Based on the lessons learned so far through the Technology Enhanced Learning for All (TELA) program, a research team from AUN’s School of Arts and Sciences (SAS) have suggested that a new Transactional Radio Instruction (TRI) model can be used for educational purposes in crisis and post-conflict societies where there are no schools or trained teachers. Leading this research are Interim Dean of SAS Dr. Jacob Udo-Udo Jacob and two AUN alumnae, Kenechukwu Nwagbo and Zamiyat Abubakar.

Dr. Jacob indicated that their interest in new forms of Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI) developed after his team undertook formative evaluations late last year during the trial TELA radio instructional episodes. They observed that the target learners, which included internally displaced children, orphans and other vulnerable youth who fled from Boko Haram violence, required much more than literacy and numeracy lessons.

“Over the three seasons of the radio programs, our content and production design have evolved along with the needs of our target audience. We have drawn enormous lessons from the field and from behavioral and communication models. This is an ongoing project. We don’t have all the answers yet, we are still learning” said Dr. Jacob.

Also drawing from previous research, the team stated that there is a mutual influence between radio instructional content and various environmental elements, such as learners’ self-esteem, local attitudes towards western-style education, religious and cultural beliefs, noise, influential others, and learners’ field of experience.  These elements must be addressed in radio instruction design as they can influence how students in societies in crisis engage with the curriculum.

“This demands that Interactive Radio Instruction content creators go beyond only requiring learners to recite or repeat answers. IRIs should be based on real-world experiences by embodying stories and normative appeals that seek to help learners overcome real-world issues to their learning” the research team said.

Nwagbo and Abubakar identified elements from original scripts of the TELA literacy and numeracy radio instruction programs that illustrated the interactive nature of the episodes. They also identified elements in the scripts that show how the programs include the real experiences of the learners.

“Our program uses workbooks, local folk songs, storytelling, strong characters, dolls, and drama to stimulate and support learning. Our work highlights the importance of radio instruction programs that not only engage all the senses of children-learners, but also model pro-social behavior” the researchers noted.

Drawing on in-depth personal interviews of facilitators and learners in the field, the research team argued that this model of learning has the potential of achieving impact beyond the targeted 50% improvements in learners’ early grade reading and math competencies.

The TELA radio programs are produced by a team of AUN students, staff and faculty members, and broadcasted weekly on the local Gotel Radio FM. The radio sessions are one component of TELA program, which targets improving the numeracy and literacy skills of 20,000 vulnerable children in northeast Nigeria.

To learn more about this learning model, check out the original article from AUNThisWeek by Ogadinma Christon-Quao. You can also read more and donate to the TELA program and the TELA Dolls on our website.

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