In continuation of the partnership between National Universities Commission (NUC) and University of London (UoL), a 3-day capacity building workshop on Open and Distance Learning (ODL) was organised for academics in the Nigerian University System.

With the theme-Making Open and Distance Learning happen: Planning, developing and delivering ODL programmes in Nigeria, the workshop was part of the strategies towards expanding capacity within Nigerian Universities, widening access to ODL to meet the increasing demand for university education in Nigeria as well as assuring quality in ODL.

The workshop which was the third ODL capacity building activity between NUC and UoL was held at Baze University, Abuja and was designed by UoL’s Centre for Distance Education, with the aim of equipping participants with capacity to plan the next stages of  development of ODL to meet the specific needs of the Nigerian University System (NUS) and to encourage them form networks that would continue to provide peer support.

The specific objectives of the workshop included impartation of in-depth knowledge and skills in ODL course materials development; exposure of participants to different ODL quality assurance tools, instruments and mechanisms; exposure to employability; the job market and employment opportunities to products of ODL; use of ODL as a tool to address the challenges of industry and exposure of participants to ODL policy and practice.

Declaring the workshop open, the Executive Secretary, NUC, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed who was represented by the Director, Research, Innovation and Information Technology, Dr. Suleiman Rahmon-Yusuf, welcomed the team from UoL and the participants to the workshop, expressing that NUC was pleased to partner with UoL on various activities which included joint workshops, symposia, seminars and short courses.

He stated that the partnership would allow the NUS draw a lot from the rich fountain of knowledge and expertise which UoL had garnered since 1858 when it started providing opportunities for learners all over the world to obtain degrees from the prestigious institution without physically attending courses on campus.

He pointed out that some progress had been made on the NUC-UoL partnership since the Commission’s initial exploratory visit to UoL in May, 2017. He further assured of NUC’s unwavering commitment to the provisions of the NUC-UoL Memorandum of Understanding.

The Executive Secretary reemphasised that the Commission had identified ODL as a means of providing access and meeting the increasing demand for university education, stressing that NUC was determined to ensure that the delicate balance enhanced access and quality assurance was maintained, which had made UoL’s time-tested model of delivering quality education attractive.

He noted that with the calibre of resource persons for the workshop, ODL had a brighter position in Nigeria in the nearest future, as he wished the participants fruitful deliberations.

The key outcomes of the workshop included setting out plans to develop and run high quality ODL programmes; development of a range of capacities to help participants achieve stated goals and fulfil their roles in the development and implementation of ODL in their respective institutions; making concrete plans to advance personal and institutional practice in ODL and the acquisition of knowledge and skills on planning, developing and delivering ODL programmes.

It would be recalled that similar NUC-UoL collaborative workshops had earlier been held aimed at building capacity of the NUS in ODL. The first in the series on ODL was the one-day symposium on Policy and Practice in Open and Distance Learning, held in November, 2017 at the National Universities Commission Secretariat with the aim promoting in-depth understanding of the rudiments, operational modalities, and quality imperatives required for the attainment of global best practices in the delivery of degree programmes via the ODL mode in the Nigerian University System.

The second was a four-day ODL capacity building workshop which took place at the University of London in March, 2018, with the theme-Developing and designing effective and high quality Open and Distance Learning (ODL) programmes at scale in Nigeria.

With a view to achieving the aim of the workshop, the goal-oriented interactive approach was adopted with focus on developing plans and extending individual and institutional capacities in ODL. The workshop was expected to among others, develop a critical mass of ODL experts in the NUS.

The workshop was attended by 71 participants drawn Nigerian Universities including those already approved to offer degree programmes through distance learning mode, those at various stages of processing applications for approval and those aspiring to establish Distance Learning Centres (DLCs).

Other participants included the NUC and the National Teachers’ Institute (NTI), Among the participants were Vice-Chancellors, Directors of substantive and proposed DLCs, Directors of Academic Planning and other senior academics.

Resource persons at the workshop included Dr, Anthony David Baume, Fellow, UoL Centre of Distance Education; Prof. Stephen Brown, Emeritus Professor of Learning Technologies at De Monfort University and Visiting Fellow at UoL Centre of Distance Educatiion; Ibrahim El Mayet, UoL Regional Business Development Manager in the Middle East and Dr. Akanimo Odon, UoL Africa Adviser and Consultant.

Resource persons from the NUS included former Executive Secretary, NUC, Prof, Peter Okebukola, NUC Director, Open and Distance Education, Dr, Olamide E. Adesina and Emeritus Professor of Distance Learning and former Vice-Chancellor, National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) Prof. Olugbemiro Jegede.