What you need to know:
- Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, the university’s vice chancellor, told journalists on Friday that the use of robots will first be piloted in the College of Computing and Information Technology Science where a multimillion smart classroom worth $100,000 (about Shs380m) has been established.
Makerere University College of Computing and Information Science (CoCIS) has secured a technological robot that will aid teaching and learning processes at the college.
The smart classroom was installed by the university with support from the Chinese Tax Payer and Education Technology Companies, International Centre for Higher Education Innovation (ICHEI) and China’s International Institute of Online Education under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).
“We are privileged to have the first smart classroom at Makerere and the smart classroom in Uganda,” Prof Nawangwe said, adding, “It is expensive to run a smart classroom, but the cost shouldn’t deter us. We are going to work with government to get more of these smart classrooms in all our colleges.”
Prof Nawangwe said use of robots is key in promoting artificial intelligence (AI). AI involves stimulating human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think and act like human beings.
He said lecturers can also use the smart classroom to record lectures and share them with students online or physically and that the university would continue embracing online education.
Mr Nicholas Betungye, the Information Communication and Technology Support technician at the College of Computing and Information Science, explained that the robot will be programmed according to user preference.
Prof Tonny Oyana, the College of Computing and Information Science principal, said lecturers using the smart classroom can also broadcast to a phone or computer elsewhere. Provided the gadgets of the target audience are connected to the Internet, they can tune in and listen to the audio.
“It is like having a radio station in Kampala, but listeners can tune in from any part of the country,” Prof Oyana said, adding that the process of installing a smart classroom at the university was delayed partly due to the Covid-19-induced lockdown having first mooted the idea in 1998.
Mr Hassan Adeel Shehzad, the programme specialist for Smart Classroom Project, revealed that several countries have adopted the use of robots in their daily teaching.
“They are also being used to narrate chapters of subjects such as Biology, Chemistry, English and Literature,” Mr Adeel explained.