By Omobayo Azeez
The University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) will combine e-learning and the traditional mode of classroom lecture delivery after Coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) lockdown, Professor Charles Igwe, the institution’s vice-chancellor has disclosed.
He said the university will be involving the use of classroom and e-learning immediately students return to campus after lockdown.
Igwe disclosed this on Wednesday, at a virtual dialogue series organised by the Alliance for African Partnership (AAP), a consortium of African universities and Michigan State University dedicated to promoting partnership among African universities.
Igwe was among a panelist of four selected from the AAP to discuss the “Global and Continental Partnerships and Collaboration in Higher Education Post COVID-19”.
Other members of the panel included Steven Hanson, associate provost and dean, Michigan State University; George Kanyama-Phiri, vice chancellor, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR); and IdrissaTraore, vice chancellor, University of Arts and Human Sciences of Bamako (ULSHB).
Professor Paul Zeleza, the vice chancellor, US International University – Africa, moderated the dialogue that had over 400 participants in attendance.
In his presentation, Professor Igwe said that the mixed teaching method would help to decongest classrooms and make it easy for students to adhere to social distance safety rule.
He added that the university would consider turning some of its event halls to emergency classrooms to ensure that combined lectures involving large number of students would hold without violating COVID-19 safety protocol.
Speaking on how to achieve a robust virtual learning environment for students, the vice-chancellor said that the university was already into partnership with some telecommunication companies and that he hoped to leverage on the partnerships to improve the bandwidth allocated to the institution and data access for the students.
He told the audience that the University of Nigeria had responded positively to the challenge of COVID-19 pandemic by producing hand sanitizers, face masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline clinicians, adding that there were many ongoing research interventions from the university which would help broaden the understanding of COVID-19 and its impact on the society.
Speaking on the collaboration between the university and other institutions, the Igwe said that the UNN had entered into over 100 collaborations with different universities and would seek further collaborations, especially those that would help the university solve its post COVID-19 challenges.
He identified managing the student population in classrooms and hostels, upgrading ICT infrastructure for distance learning, addressing issues of data access and affordability, migration of more courses to e-learning and distance learning platforms and training of staff on new ICT skills, as some of the challenges that COVID-19 pose to African universities.
Collaborations among African universities and strategic thinking were critical to solving the common problems brought by the pandemic, he said.