By Esther Onyegbula
FOLLOWING the critical challenges presently facing higher education in Nigeria, and how to meet new demands for admission in the 21st Century, Obafemi Awolowo University has formally launched its Center for Distance Learning to meet the huge demand of students looking for admission into institutions of higher learning.
Speaking at the formal launch of the e-learning program, Professor Idowu Bamitale Omole, Vice-Chancellor, Obafemi Awolowo University, said the programme was to help Nigerians overcome the challenge of having over a million applicants jostle for placements in the universities when only about 30 per cent are placed due to constraints of space and time.”
Annually, it is estimated that 1,728,280 students apply to higher institutions. The current status of education in Nigeria is greatly overwhelmed due to the lack of physical infrastructure needed to meet the demands of students. Although this is not a dilemma peculiar to Nigeria, the nation’s far supersedes that of our international counterparts, especially in comparison to the population and the number of universities available to cater to future students.
He added that the university’s Centre for Distance Learning, OAU-CDL, recently partnered with a private educational technology company, EDU-TEC software solutions, to design and develop an indigenous and comprehensive e-learning solution which is projected to increase its students base, thus giving more than 50,000 people annually, the opportunity to receive certified undergraduate and post-graduate degrees from the university.
According to Prof. Olabode Asubiojo, Director of OAU-CDL, the e-learning solution has a learning management system – VigiLearn, that allows students to receive lectures, submit assignments, relate with peers, participate in group discussions and get graduated without being physically within the four walls of a lecture room.
VigiLearn is combined with a tablet device (VigiTab) built specifically for Nigeria. VigiTab has long battery power and allows users continue to study and receive lectures with limited internet connection.
Speaking on the e-learning technology and quality of education, Bunmi Akinyemju noted that OAU-CDL model of e-learning involves the applications of multimedia technology that support electronic instructional delivery mode e-learning as well as independent learning. “This involves the automation of most of the learning processes including the application, short listing, payment and lecture delivery using world class student information systems (SIS). The model allows each student to have a customized tablet from which lecturers will be received online and offline mode.”