Changing computing curricula in African universities: evaluating progress and challenges via design-reality gap analysis.
Bass, Julian M.
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BASS, J. M. and HEEKS, R., 2011. Changing computing curricula in African universities: evaluating progress and challenges via design-reality gap analysis. Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries, 48, pp. 1-39.
Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are diffusing rapidly into all African nations. Effective use of the new technology requires a step-change in local skill levels; including a step-change in ICT-related university education. Part of that process must be an updating of university computing curricula, ranging from computer science through to information systems. Adoption of international curricula offers a ready means for updating, but African universities face challenges of implementing these curricula – curricula that were typically designed for Western rather than African realities. To help understand the issues surrounding implementation of international computing curricula in Africa, we selected a case example: Ethiopian higher education. Using the design-reality gap model and its 'OPTIMISM' checklist of dimensions, we analysed what ensued following its 2008 decision to adopt a new IEEE/ACM-inspired computing curriculum. We find that significant progress has been made, but that important gaps between design and reality – and, hence, challenges – remain. We are therefore able to identify specific actions along particular dimensions such as technology and skills that will help close design-reality gaps, and secure greater implementation. We propose that this analysis method will prove a valuable strategic tool for computing curriculum reform in other African nations.