Federal Government grants approval to JABU, 11 other universities to operate Open Distance Learning

The Federal Government through
the National Universities Commission (NUC) has granted approval to Joseph Ayo Babalola University (JABU) and 11 other universities to operate both conventional learning and Open and Distance learning (ODL).

The 12 were given ‘conventional’ licences to operate a dual-mode system – face to face learning in the classroom and also the open distance learning.

The NUC also said only a few of these universities can run an efficient online learning platform.

The commission said there is a big difference between online learning and open and distance learning.
Distance learning is a method of studying in which lectures are broadcast or lessons are conducted by correspondence without the need to attend a school or college.

Since the advent of the internet, distance learning has also included the use of the internet as most students receive and write their examinations online.

Dual-mode refers to universities that can give instructions in the conventional classroom that is face to face, and it can also give instructions on open and distance learning,. Distance learning employs multimedia, and then it uses online.
Out of the 43 federal universities, nine were given licences to run both conventional and ODL centres in Nigeria.

Two state universities were licensed 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:

Joseph Ayo Babalola University- Private University
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
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.

In an interview with PREMIUM TIMES, the spokesperson of the NUC, Ibrahim Yakassai, said online mode of learning is beyond WhatsApp and Telegram groups, which most universities and students are calling online classes.

“Some universities claimed they are having lectures online since coronavirus distorted the learning system. As far as we know, most universities, especially government-owned universities, cannot give the lectures online, except for a few private universities,” he said.

According to him, most of the public universities and a few private are not equipped for online learning.
However, “they might be doing some interactions via WhatsApp and Telegram. Online classes are given in modules, and it requires expertise to develop the curriculum,” he explained.

“Universities that were approved for both conventional and ODL cannot do online, because it is different from each other. For open and distance learning, however, the techniques for online learning can be used, but they are not online,” he said.

He said some private universities with a lot of internet resources may have done some courses online because they have the facilities, and the students have corresponding gadgets.

“It is not so in some public universities where some students live in villages and do not have smartphones. A lot of private universities are having their classes online now, but we need to (have) conviction about public institutions teaching online.

Difference between online learning and ODL

He said there is provision for face to face interaction with the instructors at some point in ODL called contact session. “Somehow through the programmes they have few instances where they would meet their instructors or teachers unlike online which is 100 per cent online.”

“ODL started a very long time ago but before they were doing it on cassettes, CDs, handouts, and on instructional materials that were taught in modules. In open and distance learning, they normally write their exams in a centre but nowadays because of the internet in addition to the other multimedia equipment they use, radio station, television programs. Also, the materials structured in modules can also teach online.”

He said online classes are 100 per cent online and require a lot of data consumption which many students in public universities may not afford.
“Most students in public universities live in rural areas, some do not have access to the internet and the students will need to use applications, such as Skype and Zoom for online learning.”
He said a call has gone to all universities in Nigeria to explore the possibilities of online learning.

“So the students will start from where they stopped once school resumes, they have a syllabus to complete and they must complete it. The online lectures are different from face-to-face, it has its own style, and the internet must be sufficient, students must have browsing phones that can be used in their online classes.”


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