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Capacity building workshop on open and distance learning

Abuja, Nigeria 3-5 July 2018

Running a capacity building workshop on Open and Distance Learning for Nigerian universities, jointly organised by the University of London Centre for Distance Education (CDE) and Nigeria’s National Universities Commission (NUC). Mission: help Nigeria use Open and Distance Learning to achieve the massive increase in student numbers necessary over the next few years.

Written by Guest bloggers: Stephen Brown and David Baume |

Participants ignore the refreshment break.

Workshop designed and led by David Baume and Stephen Brown, superbly supported by Ibrahim El Mayet and Akanimo Odon.

Day 1

Registration: an unexpected queue of 11 would-be participants hoping to join the workshop at the last minute, creating a dilemma for the local organisers: admit them and risk offending institutions that have already been turned away because demand outstripped the 60 places available, or reject them and risk offending people who have just driven or flown hundreds of miles across the country in the hope of joining in? Solution: admit them, but delay their participation to make sure that word gets round about the need to register in advance next time!

Within the first hour some puzzled participants are starting to ask: “When are we going to be given the lecture presentations that teach us how to do distance learning?” Answer: “This is a workshop. It’s not about teaching/telling, it’s about learning through doing.” Later on we notice that participants are ignoring the suggestion that they take a break. Refreshments have to be served to them at their group work tables to allow them to carry on uninterrupted.

A surprise visit by the Professor Rasheed, NUC Executive Secretary creates an enormous buzz as he goes round the workshop, chatting with participants.

Day two

Today’s highlight is an amazingly animated university/industry session where each side is saying what they think about the other, ending with mixed industry/university group discussions at each table, finding ways to work together in future. Lots of noise and exchanging of business cards. Lunch with the Pro-Chancellor of Baze University where the workshop is being run reveals fascinating insights into national education and politics, and the challenges facing Nigeria. It turns out he is hoping to become President of the Federal Republic in the 2019 General Elections.

Day three

Further discussions of change management strategies and methods leads into the final session where everyone is designing course proposal posters, followed by live public surgeries on each poster to identify strengths weaknesses. As we go round the tables, the learning outcomes and course designs just keep getting better and better. Participants are clearly learning from the feedback they are hearing.

The poster competition

The excitement is intense and finally explodes into triumphant dancing, hollering and air punching as the winners are announced. Ending the workshop with Innumerable photos with participants and wonderful feedback such as “I’m leaving this workshop a changed man” and “When can we have more workshops like this? No more requests for lectures.

Thanks Nigeria. We are looking forward to the next stage.

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