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Pauline Ngimwa


Pauline Ngimwa

Project title

OER readiness in Africa


Visited Africa September and October 2009


The Open University, UK

Project summary

The aim of this project was to assess the Africa’s readiness to adopt OER. This involved an assessment of the technical and human related factors that impact on the successful adoption of OER. By technical factors the study was to look at the status of existing technological infrastructure, establish the extent it supports creation, access and use/re-use of OER, and identify existing gaps or limitations. The human factors consisted of issues such as skills levels, perceptions and attitudes. This project was carried out in form of a qualitative research of three case studies of higher education institutions located in Uganda, Kenya and South Africa. These institutions have been actively involved in the TESSA project. Findings of this investigation are contained in a report entitled: “OER Readiness in Africa, a report submitted to the Olnet project” (view/download here).

Biographical information

Pauline’s expertise is in the use of digital resources in higher education and information management sectors in Sub-Saharan Africa. She initially trained in information science and practiced as an information professional with the British Council in Kenya. Her interest in educational resources developed when she was tasked with the design and implementation of a digital library for the African Virtual University, a pan-African intergovernmental educational organization with a network of universities across Africa.

Availability of quality educational resources for a long time has been an issue for this region, which has result in weakened quality of education and research outputs. However, the emergence of modern digital technologies makes it possible to overcome barriers of access to these resources. African education institutions stand to benefit from the now widely available digital educational resources including OER and digital libraries. Pauline however believes that exploitation of these resources must be understood within the African education context if they are to be relevant. This calls for greater understanding of the prevailing contextual factors that support or hinder successful utilization of these digital resources. Hence, Pauline has been researching the contextual influences on the design and usage of digital educational resources within African higher education.

Main Output

Publication "OER Readiness in Africa: A report submitted to the OLnet Project" (2010) (view/download here)

Update Since Fellowship

Pauline completed her PhD in Educational Technology at the Open University towards the end of 2011. Her thesis was about the way in which academics in African higher education can work collaboratively with those who have expertise in modern digital technologies (i.e. e-learning technologists and information specialists) to design effective and learner-focused educational digital resources. To provide them with a design guidance tool, a collaborative design process model was developed following Human Computing Interaction (HCI) research approaches where three case studies of African universities (in Kenya, Uganda and South Africa) were investigated. The research findings showed the importance of national and institutional policies in the design process; the need to understand the role of global and adaptive technologies; and the different roles of design champions in the design process.

Pauline continued working at the OLnet project after her studies where she focused on reviewing the experiences and outputs of six fellows from Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) who had been sponsored by the OLnet project in partnership with the TESSA project in 2011. The fellows came from academic institutions already participating in the TESSA project which are located in four countries, namely: Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and Mauritius.  A report titled “Achieving impact in Africa through openness: OLnet TESSA Fellowships” which outlines these experiences and describes the nature of impact this fellowship program has achieved is soon to be published.

Future plans are to return to Kenya where she intends to join the Higher Education sector and share her expertise in educational digital resources.