April 20, 2016

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Seminar Participants at the Provost Office, Nairobi

Going the Tech Way-Flipping the Classroom​

The Network of Teaching & Learning carried out the first 2016 Seminar Series on March 2, 2016. The seminars series titled Flipping the Classroom:  Using Mobile Devices to Engage Students in and out of Class was attended by 41 faculty members and over 61 students across all entities in AKU in Pakistan, UK and East Africa.

The Seminar Series was facilitated by Mr.  Edward Misava Ombajo, the Digital Teaching and Learning Associate and Ms. Louisa Lambregts, the Digital Learning Specialist. Louisa is working with TL_net through the Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC) CADEX Programme which provides AKDN field agencies the opportunity to engage Canadian development professionals in support of agency institutional priorities. 

The Seminar focused on exploring the concept of flipping classroom and how it could be used as an effective way to actively engage students in their learning.The active hands-on seminar demonstrated a few easy to use mobile applications such as Kahoot, Padlet, and Nearpod to support active learning in the classroom, an activity in which over 90 faculty and students enthusiastically participated. The session also discussed ways of managing classrooms to prevent losing students to digital distraction.

TL_net is in the process of developing a strategic plan and guidelines on teaching with technology in AKU. TL_net is committed to benchmarking with other Institutions regionally and globally to identify and align with commonly adopted best practices for supporting digital teaching and learning within higher educationTo view the presentation of this seminar series please click here​.

For more information on teaching with technology please write to, or

February 29, 2016

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Dr. Sam Scully with Networks of Quality, Teaching and Learning Staff in Nairobi

Dr. Sam Scully gives his testimonial on working with AKU

"In recent times the Aga Khan University has paid a great deal of attention to what is now known as Quality Assurance, and not simply because of government requirements.  It has done so because it is the correct and effective approach: all academic programmes can be improved by detailed review against precise evaluation criteria and expected learning outcomes.

 In 2014 Academics Without Border, a bilingual Canadian NGO based in Montreal, sent a volunteer, Martin Hill, to assist AKU in developing its policies and procedures, including a new Academic Quality Framework, and then in 2015, together with AKU, it funded me to make two visits to Nairobi to continue and strengthen the work that Martin had started.

 In August and again in November 2015 I spent two weeks in Nairobi working closely with Tashmin Khamis and Faisal Notta in AKU’s Quality Assurance and Improvement Network (QAI_net); developing additional policies and procedures; assisting the Quality Assurance Review Committee (QARC) in its work; and meeting with members of the University’s administration and faculty members who are engaged in the various aspects of quality assurance.  I gave by tele-conference a seminar “How do we know that we are providing a Programme of Good Quality? A modern (r)evolution” which was attended by faculty on each of the AKU campuses, and led a workshop about quality assurance with members of the College of Medicine on the Nairobi campus.  Both visits were very enjoyable and, in the view of all, productive and helpful in the continuing introduction of modern best practices.

AKU​’s QAI_net is an essential component in the development of a cutting-edge Quality Assurance system.     Tashmin and Faisal, together with the members of the QARC, are building considerable expertise and knowledge about quality assurance policies and procedures.   They need the support of all the senior administration of AKU, and then they will enable AKU to become a world leader in quality assurance.   

I thoroughly enjoyed my AKU visits and the friendliness and hospitality of everyone I met in person and via technology.  I shall follow your progress with interest in the years ahead.​ "

Dr Sam Scully is an Academics Without Borders volunteer working with QAI net. Dr Scully is also the founding chair of the Ontario universities council on quality assurance and past vice president academic and provost of Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and University of Victoria, British Columbia.

February 10, 2016

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SONAM-EA Workshop Participant​

TL_net Partners with SONAM EA to Train Faculty on Moodle Course Design

TL-net, in partnership with SONAM-EA and the IT team in Pakistan, carried out a two –day Moodle training workshop between January 28, 2016 and February 2, 2016. Moodle is an open-source virtual learning environment (VLE) that supports communication, interactive learning activities, and collaboration between students and faculty; it also facilitates sharing of learning materials. A total of 33 faculty members attended the workshops in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. This is a ground breaking, collaborative venture that takes AKU further down the path of technology-enhanced learning and teaching.   Within SONAM-EA, Moodle courses will be virtual extensions of the face to face class. As a digital resource that is available both in class and out of class, it will guide students through weekly activities and assessments.

The aim of the training workshop was to enhance faculty members’ capacity to integrate use of technology in teaching and learning —in this case, building a course space on the Moodle virtual learning environment.  The training focused on:

  • ​Assisting faculty members to develop one course on the Moodle platform.

  • Uploading documents into the course site including the course outline

  • Navigating  Moodle with ease

TL_net followed up the training with student orientation sessions for each SONAM-EA location that showed students how to access and use their Moodle courses. Over 142 students participated in the session from Kenya Uganda and Tanzania.

The faculty members appreciated the training and when asked whether the workshop increased their confidence to teach using the Moodle platform, this is what one had to say:

“Absolutely!-my course material is more organised and I feel this will impact positively on students”.

On what they liked most, one participant had the following to say:

“The hands on approach was excellent!”

When asked what they would like to see next, a number of faculty pointed out the need to bring on board students and new faculty:​

“Students being prepared and taught on Moodle should be the next step as well as include this workshop as part of orientation for new faculty and part-timers"

For more information please visit our section on TL-net’s programmes, services and resources

November 26, 2015

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Medical College-EA faculty participating in the Self Assessment Review Training Workshop

AKU Network of Quality Assurance and Improvement carries out self-assessment review training for Medical College graduate programmes in Nairobi, Kenya

The Network of Quality Assurance & Improvement (QAI_net) conducted a two-hour self-assessment review (SAR) training session for the Medical College graduate programmes in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam on November 23, 2015. Participants came from the following programmes: ​Paed, Pathology , Internal Medicine , Family Medicine, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Imaging, and Diagnostic Radiology

The session was conducted by Dr Sam Scully, an Academics Without Borders (AWB) volunteer working with QAI_net. Dr Scully is also the Founding Chair of the Ontario Universities Council on Quality Assurance and Past Vice President Academic and Provost of Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and University of Victoria, British Columbia. The training, which was attended by 23 participants, included chairs of the departments, chairs of the SAR Teams, SAR Team members and residents (students)

The training focused on why the SAR process is important for programmes as well as the foundation for any meaningful peer assessment review process.  Discussions also touched on the effectiveness of any self-assessment process, actions that can be taken to remedy any identified areas in the programme review and the need for an improvement plan for the six programmes that had submitted their SAR draft reports to the Dean and QAI_net.  

Participants appreciated the knowledge gained from the training and looked forward to improving their SAR reports, including development of an improvement plan for their respective programmes by the end of January 2016. QAI_net will continue to support all the entities to prepare and implement both the self-assessments and external reviews in line with the AKU Academic Quality Framework: Policies and Procedures which was approved by the Board of Trustees and Academic Council in March 2015.

For more resources on conducting SAR please visit the resources​ section of our website.

October 28, 2015


​​Dr Tashim Khamis with Professor Asha Kanwar, President of CoL and Professor Belawati, President of ICDE

Sustainable support for learning in the online era 

17 October 2015: “With the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and specifically Goal 4 on inclusive quality education, we will have a chance to align Africa’s Framework for Education 2030 with the SDGs, while focusing on the region’s needs for higher education,” said AKU’s Dr Tashmin Khamis, representing the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education at a High Level Policy Forum in Pretoria, South Africa.

The Forum, on Higher Education for the Sustainable Future We Want – The Way Ahead for Online, Open and Flexible Learning: Opportunities and Actions, was organized by the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) in partnership with UNESCO, the Commonwealth of Learning, and the Open Education Consortium, and hosted by the University of South Africa (UNISA).

It follows the UNESCO-ICDE Global High Level Policy Forum held in Paris in June 2015 and is part of the regional conferences being held worldwide by the two institutions.

The Pretoria conference saw over 130 leaders from national, regional and international educational institutions, and global networks from across Africa, Arab countries, Asia, North America, Oceania and Latin America attending.

Issues related to access and success in higher education, narrowing the skills gap, investing in life-long learning and faculty development, and improving student learning experiences through leveraging new and emerging technologies, were just some of the issues to feature prominently in discussions throughout the day. Just recently, the East African Community recently released the Qualifications Framework for Higher Education to begin addressing some of these areas at the regional level.

Participants agreed that policies aimed at enabling access to online learning, providing support to learner mobility, and strengthening transnational qualification agreements were all essential components of a 21st century higher education strategy and agreed on regional agendas for action. 

In his concluding remarks, Professor Mandla Makhanya, Vice-Chancellor of UNISA highlighted: “Just expanding existing universities or building new ones based on classroom teaching will not meet the demand or the need for higher education in the developing world.”

To read the full call to action, please click here.  

September 17, 2015


​​​ ​AKU Network of Quality Assurance and Improvement carries out self-assessment review training for Medical College graduate programmes in Karachi, Pakistan

The Network of Quality Assurance & Improvement (QAI_net) conducted a half a day self-assessment review (SAR) training workshop for the Medical College graduate programmes in Karachi on August 18, 2015. Participants came from the following programmes: 

  • MSc Epidemiology & Biostatistics

  • MSc Health Policy & Management 

  • Advanced Diploma in Human Development programme

  • Advanced Diploma of Health Professions Education

Apart from faculty from the Medical College, our QAI_net resource person from SONAM-Pakistan participated in the training as part of the plans to have a critical mass of faculty members who will help in building the capacity of other faculty in programme reviews.

Twenty faculty and staff participated in the workshop which was facilitated by Dr. Tashmin Khamis, Director of Quality Teaching and Learning Networks. During the training, the broader concepts of quality in higher education were discussed with hands-on approach to using the quality model for programme self-assessment: The Road Map to Quality: Handbook of the Inter University Council for East Africa (IUCEA). The participants in groups did practical exercises on the process of collecting evidence for self-assessment and prepared a draft action plan. Dr. Tashmin also outlined the importance of Quality Assurance Review Committee (QARC) as advocates and their role in inducting deans/directors in quality assurance initiatives.

Overall, participants appreciated the knowledge gained from the training and looked forward to implementing SAR in their respective programmes. An anonymous participant had this to say in evaluating the workshop:

“Introduction to the framework of SAR was very helpful. Understanding the whole process has made me more comfortable and prepared for this upcoming exercise.”

June 18, 2015


​Partnering with the Commission on raising the quality of higher education in Pakistan

In early June, representatives from the Higher Education Commission​ (HEC), Pakistan and the AKU Network of Quality Assurance and Improvement met in Islamabad, Pakistan. In attendance from HEC were Dr Mohammed Rafiq Baloch, Director General, and Mr Nasir Shah, Director, Quality Assurance, and from AKU Dr Tashmin Khamis, Director, QAI_net, Mr Faisal Notta, Assistant Director, QAI_net, and Ms Nasreen Shaikh, Registrar’s Office. Dr Khamis gave a presentation on the AKU Academic Quality Framework, the schedule of cyclical periodic review, the handbooks for self and peer assessment and Quality Assurance Review Committee terms of reference.

 It was also noted at the meeting that AKU is more than fulfilling the requirements set out by HEC for university quality assurance and, further, that the name for the entity leading this work (Network of Quality Assurance and Improvement) made sense at AKU, rather than using the more common Pakistani term, quality enhancement cell. AKU agreed to focus on self and peer assessment of programmes over the next few years. 

May 18, 2015


Two successful TL_net events featured by Fiona Deller on May 11, 2015

Provost's Speaker Series on Student Learning Outcomes  

AKU Network of Teaching and Learning hosted the Provost's Series on Student Learning Outcomes. This session was facilitated by Ms Fiona Deller, Research Director of the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO).  AKU is part of the Learning Outcomes and Assessment Consortium (LOAC), a project that is spearheaded by HEQCO. Over 52 faculty and staff in 8 sites across AKU entities attended this session entitled, “Are Your Students Learning? How Do You Know?" The speaker talked of the importance of generic learning outcomes and the value of creating a common language when designing, teaching and assessing them. The speaker highlighted why AKU and faculty should care about assessing learning outcomes and how to do it in a practical way including how to write learning outcomes as well as how to create assessment tools to measure them.

Teaching Champions Workshop

AKU Network of Teaching and Learning facilitated a session for Teaching Champions, “Student Evaluations of Teaching (SET): Are the Learners Engaged?” It was attended by TL_net faculty Teaching Champions from Karachi and East Africa. The session was facilitated by Fiona Deller, the Research Director of the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) and Dr. Tashmin Khamis, Director, Networks of Quality Assurance and Improvement and Network of Teaching & Learning. The new approved university wide SET was discussed as well as latest research on what makes for a reliable and valid SET.  Ms. Deller congratulated AKU for developing a SET form that is aligned to the AKU teaching learning framework and AKU graduate attributes.  

See the presentations from these talks here​.

April 17, 2​015


Teaching Squares Programme Launched

Interested in joining a Community of Practice on Teaching Squares? 

The Network of Teaching and Learning is looking for faculty volunteers who want to share and learn about teaching through the Teaching Squares Programmes. Inbrief, Teaching Squares is: a self-reflective process about teaching gained through observation and sharing with one’s peers. Not about peer evaluation but rather self-reflection on one’s teaching in a safe, mutually supportive environment. Participating faculty do not have to be new to teaching at the university. It is more enriching if it includes faculty with a wide range of teaching experience. 

For more details on benefits, duration and how to participate click here!

April 7, 2015


Drs Carol Bobby, President of INQAAHE and Tashm​in



min Khamis, Director of AKU Networks of Quality, Teaching and Learning, attended the 2015 INQAAHE (International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education) Conference in Chicago on March 30 to April 2015.

This​ conference, Changing Landscape of Higher Education: New Demands on Quality Assurance, was the first time an INQAAHE conference has been held in the USA in its 25-year history.

In addition to presenting the work of EAQAN, Tashmin presented a joint peer-reviewed paper authored with Dr Khairunnisa Dhamani entitled, "Self-Assessment: A Catalyst for Change for the East African Higher Education Landscape," based on a case study from Aga Khan University. ​

Details about the conference can be found on the INQAAHE website​

.March 16, 2015

IED, EA's Mary Oluga

Teaching Story - The Pedagogy of Service Learning
Mary Oluga, Assistant Professor and Coordinator, MEd Part-Time Programmes

Inthe last 30 years, I have taught learners ranging from primary school children to adults undertaking a Master in Education. Needless to say, my teaching philosophy has experienced a metamorphosis during this period. Today, I understand that the ultimate aim of education should be to develop an inquisitive mind, which, at the same time, seeks answers to questions raised by such a mind. This enables an individual to seek real answers that aim to improve society. This philosophy is intricately embedded in my teaching presently. Subsequently, as an educator, I often seek improvement for myself and others by engaging in reasoned thought. 

Working with practitioners I always endeavour to encourage reasoning. One of the ways in which I have taught in this manner is through engaging my students in service learning – “a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility and strengthen communities” (Eyler et al., 2001). I have found it most appropriate because service learning combines learning goals and community service in ways that enhance both student growth and the common good. 

Teachers are often confronted with sensitive and controversial issues in their classrooms but are required to display a neutral and objective position. This is difficult and unreal. Hence, I have used both community service learning (CSL) and community based learning (CBL) to deal with such issues. For example, with the former, my groups of MEd students went into a community to engage the latter in thinking of solutions to problems in th​e community. With CBL, groups of teachers and school administrators were brought into the institution and my group of master’s students facilitated a classroom-like workshop. Once, the students used interactive theatre to engage the community in discussing two social issues: abortion and female genital mutilation. In interactive theatre, the actors speak directly to the audience or engage them in actions, thus breaking the imaginary wall between the performers (students) and the audience (community). Both approaches often attract the attention of other staff and faculty. I attribute this to the spontaneous ways in which the strategies offer realistic solutions to realistic problems.

Students and community ​members during an
interactive theatre session on HIV/AIDS.​

After every session of service learning, I get the students to reflect on their learning. The lessons learnt by both the students and me help me improve on the structure of subsequent sessions. 

While I recommend that educators should employ engaged pedagogies, I also recognise the challenge in "allowing the time" for this to take place. Elements of the intended outcome should be introduced gradually in the course or discipline taught. The course overview and objectives should state very clearly the purpose and justification for using service learning, as this pedagogy has implications on time, money and other resource materials. 

The outcomes of service learning are immediate and are reflected in the attitudinal changes the students and community often share after such learning moments. The gains for the students are best captured by this comment from one of the MEd students after carrying out service learning, “We do not have to wait until the end of school for our students to see the impact of our teaching.” Indeed, the comment applies to me, too. I live my teaching as my students live their learning.

​​If you are i​nterested in sharing your teaching story, please contact Jane Rarieya


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