Is The National Open University Back To The Dark Ages? – By Ahmed Abdullahi
The National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN, was established formally in 2002 as the flagship tertiary institution for Open and Distance Learning in Nigeria. Since its establishment, the institution has engaged the services of NOUN iLEARN, a harmonised Learning Management Portal that allows for online instructional delivery through the combination of audio, video and text mediums.
Apart from operations, iLEARN provides NOUN students with dedicated support lines and staff who answer student’s questions on all matters of interest from admission to graduation. The service ensures students can reach to the school via multiple social and digital media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, BBM, blogs all coordinated and linked to a dedicated call centre with 5 personnel per time. Before the questionable decision to stop the service, students called in from all part of the world to make enquiries on NOUN through iLEARN. Now students must visit the institution to make enquiries. Without the synergy and connectivity that iLEARN provides, students no longer have valuable and immediate feedback on issues affecting them and the management is left winking in the dark as well.
It gets even worse.
Professor Abdalla’s insistence of doing things his own way even when all available metrics point to better solutions has left NOUN with a broken student-tutor interaction system. Due to the VC’s decision to strip the school of ICT framework provided by the iLEARN platform, students now rely more on self-learning and have been cut out of interacting with tutors where they could ask questions and get guidance on studies. Currently, there are no engagements or interactions of any sort between students and tutors. In the bid to help themselves, they must constantly source for tutors to tutor them face to face – which is against the vision and spirit behind the establishment of the institution.
It doesn’t end there.
This has since changed under the new VC. NOUN now operates multiple websites with portals that have barely worked for 48 hours, leaving students stranded at different stages of their payment and registration processes. This has also opened students and the institution to security challenges as sensitive information are entered into different websites in a world of cyber and information attacks. The cost of operating multiple websites also raises the question of whether the VC’s decision makes any economic sense.