Following on from the very successful Partnerships for Enhanced and Blended Learning East Africa (PEBL-EA) project, SEDA is delighted that the PEBL-WA project began in September 2021 and will last for two years ending August 2023.
The ACU is the lead partner on PEBL-WA, and SEDA is one of the technical partners. In addition to SEDA, there are four other technical partners: The Commonwealth of Learning (CoL), whose remit is to lead on quality assurance matters; the National Universities Commission (Nigeria); the Ghana Tertiary Education Commission, and the National Open University of Nigeria. The National Commissions’ involvement is critical in ensuring that outputs from PEBL can be shared across the region (and indeed, the continent) with minimal red tape as the project progresses.
The regulatory bodies undertake policy audits in Ghana and Nigeria, whilst the university partners are the recipients of the training. During the second year those trained become the experts and pass on their knowledge to colleagues in a cascading approach. This strengthens capacity once the project is completed.
Aim of the project and partners:
The main aim of the project is to create a partnership across 12 African Universities in 2 countries to allow the permeable use of modules between them. Together with the technical partners above, the following universities are partners in PEBL-WA:
SEDA’s role in the project:
SEDA’s specific role in the project and our most significant contribution centres on the professional development of university partners’ nominees and the growth of an autonomous community.
At the start of PEBL-EA, the SEDA team designed and developed an online course called Developing Blended Learning (DBL) which is still at the heart of the offer, duly adapted to the needs of the current cohort of participants. DBL has two pathways: the core pathway leads to the SEDA named award, Supporting Technology-Enhanced Learning (STEL); successful participants on theextended pathway (which builds on the skills and knowledge gained during STEL) have submitted claims for the SEDA named award, Developing People and Enhancing Practice (DPEP).
There are 5 Outputs in the PEBL project although historically we have only been associated with Output 3 which is all about DBL. Ruth Brown became involved in the reviewing of MDF modules at the end of DBL1 which following DBL1-DBL3 has now become officially in SEDA’s remit.
During DBL4 (the delivery of DBL during PEBL-WA), six students from PEBL-EA who had been awarded STEL during DBL3 joined the leadership team as tutors for the PEBL-WA STEL participants. Their tutoring activity, along with the delivery of Carpe Diem workshops in 3 East African universities and the study of 4 units that explore academic development from theoretic and practical perspectives, prepare them to make a claim for DPEP. The last of the 3 workshops took place the week of 5 September 2022, and their claims are due to be submitted in two weeks’ time.
A highlight of their DPEP activity was the joint development of a (successful!) motivation to the ACU to fund the workshops. While very modest pots of money were sought (£400/workshop), the process of motivation was a great learning curve for all the tutors.
The 6 tutors each took responsibility for six STEL participants. The STEL claims went to an Exam Board on 11 August. 30 claims were successful, 4 were not submitted (but will be ahead of the next Exam Board in December), two were deemed not yet successful (but both participants wish to submit to the next Exam Board).
A new inclusion in the STEL course for DBL4 was the research into the needs of the university, colleagues and students with regard to blended learning, the results of which informed the development of an Action Plan to deliver the aims of the PEBL-WA project. In turn, this Action Plan was presented to Influencers in each university with the specific intention to raise the profiles and enhance the reputations of the participants in their institution. They are presently arranging a follow-up event to keep the Institutional Influencers informed of what has happened since the January presentation. A long-standing strike by ASUU in Nigerian Universities means that Nigerian participants need to consider alternative ways to deliver the project aims in view of environmental influences.
The 30 successful participants have now started on the DPEP pathway. Claims for the DPEP named awards are due to be presented to an Exam Board in mid-December.
Outputs and activities:
The outputs are as follows:
There are several activities including the following:
Project management and administration:
Following a change in project management Elaine Fisher is now Project Manager overseeing the management of the project from SEDA’s perspective and Roz Grimmitt is the Project Administrator handling the administration and Canvas.
Highlights to date:
The workshop in Abuja had three main aims:
• To create face-to-face space for bonding of the group;
• To model good practice in presenting workshops – or to “practice what we teach”; and
• To teach the DPEP participants how to run Carpe Diem workshops.
A smaller workshop for 7 local teams from Abuja universities on the 21st and 22nd of July – a workshop-within-the-workshop – had the following intentions:
• To create a place where DPEP participants could co-facilitate a Carpe Diem workshop; and
• To offer local teams the opportunity to learn how to repurpose existing modules for online delivery.
Although the ACU were planning for a joint Network meeting and training event in July, this had to be postponed until later on in the year due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation. The face-to-face workshop went ahead and was held from 19-22 July 2022.
Reflecting on the location of the workshop in Abuja it became obvious to those delivering the training that it had been pivotal in the bonding process. There was no home advantage whereby people could turn off and go home or go into their office and answer emails or be distracted by work.
Results thus far:
The DBL4 Exam Board was held on the 11th August and 29 out of the 36 were successfully awarded their STEL claim, which is a successful outcome. 5 will go forward to the December Exam Board if claims are received by the required date and 2 will be dealt with through Chair’s actions owing to requested additional minor supplementary evidence. (See the updated situation above.)
The tutors who supported the face-to-face workshop attended the Exam Board and there were positive comments provided by them concerning the opportunity this provided to observe the whole process.
The External Examiner reported that the feedback on the claims was ‘diligent, detailed and shows real commitment to students’ learning and that overall it is great to see what is being achieved’. He thought that the ‘level of feedback showed real commitment to student development, influence and change’ and that there was ‘consistency in format for those completed and not completed’. It was clarified that the purpose of the Exam Board is to both verify individual awards as well as to discuss the process. In her comments to the Exam Board Ruth explained that there was consistent participation and that the tutors played an important role in building a community. She also fed back that prior to and during the face-to-face workshop there were some problems due to communications issues and technological difficulties.
Feedback from the university partners:
There has been very positive feedback about the Carpe Diem training from university partners including comments such as “the workshop was well planned and perfectly executed”, “very good programme”, “Ruth did a good job of ‘gingering everyone”, “seamless and a wow event for all”, and “play and learning combined and all actively engaged”.
Updated provided by Elaine Fisher and Ruth Brown, 13th September 2022