Groups Move to Deepen STEM Education

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By Emma Okonji

About 72 lecturers from 18 tertiary institutions in the South-east region of the country, recently participated in the one-day seminar on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, organised by the Initiative for Information Technology Capacity Building (i4ITCB), in partnership with Oracle Academy and Nigeria Computer Society (NCS).

The initiative was designed to deepen science and technology skills among south-east lecturers.
Speaking on the theme of the seminar: Teaching for Industry Relevant STEM Skills’, Senior Lecturer Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Prof. Hettie Abimbola Soriyan, said STEM teachers needed a change in their mind-set to be able to win-back students to the classrooms.

According to her, “They are working with a generation that does not show as much interest in class room lectures as it was in times gone by, because their interest in technology, especially social media has increased in leaps, almost as a disadvantage.
“So, lecturers need to leave their comfort zones to train ourselves to use that technology to reach out to the students. Engage the students, give them some things to think about, analyse and present their thoughts.

“From the exercise we did, the participants now have a better understanding of areas that need improvement on their part. If teachers transpose skills learnt from the exercise into system development analysis, it is clear, more work is required on the part of the lecturers.”

Soriyan, emphasised the need to transform the same technology students are using to their advantages. “When you want to give assignment, link it to social media and recent topics. They like watching videos like cartoons. Let’s test them based on those areas. We have to appreciate the fact that theirs is a generation that is tech-savvy. So, teachers need to change the dynamics,” she added.

Executive Secretary, NCS, Iyiola Ayoola, said from the theme it was obvious that participants were exposed to the need to teach computer science or Information Technology (IT) related courses in the relevant way, which was to galvanise the economy into the fourth industrial revolution.

“When we refer to the fourth industrial revolution, it implies that IT has penetrated every facet of human endeavour. As a result, we are seeing technological disruptions today.

“So, we are talking about lecturers and teachers of Computer Science courses; they should be able to stay ahead of the class and the result will be the production of graduates who are ready to conquer in this technological dispensation.

“We have many IT courses now in Big Data, Robotics, Mobile Internet, Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain, Virtual Reality; these are disruptions in the IT industry that should be taught with the relevant tools and revamped curriculum.

“Definitely, there is no dull student anywhere, when taught in the right manner and with the right technology tool, each student will find one area that is relevant to him or her,” Ayoola said.

Country Programs Manager, sub-Saharan Africa, Oracle Academy, Sefunmi Fadahunsi, reiterated the global IT giant’s determination to impact next generation of professionals through free educational resources around STEM, such that teachers and schools can leverage on to deliver quality teaching and learning experience.
According to Fadahunsi; “It means that students need to be engaged practically to be able to learn STEM so that they can have skills relevant in the industry. All the resources Oracle Academy has for them is free. The resources are industry relevant. What the students will learn through Oracle Academy is the same as our customers are subscribing to, to drive their businesses through Java, Database, IoT, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning resources, curriculum and software resources that are free for both the teachers and the students.

“That is what we have brought to the South Eastern states and we hope to continue working with them for the advancement of Computer Science education.”

Founder, i4ITCB, Dele Bayo-Osibo, explained the rationale behind the seminar.
According to him, “What informed our coming to the South East is that, we have a vision to improve the footprints of Information Technology professionals in the polity. What we have decided to do is to move from region to region and carry out this impartation of knowledge.

“The Idea is that we will, overtime, close the gap between the industry and the academia. We believe in moving from ‘Knowledge to Impact’, and as such, we want to impart knowledge in the academia because we believe they are critical stakeholders in this move to improve IT technicians, professionals in the polity,” Bayo-Osibo said.