Digital Education: NOUN, ACE, others collaborate

The National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Africa Centre of Excellence For Development Impact (ACE-IMPACT) and the National Universities Commission (NUC) are collaborating to explore digital learning in tertiary education.

Institutions made this known in Abuja on Monday, during the fourth training workshop of experts in digital education, hosted by the African Centre of Excellence on Technology Enhanced Learning (ACETEL), Nigeria.

The Vice Chancellor of NOUN, Prof. Olufemi Peters said the university had recorded many milestones in its online platform, adding that the training was an additional expertise and acquisition of skills to further improve ” on what it is already doing”.

“But what is more important is that since the establishment of ACETEL, they have actually led in the deployment of technology to our own ways in the undergraduate and postgraduate way of doing things, and they are the ones who develop these strategies.

“Basically, what happens is that through the NUC many universities are beginning to know the expert that is housed at NOUN and we are beginning to receive many requests from other universities either to show them how to develop these course to be delivered online,” he said.

According to him, the university, through its Regional Training and Research Institute for Distance and Open Learning (RETRIDOL) has been able to impact knowledge to at least 20 universities in the form of training and about 15 universities in the west African sub-region.

The project manager, ACE, Mr Sylvia Mkandawire said the project had been helping Africa to advance the quality of higher education by providing various components, the state of art facilities and helping the universities to implement innovative approaches.

“The objective of this particular training we are having is to train the group of teachers or lecturers that will have competencies or skills to be able to deliver a digital education system in a manner that they can actually reach out to many other students.

“Because as you can see, COVID came in and it has affected the education system so our plan is to make sure that we respond to this new reality in higher education by providing at least innovative teaching approaches where the teachers can use digital education to continue teaching in Africa.

“So far, we have trained over 200 and these are from different countries,; so the project is managed in a way that we have francophone countries participating – Benin and Burkina Faso and then the Anglophone countries – we have Nigeria and Ghana.

“So in total for the four countries that are participating we have trained over 200 technical staff and each institution is contributing at least 30 plus staff being trained,” she said.

The coordinator of ACETEL, Mr Joshua Atah, who represented the NUC said the experience of COVID-19 means we cannot run away from technology, given that the way we do things in education has changed and that change has come to stay.

“In addition, even before now, we started having issues with very large classes as the population is growing, the number of people that need to access education is increasing every day so the problem of access can actually be addressed by using technology.

“Technology has come to bridge that gap, so we must continue to engage in new tools, technology and new methods of enhancing access to education,” he said.

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