When the Canadian communications theorist, Herbert Marshall McLuhan coined his popular concept, "Global Village" in the early 60s, it appeared he had the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) in mind.
According to wikipaedia, the term "global village" means all parts of the world as they are being brought together by the internet and other electronic communication interconnections. It is the metaphoric village formed through the use of electronic media. Also, global village describes the phenomenon of the entire world becoming more interconnected as the result of the propagation of media technologies throughout the world.
McLuhan, who was hailed by many as a prophet for the 20th century in his popular mantra, "the medium is the message," summarized his view of the influence of television, computers, and other electronic information sources in shaping society and modern life.
Today, it's incontrovertibly true that technology has revolutionised the world thereby making it a global village. McLuhan's 'prophecy' is not only a reality but has also become parts and parcel of our daily lives as no one can do without technology in one way or the other.
In Nigeria, for instance, no educational institution can do without technology especially the Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Of all these institutions, NOUN appears to be the greatest beneficiary of ICT. As far as NOUN is concern, ICT is indispensable. Reason? NOUN is an Open and Distance Learning (ODL) institution.
As an ODL institution, NOUN needs ICT to enable it attain its aims and objectives. ICT is to NOUN what blood is to the body. One will appreciate the importance of ICT in NOUN more if one understands the importance of blood in human body.
As such, through effective use of ICT, NOUN has been carrying its students along academically via: Online facilitation, online Course materials, online recorded video lecture, e-examination and, Tutor Marked Assignments (TMA). Besides, ICT is also effectively employed in areas of: Virtual Matriculation, Virtual Meetings via zoom and e-ticketing where all shades of students' complaints are effectively addressed among others.
The blended 11th Convocation ceremony, which took place on Saturday, 26th March, 2022 simultaneously across all the designated convocation venues in the country, is a testament to McLuhan 's 'Global Village' which was brought about by ICT.
Traditionally, NOUN's convocation is generally done at the University's headquarters, where graduating students from across the Study Centres in the country converge at NOUN's Convocation Arena for the ceremony. This arrangement, though very good, is not without some challenges.
In the first place, experience has shown that during the University's convocation, one of the major issues that NOUN often contend with is the issue of over-crowding at the headquarters and this creates problem for other road-users plying roads around NOUN's headquarters.
Another issue is the risk associated with travelling to NOUN headquarters, Abuja for Convocation and payment of different bills such as accommodation bill, transport fares to and from Abuja, among others.
McLuhan 's global village is clearly demonstrated during the blended 11th Convocation ceremony as graduating students were carried along during the exercise from the beginning to the end.
The blessings of blended 11th convocation ceremony are numerous. One, the 11th Convocation ceremony was less stressful when compared to the previous ones as all the issues that normally brings about the stress has been adequately handled.
Secondly, Convocation Arena at NOUN 's headquarters, Jabi witnessed low population as it is used to be as only the Post-Graduate and First-Class graduating students were allowed to attend the convocation ceremony at the headquarters while others convocated at State capitals.
Another benefit is that it lends credence to the fact that distance is no longer a barrier to education and this is what Open and Distance Learning (ODL) stands for. Graduating students participated in Convocation ceremony without physical attendance courtesy of ICT. As a result, risk associated with travelling and payment of fares has been reduced drastically.
Truly, NOUN is really maximizing ICT in advancing its cause and there is no doubt about it. By pressing a button, one is already in NOUN studying, paying school fees, lodging complaints, carrying out assignments, participating in a meeting, attending lectures, reading books, among other online academic activities, all from the comfort of one's home or office. What else? Is it to print certificate online as it is done in other climes? Very soon, NOUN will get there, trust technology!
As a technology-dependent institution, NOUN has many drivers which should be accorded special recognition in this piece. The chief driver is the newly created office of DVC Technology, Innovation & Research (TIR) which is saddled with the responsibility of driving the technological needs of the University
Worthy of mention is the Directorate of Media and Publicity (DMP). DMP is a great driver of ICT-cum-global village as it ensures NOUN's activities within the country and beyond are brought to the doorsteps of all the stakeholders. In short, it is the megaphone of the University.
Directorate of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) is another driver as is it is the key component of Open and Distance Learning (ODL). By providing and enhancing distance learning, NOUN has deployed the emerging information and communication technologies for teaching and learning among other activities involving ICT.
Another driver of ICT-cum-global village is the Directorate of Learning Content Management System (DLCMS). Established in November, 2018, DLCMS is saddled with the task of providing digital learning resources/instructional content design, development and delivery services. It also provide online facilitation, virtual/online classrooms, online technical support to students as well as online video among other functions.
Management Information System (MIS) is another driver. Instituted in July, 2016, MIS handles the data needs of the University. It also ensures enhanced service delivery using modern technology, methods and tools thereby providing accurate, comprehensive and timely in-house information to NOUN stakeholders among other functions.
It should be noted that these directorates work synergistically to achieve the desired result.
By and large, while commending management of NOUN for adopting blended convocation, all stakeholders should bear in mind that the move is not only a welcome development but also the way to go as advancement in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has indeed made the world a global village. Indeed, NOUN is a global village as over 100 Study Centres spread across the country often observe their academic programmes and other academic activities simultaneously. Obviously, it is through ICT that NOUN has been achieving its aims and objectives seamlessly since its inception. Indeed, ICT is a blessing to NOUN. Therefore, it is mandatory for all NOUN's stakeholders to embrace ICT unconditionally so as not to be left behind.
Adama Sunday is a staff of the Directorate of Media and Publicity, National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN). E-MAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org