Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education-TOJDE January 2006 ISSN 1302-6488 Volume: 7 Number: 1 Article: 2
and Prospects of
Open and Distance Education in Nigeria
Mudasiru Olalere YUSUF (Ph.D)
Senior lecturer (Educational Technology)
Department of Curriculum Studies and
Educational Technology, Faculty of Education
nation invests in education because it can produce unquantifiable benefits for
individuals, organisations and the society as a whole. Education is provided
through formal and informal means. In formal settings the conventional
(face-to-face school instruction) and distance education (offered with
separation in terms of physical location of instructors and students) have been
used to provide educational opportunities to recipients. Open education though
not new in
national policy on education (
Ø Provide access to quality education and equity in educational
opportunities for those who otherwise would have been denied.
Ø Meet special needs of employers by mounting special certificate
courses for their employees at their work place.
Ø Encourage internationalization especially of tertiary education
Ø Ameliorate the effect of internal and external brain drain in tertiary
institutions by utilizing Nigerian experts as teachers regardless of their locations or places of work (p. 45).
To achieve these goals it is stated that the federal government of Nigeria shall ensure that distance education programme are equivalent in structure and status to those offered by face-to-face mode of instruction, and that the government shall encourage and regulate distance education programme in Nigeria. It shall also establish distance education advisory body to advice government on distance education, promote distance education nationwide, liaise with existing educational regulatory bodies and institutions offering distance education, liaise with media establishments, encourage provide efforts and other non-governmental organisation the provision of quality distance education, and encourage participation in distance education programme at all levels and strengthen the capacity of existing institution providing distance education (FRN, 2004).
advert by the National Open Distance Learning Programme (NODLP, 2002) gave
insight into efforts made to kick-start the open and distance learning
…Be used to tackle the priority
areas of national need, and provide access to equitable education opportunities
for those who otherwise would have been denied. The plan is to establish the
National Open University, National Open Polytechnic and
these laudable steps and commendable mission statements, the question remains,
A score and four years after the National Policy on Education (FRN, 1981) is supposed to have taken off; several aspects of the policy are yet to be implemented. The computer education programme, which was to take off in Nigerian secondary schools in 1987, is yet to commence in most schools. Open and distance education should not be seen as a cost-saving educational measure which can be implemented without serious planning and good implementation, but rather it should be seen as an educational innovation that requires greater attention to planning and guided implementation.
MEANING, NATURE, AND CHARACTERISTIC OF DISTANCE EDUCATION
need to clarify common terms used to describe distance education becomes
important in order to give direction to discussion of its implementation in
study entails distance education through the postal sub-groups. That is,
learning at home and communicating with instructors using the print materials
as fundamental element of distance education. Home study was used extensively
Distance education has within its purview elements of these terms. Thus, Holmerg (1990) defined distance education as:
The various forms of teaching and learning at all levels which are not under the continuous, immediate supervision of tutors present with their students in lecture rooms or in the same premises but which nevertheless benefit from the planning, guidance and tuition (i.e. tutoring, teaching) of the staff of the tutorial organisation. Its main characteristic is that it relies on non-contiguous, i.e. mediated communication (p. 1).
Therefore, distance education means the delivery of useful learning opportunities at convenient place and time for learners, irrespective of the institution providing the learning opportunity (Kaufman, Watkins & Guerra, 2001).
Generally, distance education has four major characteristics as identified by ADEA Working Group on Distance Education and Open Learning (2002). These characteristics are: institutional accreditation where learning is certified by an institution or agency; use of variety of media for instructional delivery; provision of two-way communication to ensure tutor-learner, and learner-learner interaction; and possibility of face-to-face meetings for tutorials for leaner-learner interaction, laboratory or practice session or library study.
Distance education not only shares the goals of conventional education, but it also aims at providing access to historically under-served, place bound, and highly motivated population. Distance education is said to be open because of students’ freedom and programme flexibility. It is flexible and open in terms of its admission requirements, that is, not as rigid as in conventional institutions, freedom in terms of place of study, time, place, and composition of study programme, content and didactic approach. It is intended to offer useful learning opportunity to recipients at a time and local environment convenient to them. Contacts between the student and institutions are provided through interactive and non-interactive media. It may also be provided through some contact at study centre. Unlike the conventional face-to-face instruction, the delivery medium plays a crucial role in minimising the gap between teaching and learning (Keegan, 1996).
COMMUNICATION IN DISTANCE EDUCATION PROGRAMME
Conventional or distance education programme is dependent on good communication for successful learning to take place. Good communication promotes needed interactions (teacher-teacher and student-student) in teaching /learning situation. This is because interaction is essential to students’ learning and to the overall success and effectiveness of distance education. Recent studies by distance educators have confirmed that interaction in distance learning environment may lead to increased academic achievement (ADEA Working Group on Distance Education and Open Learning, 2003; Lenning & Ebber, 1999; Neibuhr & Neibuhr, 1999), and also greater retention rate of instructional content (Lenning & Ebber, 1999).
Since distance education entails the absence of face-to-face contact embedded in conventional education, media with high interactivity must be used. That is, media which can promote both teacher-student and student-student interactions. In this context interactivity in the words of Garrison (1993) is the “sustained two-way communication among two or more persons for the purpose of explaining and challenging perspective” (p. 160. In a learning context it is the interaction among two or more people for the purpose of task/instructional competition or social relationship building (Gibert & Moore, 1998).
Media must be used in distance education to ensure both asynchronous and synchronous communication (Huang, 2000; Liaw & Huang, 2000). Asynchronous communication gives learners the freedom of choice in learning. This communication is not dependent on learners being present together at a specific time to conduct teaching and learning activities.
Asynchronous communication environment provides learners with discussion that allows participant access to the conference or instruction at different times. Therefore, learners can work at their own convenience, when or where they want and at their own place, thereby providing learners more time to reflect on their own ideas and encourage them to do more critical thinking. On the other hand, synchronous communication occurs in real time as all participants in the interaction, including instructors must be present at the same time, although they may not necessarily be at the same physical location. Thus, synchronous communication serves the role of a thinking device for collaborative construction of knowledge and enhances learners’ high-order thinking skills and creative abilities (Huang, 2000, Liaw & Huang, 2000).
PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH INSTRUCTIONAL
DELIVERY AT A DISTANCE IN
In spite of the enthusiasm generated by the new thrust in open and distance education, overall problems that may impede proper implementation are better understood and taken care of. These problems are discussed as follow.
of consistency in programme/policy implementation: It is a known fact that
success in any educational policy is contingent on the involvement of all
stakeholders and sponsorship of funding agency, that is, the government. A
succeeding government truncated the attempt at Open University in the early
80’s. Thus, successive governments in
of electricity: Since successful distance education cannot be assured without
the use of communication and technological tools (e-mail, fax, Internet,
television, radio, etc.), then the problem of electricity comes into focus.
Several rural areas in
3. Poor telecommunication facilities and lacks of access: Just like electricity most Nigerians do not have access to telephone and other telecommunication facilities. Even, telephone lines in the urban centres are not adequate to serve the teeming population. Services for those who have access are in most cases epileptic. These may make the integration of telecommunication in the delivery of distance education difficult. In addition, poor state of telephone has led to increase in dial-up cost for most Nigerians. Even with the recent introduction of GSM in August, 2001, access is still limited and services are yet to be perfect and service charge may make GSM unattractive for distant learners.
4. Poor Postal System: The postal system in the country is not yet up to international standard, in terms, of safety of goods, quick delivery of correspondences, accessibility to remote areas, and so on. Although of recent improvements have been made in the post services by NIPOST, the level of services, cannot guarantee efficient two-way communication between distant learners and distance education institutions.
economic situations and its effects on middle level manpower:- The poor state
of the nation’s economy has pauperised most Nigerians. Even an average middle
income earner cannot afford basic technological and communication gadgets.
Thus, computer related telecommunication facilities might not be useful for
most Nigerians, as computer is still a luxury in institutions, offices and
homes. This may make the integration of necessary on-line resources (e-mail,
newsgroups, world-wide-web, etc.) into distance education in
6. Poor ICT Penetration: Like most African countries basic ICT infrastructures are inadequate. A study by Nigerian Information Technology Professionals in America in 2002 indicated that given current ICT penetration it may take Nigeria 50 years to catch up with America on the aspect of Pc count per households (Iromanto, 2004). The most significant problem being the cost of PC.
problems if not addressed will impede proper implementation of open and
distance education in
COMMUNICATION AND TECHNOLOGY TOOLS
FOR EFFECTIVE DISTANCE EDUCATION IN
is an array of communication and technological tools available for the delivery
of distance education programme in
Since learners are social beings, no technology regardless of its interaction ability can serve as perfect substitute for human interaction. Thus, the use of study centres for adding face-to-face communication where appropriate is important. This will provide opportunity for teacher-student and student-student interaction which can greatly enhance the delivery of distance teaching (Willis, 1998).
delivery using the print option should also be part of delivery system. This
becomes imperative in a country like
Relevant “high-tech”, latest technology will be needed to provide both asynchronous and synchronous communications. This deals with computer networks and computer based multi-media. These include using computer-based instruction (CBI) as self-contained teaching machine to present individual lessons. CD-ROM can provide structured courses with well-designed programmes. Distance learners can study the content through their own computer, thus providing opportunity for individual drill and practise. Electronics mail (e-mail), computer conferencing, and World Wide Web (web) applications can also be used. The web has the capabilities to include several audio and video facilities, textbooks, study guides, workbooks, and course syllabi (Huang, 2000). Distance learners can use online search to conduct research or collect relevant information to assist their learning. The introduction of virtual library into the nation’s educational system will also serve to promote the use of computers in distance education.
technological tools can also be relevant. Distance education course materials
can be delivered through broadcast radio and television, videotape, interactive
telephone, satellite, cable or Integrated Service Digital network (ISDN) lines.
Many would be distance learners in
the combination of communication and technology tools discussed earlier the
delivery of distance education may be effective. This can be ensured through
integrated involvement of all stakeholders and effective planning to ensure
successful implementation of the distance learning programme in
EFFECTIVE PLANS FOR USEFUL RESULTS
distance education has come of age in industrialised society,
In planning, distance education will not be considered as a cost saving device, but rather as a mean of increasing access to education. Therefore, outputs, products processes and inputs are considered on definable problems and students’ needs. Strategic alliance should be developed with conventional institutions, including libraries; media services, computer services, and include input of business/industry representatives, community leaders and potential students (Willis, 1998).
Adequate technical support should be provided, because of the vital link of technology in course delivery and support services for students. Technical support should be available for needed hardware and software maintenance, and upgrade. Thus, technical support should be available for planning, implementation and troubleshooting when technical problems occur (Willis, 1998).
opportunity for staff growth and development in line with new developments.
Build in effective evaluation for distant sites and students. This is critical
as a feedback tool for students for formative and summative dimensions as well
as quantitative and qualitative components (Wills, 1998). Since effective
implementation is content specific it is important to understand the unique
characteristics and constraints of distance education within the context of
and distance education can provide needed access for Nigerian who are presently
disadvantaged through the conventional educational system. The enthusiasm shown
by government and steps taken so far can only be sustained through proper
planning and monitored implementation. For distance education goals to be
achieved, proper steps must be taken not only to involve all stakeholders
(community leaders, business groups, conventional educational institutions,
etc.). Valid performance model like the OEM should be selected and then
rigorously applied in the planning and implementation of the distance education
Various communication and technology tools have been identified for distance education; their successful use can only be assured through proper selection for specific group of learners and their relevance (quality, attributes, and instructional strategy). Since distance education lacks the face-to-face contact in conventional education, necessary infrastructures, equipment and fund must be available to provide means of communication with students and offering counselling services to them. Such means should not only be for the delivery of instructional contents to students but also for guidance, time management techniques, technology training and assistance, and also initiatives to guard and encourage students’ progress (Huang, 2000 de Wolf, 1996).
BIODATA and CONTACT ADDRESSES of AUTHOR
Mudasiru Olalere YUSUF (Ph.D)
Senior lecturer (Educational Technology)
Department of Curriculum Studies and Educational Technology,
Faculty of Education
Mobile Phone: 2348033950774 or 2348042670332
Olalere YUSUF (Ph.D), is a Senior lecturer in Educational Technology, in the
Department of Curriculum Studies and Educational Technology, Faculty of
ADEA Working Group on Distance Education and Open
Learning (2002). Open and distance learning in Sub-Saharan
Working Group in Distance Education and Open Learning (2003). Technological
infrastructure and use of ICT in education in
Wolf, H. C. (1996). Distance education. In T. Plomp & D. Pely (Eds.), International
encyclopaedia of education technology (2nd edition) (pp. 370 – 377).
D.K. (1993). Quality and theory in distance education: Theoretical
consideration. In D. Keegan (Ed.), Theoretical principles of distance
Gibert, L. & Moore, D.R. (1998). Building interactivity into web-courses: Tools for social and instructional interaction. Education Technology, 38 (3), 29 – 35.
Holmberg, B. (1990). Perspectives of research on distance education (2nd edition). Hague: Zentralcs Institut fur Fernstudienforschung.
Huang, H. (2000). Instructional technologies facilitating on line courses. Education Technology, 40 (40, 41–46.
O.C. (2004). Integration of ICT in education. The status, issues, challenges
and infrastructure. Paper presented at the Association for the Development
of Education in
Kaufman, R.; Watkins, R. & Guerra, I. (2000). The future of distance learning: Defining and sustaining useful results. Education Technology, 41, (3), 19 – 26.
D. (1996). Foundations of distance education (3rd edition).
Lenning, O.T. & Ebbers, L.H. (1999). The powerful potential of learning communities. Improving education for the future. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report, 26 (16), 1 – 173.
Liaw, S. & Huang, H. (2000). Enhancing interactivity in web-based instruction. A review of literature. Education Technology, 40 (3), 41 – 45.
National Open and Distance Learning Programme (2002, January 31). Open and distance learning begins. Nigerian Tribune, pp. 15 – 180.
Neibuhr, K.E. & Neibuhr, R.E. (1999). An empirical study of student relationships and academic achievement. Education, 11 (94), 679.
Willis, B. (1998). Effective distance education planning: lessons learned. Education Technology, 38 (1), 57 – 59.