Ogundipe Harps on Innovation, Creativity, to Transform Higher Education 

A former Vice-Chancellor, University of Lagos, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe says inspiring innovation is critical in embracing novel methods and techniques that will revolutionize the  university education in the country. 

Ogundipe stated this while delivering a lecture, ‘Paradigm Shift in University Education: The Aletheia University Ago-Iwoye Perspective’, at the first matriculation ceremony of Aletheia University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State.

According to him, letting go of outdated beliefs and allowing the citizenry to embrace new ideas and paths, is a must, as the door of the first quarter of the 21st century begin to close.

The professor of Botany noted that many colleges and universities are already opening their doors to some of these changes, fostering creativity and discovery to unleash a wave of innovation and progress.

“One critical aspect of our global knowledge society can be seen in the role of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) in decision-making and its permeation throughout higher education. 

“The type of AGI that possesses the ability to understand, learn and apply its intelligence broadly, much like a human being, is being seen more widely applied today.

“These rapid breakthroughs and unexpected developments that we are all witnessing across society today, speak to the advancements we see in AGI.

“The real challenge with AGI is not about it replacing human decision-makers, but rather, increasing our dependence on it for critical guidance,” the don stated. 

He said that higher education is also facing this great disruptor, adding that as universities struggle to remain relevant and prove relevant to learners across the globe, there is no clear agreement on how to respond to the AGI moment, or how to embrace this new paradigm. 

According to him, the education system today finds itself in the crisis phase of the paradigm shift, from teaching students for the industrial age, to helping students learn for the information age. 

Ogundipe said that the current paradigm embraces forced repetition, memory tests, tolerance for long hours of tediousness, following directions, punctuality and the three Rs. 

“However, cracks are increasingly materialising in the efficacy of this dominant paradigm for the information age.

“In its place, a new paradigm is emerging that stresses learner autonomy, innovation, continuous learning and teaching, as well as  quality, rather than quantity of thinking. 

“A directly relevant example of the paradigm shift currently underway in education previously occurred in psychology, as the dominant paradigm shifted from a behaviourist approach to a cognitive one. 

“It will take time for this new paradigm to become institutionalised as many stakeholders in the existing education system will want to retain the status quo.

“However, as new theories are proposed, more experiments carried out and incontrovertible evidence emerges for the efficacy of the new paradigm, the paradigm shift will be complete and the new paradigm will be dominant.

“Hence, a paradigm of education refers to a way of thinking about the purpose of education, the meaning of learning and the roles of teachers and students,” he said.

Ogundipe noted that paradigms of education influenced how students are taught and assessed and what is valued and included in the curriculum. 

He stated that this referred to fundamental changes in the way people viewed and carry out the learning process.

According to him, the various changes that happen in the traditional way of the teaching- learning process, is a fundamental change in the way education is designed, conceptualized, experienced and delivered.

He added that paradigm shift in education referred to a fundamental change in the pattern of knowledge, also called constructivist paradigm.

“Today, we are living in a world that is constantly transforming. Our ability to adapt and grow is now invaluable, and the idea of a systemic ‘paradigm shift’ across multiple areas has profound implications not only for our personal and professional lives, but also for the area I have devoted my entire professional career to; university education.

“We are shifting the lens through which we view the world and the new inventions and capabilities being brought to life. For university education, it can lead to a more authentic, fulfilling experience, and greater success for students and learners everywhere.

“On a personal level, we can take advantage in more meaningful ways of life which has to offer to our day-to-day jobs.

“We will continuously engage in discussions about the value of a college degree, credentialing, admissions, university costs, student learning outcomes and success, attainment, paths to employment and policy issues that still remain unresolved. 

“In those different industries, higher education is still a very small piece of a much larger puzzle, but an important one if we agree on the key societal role of education,” he said.

He added that the change so far  witnessed in college admissions was also worth noting. 

Ogundipe said that more and more companies are devising ways to leverage AGI to serve as an extension of admissions teams, in attracting and admitting students in new and different ways.

According to him, selective universities are becoming even more selective, while closures and mergers have taken place in the past decade.

He added that this was following preparation to witness an enrollment cliff in 2025, caused by lower birth rates due to impacts from the economic downturn.

The don said that with fewer students applying to colleges and universities, higher education institutions would  have to employ even more sophisticated enrollment management strategies and data analytics to fill the seats.

“Education is no longer confined to the four walls of a classroom and textbooks. The rapid advancements in technology provides students with an unparalleled opportunity to access a vast pool of information and connect with experts from various fields. 

“Embracing real-world education allows learners to apply theoretical concepts to practical situations, fostering a deeper understanding of the subject matter. 

“Internships, field trips and project-based learning are powerful tools that bridge the gap between theory and application, preparing students to tackle real challenges.

“Harnessing the power of new technologies in the digital age, technology has become an indispensable aspect of modern education. Integrating cutting-edge tools, such as virtual reality, simulations and artificial intelligence, enhances the learning experience, making it more engaging and interactive,” he stated.

Ogundipe also stressed the need for the private sector to become more involved, when contemplating an educational and lifelong learning system. 

In his remarks, the founder and Chancellor of the university, Maj Gen. Sansadeen Awosanya, congratulated the students for making the right choice by choosing the university.

He said the journey is likely to be rough and tasking, hence, the need for them to work hard, persevere and be resilient to follow their passion. 

He also congratulated their  parents and assured them that they will remain proud of the day they made the choice.

He reminded the students that their journey in the university is a make or mar journey. “You are the driver and you are the passenger. You are solely responsible for the success or otherwise of this journey.

“It is good to dream. It is better to follow your mind to realise your dream. A dream remains a dream, and if not pursued with vigour, it hunts. My life is a child of the impact of education. I was born to be a farmer but I dreamt to be a formally educated person. And I became formally educated by following my dream,” he said.

He recalled how he sent himself to the primary, modern and secondary school and to higher institutions to pursue his dreams. 

“God has all along been my mentor, as I have no human mentor. The story in this message is reserved for another day. But I want to emphasise that your life is in your hands. Whatever you become in life is your design.

“All of you are lucky to be sponsored by parents, brothers or sisters or God-sent individuals to attain university education. You’ve got just four or five years to design and work committedly hard, to achieve your goal. 

“It is the foundation on which the rest of your life stands and hinges. It is an opportunity that should not be allowed to slip,” he stated

According to him, Aletheia University is on hand to assist students achieve their goals, adding  that aside being an academic institution, the institution is a holistic environment,  designed to nurture and grow every facet of their  well-being. 

“We provide unique and comprehensive academic, technological, entrepreneurial and social experiences that prompt the development of your mental, physical, social faculties.

“At Aletheia University, we believe in technology, we believe in innovation, we believe in critical thinking, inquisitiveness and research as game changers. 

“The university will give you the appropriate training, teaching and methods to acquire the right skills that will assure your relevance nationally and internationally,” he said. 

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