Virtual Uganda

Sharon-YoderThere are 13 students at Stawa University in Kampala, Uganda, who are benefitting from Dr. Sharon Yoder’s extensive teaching experience.

Yoder, an associate professor for WilmU’s College of Arts and Sciences, teaches the Ugandan students via Skype. Once a week, she logs on at 8:30 a.m. (4:30 p.m. Uganda time), and conducts two-hour classes. It’s not always easy, and students do have some challenges.

Like the week when frequent power outages affected Internet connections, and Stawa’s course coordinator had to schedule a class at a coffee shop in downtown Kampala, where there was electricity. All was not lost. The situation prompted Yoder and two professors from the University of Maryland to contribute to the purchase of a generator.

The partnership started three years ago, when Yoder represented WilmU in Uganda and taught classes at several of the country’s universities. “English is the language, and I love teaching them,” says Yoder. “The students are so motivated and many want to sit in for a second time. They want to learn strategies that successful business people use.”

Many of the students walk two miles to get to class, often missing lunch. “So I am providing a light lunch (sandwich and drink) for them before their class begins,” says Yoder. “Each semester is 12 weeks, and they have their provost attend class to clarify anything they don’t understand. Now and then they have to bring a small child with them, and the provost tries to keep the child or children busy while I teach.”

Most of Yoder’s Ugandan students want to start businesses or develop problem-solving skills. Yoder hopes to teach other courses to this population. WU