What transpired in the Panel Discussion on “Explore the Future of Learning”

STORY BY: Calvin Edward Gwabara, Edited by Dr.  Joseph Telemala – Morogoro.

Education Stakeholders from various university in Tanzania suggest the Government in collaboration with Universities to see the importance of formulating policies and guidelines that will coordinate the use of artificial intelligence in education and enable the country to benefit from this vital technology that has great benefits in education and community development.

The call has been made by Lecturers, Students and other Education stakeholders from the Sokoine University of Agriculture, University of Dar as Salaam, Mzumbe University, Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology, and The Institute of Finance Management (IFM) during the panel discussion on the “Unlocking the potential of artificial intelligence in Higher Learning” conducted virtually and physically at SUA.

Dr. Karugila, CoNAS Principal
Principal of the College of Natural and Applied Sciences, Dr. Geoffrey Karugila officiate opening the discussion on behalf of Vice Chancellor of the Sokoine University of Agriculture Prof. Raphael Chubunda.

Speaking on behalf of Vice Chancellor of Sokoine University of Agriculture, Prof. Raphael Chubunda, the Principal of the College of Natural and applied sciences, Dr. Geoffrey Karugila, said this panel discussion topic promises to offer enlightening insights, stimulating discussions, and actionable strategies that will shape the future of learning.

“AI is revolutionizing education, impacting teaching methodologies, learning outcomes, and institutional practices also it presents opportunities to enhance student engagement, optimize administrative processes, and promote inclusivity so as we integrate AI into higher education, it’s crucial to do so responsibly and ethically, ensuring fairness, transparency, and accountability.” Dr. Karugila explained.

He added “By gaining profound knowledge of AI’s effects and opportunities, we can identify actionable steps to integrate AI for educational excellence and this includes exploring responsible AI use in personalized learning and formulating policies and regulations to guide its implementation, so through critical thinking, practical insights, and collaboration, we can empower stakeholders to navigate the complexities of the digital age and drive positive change in higher learning.”

Speaking during his presentation on the impacts of AI on higher Education learning and teaching: opportunity and challenges Dr. Alcardo Barakabitze from the Sokoine University of Agriculture said Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming more attainable in every sector of economy, and higher education is no exception and it opens up the possibility for higher education services to become scalable at an unprecedented rate, both inside and outside the classroom.

“AI –Powered systems are streamlining administrative tasks such as admissions, student support services and resource allocation, Chatbots and virtual assistant are being used to provide 24/7 support to students and stuff, reducing the workload on administrative staff but also can assist in ensuring the quality of education by analyzing students’ performance data and identifying areas where improvement is needed.” Dr. Barakabitze explained.

He added “All these kind of context that AI is used we need as a country to have Guidelines, Strategies and policy, so as I understand now we don’t have National Policy, Strategy or Guidelines but also our universities have not these important documents to guide our students, Staff or whatever is involving in teaching or learning that can take us to important direction because without these we cannot have common move or understanding as a nation on AI usage.”

In his contribution, the panelist from the University of Dodoma (UDOM), Dr. Jabhera Matogolo, said that UDOM in collaboration with the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST) in Arusha have designed a new state-of-the-art academic program and soon they are going to launch Masters of Science in AI and Machine Learning (ML) and Bachelor of Science in AI and ML Engineering at UDOM and they are also going to launch Masters of Science in AI and ML Engineering at the NM-AIST.

“AI is no longer a fiction, we are trying to address the challenges that a coming up on the ground by making sure that we build capacity of Tanzanian who will work and use this technology to help our country in a different sector that will need AI expert as it was explained by previous speakers that the demand is high as this technology grow.” Said Dr. Matogolo.

Speaking on behalf of the students, Panelist who is the Minister of Education from Mzumbe University Mr. Leonard Fuime, expressed his thoughts on use of ChatGPT, Quillbot and other programs that students use could result in having incompetent graduate in the market.

Dr. Mahenge, HoD, DIIT
Head of the Department of Informatics and Information Technology, Dr Michael Mahenge giving closing remarks of the Discussion.

In his closing remarks Head of department of Informatics and Information Technology, Dr. Michael Mahenge, acknowledge the good participation of all participants from different universities for their constrictive contribution on the topic that will help to open more discussion as a country on how to use this technology in education.

“We have received experience from various people which is an indication that there are initiatives done by individuals and institutions regarding the use of AI in different sectors to ensure that we leverage in this technology in higher learning institution but also there are challenges that some speakers raised that got an explanation from the panelist but we need to keep discussion so we can benefit from it.” Explained Dr. Mahenge.

He also commended the good work that is done by the Sokoine University of Agriculture through YEESI LAB project lead by Dr. Kadeghe Fue in generating a lot of data that is available for public use.

“Lastly allow me to thank the organizer of this panel discussion who are Masters student taking Masters in Information and Knowledge Management here at SUA as part of their study in Knowledge sharing for development course, and let me invite you, friends and family members to come and study this important course in market.” Said Dr. Mahenge.

Organizers of the panel discussion (Masters Students in Information and Knowledge Management) in a group photo with the Head of the Department of Informatics and Information Technology, Dr. Michael Mahenge.

Photos of participants who participated physical following the discussion at the Computer lab in Solomon Mahlangu Campus in Morogoro.

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