From Fred Ezeh, Abuja

The National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) and Africa Centre of Excellence For Development Impact (ACE-IMPACT) have explained that digital education is the way forward in the 21st-century world driven by technology.

The institutions made reference to the short period of the COVID-19 pandemic that suddenly shut down global activities including schools, thus forcing people to rely on digital tools to impact knowledge and carry on with the affairs of life.

Vice-Chancellor of NOUN Prof Olufemi Peters, who spoke at the fourth training workshop of experts in digital education, hosted by the African Centre of Excellence on Technology Enhanced Learning (ACETEL), Nigeria, said that NOUN has recorded many milestones in its online platform, saying that the training was an additional expertise and skills opportunity in order to further improve what it is already being done.

Prof. Olufemi advocated increased opportunities for people who are involved in digital education, so they can be up-to-date with new technological inventions that would make them achieve more results in an easy working environment.

He confirmed that NOUN, through its Regional Training and Research Institute for Distance and Open Learning (RETRIDOL) has been able to impart knowledge to at least, 20 universities in the form of training, and about 15 universities in the West African sub-region.

“Through the NUC, universities are beginning to know the quality of experts that are housed at NOUN. We are beginning to receive requests from other universities to either show them how to develop these courses to be delivered online or help them develop what they require as a management system.

“But what is more important is that ACETEL has actually led in the deployment of these technologies in our undergraduate and postgraduate ways of doing things,” Prof. Olufemi said.

ACETEL Coordinator Joshua Atah said the experience of COVID-19 took the world by surprise and also taught the world a lesson. “The experience means we can no longer run away from technology. The way do things in education has changed and that change has come to stay.

“Before now, we started having issues with very large classes as the population was growing. The number of people that need to access education was 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,” Atah suggested.

Project Manager, ACE, Sylvia Mkandawire, in his remarks said the ACETEL intervention was basically helping Africa to advance the quality of higher education, by providing various components, the state-of-art facilities, helping the universities to implement innovative approaches to teaching and learning, as well as creating a conducive environment for the functionality of higher education system.

She said: “The workshop was to train a group of teachers or lecturers that would 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.

“COVID-19 affected the education system. So, our plan is to ensure 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 teachers 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, Nigeria and Ghana. So, in total for the four countries that are participating, we have trained over 200 technical staff and each institution contributed, at least, 30 staff.”

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Source: news