NOUN, future hub for higher education in Africa–UNESCO

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The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on Tuesday said the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) was becoming a major production and distribution hub for higher education in Africa.

Mr Abel Caine, Programme Specialist, UNESCO, made the observation at the UNESCO/NOUN’s 2nd sensitisation workshop on Open Education Resources (OER) for senior staff of the university in Lagos.

The workshop was designed to advance knowledge by unlocking information as well as widen participation in higher education by expanding access to non-traditional learners.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the first UNESCO/NOUN sensitisation workshop on OER and MOOCs held on Sept. 9, 2014 in Lagos.

According to the UNESCO official, the OER and the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) project already adopted by NOUN will foster connections among its peers around the world.

“When we came here in September 2014, the NOUN had chosen and presented to us 10 of their courses for trial for this project.

“Today, we are here to sensitise them more by ensuring that we look at those 10 courses, develop them more and see the possibility of assisting the institution to increase them online.

“Soon after this workshop, we expect that NOUN will go down to work to identify another 30 of its courses by the time we visit again.

“ This is to ensure that these materials are released under an open intellectual property licence for the benefit of people in any part of the world.

“This will entail allowing free-of-cost and legal re-use and revision, provided that the original owner is acknowledged and accorded the necessary credits,” Caine said.

He said NOUN had done well in its bid to champion the course of taking learning outside the confines of the structured classroom and printed materials.

Caine expressed UNESCO’s determination to assist the university to increase access as well as improve quality through the project for the benefit of all Nigerians who yearn for easy and qualitative education.

Earlier, NOUN’s Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Vincent Tenebe, said the MOOCs project had emerged as a concept with great potential that would support educational transformation in the institution and beyond.

Tenebe said NOUN, being a forerunner in Open and Distance Learning, was keying into the project because it was aware of its capacity to contribute OER and MOOCs to the global community.

“If NOUN continues to base its business model on protecting and copyrighting all its teaching and learning contents without keying into the philosophy underlining OER, it will become a progressively less appealing place to study.

“It might equally be overtaken by other providers who are more proactive and more responsive to current realities.

“Therefore, by establishing an innovative policy toward the creation and use of OERs as well as contributing to MOOCs, NOUN will entrench itself as a major knowledge production and distribution hub for higher education in Africa and beyond.

“This will serve as a major marketing tool for NOUN,” Tenebe said.

He said it was expected that the participants at the workshop would serve as drivers of the OER/MOOCs project in the university.

Tenebe lauded the collaboration between the institution and UNESCO in the realisation of the project, adding that it was timely as the world had become a global village. (NAN)

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