- Set to train 500 students
As the preparation for the commencement of blended learning in the academic activities of Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Ebonyi State, enters top-gear, the institution recently organized a training programme for 100 academic staff.
Blended learning which is a hybrid teaching and learning method, involving face-to-face and online activities is meant to bridge the gap associated with rise in students’ population and shortage in academic staff.
Delivering his welcome address, the Coordinator of the project, Prof. Dr. Jonny Ogunji noted that due to an increasing number of universities in Africa, institutions are experiencing growing teaching burdens as a result of rapidly rising students’ population and academic staff shortages, resulting in adverse impacts on teaching quality and students’ learning.
He maintained that Blended learning – a combination of face-to-face and online learning – offers a promising approach to addressing these challenges, urging staff to make use of the new trend to impact knowledge on the students.
He further thanked the Vice-Chancellor, Prof’ Sunday Elom for approving the training programme for 100 academic staff, adding that 500 students of the University would also be trained in the first instance, as the University prepares to commence the use of blended learning in its academic activities.
He enjoined staff to be focused as individuals, departments or Faculties as well as a University, adding that Education is migrating from in corporea to in silico and the blends of both are skewed in favour of the latter.
Also contributing, Dr. Nwogo Obasi who spoke on “Quality Assurance Rubric for Blended Learning”, affirmed that the purpose of the training was to guide the institution, academic staff or faculty to develop quality blended learning courses to enhance the teaching and learning experience as well as ensure that the quality of the courses for institution’s design or use will be assessed in a consistent and comprehensive manner.
He equally stated that the specific objectives of the training include prioritising quality in the development of blended learning courses, evaluate blended learning courses and identify their strengths and weaknesses for improvement.
In the same vein, Dr. Maria Nwodo who spoke on the topic, “Digital Platforms for Effective Academic Service Delivery” acknowledged that a digital learning platform allows educational institutions to cost-effectively and instantly update course contents or add additional materials and resources, allowing the students to access and support their learning.
She added that educational institutions are no longer limiting learning only to the classroom; instead, students can access high quality effective learning resources from wherever they are, and whenever they choose.
Dr. Nwodo noted that one of the great benefits of educational platforms is that it is completely automated, adding that teachers can track and monitor students without having to spend hours marking students exercises manually. She stated that the platform is flexible, thereby giving teachers the opportunity to personalize classes when they deem fit while observing clearly which student needs additional help, and who is excelling.
Other contributors during the programme include Dr. Uzoma Alo, Dr. Ann Nwankwo and Dr. Chinyere Ogunji, whose views were that key ideas on Blended Learning is breaking down current barriers and current distinctions, adding that distance and time does not matter as students can be world apart but work together. They stressed that the more we know about learning, the better we can design courses that will lead students to learn.