As a way to be more effective in open and distance learning education delivery, the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) has trained the vice-chancellor, Prof Abdalla Uba Adamu, deans of various faculties, heads of departments and top non-academic staff members including the registrar, as well as members of the governing council of the university.
They were trained on how to effectively set up, host and manage virtual\e-learning platform, which is now a part of new normal brought about by the coronal virus pandemic not only into education service delivery but also into other sectors of the economy, globally.
They are 158 participants in all and most of the professors and doctoral degree holders and they had graduated and presented with their certificates at a virtual graduation ceremony held on Wednesday, last week.
About 73 of them-excluding the vice-chancellor- had distinction while the rest had either credit or pass and some failed.
In his welcome address at the ceremony, the facilitator-general of the programme, who is also the chairman of the governing council of NOUN, Professor Peter Okebukola, said the three-week intensive and loaded course is designed to strengthen the capacity of NOUN staff across levels to enable them to do their work more effectively.
He said the programme is arranged in phases with the VC class as maiden set and others to take their turns subsequently until they are all captured before the end of the year.
He explained that open and distance learning system is no longer restricted to use of course-ware and digital library resources, but now involve the use of Zoom, WhatsApp and some other social platforms to conduct lectures, assignments, quizzes\tests, tutorial and so forth.
He declared that all the graduands had been thoroughly baked with requisite knowledge and skills to set up, host and manage digital classroom and office in an interactive and effective manner and also to train the others.
He noted that NOUN’s plan is to produce well-rounded graduates and experts through open and distance learning across fields for the socioeconomic development of Nigeria and beyond.
In his remarks at the event, the vice-chancellor said the course had open their eyes to see that open and distance learning is not only about making digital course-ware and library service to learners but also involve using a virtual and online platform.
He said this paradigm shift as the beauty of technology is not only in education and learning but also in policy-making and both go beyond borders.
He commended Professor Okebukola and 39 other facilitators for training them free of charge despite the richness of the course and time sacrifice involved while congratulating participants for adding to their knowledge and skills.
He said even though conventional schools would remain relevant for a long time, open and distance learning is the future of education.
Delivering a lecture on “Agenda for making Africa takes a leadership role in delivering quality open and distance learning,” the guest lecturer and President of the Laweh Open University of Ghana, Professor Goski Alabi, said technology had really brought about revolution into education and learning and therefore required that academics play along to remain relevant.
She said two key things, which are relevance and acceptability determine the quality and to become a model would require possessing them.
Explaining this, she said an education institution can only be relevant when doing useful things that can impact the students and the communities in a way of bringing significant development to society.
She said there would not be acceptability of service and products where relevance is lacking and that this has to be about the future as peoples’ needs and expectations change with time.
“So, to achieve this will require three learning cultures, listing as finding out the right service and building the right capacity and then standardize the system, ” she stressed. “And the time to do all these is now.”
However, the trio of Professors Grace Jokthan (Faculty of Agricultural Science) and Ofulie (Arts), as well as Dr Adebola Akanbiemu (Education), said the course had really added great value to them.
They are part of participants with best results and that they can now conveniently set up and manage a virtual\online platform and also support the students through it.
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