Covid-19: Don picks holes in online teaching by institutions

Prof. Peters

An expert in Open and Distance Learning (ODL) mode of education, Professor Olufemi A. Peters, has identified standard as the "weak-link" in the recent flurry by the single-mode universities in Nigeria to offer online education in the race to find an answer to the Covid-19 challenge.

Speaking in an Inaugural Lecture delivered virtually on Thursday, Peters said many otherwise single-mode, face-to-face (f2f) universities are fast converting to dual-mode institutions due to certain reasons.

The professor of chemistry said, while presenting the lecture on the topic: "Weak-Links: A Structural Phenomenon to Systemic Efficiency," that the altruistic nature of ODL to Nigeria and its instructional delivery has an established standard, which may be the weak-link to the latest "converts" offering online education.

The lecture, the 16th in the series for the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), was streamed live on various online platforms from the university's headquarters in Abuja.

The Vice-Chancellor of NOUN, Professor Abdalla Uba Adamu, principal officers and some deans of the university were the few participants at the largely distanced venue, while hundreds of officials, staff, the general public, families and friends followed the presentation virtually.

Peters, who incidentally is the incoming Vice-Chancellor of NOUN, explained that the conversion to the dual-mode was partly necessitated by factors such as the pedigree of the ODL people in the country, the improved delivery channels and "the new social reformer in the land: the Covid-19 pandemic."

The don added: "Practitioners in ODL philosophy and operations are now being increasingly created. However, in order for the practice to be comparable in the product assessment with its f2f counterpart, 'standards' have to be set.

"Without standard, which can be an obvious weak-link, an industry would fail to meet the definition of an industry."

He posited that a mere online delivery may not meet the contextual philosophy of ODL, as the former often lacks attention to the basic educational standards.

While summarising the presentation, Professor Adamu, lauded the presenter for what he described as a 3-in-1 presentation, with each aspect capable of standing as a lecure of its own.

He described the occasion as unique and special for being the first time it was held virtually and presented by the incoming Vice-Chancellor of the university.

Adamu, while congratulating the lecturer on the "wonderful presentation" and his emergence as the next vice-chancellor, remarked that the beauty of any Inaugural Lecture is that no question is entertained from the audience.