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Sunday, July 10, 2011

UCSC introduces e-Learning environment to Royal University of Bhutan

The Island 10/07/2011

The University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC), introduced an e-learning environment similar to the one it currently operates, to the Royal University of Bhutan and its 10 colleges. The UCSC was selected to set up this virtual learning environment, which is a World Bank funded project, taking into consideration its expertise in the relevant field.

The project, begun in 2009, was successfully completed recently, UCSC Director, Professor Gihan Wikramanayake said.

"We started working on this project in 2009. As it is a project of massive scale, we planned to complete it in four stages. We were able to complete the entire project according to the plan very successfully. As a Western Asian country, we are glad of the opportunity to share our knowledge, expertise and experience with another country in the same zone", he said.

"The Royal University of Bhutan and the World Bank also appreciated us for completing the project successfully and was happy that they didn’t go for a European solution. Now, an e-learning environment similar to the environment at UCSC is in operation at Royal University of Bhutan and its 10 colleges", Prof. Wikramanayake noted.

The principal university in Bhutan, a mountainous country in South Asia, is the Royal University of Bhutan. It has 10 colleges, in various locations of the country. The e-learning project carried out by the UCSC of the Colombo University consisted of four stages.

In the first stage, the UCSC studied the existing information technology infrastructure at the Royal University of Bhutan and identified its physical and human resources for activating an e-learning environment. In the second stage, a project proposal was compiled according to the requirements identified and was submitted to the Royal University of Bhutan. After holding discussions with the University, a final decision was made on the system of computer and information technology networks that is going to be established.

In the third stage, computer and information technology equipment were imported and the system of networks relevant to the e-learning environment was established. Under the fourth stage, about 350 of academic and administration staff to maintain and troubleshoot the e-learning were given a comprehensive training.

Now, a virtual learning environment that has integrated the 10 colleges of the Royal University of Bhutan is in operation with the trained staff maintaining and troubleshoot the new environment in place. The specialty of this environment is that it is based on free open source software. The World Bank sponsored this project mainly due to the expertise at the UCSC.

UCSC in the past have carried out international projects in this field with the support of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and have provided similar services to other international institutions.