E-Learning Design, Learner Support and Development Project in the Nigeria Educational System
Electronic learning (e-learning) system for Nigeria universities has assumed important place in most countries. The quality assurance agency for university education in Nigeria (National Universities Commission – NUC) is unwavering in the quest to facilitate capacity building activities so as to ensure that academic staff involved in the Open and Distance Learning (ODL) education programs are fully equipped with the requisite Information and Communication Technology (ICT) literacy skills and competences for quality service delivery via the ODL mode. The Nigerian University System has one single-mode open and distance learning University as well as six “dual-mode” Universities (conventional universities with distance learning Centers / Institutes). Before now, the Nigerian distance learning education has been more or less part-time studies as it lacks the qualities of an Open and Distance Learning system. There was no learning management system in place, instructional materials were not structured and the teachers were more or less digital immigrants. A lot of challenges were encountered. This ranges from resistance to change, poor ICT infrastructure and concern about intellectual property rights and shared rights between faculties and institutions. As the national consultants, we have increased digital literacy sporadically by following a few ideas with the best chance of success. We have developed processes that leverage best practices from both the instructional design and software development areas. Through a mixture of instructional media, learners and educators can experience synchronous and asynchronous interactions. The e-learning projects embarked on were a software project combined with a performance enhancement (‘training’) project as well as instructional design for course development. In the bid to effectively service the ODL Institutions in Nigeria, we determined the actual training need of each distance learning institutions. We have developed e-teaching capacity building workshop as well as collaborative development of distance learning courses, designing of online courses to meet the needs of a diverse student population and the use of synchronous and asynchronous mode of distance learning tools. To begin the implementation of the research effort, a series of courses were developed and reviewed among the teaching staff (course experts) of the ODL Institutions. The Learning Management System provided an accessible, innovative, online learning, information resources and facilitation environment for both students and teaching staff. It provided new routes of access to better skills and qualifications.