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AE-FUNAI CENTRE FOR ENHANCEMENT OF TEACHING AND LEARNING CALLS FOR USE OF ICT, ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE TO IMPROVE ACADEMIC ACTIVITIES

The Centre for Enhancement of Teaching and Learning, Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Ebonyi State has called for the adoption and use of information communication technology and artificial intelligence in the Nigerian University System to ensure seamless and improved academic activities.

The Centre made the call during a one-day university-wide workshop themed “Catch Up or Be Left Behind: A Policy Praxis to Exploring the Roles of Information Communication Technology, Artificial Intelligence in Delivering Functional Education In Nigeria”, held at the Abubakar Rasheed Auditorium.

Ag. Director, Centre for Enhancement of Teaching and Learning, Dr. Chinyere Elom in a group photograph with some of the participants at the workshop

 

Artificial Intelligence is a field of Computer Science that develops and studies intelligent machines. It involves the stimulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems and software. Since 1956 when Artificial Intelligence was recognized as an academic discipline, it has grown and metamorphosed into one of the most-sought-after disciplines, with impact virtually on every facets of human life. It is therefore not surprising that emerging innovative technologies such as Artificial Intelligence is being advocated for the enhancement of teaching and learning in the Nigerian university system. This is underscored by the regenerative capacity of education to stimulate industrial and national development.

In her opening remarks, the Acting Director of the Centre for Enhancement of Teaching and Learning [CELTEL], Dr. Chinyere Elom stated that the utilization of technological innovations and emerging technologies will enhance service delivery in higher educational in Nigeria.

Ag. Director, Centre for Enhancement of Teaching and Learning, Dr. Chinyere Elom delivering her opening remarks at the workshop

 

She also noted that AE-FUNAI, as a forward-looking institution of learning has already migrated to the blended Learning Moodle via Moodle Learning Management System {LMS] in response to contemporary global challenges to teaching and Learning especially in the aftermath of the COVID –19 global pandemic that exposed the weakness of instructional systems particularity for developing and less technologically equipped nations.

She explained that the Center for the enhancement of Teaching and Learning has deemed it necessary to gather scholars to brainstorm on the opportunities and challenges of integrating ICT resources in the delivery of instructions in the Nigerian University system, adding that as a world class visionary institution of learning,       AE-FUNAI is poised to providing knowledge-based solutions to societal challenges in the 21st century.

While declaring the workshop open, the Vice-Chancellor of the University,Prof. Sunday Elom noted that integrating Information Communication Technology [ICT] in academic activities and sensitizing staff on its positive impact in making lecturing more inclusive is a necessary approach that must be adopted in the journey towards actualizing the dream of a world-class institution.

He said: “Optimizing ICT is the first step in defining our roles and priorities in this great University”, and therefore urged all to embrace the positive contributions of the emerging technologies so that students would be endowed with current knowledge, and be adequately prepared for life after school.

Rep. of VC at the workshop, Prof. Abel Ezeoha speaking

 

The Vice-Chancellor who was represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Administration, Prof. Abel Ezeoha further stated that the university has already adopted blended learning in its teaching and learning activities, stressing that in the 21st century, ICT and artificial intelligence were critical innovations that stimulate academic activities.

He also emphasized the importance of character in the training of students despite the significance of the emerging technologies in enhancing education. According to him, academic certificates are awarded in character and learning; therefore, the emphasis should not just be on improving learning but also in the molding character of students. Hence, he urged the staff to fit into the character components of students’ education to make them better citizens on graduation.

Speaking on the topic “The place of Artificial intelligence and Robotics in the 21st   Century University”, Engr. Chinagorom  Ituma  of the Department of Computer studies, Ebonyi State University, encouraged staff to be prepared for the obvious change being brought about by the advent of Artificial intelligence, adding that teachers and library were no longer the repository of knowledge, rather teachers have become a guide and facilitators to learning  because students can now access knowledge on the go.

He also stated that education is all about giving and receiving knowledge and it can be delivered anywhere and at any time through the influence of emerging technologies. He insisted that artificial intelligence and robotics have come to stay, therefore he advised lecturers to build their capacities in order not to be left behind.

Ituma, however advised lecturers and students to be mindful in the use of some of the intelligence software such as ChatGPT to avoid plagiarism in their academic activities.

Mr. Robert Onyeneke speaking at the workshop

 

Also speaking at the event, Dr. Robert Onyeneke of the Faculty of Agriculture who delivered a lecture titled “Determining the Methods and Extent of Application of Information and Communication Technology [ICT], particularly Artificial Intelligence in Delivering Functional Education in Nigeria”, said that the Digital Age has ushered in transformational changes across various sectors with education being notably affected.

He added that the quest for functional education in Nigeria – education that equips learners with practical skill and knowledge for real world application necessitates an urgent integration of ICT and Artificial intelligence.

Speaking further he noted that the integration promises not only to enhance the quality of education but also to make it more accessible and tailored to individual learner’s need. He emphasized that the methodologies of the ICT and artificial intelligence can be integrated into the Nigerian educational system which includes digital classrooms, online learning platforms, artificial intelligence personalized learning and use of educational Software and games. He maintained that the potential for Artificial intelligence to address language barriers and enhance learning for students with disabilities is also a possibility.

He however, noted that ethical and academic concerns abound in Artificial Intelligence in Education which includes students’ overreliance on Artificial Intelligence for assignments, digital divide and changes to Job descriptions, and recommended among other things the enhancement of  digital infrastructure, developing inclusive and context specific Artificial Intelligence Solutions, fostering public private partnerships and prioritizing teacher training in ICT and Artificial Intelligence in the Nigerian Education System.

Dr. Ugochukwu Okolie espousing a point during the workshop

 

In his presentation, Dr. Ugochukwu Okolie, a lecturer in the Department of Vocational and Technical Education, who spoke on “Interrogating the Possible Constraints in the Use of ICT and Artificial Intelligence in Delivering Functional Education” noted that infrastructure and access, digital divide, technological obsolescence, privacy and security concerns, cost and affordability, resistance to change create barriers to the adoption of ICT and Artificial Intelligence in Education in Nigeria. He however, emphasized that both ICT and AI are fundamental to many aspects of daily life, including business operations, education, healthcare, entertainment, government services and social interactions.

Dr. Fransisca Ogba delivering her lecture at the workshop

 

Other Speakers at the Workshop include Prof. Nwabueze Elom, Dean, School of Postgraduate Studies; Dr. Francisca Ogba, former Acting Dean Faculty of Education and Engr. Dr. Ngozi Eli-Chukwu, Acting Director ICT, who advocated for the use of ICT and Artificial intelligence in enhancing teaching and learning. They further noting that if the challenges facing the use of ICT and AI in Nigeria were properly addressed, that they have the potential to transform educational service delivery and empower learners to succeed in the digital Age.

Highlight of the workshop was award of certificates to participants.

Rep. of VC, Prof Abel Ezeoha (2nd L), Commissioner for Capital City, Ebonyi State, Hon. Sunday Inyima (2nd R) and Ag. Director, Centre for Enhancement of Teaching and Learning, Dr. Chinyere Elom (1st L) presenting a certificate of participation to the Dean, School of Postgraduate Studies, Prof. Nwabueze Elom (1ST R at the event