Open University Is Never A Part-time Institution
There is a perception in the public that the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) run part time programmes, but this perception is not founded on any truth. Rather, it is a mere perception by those who lack adequate knowledge of the Open Education system.
For the purpose of education, let me set the record straight once and for all, National Open University has never been a part time institution, it has never ran a part program, neither would it ever run any part time programme. Open University is a full time institution whose mode of study is full flesh Open Education system.
The Open University is a full time study through open mode of learning where high quality self-directed, learner-centered instructional course materials are made available to students, while instructional facilitation is carried out when necessary,typically after arrangements have been made by the university based on agreement between the students and the course facilitators. Although, there sometimes exist tutorial facilitation, this optional for students who wish to participate. In NOUN, guidance counselors supports are available at the study centres to provide individual students with the necessary information, support and study skills.
As clearly stated on the website of NOUN, this single mode of open education is different from the integration of distance learning system into the face-to-face teaching and learning system, which is more typical of conventional universities.
The Open University system is designed in such a way that as a students, you are required to study everyday for specific hours.
Rather than be coming to a classroom where lecturers teach students every day like the conventional universities, the Open University course materials are designed in such a way that, it is easily comprehensible by any reader. It would feel as if a lecturer is teaching it to you. And in case you still need clarification on some modules, your facilitators and other students are there online through the i-learn platform to seek clarification and interact, this is in addition to the face to face facilitation that is being organized for students at the study centres.
It is important to note that, what many seems to be unaware of is the fact that, National Open University of Nigeria is one of the fastest degree awarding Universities in Nigeria,all of its 4years degree courses can be completed within 4years or even less and some of its Masters degree could also be completed in a year or less, at most, 1year and half.. I don’t think this is a quality you can find in any part time study.
So, it is important to explain the difference between part time and Open Education system.
There is a sharp difference between part time study, popularly called distance learning in conventional universities and the Open University mode of learning which adopt the Open and Distance Learning model.
Part time study from the distance learning in conventional universities are a study in which you spend more years than the normal years to complete the course. That mode of learning could be studies done in the weekend, evening classes or even few days in a week.
For example, if Accounting Degree is ordinarily completed in four years by students, those studying it on part time (distance learning) may need 6years to get it. The duration of a part time degree is longer than a full time degree. Also, full time degree students may pay lesser amount than part time students. Part time students have less credit unit each semester than full time students for the same course.
But in the Open University open mode of educational system, what we have is not a part time study, rather, it is a full time study done in a flexible and convenient way.
Here, a 4years course is a 4years course, you do not require any extra years to complete it. However, you are allowed to determine how you intend to study within your own time schedule.
At the beginning of your study, you are made to be aware of the number of compulsory credit unit courses required to graduate. If by the design of the institution, you are required to complete at least 8 courses each semester, but because of your schedule, either your work, finance or whatever, you may choose to re-arrange how to complete your courses.
Rather than register for 8 courses every semester, you may choose to register only 4 courses when your schedule is tight, then register 12 in another semester when you are less busy.
When you are broke, you may abandon study to hustle, then come back the next semester after getting enough fund to register. This time, rather than register 8 like other students, you may register 10 or more to gradually cover the courses you have missed the other semesters.
How you register your courses do not concern the institution, all that mattered is for you to complete them and pass your examinations.
Anyone who fail to complete the mandatory courses due to what ever reason will be left behind, while others who have completed theirs would graduate within the stipulated time.
Since no one actually knows the lecturers that mark your script in pen and paper examinations, and you get instant result in your e-exams, its almost impossible to manipulate the system. Here, it is almost impossible to pass examinations if you have not properly comprehended the study materials. You may never graduate even after 8years.
Through this model, those who work do less study when they are busy at work, they carry more course loads during their leave or other less tasking periods. And since facilitation (tutor) is optional, they do not need to attend any lecture if they have well comprehended the high quality self-directed, learner-centered instructional course materials that are made available to students.
Also, let me use this opportunity to also inform you that, there is also a sharp difference between distance learning and online learning.
Both study involves studies you can do at your own time, anywhere you are. However, there are few things that generally separate distance learning from online learning.
Distance learning courses are self study and involve things being sent to you by post, such as text books, worksheets and DVD’s. Sometimes, this materials is sent via email. In either case, the participants will work at home, usually alone, to complete the course. Distance learning sometimes don’t involve a specific teacher, its more about you completing your work independently and only sending it back for markings.
However, online learning is similar, though there are differences.
In online learning, there will be more interaction with others such as an online forums or taking tests. You will be able to contact your teacher this way too via email or by video link. Online courses sometimes involve video seminars being broadcast live. So, its just like being in a classroom but you are scattered around the country.
The Open University integrated the online learning into its system,it also included the face to face facilitation which is optional and then require students to visit the study centre time to time for group discussion, counseling, facilitation (tutorial) and to collect educational materials. With this arrangement, the school is able to deliver quality through open and flexible mode of learning.
Finally, let me remind you once again that, National Open University is not a part time institution, it has never been. Open University is a full time university where incomparable quality learning is taking place. Until you come into the system,you may never know what you are missing.
I don’t care if you attend Obafemi Awolowo University, University of Ibadan, Unilag, Unilorin or whatever, just have it at the back of your mind that, you are not in anyway better than students or graduates of Open University, actually, you are not comparable. Open University is first of its kind.
Abdulrazaq O Hamzat
Congress of Noun Students