COVID-19: University Don Emphasizes Place Of Standard In Online Learning

Professor Olufemi  Peters, an expert in Open and Distance Learning (ODL), has identified standard as the weak-link in the recent flurry by the single-mode universities in Nigeria to offer online education in the race to find an answer to the COVID-19 challenge.

Professor Peters who is the incoming Vice-Chancellor of National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN)  said  the conversion to the dual-mode was partly necessitated by factors such “as the pedigree of the ODL people in the country, the improved delivery channels and the new social reformer in the land: the Covid-19 pandemic.”

In a statement by Ibrahim Sheme, spokesperson of NOUN, Peters spoke during an inaugural lecture of the university held virtually on Thursday. The lecture was titled: “Weak-Links: A Structural Phenomenon to Systemic Efficiency”.

The lecture which was the 16th in the series for the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), was streamed live on various online platforms from the university’s headquarters in Abuja.

He said many otherwise single-mode, face-to-face (f2f) universities are fast converting to dual-mode institutions due to certain reasons, stressing that the altruistic nature of ODL to Nigeria and its instructional delivery has an established standard, which may be the weak-link to the latest “converts” offering online education.

The professor of chemistry explained that the conversion to the dual-mode was partly necessitated by factors such as the pedigree of the ODL people in the country, the improved delivery channels and the new social reformer in the land: the covid-19 pandemic.

“Practitioners in ODL philosophy and operations are now being increasingly created. However, in order for the practice to be comparable in the product assessment with its f2f counterpart, ‘standards’ have to be set,” the don added.

“Without a standard, which can be an obvious weak-link, an industry would fail to meet the definition of an industry.”

He posited that a mere online delivery may not meet the contextual philosophy of ODL, as the former often lacks attention to the basic educational standards.

While summarising the presentation, Professor Abdalla Uba Adamu, outgoing Vice-Chancellor of NOUN, lauded the presenter for what he described as a 3-in-1 presentation, with each aspect capable of standing as a lecture of its own.

He described the occasion as unique and special for being the first time it was held virtually and presented by the incoming Vice-Chancellor of the university.

Adamu, while congratulating the lecturer on the “wonderful presentation” and his emergence as the next vice-chancellor, remarked that the beauty of any Inaugural Lecture is that no question is entertained from the audience.

Currently, the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) operates a ‘uni-mode learning system’.

A uni-mode system simply means that the NOUN can only operate through the open and distance learning mode. The institution was not granted the license to operate dual-mode like the other 12 universities in the country that have the approval.

In 2020, the National Universities Commission ( NUC) said  Only 12 Nigerian universities have the approval to operate both conventional learning and Open and Distance Learning (ODL).

The NUC also said there is a big difference between online learning and open and distance learning.

Distance learning is a system of studying in which lectures are transmitted or lessons are conducted by correspondence without the need to attend a school or college.

Out of the 44 federal universities, nine were given licences to run both conventional and ODL centres in Nigeria.

Two state universities were also licensed by the NUC to operate both conventional and ODL centres out of the 48 states universities, and one private university out of the 79 private universities was given the licence to operate the dual-mode system.

The 12 universities that are licensed for both conventional and ODL are:

Ahmadu Bello University – Federal University

University of Abuja – Federal University

University of Maiduguri- Federal University

Modibo Adama University of Technology – Federal University

Obafemi Awolowo University – Federal University

University of Lagos – Federal University

University of Ibadan – Federal University

University of Nigeria – Federal University

Federal University of Technology, Minna – Federal University

Lagos State University – State University

Ladoke Akintola University of Technology – State University

Joseph Ayo Babalola University- Private University 

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Azeezat Adedigba

Azeezat Adedigba is an Assistant Editor/ Lagos Bureau Chief for HumAngle. She is also an investigative journalist and the winner of the 2019 Female Reporters Leadership Program (FRLP) organised by Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ). Azeezat is passionate about gender and children advocacy. She has a degree in Mass Communication from the University of Jos.

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