East, West, SEDA’s best!

From 2017–2021, we partnered the Association of Commonwealth Universities in a 4-year capacity building project in blended learning in 23 universities in East Africa, in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.  Called Partnership for Enhanced and Blended Learning (PEBL), SEDA’s responsibilities were to design, develop and deliver a course, Developing Blended Learning (DBL) that explored the pedagogic underpinnings of repurposing material for online/blended delivery, which was evidenced practically by the development of a module that was shared with colleagues in the region.

Cascade Model

From the outset, it was always an aim to cascade the management of DBL to people from the region who had successfully made claims for the two SEDA named awards (STEL and DPEP) associated with DBLDBL2 saw three successful DPEP claimants’ step into course leadership, mentored by David Baume and Ruth Brown, and five successful STEL students were appointed as tutors to the new cohort – earning DPEP in the process.

Likewise, the DBL3 delivery was headed by two of the previous tutors who were supported by the previous year’s leadership team (as mentors) and a team of six tutors working towards DPEP.  One of the DBL3 course leaders wrote, “You groomed us to be sound professionals and made working with you an interesting and memorable experience.”

Several HE institutions in the region are now considering offering DBL (an OER) within their institutions and there are ongoing conversations about continuing the SEDA recognition of those courses.

A Journey of Change

East African students recognise the role of SEDA’s course, Developing Blended Learning, in their personal journey of change: “Since our first encounter in DBL1 as a STEL student, you proved to me that you are born a mentor and there is a lot that has changed in me by working under you”, as well as more broadly, “East Africa institutions of Higher learning will never be the same in terms of online learning.”

The 2020 COVID crisis proved the worth of the course.  (Former) students became invaluable resources in their institutions and, in many cases, their skills have continued to be valued as the world of education undergoes radical change.

Feedback from successful East African participants confirms that the PEBL project has often been lifechanging.  One of the DBL3 tutors was selected for the prestigious Deans Africa Training at the Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences in Germany.  His personal action project is on blended learning.  Another said, “This has opened so many opportunities.  It has actually changed the course of my career.”

Next Steps

PEBL West Africa is a follow-on 2 -year project which has started in September 2021.  It will support 12 partner universities in Ghana and Nigeria in two ways:

The first is to support teams-of-three from all the universities as they engage with the core phase of DBL4, which is delivered online.  (Ruth will be returning to leading this iteration of DBL.)  The core pathway is assessed by individual claims for the SEDA-PDF named award, STEL.  As with previous deliveries, a key deliverable from this phase of DBL is a quality assured, credit-bearing blended course which will be available from the OER Africa Repository.  These blended modules – one from each partner university – should be ready to share with other institutions by mid-2022.

The second (extended) phase is to support the 36 participants to make a successful claim for DPEP, melding the theoretic component of the pathway with the practical task of delivering institutional workshops that will support colleagues through the process of repurposing material of online/blended delivery.

It is expected that some 1,200 academics and over 5,000 students from Ghana and Nigeria will benefit from the project through training, tools, and frameworks.

East, West, SEDA’s best!

Ruth Brown & Carole Davis

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