of this type in Africa. Major studies were done by the International Mathematical Union in 2009. According to the International Mathematical Union (IMU) 2009 Africa is a continent of contrasts. The African continent has more than 50 countries and they exhibit huge variability in size, population level, wealth and culture. These variations are also seen in educational development, specifically in mathematics and the usage of mathematics software. In this paper we address this identified gap by reporting a research done in Zambia regarding the use of mathematics software in higher education.

First, this research paper investigates the usage of mathematical and statistical packages in educational institutes in Zambia at tertiary level. The result of the study shows that students are familiar with these packages, but availability is the concern. Lack of updated knowledge, non-participation in workshops and poor infrastructure are impediments to the low level usage. The mixed method approach was used in this study. A prototype tool was used to examine the ability of the students.

Based on the conclussions drawn from the study, the paper further present an educational experiment done at Rusangu University, Zambia for introducing online Matlab teaching for grade 3 and 4 students of Math classes. Online teaching is a new type of education that is taking rapid growing all around the world. Some of its main advantages are the fact that is available anytime, anywhere. However, online teaching experiments are quite rare in Africa because of limitations in computer and networking infrastrcuture. The paper presents the experiment of using math software through online teaching at Rusangu University. The online choosen medium was Moodle. The math software package used was Matlab. The number of the students participating in the educational experiment was 40. The paper presents this online educational experiment, and gives overall conclussions and recommendations from the two presented studies.