Experts recommend quality delivery in ODL institutions

By Debbie Nduba & Sunday Adama
Virtual paticipants
Virtual Participants


Experts at the March edition of the Open and Distance Learning (ODL) discourse of the Regional Training and Research Institute for Distance and Open Learning (RETRIDOL), National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), have called on Open and Distance Learning (ODL) institutions to hinge their operations on quality service delivery.

This formed part of their responses while sharing on how their respective institutions are responding to challenges posed by the digital age within the higher education space.

They made this call on Friday, March 31, 2023 while discussing virtually on a topic:  "Institutional Quality Assurance Responses to ODL in a Digital Era,at the monthly discourse held at the university’s headquarters, Jabi, Abuja.

The discussants were: Director, Quality Assurance, National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Prof. Juliet Inegbedion; Coordinator, Distance Education, Faculty of Education, Prof. Loveline Yula, Coordinator, Distance Education, Faculty of Education, University of Buea, Cameroon; Dr. Teresa Mwoma, Executive Director, African Council for Distance Education, Nairobi, and Mr. Gabi Benson, Director, Quality Assurance, Zimbabwe Open University, Harare.



Prof. Inegbedion who kick-started the discussions by walking through the students process from the beginning to the end, said that "today we have shifted away from Open and Distance e-Learning and now we are talking about Open, Distance and Digital Learning. And that will tell us the amount of infiltration that digital has come into in the open system and learning activities."

Inegbedion identified main areas of quality assurance to include learner supports, admission processes, the programme to be mounted, course design development and areas of assessments, added that ODL institutions should embrace quality in all these areas with a view to satisfying the learners.

Speaking further, the erudite professor of Educational Administration and Planning, who based her discussion on retention, progression, level of output and attrition, said that "the way we learn, the way we present our delivery tends to help increase the retention level or increase the attrition level.

"As it is often being said, you know in Open and Distance Learning, the attrition level is always very high. But should we be comfortable in that instance? With digital learning, digital education, there is this possibility that the attrition level is going to be higher if it is not quality assured."



In her presentation, the Executive Director, African Council for Distance Education (ACDE), Nairobi, Dr. Teresa Mwoma, who gave the continental perspective on the response to digital era, said that "quality is not just a coincidence. It is a planned and systematic process from how it’s done to how the assessment happens."

Mwoma added that ACDE-QA' s continental responses to quality assurance has been yielding positive results, adding that ACDE always provides opportunities for training of trainers on Quality Assurance.

She called on member institutions to work closely with the regulatory body of their respective countries to ensure there is quality in their mode of delivery as well as operations.



Director, Quality Assurance, Zimbabwe Open University, Harare, Mr. Gabi Benson, in his presentation, highlighted the areas for policy direction which is imperative in promoting research in ODL as well as on the training and capacity building on Quality Assurance as well as policy direction.

While Prof. Lovline Yula, Coordinator, Distance Education, Faculty of Education, University of Buea, Cameroon, in her presentation discussed on the training and capacity building on Quality Assurance with focus on online and digital training capacity.

Earlier in her remarks, the Director, RETRIDOL-NOUN, Prof. Christine Ofulue, while welcoming the panellists and participants, said this was the second time in a short while of having webinar on Quality Assurance as it showed its importance in ODL operations and space.

She equally thanked the discussants and the participants for their immense contributions.



‘’I urge you to let us keep the conversation around quality going, because this is actually the one means of assuring that we meet the stakeholders satisfaction which includes our students and the society in general,’’ she added.

It would be recalled that NOUN-RETRIDOL was established as a collaboration between NOUN and the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Canada, with the purpose of building capacity, support research and foster regional partnership for the provisions of quality distance education in West Africa Sub-region and beyond.