Strengthening Quality Assurance in Higher and Tertiary Education – The Association of African Universities builds capacity of African Higher Education institutions in Online Teaching and Learning in the post COVID-Era

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Strengthening Quality Assurance in Higher and Tertiary Education – The Association of African Universities builds capacity of African Higher Education institutions in Online Teaching and Learning in the post COVID-Era

The Quality Assurance in Higher and Tertiary Education: Online Teaching and Learning (OTL) in the post COVID- Era Workshop was a four-day capacity building event hosted by the Association of African Universities in Accra, Ghana.

This face-to-face workshop, held  from the 28th – 30th of March 2022 , covered  broad topical areas which included  the online teaching and learning delivery space and landscape; quality assurance issues and standards, strategies for online teaching and learning management as well as delivery technologies in higher education institutions. Other content areas covered included student assessment systems & protocols.

A total of eleven (11)  top leadership personnel from Higher Education Institutions in Ghana, Nigeria and Zimbabwe participated in this training session. In her  welcoming remarks, Dr. Violet Makuku, the Workshops Coordinator and Quality Assurance Specialist at the AAU, commended the participants as well as the institutions that funded and facilitated their participation for their efforts to attend the workshop. The AAU’s Director of Research and Programmes,  Prof Damtew Teferra, who gave the opening remarks  for this workshop encouraged participants to network and actively engage in the discussions and key issues during the sessions.

The facilitators for this important capacity building event were – Dr Violet Makuku (AAU), Mr. Abednego Corletey (Senior IT Officer, AAU), Prof. Clement Dzidonu (the President of the Accra Institute of Technology, Ghana) and Mr. Christopher Addo (Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology, Kumasi, Ghana).

In an interactive session, the participants discussed key concerns and challenges related to quality assurance and online teaching and learning in the post COVID-19 pandemic era.  Possible solutions in response to the identified challenges were mapped out by all present, with guidance from the facilitators.

Key Challenges Affecting the Attainment of Quality Online Teaching and Learning

One of the major issues identified during the discussions was related to the lack of attitudinal change in moving from the traditional ways of teaching (face-to face teaching in a classroom environment) to the full adoption and support  of online teaching and learning.  In addition, the lack of specific ICT and digital skills  as well as  the insufficient knowledge of the different tools, platforms and software and how  they are used by both students and lecturers was also  another issue of concern.

The other identified challenges were related to  the inadequate and/or lack of financial support to establish and maintain technological infrastructure and facilities and to support the implementation processes, human and other resources that are needed  in the execution of the online teaching and learning. Government and other sources of higher education funding , generally continue to dwindle.

Furthermore, institutionalization and effective implementation of policies that enable OTL, coupled with the unstable Internet access and erratic power (electricity) supply in many African countries continue to be key challenges.  All these tend to have a negative impact on the quality of OTL in African Higher Education Institutions.

The Way Forward – Proposals for Addressing the Challenges

In addressing the challenge of attitudinal change, the  workshop delegates proposed a focus on awareness creation and continuous demonstration of the benefits of OTL to institutions.  Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)  could institute benefits such as additional points for promotion, certificates, commendation letters and the recognition of individuals and departments/units that promote and adopt the OTL tenets .

Institutions were encouraged to adopt the blended approach as opposed to heavy reliance on the face -to- face mode of teaching and learning because of the 4th Industrial Revolution which led to the automation of the industry where graduates would go to work. OTL would help them to acquire the requisite skills for university graduates to work in digitalized workspaces. Capacity building of both faculty and students was suggested as a response to solving the skills and knowledge gaps.   A proposal that the Vice-Chancellors of African universities should advocate and strategically engage governments to prioritize its investment and funding to HEIs was also brought forward.   African Universities  were encouraged to expand their funding sources and also explore partnerships with industry and other HEIs to leverage existing digital/OTL infrastructure, among others.

Continuous engagement of institutional heads to enforce OTL policies and awareness creation on those policies among faculty and students were also identified as being key.  Finally, regarding the challenge of erratic power supply and unstable Internet access, the AAU encouraged  HEIs to engage their respective governments to operationalize their national development plans, as most of these plans have components related to improving such infrastructure.

Wrapping up the Capacity Building Workshop

The key messages from all the facilitators and participants were that the workshop was forward looking and timely in bridging the gap between the pre-and post-COVID-19 pandemic eras. They all agreed that Online Teaching and Learning had come to stay with or without the pandemic because no one could tell when other disasters that would disable the face to face teaching and learning would happen. It was also observed that OTL could increase access of schooling by the disadvantaged communities and differently  abled people.  Therefore, its significance could not be over-emphasized.

The participants felt that the workshop content and delivery were excellent because they addressed current topical issues in Online Teaching and Learning in universities. They suggested the repetition of the workshop for policy and decision makers in higher education with an extra day for real practical experiences and engagement of participants. Such participants should include university  leaders, quality assurance (QA) managers, quality assurance agencies and accreditation agencies, ministers of education, information and communication, finance and other relevant ministries.

Bringing the 4-day training to an end, the AAU Secretary General, Prof. Olusola Oyewole encouraged institutions of higher learning and African governments to prioritize investments in ICT infrastructure and Internet services to facilitate successful digitalization processes. Certificates of participation were issued to all participants at the end of the workshop.

 

Further Information Detailing the Topics Covered During the Workshop   

THE ONLINE TEACHING & LEARNING DELIVERING (OTLD) SPACE & LANDSCAPE

  • Scoping the Online Teaching & Learning Delivery Space
  • Exploring the Landscape of Online Teaching and Learning Delivery
  • Examining the Emerging Trend and Practice of Online Teaching and Learning Globally

QUALITY ASSURANCE ISSUES, STANDARDS, STRATEGIES FOR ONLINE LEARNING AND MANAGEMENT IN HIGHER EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION

  • Policy Issues
  • Pedagogical Issues
  • Top management commitment
  • Change Management and other Emerging QA Issues

THE ONLINE TEACHING & LEARNING DELIVERING INFRASTRUCTURE & SYSTEMS

  • The Learning Management Systems (LMS)
  • The Internet as a Delivery Platform
  • The Online Learning Resources Systems [e-Library- Learning Notes, eBooks, Learning Audios. Learning Videos, eLabs/Simulators) and other Infrastructures & Systems

THE ONLINE TEACHING & LEARNING DELIVERING TECHNOLOGIES

  • Courseware/Instructional Development Technologies & Systems
  • The Learning Support, Facilitation and Delivery Technologies & Systems
  • Asynchronous Online Delivery
  • Synchronous Online Delivery
  • Student Engagement and Participation Facilitation Technologies, Tools & Apps
  • Online Assessment Management & Administration Systems and Technologies and other Emerging Online Teaching and Learning Delivery Technologies & Systems

EMERGING TOPICAL QUALITY ASSURANCE ISSUES IN ONLINE TEACHING & LEARNING DELIVERING & STUDENT ASSESSMENT SYSTEMS & PROTOCOLS

  • Online Delivery Quality Assurance
  • Online Assessment and Examination Delivery Quality Assurance
  • Online Examination Proctoring, Security and Integrity
  • Maintenance of Quality Assurance in the Conduct of Online Assessment & Examinations
  • Accreditation and Recognition

ONLINE TEACHING & LEARNING DELIVERING IN PRACTICE

  • Online Teaching & Learning Delivery – Policies, Strategies, Protocols & Guidelines
  • Online Teaching & Learning Delivery – Staff and Faculty Capacity Development
  • Online Teaching & Learning Delivery – Resource Mobilization, Deployment & Implementation
  • Online Teaching & Learning Delivery – Management & Administration, Monitoring & Evaluation and System & Process Improvements

ONLINE TEACHING & LEARNING DELIVERING- EXPLORING THE OPPORTUNITIES OF HIGHER EDUCATION PROVISION IN AFRICA

  • Leveraging on the Use of Educational Technologies to Improve Quality Higher Education Delivery
  • Broadening Access to Higher Education
  • Internationalization of Higher Education Opportunities and others

 

 

Written By:  Dr. Violet Makuku, Quality Assurance Specialist, AAU

Reviewed by: Felicia Nkrumah-Kuagbedzi, Communications and Publications Officer, AAU

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