PREPARING IRAQI UNIVERSITIES FOR LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEM – THE CASE OF AL-QADISIYAH UNIVERSITY
Most universities around the world provide some levels of e-learning systems to enhance overall learning experience and to improve the performance of students. In its broadest sense, e-learning systems can be as uncomplicated as a projector or an interactive whiteboard into a complex and sophisticated system like a Learning Management System(LMS) or an online portal.
The Iraqi Higher Education sector has suffered a large number of severe problems in the last three decades, not least the lack of access to modern, up-to-date Information and Communication Technology (ICT) facilities. In the 1980’s the Iraqi HE system was recognised as one of the most developed in the region; nevertheless, now that system ranks close to the rear end. The deficiency of security and political instability have taken a heavy toll, especially in the shape of a ‘brain drain’ as trained and educated Iraqis continue to exit the state.
The work reported in this paper is the first step to organize and develop the foundation for the implementation of LMS in Iraqi universities. To minimise the risk of failure in this big change, universities should evaluate their readiness for adopting LMS and identify weak points which have to be improved. The evaluation process is identified at the beginning of the project to avoid potential problems in latter phases.
A questionnaire is designed based on literature review of LMS implementation to extract feedback on the preparedness for LMS. This was administered to 70 participants representing all the academic staff in the School of Engineering in Al-Qadisiyah University. The first part of the questionnaire captured the demographics of the participants in this study, including gender, age, tenure status, department, and years of experience using a technology and using LMS. The second part covered issues on the current situation of the ICT in the higher education sector and universities, directions towards new technology, outside assistance needed to establish LMS and the acceptance of LMS.
The study is the first of its kind in Iraqi universities and provides a snapshot view of the current situation. The results encourage the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in Iraq to take a Ministerial decision to first step (kick-start) the LMS journey. For countries at the very beginning of their LMS journey, this study could be mirrored as part of their preparation process.