Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan
Stakeholders, including scholars, researchers, and other Distance Learning practitioners nationwide, have called for transformation in open, distance and E-Learning in Nigeria.
They made the call during the inaugural conference of the Open Distance and E-Learning Association of Nigeria (ODeLAN), held in collaboration with the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) at Backcock University, Ilisan-Remo, Ogun.
The conference with the theme, ‘Global Spaces, Local Contexts: Digital Transformations and Creative Innovations in Open Distance and e-Learning (ODeL)’, was attended by over 200 participants from 40 institutions within and outside the country.
The Vice-Chancellor of NOUN, Prof. Olufemi Peters, while delivering the keynote address titled, ‘Micro-Credentialing as an Acceptable Model for Open, Distance and eLearning – A Path to Developing a Policy Framework’, called for embracing of micro-credentialing as an acceptable model for open, distance, and eLearning in Nigeria.
He noted the need for innovation in distance learning, suggesting the replacement of the nation’s academic programmes with a cocktail of short courses across all distance education institutions in Nigeria to be the goal of the conference, stating that micro-credentials programmes are often designed to be more flexible in their delivery, compared to traditional degree programmes.
While noting that micro-credentials are no longer alien to the Nigerian educational system, he said, “We can say we already have an appreciable subscription to the notion of micro-credentialing in Nigeria.”
Peter, however, identified some challenges facing micro-credentials, including policy and regulatory bottlenecks, the limited number of practitioners proficient in open, distance, and e-learning principles, and the question of the productive economy being amenable to the notion of micro-credential.
The Vice-Chancellor of Babcock University, Prof. Ademola Tayo, underscored the importance of the conference as the global space is witnessing an unprecedented revolution in technological advancements and educational delivery following the watershed Covid-19 pandemic.
The Director of Babcock University Centre for Open Distance And E-Learning (BUCODeL) and chair of LOC, ODeLAN Conference 2023, Prof. Mobolanle Sotunsa, in her welcome address, reiterated the importance of distance and e-learning as the future of education in Nigeria.
Sotunsa, who disputed what she described as the false notion that regular-mode students are superior to their ODL counterparts, noted that E-learning students have access to high-quality learning resources, stating that because e-learning is technologically oriented, its students are groomed to have an advantage over regular students in this area.
The ODeLAN President, Prof. Francis Egbokhare, traced the history of ODeLAN and lauded the Nigerian government for taking the bold step to open up the Nigerian education space to the teeming population of education-hungry Nigerians, adding that the government, through NUC, simultaneously instituted an elaborate regime of quality assurance.