By Felix Khanoba
The National Universities Commission (NUC) says Nigeria still has much to do to entrench an effective e-learning culture in the country.
The Commission said the challenges of infrastructure, power and internet access need to be fully addressed to ensure the desired impact of the virtual education system.
NUC’s Deputy Executive Secretary (Academics), Dr Suleiman Ramon-Yusuf, who stated this in a chat with newsmen in Abuja, also raised concern on issues of integrity in the running of e-learning in the country.
“We want to ensure that when there is e-learning in place, it would be run in such a manner that every student is accounted for, every student has an e-portfolio which enables everyone to know that it is this student that registered for this course and it is that same student that has been doing the assessment test and the examination; and that learning is taking place in an evidence basis,” he said.
Ramon-Yusuf added: “We need to sit down and articulate the requirements for e-learning: materials, men and women, infrastructure; what should we put in place, how should we proceed; we can’t do e-learning today in Nigeria. What we can do is blended learning.
“Anybody who is making noise that e-learning must start tomorrow is either mischievous or ignorant. If he knows what e-learning entails, no one can decree e-learning in Nigeria before the end of this year.
“We need to plan; we need to invest; we need to train. After putting all the infrastructures in place, we need training of teachers. You must get them to have a mind-set shift.”
According to him, private open universities will come on board when all stakeholders are satisfied that the country has what it takes to guarantee quality and integrity of the e-learning programme, in order not to create a window for the proliferation of worthless certificates under e-learning.
Ramon-Yusuf also noted that many academic staff in universities are not quite up to speed in terms of the digital competences that they require to be able to operate meaningfully in a virtual learning environment.
He said NUC was reviewing its 2009 guidelines on e-learning to prepare the grounds for an effective system.
“We are preparing grounds for e-learning; our new guidelines are being reviewed; NUC will announce these new guidelines,” he said.
On Open and Distance Learning (ODL), Ramon-Yusuf praised the flexibility of the programme, stating that the standard and curriculum of regular and ODL programmes were the same as NUC has always insisted on parity of esteem.
He added that if the teachers in ODL implement the minimum academic benchmark curriculum as envisaged by NUC, there would be no significant difference between graduates of regular face-to-face programme or ODL programme.