MSU scores a first in ICT

A group of law students walk fast towards the entrance of Midlands State University - all with laptop bags. Soon they are seated on the grass, laptops on laps, surfing the internet, searching Google, downloading academic material.

Students in the MSU computer lab.
Students in the MSU computer lab.

Few meters from this scene, hundreds of other students are glued to screens in a vast computer laboratory.

In the nearby offices, administrators sit behind desks with low-power handheld devices such as mobile phones. Piles of papers are nowhere to be seen

These images have become the trademark for MSU lately. Established 10 years ago, the university has fully embraced the digital revolution. Almost all the crucial activities found at an institution of higher learning are done online.

It is the invention of the unique operating system Ubuntu that has enabled this transformation. Liberty Dandira, the Director of Information Services, is the man behind this innovation.

“This success did not come on a silver platter. We toiled day and night for so long and now we are all smiling because we have done it. Its crowning time,” said the ICT wizard.

The Ubuntu Software offers instant access to thousands of free and open-source applications.

Like any other standard operating system, it has several categories that are wide in range and fit the needs of both students on campus and professionals from across key national sectors. These categories include Accessories; Games; Science and Engineering; Universal Access; Graphics; Sound and Video. Education; Internet; Fonts and Office.

Other features include web browsing, office applications, social and e-mail, music and mobile. Each application comes with ratings and reviews to make it easier for one to decide which apps to install.

It is on the aspect of downloads that the software has proved a cut above the rest. Students are able to download learning materials at a speed of 28Megabites per every second.

A new method of learning has since been introduced at MSU, whereby students are able to access notes from lecturers on their e-learning accounts. These are equivalent to ordinary mail facilities on internet. Students can register online and also access results- putting to an end the paper era.

Students who spoke to The Zimbabwean expressed their delight at the latest achievements in ICT.

“Work at school has generally been made easier by the efforts that authorities here have made in order to connect us to the digital world,” Sandra Maricho a fourth year English student said.

“The era of walking around with piles of papers is now a thing of the past here. Naturally the belief is that one with the biggest pile of papers is the most hardworking but that is not applicable here,” said Timothy Hill, a student studying Law.

Bethar Hlanganani, who has been at the varsity’s graduate school of business for the past three years, pointed out that learning and engagement had both been made easier by the innovations.

Sinikiwe Tirivanhu, the MSU Director of Information and Publicity, said the varsity has over the years been striving to improve the student-computer ratio at the campus.

“We recently imported about 1 500 desktop computers for our students and we already had a sizeable supply. At present the student computer ratio is 1:6 – much better than some found in varsities across the continent,” she said.

Government has already come up with measures to ensure that ICT usage in the country is given priority. Information Communication Technology minister Nelson Chamisa said his ministry hoped to set up information kiosks in rural areas to assist folks in remote areas to get internet connectivity.

His ministry’s target is to to give ICT access to 60 percent of the population.

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Post published in: Tech