OPENING REMARKS DELIVERED BY PROF. PATRICK OLADIPO AINA, FORMR VICE-CHANCELLOR, EKITI STATE UNIVERSITY, ON THE INAUGURATION AND SENSITISATION WORKSHOP ON DISTANCE LEARNING HELD ON TUESDAY, 30TH SEPTEMBER, 2014 AT 3000 LECTURE THEATRE

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic),

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Development),

The Registrar and Other Principal Officers,

Provost, College of Medicine,

Dean, Postgraduate School,

Deans of Faculties,

Directors of Units,

Heads of Departments,

Distinguished Professors and all Academic Staff,

Gentlemen of the Press,

Ladies and Gentlemen.

It affords me a great pleasure to welcome all of you to this remarkable occasion and to deliver this opening remarks on the Inauguration and Sensitisation Workshop on Distance Learning Programme of our great University; with the theme: 'Widening Access to Quality University Education through Distance Learning Programme'. The purpose of this sensitisation workshop is primarily on the mobilisation of the entire University community on its efforts to move our University toward the global trend in accessing quality university education through the internet. This is to meet the mandate of the National Universities Commission (NUC) to train the next generation through distance learning programme.

The major philosophy of establishing the Distance Learning Programme is that, higher education should be made accessible and affordable to eligible citizens of the state and the nation irrespective of their location. In order to be relevant, education must be continually responsive to the changing imperative of the socio-economic, political and technological development of the nation.

Sequel to this, the University shall, through its programmes, continue to raise men and women imbued with the requisite skills, knowledge and competences to be the arrowheads of the social, political, economic and technological development of the global community and Nigeria in particular.

When considering the merit of distance learning programme which involves e-instructional educational delivery where learners do not necessarily have face-to-face interaction with the lecturers. After a stipulated period (a semester for instance), students are invited for proctored computer-based examination. The University is highly committed to upgrade the existing ICT facilities to facilitate student-student interaction and student-lecturer interaction. Different centres will be set up in major cities in Nigeria and subsequently outside the country, for the purpose of distribution of course materials, counselling and examinations.

Although, a dual mode will be preferred for our Distance Learning Programme in the University, a substantial period of time will be spent away from the University. This will give opportunity for lecturers and students to interact online and thereafter meet for a short period for tutorials as the need arises. The University has enough lecture rooms to accommodate students for tutorials and examinations. This mode will not affect the regular programme in the University because tutorials and examinations could be fixed for those periods when regular students are not on ground. It should be noted that the three universities currently on distance learning in Nigeria are coping successfully with the distance learning programme.

Without any doubt, you will agree with me that the importance of ICT infrastructures for the Distance Learning Programme cannot be overemphasised. It can safety be concluded that the successes of Distance Learning Programme greatly rely on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) which is now available in abundance and within easy reach in today’s world. ICT does not only assist with content delivery in education system but also with content development, preparation and management, providing real time access to materials and making the simulation of a virtual classroom possible. Clearly in a global village today, ‘education without border’ is a reality. It follows therefore, that our University ICT management, with serious intent, will enable the University to implement quality Open and Distance Learning Programme successfully.

For the maintenance of infrastructure and equipment, the Works Department of the University would be upgraded for the upcoming challenges, as they are required to brace up to organise ICT Maintenance Department to handle all cases of computer equipment repairs and maintenance.

To enable programme compatibility with the regular programme in form of quality and academic content, curriculum development would be handled by parent departments. Meanwhile, the Directorate of Distance Learning Programme will provide guide and template for such curriculum development. Consequent upon this, a training programme for course material development teams will be held very soon. Since the programme will require interactions with instructors and facilitators, a well-designed training programme would be organised for all instructors and facilitators. This will enable them have a hitch-free interaction with students and also facilitate effective transfer of knowledge to the students.

The University is aware of the challenges it may face in the development and adoption of e-infrastructure enabled distance learning programme. The University will commit investment in the re-orientation of the academic staff and students for the much desired change. More reliable ICT infrastructure with higher bandwidth will be procured for quality output.

In conclusion, the mission of the University to create a unique Distance Learning Programme in the pursuit of academic innovation, skill-based training and tradition of excellence in teaching, research and community service is in line with the trend in the global village of today.

I am confident that the full implementation of the Distance Learning Programme will catapult our great University to the level of our vision, gradually becoming a world-class University, within the shortest possible time.

It is my sincere wish that participants will tap from the wealth of skill, knowledge and experience of the erudite scholars and experts that have been carefully selected as facilitators in this Workshop.

I wish to thank the pioneer Director of the Distance Learning Programme, Prof. J. B. Ayodele, and his committed staff members for this programme and assure him and his team that this University will continue to encourage and support them to fulfil their mandate.

On this note, I hereby formally inaugurate the Distance Learning Programme and also declare this Workshop open!

Thank you.