The lockdown which occurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic helped BlueCrest College to accelerate the implementation of its phase-wise transformation plan focusing on the online, hybrid, and blended teaching and learning, and use of technology in teaching and administration activities. Looking retrospectively, despite the numerous challenges, the lockdown now appears to be a silver lining in the clouds for BlueCrest.
In December 2020, BlueCrest signed a partnership with Coursera to integrate all the BlueCrest courses with the Coursera courses. This has enabled BlueCrest to implement flipped classrooms and hybrid teaching, and given students exposure to the best quality learning material designed by renowned universities around the world.
By 2021, BlueCrest redesigned its semesters with at least 50% of teaching and learning online realizing the goal of hybrid teaching and learning. In 2020 from March till December, all students of the BlueCrest completed two semesters completely online including smooth conduct of examinations. This feat can be attributed to BlueCrest College being a high-tech educational institute.
While most of the institutes in Ghana struggled to move to online teaching and learning due to the long-term lockdown in Ghana, BlueCrest College shifted to online teaching using the Learning Management System (LMS) MOODLE. In BlueCrest, the use of Moodle started in November 2019 as an initiative under the long-term transformation plan initiated by the new President Dr. Anand Agrawal. The goal of the plan is to gradually move to hybrid and blended teaching and learning. Despite the lockdown of the physical campus, students did not lose any semester and have been able to continue their studies without any interruptions. The following aspects helped BlueCrest in achieving this:
- Long-term Approach
A focus on long-term planning and goal for the institute from the year 2019, before the onset of the pandemic.
2. Mentoring, Training, and Development
An approach of mentoring and supporting the team by continuous training and development of the staff. E.g. a 15-hour course work on how to teach effectively online was quickly developed by the President of the college immediately after the lockdown for the full-time and part-time faculty members. All 90 plus faculty members studied the course and that enabled them to teach effectively.
3. Use of Technology
Use of LMS Moodle for online teaching and learning, slack and WhatsApp for communication in and between the teams, and use of Zoom meetings helped in smooth communication and conduct of classes.
4. Focus on asynchronous teaching
Due to the resource limitations and infrastructure issues, expensive data, and lack of access to internet devices, it is well known that in West Africa, the use of synchronous teaching will not be effective. That’s why from the beginning, the focus of the BlueCrest has been to use asynchronous teaching where students have the flexibility to study whenever and wherever they can access the internet and data
5. Support provided to the staff and students
BlueCrest provided easy access helplines with WhatsApp and phone numbers, provided free data plans to all staff and students, and helped every member of the college through multiple virtual meetings, workshops, and online discussions during the lockdown. This ensured taking care of the mental and financial wellbeing of the staff and students during that period.
This year, BlueCrest College, Ghana is planning to launch new programs, provide customized training to corporate bodies, and launch multiple academic and entrepreneurial initiatives.