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The Distance Education:

Distance education has been defined as a field of education that focuses on teaching  methods and technology with the aim of delivering teaching to students who are not physically present in a traditional educational setting, such as the classroom.


It is a system aimed at creating access to learning when time or distance or both separate  the source of information and the learners.


Open and Distance Learning:

Open learning is an innovative movement in education that emerged in the 1970s. 

It refers mainly to activities that either enhance learning opportunities within formal education systems or broaden learning opportunities beyond the formal  education systems (Wikipedia). 

The educational philosophy of open learning emphasizes giving learners choices about: medium or media of learning, place and pace of study, support mechanisms as well as entry  and exit points. 

Characteristics of Open and Distance Learning:

1. Separation of Teacher and Learner;

One major distinguishing feature of open and distance learning system from the  conventional system is the distance between the teachers and the learners. 



This separation occurs in two planes: place and time. 


By place, we mean that the teachers and the learners do not live or meet at any time. 


Let us take NOUN as an example, while the headquarters, which houses most of the  faculties where the lecturers are, is situated at Abuja, the students are literally scattered across the country.


In fact, most of the students may never meet any of the lecturers till they graduate from the university. This is distance in place.

2. Accessibility;

Apart¬†from¬†accessibility¬†due¬†to¬†relaxation¬†of¬†entry¬†requirements¬†discussed¬†under¬†openness,¬†open¬†and¬†distance¬†learning¬†offers¬†‚Äúlearning opportunities to individuals who are¬† disadvantaged because of their location or gender or economic constraints‚ÄĚ (p. 11).¬†


The disadvantaged people include  prisoners. 

NOUN has study centres in many prisons in Nigeria and some of the prisoners have graduated from their chosen courses. Hitherto, prisoners in Nigeria have no access to higher  education due to the closed nature of universities and the closed nature of the prison too. 


Apart from prisoners, women in purdah too have been securing access to   higher education because of the accessibility offered by the open and distance learning.

Learning Characteristics of ODL Learners:

1. Motivated;

Most learners in the open and distance learning institutions are said to be intrinsically motivated and thus do not require a lot of motivation to get them interested in their course of  study. 


It has been argued that the physical absence of the teacher and other peers usually leads to distraction and discouragement, therefore, as a student in the open and distance learning  institution you need to keep yourself motivated.

To successfully keep yourself motivated, it is important to connect with other classmates (Littlefield, 2012).

2. Adaptation to Technology;

For most of the young adults who have found their way into the open and learning  institutions, working in an online environment may not be a problem as they are all digital natives.


However, if you are above the age of 50 (you belong to the group that are either digital illiterates or digital migrants), there is the need for you to adapt to the use of technology.

As you would have discovered, there is no way you can survive in NOUN if you are not computer literate or computer savvy. 


Types of Learners’ Support Services:

1. Teaching and Learning Services;

According to Bowa (2008), teaching and learning services consists of the following  activities:

Teaching and learning contacts

Network and learner support centres

Compulsory residential schools

Social and Personal Support Services


Social and personal needs services includes the following activities:

Pre-course registration and counselling

Internet and e-mail support

Peer support/study groups

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