COL research chair urges NOUN to establish AI institute for ODL

By Debbie Nduba

The Research Chair, Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Athabasca University, Canada, Dr. Mohamed Ally, has called on the National Open University of University (NOUN) to create  Research Institute on Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in online and open education.

Ally stated this on Monday, 31 January 2022, while delivering the January edition of monthly ODL discourse organised by the Regional Training & Research Institute for Distance and Open Learning (RETRIDOL).

Speaking on the topic: "Education in Fourth Industrial Revolution" via zoom, the professor of Online and Distance Education, said the potential research areas for such institute would be AI Technologies to reach the unreachable, develop hands-on skills at a distance, personalise learning, remote labs intelligent,  next generation MOOCs, among others.

"This could help to stimulate research on 4IR technologies/AI in Online and Open Education as well as assist in research grants,’’ he said.

The research chair also outlined some opportunities for NOUN as: establishing an international research centre for 4IR, applying for a UNESCO Chair in Fourth Industrial Revolution and organising a national conference on education in the Forth Industrial Revolution.

Also outlining areas associated with 4IR , Ally listed Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Genomics, Analytics, saying that 4IR is changing the world because of emerging new technologies that combine the physical, digital and biological world, impacting all disciplines, economies and industries.

   PIX: Dr.Mohamed Ally presenting his paper via zoom

The speaker added that  the education in the 4IR is of the Internet of Things (IoT) vs. Internet of the Bodies (IoT).

Earlier in his welcome address, NOUN Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Olufemi Peters, welcomed the guests and participants from across the globe. "It is my pleasure to welcome you, hoping that this will bring relationship between NOUN and your universities," he said.

Peters also commended RETRIDOL for being able to organise such a wide-audience programme, saying that "This is my first time of participating in RETRIDOL ODL discourse and I can see the usefulness it will bring to our practice and delivery in ODL,’’ he added.

On her part, the director of RETRIDOL, Prof. Christine Ofulue, said the lecture series is designed to be sharing ideas based on research and expertise and have conversation around ODL and related issues for regional development and sustainability.

According to her, the topic for this month’s discourse is of preference because it will explore the role and use of technology in teaching and learning, particularly in our Covid-19 attacked world and the disruptive impact the pandemic has had in education.

RETRIDOL is an international institute established in 2003 based on partnership between NOUN and COL with a primary mandate to build capacity of higher education institutions for ODL and foster regional activities and participation in the provision of quality distance learning in the West African sub-region and beyond, she said.