By John Willy
The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) says over 2 million students and staff of higher education institutions in the country will soon have massive access to online academic resources through the deployment of Blackboard learning platform .
Executive Secretary of TETFund, Arc. Sonny Echono, made this known at the flag-off of three-day workshop on The Implementation of the Enhanced Blackboard Learning Management System and Train The Trainer Programme on Monday in Abuja.
Echono said the workshop, which attracted directors of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) from the 253 beneficiary institutions of the Fund, was part of measures put in place to bridge the digital skills gap in universities, polytechnics and colleges of education in Nigeria.
“Given the rising significance of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) across diverse sectors, including education, this initiative holds immense students, and the overall potential to positively impact educators, advancement of our educational landscape.
“Online learning remains critical to our collective success, and so today, as we flag off this programme, the goal is that we would have provided the necessary skills for online Blackboard LMS and enhancements to further enrich teaching, learning and research in all 253 of our beneficiary institutions.
“You may recall that for 2019-2020 ICT Support Intervention, we gave guidelines for eLearning and training on eLearning methodologies for hybrid modes of learning. So today, with Blackboard, the aim is to provide enhancements that will further improve the quality and mode of delivery of education across the country under our converged services program. This will eliminate the cost of subscription and technical overhead directly from each of our beneficiary institutions for these aggregated services with its attendant benefits, ” he said.
While saying the intervention will ensure that physical and online modes of teaching and learning are cemented once and for all in tertiary institutions across the country , Echono said Nigerian students would be able to compete favourably with their contemporaries on the global stage with the deployment of Blackboard platform.
“When Blackboard enhancements become fully operational, over two million students and staff of these institutions will be able to:
” Access general resources to support learning including online tests and quizzes, submit assignments and electronic grade books which allow immediate review of grades and performance tracking.
” Carry out self and peer-assessment and collaboration on required projects thereby teaching students to provide constructive feedback and learn from each other.
” Access alternative formats of materials (including audio, Braille, ePub and HTML) to accommodate students with disabilities.
” Access an all-in-one web conferencing platform that will allow instructors to hold classes online, and in real time, or record lectures or short videos to post on their course sites.
” Access to a community of 4000 other tertiary institutions worldwide. Project Management training,” Echono said.
Speaking further, the TETFund boss said the Fund is improving its allocation to ICT development in its intervention programmes to ensure that the country meet up with the present digital reality across the globe.
” Prior to 2022, our ICT Support Intervention was N15 million for Universities and N7.5 million for Polytechnics and Colleges of Education. We took bold steps to increase this intervention to N100 million for Universities and N50 million for Polytechnics and Colleges of Education.
“We envisaged that we would be able to address two main issues: (a) problems common to all our institutions, and (b) problems peculiar and unique to each institution. And we have done this by introducing converged services, which this programme is a part of, and by issuing guidelines for FY21/22/23 which will enable utilization of Funds to address each institution’s peculiar ICT needs.
” Furthermore, I should point out that the increase to ICT Support intervention marks the largest single increase to any of our intervention lines underscoring the priority we are giving to ICT as an enabler for teaching, learning and our research environment.
“As you are aware, the Fund is not only committed to Digital Literacy in particular, but to the transformation of our education system by leveraging on ICT.
” Accordingly, we have commenced various programmes including the Thesis Digitization Programme, Beneficiary Identity Management Service (BIMS), Tertiary Education, Research, and Application Systems (TeRAS), Consolidated Library Access Platform (CLAP), Aggregated Journal Subscription from EBSCO,
“Online Blackboard, Sponsored Mobile Internet Data on and off campus, Remote Monitoring, BPP Compliance Portal, amongst others. These programmes will deliver significant value to the ICT landscape of our Beneficiary Institutions, ” Echono said.