Lecturers urged to balance core curriculum and reality

Lecturers urged to balance core curriculum and reality

Prof. Dick Ng’ambiSpeaking to staff of Makerere University, Prof. Dick Ng’ambi ticked off four indicators needed for innovative pedagogies: international benchmarks, contextual educational challenges, wide availability of technological tools and changes in the workplace for future graduates.

He argued why educators prefer alternative approaches and provided examples of innovative tools.

The public talk was opened by the Academic Registrar Mr Alfred Masikye Namoah on behalf of the Deputy Vice Chancellor on June 5 2014.

 A guest scholar of the College of Education and External Studies, Prof. Ng’ambi started his talk with a quote from Albert Einsteen.

“If I had 20 days to solve a problem, I would spend 19 days to define it”.

He contrasted this with how most Africans would spend 19 days solving the problem and 1 day trying to understand what the problem was. He pointed out that the difference between the two methods is key to understanding what the problem is and what drives innovative pedagogies.

Prof Ng’ambi who is the Postgraduate Coordinator of ICT in Education at Cape Town University illustrated how universally, literacy and poverty reduction are closely linked. He drew examples from Africa where low levels of tertiary education correspond to high poverty rates versus North America where high levels of tertiary education correspond to economic growth and wealth.

He noted that the issue in Africa is that the tools to solve problems are not being passed on to university students. “Innovative pedagogies are driven by problems and opportunities. However, it must be stressed that innovations need to be customized, contextualized and there is need to follow and understand the framework.

This is because we cannot pick something and move it elsewhere without understanding its framework. We need to understand what generates innovation. Google and Facebook were designed by students. That should be able to tell us something about our universities in Africa,” he said.

He posed a few questions “Can opportunity spotting be taught? Why is it that some people can see opportunities for innovations and others cannot? Are you equipped with tools to enable you think innovatively or is it practice that is supposed to help you think of innovative ways to change it”. Prof. Ng’ambi informed the audience that there are technologies and tools to help us think but sometimes we are not aware of them.

He emphasized that innovation is context dependant and highlighted the need for authentic opportunities. “What is innovative in a poorly resourced school may not necessarily be innovative in a well resourced school. So you must look for authentic opportunities to contextualize matters”.

He challenged lecturers to prepare students to function in the real world by balancing core curriculum and real life situations. “When graduates start working, they are hit by the reality shock. None of the tools they were equipped with are applicable and the industry/workplaces are impatient with them”.

He gave an illustration of a student equipped with a spanner which will fit only one kind of nut and bolt compared to a student equipped with a tool box full of multiple tools to function in the real world. He noted that disciplinary knowledge is important but not enough to function in the job market.  He added that educators must keep updated of what is happening in the job market.

He informed the audience of three interacting forces; precocity, intensity and complexity which can be used to seize opportunities for change at pedagogical levels.

He highlighted the four different pillars of innovative pedagogy which include;

  • Ensuring that learners are capable of making informed educational decisions for life
  • Diversifying and recognizing different forms of knowledge
  • Creating diverse learning environments
  • Learner focused forms of feedback and assessment.
Prof. Dick Ng’ambi had the attention from the audience

He said institutions were established to put people into industries and after the industrial revolution, most educational institutions have not adapted to change. He challenged the audience to begin thinking of enabling structures and policies to support innovative pedagogies.

Prof Ng’ambi concluded his talk by flagging off four key trends in education:

  • The flipped classroom
  • Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
  • Mobile and Bring Your Own Device
  • Augmented reality
  • Digital literacies and how Makerere University can begin to tap into them.

A question and answer session followed his talk in which lecturers were able to discuss issues regarding innovative pedagogies and how they can be applied to the Makerere University context.

This was Prof. Dick Ng’ambi’s second public talk to the Makerere University community.

Listen to his talk Audio Podcast

For his previous talk in October 2012, please follow this link http://goo.gl/hSboHJ.

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