The Federal Government says the full deployment of Blackboard digital learning platform in Nigerian tertiary institutions would go a long way to fast-track educational development of the country.
Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman, made this known on Thursday while receiving in his office a delegation of Anthology Executives from the United States on Thursday in Abuja.
Mamman said the Blackboard platform being championed by Anthology would ensure easy access to online academic resources and address limitation of physical capacity of learning and the inability to access credible learning materials.
He pledged to provide necessary support through relevant policies that would facilitate the progress of the Blackboard project in the country.
“I am a firm believer of technology, I believe in the efficacy of what we can use technology to achieve.
“We are at the beginning of major reform in the education sector from the basic levels to tertiary levels. We know that physical capacity is a limiting factor but through IT, you can reach practically everybody and we are determined to do it,” he said.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Arc. Sonny Echono, who led the Anthology Executives to the minister after an earlier visit to his office by the team, explained that the Blackboard platform would see to the establishment of Centre of Excellence in Nigeria that would be a benchmark for online learning methodologies.
Echono said it would also help the country to be at the forefront of learning management system saying that “what happened during COVID would not catch us unawares again”.
He added that the Blackboard would enroll about 2.2 million student users in Nigeria across the 253 beneficiary institutions of the Fund.
Echono revealed that plans are also underway to enrol other private institutions to the Blackboard platform, saying the move would increase the target to 3 million students.
Speaking on the importance of Blackboard, Echono said : “It is a platform that handles everything even from management of the institutions to the process of seeking admission-when you get enrolled to how you finish.
“Also the Blackboard is able to provide content for all the institutions and the real-time engagement that the institutional ecosystem operates.
“It also gives us the opportunity to be able to benchmark what is happening in other institutions around the globe that are all using the same platforms.
“Blackboard will establish centre of excellence in Nigeria that will be a benchmark on online learning methodologies and this will really help to be in the forefront of learning management system that what happened during COVID will not catch us unawares again,” he said.
Meanwhile, the President of Anthology, Joe Belenardo, said the Blackboard had been tested to provide solutions to students and directors of ICT around the world through skills.
Belenardo explained that the Blackboard, a learning management system currently has about 6,000 clients and 150 million students globally and is designed to create additional solutions/innovations, access to network and give business development opportunities for learners.
According to him, with ICT skills, the platform will make a difference in making the world a better place.
“Many institutions around the world started a transformation to accelerate their digital
journey for the great benefit of their learners.
” We foresee this transformation to increase over the
coming years and to become a true competitive advantage for the one that embrace this change, like
the TETFund’s beneficiary institutions and the larger education community.
” We therefore welcome your initiative and are very happy and enthusiastic to be part of it,” he said.
Also, the Country Director and Channel Partner for Anthology Nigeria, Mr Ladipo Adedeji explained that the system allowed students to function adequately both online and onsite.
“It’s not just about online learning, the learning management system allows you to function in schools whether it’s online or offline.
“As you will find out, nobody carries lecture notes anymore, nobody submits physical assignments anymore, so this allows lecturers to teach more efficiently, allows students learn efficiently in a sensitive way.
“Part of also the laudable project that TETFund has done is the issue of subscription that allows each student access to a global library.
“Part of the limitations of a lot of people is that they have no access to credible material but with the platform, the limitation will be addressed.
“The feature of this is that you can learn Yoruba in a university in Brazil. This is taking Nigeria into that 21st/22nd century and that is what TETFund has been able to achieve with this laudable project,” he said.