Open and Distance Learning (ODL) is a success story for the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN). The institution, which was founded in 1983 but quickly suspended in 1984, was resurrected in 2002. Since then, the institution has made giant strides in operating this mode of learning, in spite of the challenges it has encountered.
The ODL and the conventional systems have been a subject of comparison for some ever since the emergence of the ODL system in Nigeria. Many have doubted the quality and relevance of ODL because they are familiar with the conventional system. They couldn’t see the possibility of learning at a distance and without a lecturer in a classroom.
NOUN was established for the specific purpose of giving its students higher education at their own pace, irrespective of their location. This mode of learning differs from the conventional style where the lecturer and the students are present in a theatre.
Nonetheless, the ODL system has been fully embraced by many, particularly those who wish to continue their education after their first degree while working, as well as those who wish to gain admission to a conventional university but are unable to do so for a variety of reasons, including a low JAMB score and the occasional strike action that plagues conventional universities.
“A student studying online has nothing to lose, as some may think, especially in the case where science students have to do their practicals. In the ODL system, the students are still able to do their practicals because it is made available to them virtually.”
Dr. Adesina rightly put it thus: In the virtual classroom, we are looking forward to making sure that things like online laboratories, virtual labs, will be put in place for students to carry out their practicals.
It is worthy of note that NOUN prides itself as the foremost university, providing highly accessible and enhanced quality education, anchored by social justice, equity, equality and national cohesion through a comprehensive reach that transcends all barriers.
The mission of the university is to provide functional, cost-effective, flexible learning which adds life-long value to quality education for all who seek knowledge.
In addition to its broad vision and mission statements, some of the major objectives of the university are as follows:
>ensure equity and equality of opportunities in education generally but specifically in university education;
>>provide a wider access to education generally but specifically university education in Nigeria;
>>enhance education for all and life-long learning;
>>provide the entrenchment of global learning culture;
>>provide instructional resources via an intensive use of information and communication technology;
>>provide flexible, but qualitative education; and
>>reduce the cost, inconveniences, and hassles of easy access to education and its delivery.
All that NOUN stands for is captured in its vision and mission statements, as well as its objectives.
It is also noteworthy that the university has had its convocation every year. Comparatively, the issuance of certificates in the conventional system is not immediate; some are issued upon request, and some may even take years. In NOUN, certificates are issued on convocation day! NOUN proposes to introduce the digital certificate, where students can get their certificates online and print them out wherever they are.
Today, NOUN can be said to be the direct opposite of or a better alternative to the conventional university system in Nigeria. It can also be said to be excellent in the operation of the ODL system.
22 November 2023
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