In partnership with Brains Global, we were exceedingly proud to co-host over 100 of Africa’s most senior Higher Education delegates at the Global Online Learning Alliance (GOLA) conference, with a live Q&A from Sir Steve Smith, former Vice-Chancellor of University of Exeter and now the HM Government International Education Champion concluding the event.
GOLA was created in response to the ongoing impact of Covid to allow people to come together to share their common cause with non-bias integrity for the good of education systems around the world.
Kicking off the event was Professor Yakubu Ochefu – Secretary General Association of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities sharing experiences from Nigeria’s University system both prior to, and during the pandemic, including issues faced in Nigeria such as cost and quality of internet bandwidth.
Professor Ochefu remarked: “There were positive outcomes from the challenge of remote learning. Remote learning is helping to deal with overcrowding in classrooms, while computer-based testing is becoming standard for large classes.”
Following on from Professor Ochefu was Professor Cheryl Foxcroft of Nelson Mandela University, who shared the great lengths students were going to receive their education.
“A student climbed a mountain to get signal for learning. It was greatly appreciated.” – Professor Cheryl Foxcroft.
After these introductions, the delegates went into breakout rooms, following Chatham House rules, providing a secure platform for productive and engaging discussions.
Concluding the event was Sir Steve Smith with a live Q&A, who focussed on the issues he faced as Vice Chancellor of the University of Exeter which included rapidly scaling the university’s digital learning infrastructure, to deliver a blended teaching and learning experience for students in the face of the global pandemic.
In this session Sir Steve looked to the future stating:
“The road ahead is not the same road we’ve travelled down… the future isn’t going to be like the past.
“I think delivery will be much more EdTech based.”
Sir Steve furthered this by saying:
“Partnership is the way forward. In everything I’ve seen in the last year, we’ll get through this by working together – turning to other partners who are better at providing things than we are.
“It’s that notion that different skills are needed, and they’re not skills that a traditional university has solely; it’s swallowing academic pride and finding trusted partners. The key point is that it’s got to be linked to a national framework to ensure best practice and value.”
James Gray Kortext CEO and Founder asked:
“What are your thoughts on the long term stability of the university sector?”
To which Sir Steve replied:
“The most famous example is called ‘An Avalanche is Coming’ which stated that ‘online MOOCs would get rid of traditional universities’. When this publication was launched, I was the speaker against it.
“The key point is… I always thought universities withstood a lot of challenges over the millenia. Universities have a lot of skills… what has hit us is the popularity of university. Everyone thought people wouldn’t go because of Covid.
“They went in record numbers… 2.6% more people went to university in the UK, despite there being fewer 18 years olds.”
To close the event, James Gray Kortext CEO and Founder said:
“We are continually striving to evolve our teaching and learning platform to meet the needs of libraries, academics and students in Africa. This is driven through our partnerships with technology suppliers, publishers and institutions that guide development through innovation, access and feedback. This enables us to strive towards our purpose of educating the next generation of difference makers throughout the continent.”
Kortext is the UK’s leading digital textbook and learning platform providing access to over a million digital textbooks from over 4000 publishers such as Pearson, McGraw Hill and Wiley. These publishers along with many others use Kortext to help distribute digital textbooks to students around the world. The platform provides an enhanced learning experience with access to powerful study tools that are highly valued by students. The detailed learning analytics that the platform provides supports better student outcomes and provides an enhanced learning experience.