The World Bank, in collaboration with its partners in the Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence (ACE) project, namely the Association of African Universities (AAU) and the Inter-Universities Council for East Africa (IUCEA) organized a series of capacity building webinars aimed at reinforcing innovative skills in teaching and learning for Institutions under the Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence (ACE) project.
The absence of a blueprint for the navigation of the COVID 19 crisis has created uncertainties to all sectors including higher education institutions. This informed the introduction of a series of capacity building initiatives and innovations led by ACE Project stakeholders and targeted at the Centers of Excellence. These series of capacity building programmes were implemented as part of the measures responding to the negative impact of the COVID 19 Pandemic, notably the disruptions in teaching and learning at higher education institutions, globally. The aim was to support the establishment of mechanisms to ensure a continued, competitive, and sustainable learning environment during and post the pandemic.
Consequently, a total of four trainings were held between June 24 and July 15 to equip university instructors with skills to integrate quality digital resources into their lessons and actively practice online teaching using an interactive Moodle platform. The training which targeted faculty and IT staff attracted over 1500 university lecturers on the continent. This comprised faculty and IT staff from universities in the ACE participating countries namely, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo and Uganda.
The four webinars held over the period covered critical topics including – an introduction to key concepts of online pedagogy; a general overview of digital education and the resources available through the participating platforms; integrating MOOCs (massively open online courses) and OERs (open educational resources) into existing programmes and identifying best options; review of the essentials of a learning strategy with emphasis on the key elements of the learning strategy in e-learning or in a blended learning environment (i.e. scope of the course, delivery, learning objectives, materials, stakeholders, thematic outline, administration and evaluation) and applying these elements in the e-learning or blended-learning course; and analysing pedagogical scenarios; and effective delivery of online courses.
The learning methodology involved highly interactive short presentations, hands-on engagements on the Moodle platform, and take-home exercises. Further to this, there has been continued engagement between participants and facilitators and peer learning through the discussion forums within Moodle for additional skill advancement.
An evaluation survey administered at the end of sessions to assess the impact of the webinar series, revealed that knowledge and technical support will remain crucial if the ACEs are to develop appropriate and robust learning innovations for continued business and at the same time strengthen their universities’ resilience to the projected ‘’second wave” of COVID 19 and other future pandemics.
In view of this, the second phase of the capacity building webinars series which was hosted on August 26 and 28, 2020 sought to help Senior University Leaders, Centre leaders & Academic Faculty understand how to use existing teaching resources provided by Coursera and others and match this content to the university curriculum.
About the Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence Project
The Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence (ACE) Project is a World Bank initiative in collaboration with governments of participating countries to support Higher Education Institutions specialize in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Environment, Agriculture, applied Social Science / Education and Health. It is the first World Bank project aimed at building capacities of Higher Education Institutions in Africa. The project is coordinated by the Association of African Universities (AAU) and the Inter- Universities Council for East Africa (IUCEA) as the Regional Facilitating Units for Africa Centres of Excellence for Development Impact (ACE Impact) and Africa Centres of Excellence II (ACE II) respectively.
About the Association of African Universities and the Inter-University Council for East Africa
The AAU is a network that provides a continental platform for its member universities to meet, network, share knowledge, share experiences, broker partnerships and collaborate with each other in a diversity of areas related to their areas of specialization, research interests, teaching and learning. With about 400 members, the Association of African Universities has helped improve leadership, institutional management and the policy environment of African higher education as well as provided effective representation of the African higher education community in regional and international affairs.
Similarly, the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) coordinates inter-university cooperation in East Africa, facilitates the strategic development of its member universities, as well as promotes internationally comparable higher education standards and systems for sustainable regional development.