Dayo Adesulu, Vanguard
March 7, 2013
Former National Universites Commission (NUC) Executive Secretary and Pro-Chancellor/Chairman of Council, Osun State University, Professor Peter Okebukola has said that the Open Distance Learning Institute (ODLI) should be run to fulfill its primary objective, saying it should be seen as a potent pathway for bonding the world as a global knowledge society with technology playing a key role.
He said; "Open and distance education refers to approaches to learning that focus on freeing learners from constraints of time and place while offering flexible learning opportunities."
Delivering the 2013 lecture for the Distance Learning Institute at the University of Lagos entitled; The Changing Landscape of Open and Distance Learning and the Impact of Emerging Technologies, he explained that open and distance learning is a way of combining work and family responsibilities with educational opportunities adding; "The open nature of distance learning typically involves open admissions, and freedom of selection of what, when and where to learn.
According to Professor Okebukola, the openness of distance learning should be seen in relatively flexible organisational structures, delivery and communication patterns as well as the use of various technologies to support learning.
Open and distance learning is aimed at bridging the time, geographical, economic, social, educational and communication distance between student and institution, student and course ware and student and peers.
He pointed out that open education is a label for a panoply of systems which include open and distance education, e-learning, flexible learning, distributed learning and a host of other brands, adding that what brings all the bedfellows together under the open education umbrella are three characteristics - flexibility, technology - mediation and learner control.
He noted that they are open to the extent that the learner is the master, the teacher, the servant leader. "The learner determines when to learn, what to learn, how to learn and who to collaborate with in learning. Open education enables students to choose the mode of learning that works best for them," he said.
Open education, he added, is considered by its practitioners as the most viable means for broadening educational access while improving the quality of education, advocating peer-to-peer collaboration and giving the learners a greater sense of autonomy and responsibility for learning. Considering the impact of the distance learning programme on our education sector which started in 1983, Okebukola said the total students enrolment as at June, 2011 were ninety-seven thousand, five hundred and twenty-six (97, 526).
In the break down, National Open University of Nigeria led with 42,898, followed by University of Ibadan with 14,500, University of Abuja with 18,300, University of Lagos with 12,000, Obafemi Awolowo University with 5.000, Maiduguri 3,624 and Federal University of Technology, Yola; 1,204.
He said that with this fihgure of enrolment, great potential to ofer more opportunities for qualitative university education to the teeming masses of Nigerias, if well resourced, coordinated and properly regulated.