The University of Education, Winneba (UEW) in collaboration with the African Virtual University (AVU) have established an Open Distance and eLearning (ODeL) Centre to compliment education delivery at UEW. The establishment of the UEW/AVU ODeL Centre was initiated in 2012 through discussions by the two institutions. This was followed by series of workshops series of workshops and conferences held locally and internationally to address foreseeable issues that may arise during the implementation stage of the Centre. In a speech read by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Rev. Fr. Prof. Afful–Broni on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Akwesi Asabere-Ameyaw at the official launch of the centre on March 26, 2015, the Vice-Chancellor intimated that the Centre will also serve as a learning facility for UEW staff in the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and in the development, delivery and management of Open, Distance and eLearning programmes.
In an address read on her behalf by Mr. Francis Avugbey (the officer in charge of ICT at the Ministry of Education), The Minister of Education, Professor Jane Naana Opoku Agyeman underscored the importance of establishing the Open Distance and eLearning (ODeL) Centre. She explained that increased enrolment at the primary and secondary levels has brought huge enrolment pressure on traditional Universities. In order to reduce the tertiary admission deficit, the implementation of an ICT based distance education in Ghana is the best solution. She intimated that the establishment of the, distance and eLearning Centre at the Winneba Campus by the African Virtual University will go a long way to give more people access to University Education. She advised the stakeholders of the project, particularly the ICT technocrats and the academics to make sure that the project becomes a very successful one.
Dr. Therrezinha Fernandes, Head of the African Virtual University Regional Office in Dakar, Senegal, thanked the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Education, Winneba and his team for their commitment to work closely with the AVU in the implementation of the Open Distance and eLearning (ODeL) Centre. She said, universities in Africa are currently overwhelmed by the increasing student numbers but unable to increase the physical infrastructure to meet the growing demand. “This is the right time for Africa, especially sub – Saharan Africa, to consider using open distance and eLearning to address the growing need for quality and affordable education and training, however this requires appropriate policies and funding, meticulous planning and execution, innovation, quality control and development and a vast sensitization campaign” she advised.
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE AFRICAN VIRTUAL UNIVERSITY PROGRAM AND FEATURES OF THE AVU/UEW ODeL CENTRE
The African Virtual University is a Pan – African, international Organisation established by Charter, with the mandate of significantly increasing access to quality higher education and training, through the innovative use of Information Communication Technologies. A Charter, establishing the African Virtual University (AVU) as an Intergovernmental Organisation, has been signed by fourteen (14) African Governments. Ghana is a signatory to the Charter establishing the African Virtual University. AVU has its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya and a Regional office in Dakar, Senegal.
The First Phase of the AVU Multinational Support Project was delivered from 2005 to 2011, funded by the African Development Bank (ADB) and implemented in twelve (12) universities from ten (10) African Countries. The University of Education, Winneba is the fourth public university in Ghana to have joined the project sponsored by African Development Bank (ADB).
The overall objectives of the AVU multinational project II is to strengthen the capacity of the AVU and build a network of Twenty Seven (27) institutions to deliver and manage quality ICT Integrated Education of Training opportunities in 21 African countries. PD Programmes has trained six(6) academics in UEW. These academics momentarily form the faculty and management of the programme. The centre, which is known as the open and distance learning center (ODeL) situated at the Faculty Block, has fully received and installed modern IT equipment and software for usage.
The Centre has a total of forty – five (45) computers. Out of this number the course delivery room has thirty – six (36) computers, one (1) computer each in the office of the Director, the Administrator and the Technical staff, with six (6) computers for the material delivery area. There is a complete videoconferencing system with a home theatre unit to provide the requisite audio for larger audience. To improve the delivery of the courses, there is a smart board for use in the delivery of the course material. There are two close circuits cameras that monitor the movement of persons and items in and out of the facility.
The server room has a 42U freestanding rack into which two (2) servers have been installed, to act as primary and backup domain controllers, as well as file servers for the client computers in the course delivery room and various offices. In essence, these servers control who can have access to which of the installed computers in the centre. The server room has a temperature monitoring system that detects drastic change in the rooms’ ambient temperature and prompts the centres IT personnel via email. To ensure the continuous availability of electricity at the center, a 15KVA standby generator has been installed to provide electricity to the center in the event of a couple power outage.
This is an Open Distance and eLearning Center (ODeL Center). This will serve as a training facility for UEW staff in the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the development, delivery and management of Open, Distance and eLearning. It will also serve as a delivery point for the current and future Open, Distance and eLearning Programmes offered by UEW from which students can access web – based content for their courses.
THE TEACHER LEARNING PROGRAMME
The Teacher Education Programme ensures the participation of UEW in the review / development and delivery of an existing AVU ICT Integrated Teacher Education Programme as well as existing Teacher Education Virtual Consortium.
ODeL PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
The ODeL Professional Development (ODeLPD) is a programme designed to develop skills that UEW requires to develop and deliver its own Open, Distance and eLearning Programme. This Professional Development includes the following: Instructional Design for ODeL Programme. Technology for ODeL Programmes and management of ODeEL Programmes. Six (6) academics have been trained on this programme.