The Africa Centre for Excellence on Technology Enhanced Learning (ACETEL) has held a virtual orientation programme organized for its facilitators for the 2023 first semester, academic session.

The programme was held on Wednesday March 15th 2023, from the National Open University (NOUN) headquarters, Abuja.

The Director, ACETEL, Prof. Grace Jokthan, in her address, welcomed participants to the programme.

She noted that it will be the sixth (6th) semester since academic programmes have been run and facilitated from the centre.

She commended the facilitators for their support and dedication, which has made the ACETEL project possible.

Prof. Jokthan said “this is an international programme, therefore a lot is expected of us both in terms of the quality as well as the standard of delivery, and your role in supporting the centre and indeed the university to achieve this cannot be over-emphasised.”

She expressed delight in having facilitators at the centre as she noted that their roles are not taken for granted.

“We are glad that you have supported us this far and we are looking forward to even greater support as we go forward in delivering the ACETEL project.” She said.

“And we take facilitation seriously, being a core support for learning under the open and distance learning system, and therefore we are looking up to you to help us in the centre to be able to achieve the best practices in terms of support for learners at a distance.”

Jokthan said the orientation has been organized in order to get help from facilitators in terms of learning and knowing the right thing to do to ensure that the students get the support they need in their learning experience.

While delivering his presentation, the Director, Learning Content Management System (LCMS) Dr. Adewale Adesina stated that his Directorate try to improve on the delivery process to ensure that the learning outcome and the learning goals are adequately met.

He said the orientation programmes are always organised to keep facilitators abreast.

“What we have observed is that facilitators that do not attend this sessions struggle a lot and sometimes they don’t meet up with our requirements and it gives problem at the end of the day.” He said.

He said there is an ongoing effort to withdraw facilitators that are not effective or are experiencing challenges but have remained quiet about it, therefore not helping the centre to solve the problems.

He urged facilitators to give greater attention to their work this semester in order to ensure a smooth run of academic activities.

Dr. Adewale noted that “part of what is needed in this process of securing accreditation at a higher level, and part of what is needed as academics as we all know, is engagement, interaction and quality of teaching and learning and things like facilitation, interactions, student – student interaction, learner – learner interaction and also student – learner interaction are things they take seriously.”

Adesina said new students have enrolled, while there are students in their first semester, some in second semester, while some other students are in their third semester.

“So the way we run as we all know, all the courses are run in all semesters and where the student is, whether first or second is dependent on their individual circumstance when they came in and when they registered.” He said.

Dr. Adesina, also noted in his presentation that ACETEL/NOUN delivers courses in distance learning, moving from fixed location, fixed time, fixed classroom to an online environment.

He said lots of data and information are showing us that you can achieve so much more than you can achieve in the physical environment.

in his presentation, he enlightened facilitators on all that they are required to know and understand as he took them through different topics such as; Characteristics of Open and Distance Learning, Main Support Types in ODL, Four D’s of Essential Requirements, Community Of Inquiry Framework (Col) For Online Teaching And Learning, Instructional Delivery Components, Procedures For Facilitation, among Other topics.

Dr. Adesina, in his presentation also noted that ACETEL students engage with coursera resources with high ratings, with over one thousand five hundred (1500) students enrolment.

Adesina gave a step by step explanation of how the elearn site functions and how to navigate the site.

Dr. Lukman Bello, of the Directorate of Learning Content Management System (LCMS), spoke about the pre – class, in – class, and post – class activities.

Talking about online facilitation, he said, “when it comes to online facilitation for many people is that one (1) hour live session”

He said some people experience difficulty going through their learning activity within the one (1) hour live session.

Explaining the principles of flip learning, Dr. Lukman said, “you can have three (3) messages of this instruction, flipped simply means that you are giving your content to your students before the live class, you’re reversing the normal face to face interaction.”

“You know in normal face to face class you teach and give assignment in flips, you package your teaching and send to students so that they have access to the content before the live session, the live class in now used for interaction, communication and discussion.” He said.

Lukman said the flips system of facilitation has positive impact on the learning outcome of students and has been adopted by the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).

He said in online facilitation the focus of the teaching and learning process was on instruction which has shifted now to learning, “you are now dominating the instructional process, you are guiding the students to experience and discover learning.”

Throwing light on the flipped class style of learning, he said, “in online learning, when we say pre – class, we are talking about what you do before the live class session, when we say in – class, we are talking about what you do as a facilitator in class when you are in the live session, when we say post – class,  we are talking about what you are going to do outside the live session which is not real time.”

Bello enlightened facilitators about all they should know about the flipped – class style of learning, taking them through series of slides.

Facilitators asked questions based on the various challenges they encounter and on the topics treated at the programme, and Dr. Adesina attended to their questions, enlightening them on all the areas where they are experiencing challenges and areas where they need understanding.

In her closing remarks, Acetel Centre Director, Prof. Grace Jokthan, enjoined facilitators to keep to the time scheduled for meetings, in order to avoid staggard commencement of facilitation and also to be able to finish within the period allocated for facilitation on the academic calendar.

According to her, the centre is in its fourth year in the project.

“We are getting to the fourth year of the project and a lot is expected of us in terms of delivery, so the shifting of this time lines will be difficult and will actually cause us a lot.”

Prof. Jokthan thanked facilitators for attending the programme and urged them to contact the centre for further clarification in case they encounter  challenges.