We welcome you to the web pages of the Directorate of Learner’s Support Services (DLSS) of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).
The main focus of the Directorate is to help learners maximise the gains and the purposes of their studentship in all ramifications.
We encourage our students to carefully go through the webpages so as to become familiar with what we do at DLSS, how we do it and our expectations in doing what we do.
Please feel free to ask questions and also send your suggestions to us, get to know us better and support us to support you to enable us jointly reach the goals we have set for ourselves.
Dr. Sefinat O. Omuya
Directorate of Learner’s Support Services
Directorate Of Learner’s Support Services
One of the main reasons for delivering training and education by Open and Distance Learning (ODL) is to make it accessible to people who cannot attend regular classes due to social, structural or personal situations. These might include lack of space in educational institutions, distance from educational institutions, absence of specific programmes, family commitments, the need to continue earning while learning or travel costs. Thus, accessibility is key to ODL; so, method and technologies of delivery should enhance, not limit it. This include access for people with disabilities; learning resources should be adaptable to different media by, for example, transcribing audiotapes into print for learning – impaired people, or audio taping print materials for visually impaired people. Note that barriers that learners face could be determined by the context. Learning barriers may be determined by the difficulty of balancing the time demands of study with those of their career. Other common barriers are geographical or time related – people who are working may not be able to attend classes at regular times.
It is against this background that the Directorate of Learner’s Support Services was established to help learners maximise the gains, and the purposes of their studentship in all ramifications. The Directorate is setup to assist learners goes through their education at the university with the most minimal difficulties and concerns and to support all categories of learners as they try to go up the educational ladder; thus ensuring that they put forth their very best. This includes getting students develop a sense of belonging – the pride of being part of the university community, cultivate a sense of direction and become self-motivated to do their work the best way they can and going on to graduate at the shortest possible time.
To be seen and regarded as Supportive people, providing Support Services, playing Supportive roles, within supportive Structures to help Open and Distance Learners adjust to academic life in most painless manner to achieve their academic ambition within Open and Distance Learning environment.
Provide a non-time bound academic and socio-psychological service to students and staff of the University as well as provide usable information to the entire public about the National Open University of Nigeria.
The goals of DLSS are to:
- publicise and provide usable information about NOUN;
- facilitate student learning;
- provide tutoring and instructional facilitation for students willing to benefit from such arrangement;
- provide multimedia resources and facilities to support student learning;
- run workshops and conduct seminars on learning strategies and related issues;
- help all learners on matters pertaining to time management, study habits, self-understanding etc. all geared towards learning without tears at the University;
- serve as the bridge between the University and all learners by providing advocacy services;
- provide personal psychological counselling and guidance in all required dimensions;
- provide vocational guidance and careers development counselling to all students;
- provide the required support for students with challenges;
- help students develop sideline capacities needed and useful in enhancing their success at the University;
- help the general public understand better the concept, philosophy and practices of Open and Distance Learning (ODL); and
- help provide support for supporters across the University.
Implementation Strategies Developed and Designed to Achieve the Mission Statement
- Employment of relevant staff to provide the needed support services.
- Provision of learner’s support services through the use of Study Centres (Special Centres) at various locations in the country.
- Appropriate in-service and continuous training for staff of various categories.
- Use of appropriate techniques and technologies to achieve delivery of support services.
History of the Directorate
The Directorate came on board as a major arm of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) at inception in 2003. It started first as a Unit, but later came to become a Directorate. It is administered through the Director and his support staff at the Headquarters.
The human resources under the Director include:
- Study Centre Directors,
- Student Counsellors, and
- Instructional cum Tutorial Facilitators.
Two sister Directorates work hand in hand with the DLSS to provide supportive services; The Directorate of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) in the University which provide a number of ICT staff for support services as Knowledge Management Technologists;
The Visitors Information and Call Centre (VICC), which later metamorphosed to become NOUN Information and Call Centre (NICC) also provides robust information to all callers between the hours of 8.00am and 4.00pm. As a matter of fact, the NICC now provides services 24 x 7 manned chat services for immediate chats and information to clients.
As at today, the Directorate is made up of:
- Administrative and other supportive Staff at the Headquarters
- Study Centre Directors who head the Study Centres
- Student Counsellors
- Instructional Facilitators
- Special Study Centres responsible for providing university education through ODL to the military and paramilitary organisations; the incarcerated individuals in the correctional centres; women in purdah and individuals residing in difficult terrains and hazardous places across the nation.
The Directorate is headed by a Director, who is in charge of the day to day affairs and activities of the other subunits. Each of the subunits is headed by a Deputy Director. Of recent, the Management had approved the establishment of a unit christened “Learners with Special Needs” to provide assistive technology that would aid learning including students who are visually impaired, those with hard hearing ability and physically disabled. This unit is headed by a Coordinator.
Sub-units of the Directorate
The six subunits are:
- Academic Counselling
- Vocational Guidance and Career Development Services
- Psycho-social Counselling Services
- Special Populations
- Capacity and Human Development
- Online Support Services
1. Academic Counselling
This subunit is in charge of coordinating the work and activities of the Instructional Facilitators and monitor and supervise matters pertaining to tutoring, Tutor-Marked Assignments, creating of Learning Cycles, matters pertaining to learning habits, and related issues, change of programmes, etc.
2. Vocational Guidance and Career Development Services
This subunit is charged with the responsibilities for helping learners make the needed choices, providing required information services, counselling and on careers related issues.
3. Psycho-social Counselling Services
This subunit deals with matters relating to individual and psycho-social issues, orientation, running groups, developmental matters, motivational groups, sensitization to success and all related matters.
4. Special Populations
This subunit is charged with handling matters relating to special populations including the challenged peoples, following up on their special study materials, linking up with other Units, Departments, Faculties and Directorates of the University to ensure that special arrangements are provided for their orientation, studies, and examinations.
5. Capacity and Human Development
This subunit handles matter pertaining to workshops, in-service and in-house training for Counsellors, enhancing their capacity and how to provide support for other support givers within the system, training Counsellors on the conduct of seminars, workshops, etc. for students, staff and the general public.
6. Online Support Services
This subunit handles online support services, training Counsellors to counsel online, facilitators to tutor online and students to use and benefit from online platforms and learning management system (LMS), helping students to maximise the benefits of online services etc. It coordinates migration of courses online and monitors the maintenance of online courses etc. as advised by the webmaster.
Components of the Directorate of Learner’s Support Services in NOUN
The Directorate of Learner’s Support Services is one of the non-academic Directorates in the National Open University of Nigeria. The Directorate is made up of seven Departments, namely:
- Office of the Director
- Study Centre Directors’ Affairs Unit
- Student Counsellors’ Affairs Unit
- Tutorial Facilitators’ Affairs Unit
- Special Study Centres Coordinating Unit
- Learners with Special Needs Unit
- General Administration Unit.
The seven (7) components earlier enumerated above operate across the various Departments, Faculties, and Directorates in the University within the Headquarters and the Study Centres.
Functions, Roles and Duties of the Directorate of Learner’s Support Services at NOUN Headquarters
The Directorate performs both administrative and academic functions.
- Monitors, coordinates, supervise and evaluate the performances of all staff at the Study Centres through the Study Centre Directors.
- Periodically conducts in-house Seminars, Workshops and clinics for the Study Centre Directors, Student Counsellors and Facilitators on pertinent issues of handling orientation, registration, examinations and provision of the best guidance services to the students of NOUN and best practices in provision of tutorial and facilitation of instruction.
- Disseminate as quickly as possible vital information to the Study Centre Directors, Counsellors and Instructional Facilitators for prompt attention and action.
- Reviews and furnishes the Senate of NOUN with progress reports on performances of each Study Centre with regards to implementation of the academic programmes.
- The Directorate in collaboration with RETRIDAL runs academic programme in Learner Support Services.
- Organizes, monitors and co-ordinates orientation programmes, and plays a major role in registration of students.
- Liaises between the various sectors of the University at NOUN Headquarters and Study Centre staff on issues that border on their welfare.
- Attends meeting regularly as a member of Senate and its Committees including the Committee of Deans and Directors.
- Generally management of all staff and materials within the Directorate of Learners’ Support Services.
- Liaises with the Deans of Schools and Centre Directors on issues concerning academic programmes.
- Works with the Staff of the Directorate to plan, organise and hold induction for employees of the NOUN.
- Produces vital information about the University to staff, students of NOUN and the general public.
- Communicates regularly to the Study Centres providing updates in the operations and administration of the University programmes.
- Visit the Study Centres periodically with a view to ensuring that the way the Counsellors and Centre Directors discharge their duties, roles and responsibilities conform to the expectations of the Management of the NOUN.
Functions, Roles and Duties of Study Centre Directors:
The Directors at the Study Centres are in charge of the day-to-day administration of the centres and regularly liaise with the headquarters through the Directorate of Learner Support Services on matters relating to the distribution of instructional materials to distance learners and instructional facilitators.
- The Centre Directors monitor the turn-around of Tutor Marked Assignments and tutorials.
- Coordinate the use, by distance learners and members of the local community of the multimedia information and communication technology available at the study centres.
- Supervise the work of staff involved in NOUN programmes delivery through the study centre.
- Liaise with course developers, examiners, assessors and advisory groups within the locality of the study centre.
- Participate in the recruitment, training and supervision of part-time tutors.
- Ensure that the contact sessions and tutorial lecture periods in the Centres are problem free and adequately well arranged.
- Take part in preparing and providing detailed information on how to organise and conduct orientation services for new students of NOUN.
- Take part in preparing, organising and holding induction workshops and refresher courses for the Student Counsellors and Centre Directors.
- Gather relevant information from the various Units, Departments, Faculties and Directorates of the University and sends as required to the Study Centres.
- Respond to existing and potential/prospective students’ routine inquiries from time to time especially where they decide to pay a visit to the NOUN Headquarters.
- Communicate to the various Units, Departments, Faculties and Directorates on issues relating to students and their courses/programmes.
- Implement circulars, memos and policies of the University as they relate to the running of the Study Centres.
- Participates in the recruitment, training and supervision of part-time tutors and make sure that there are adequate Facilitators for courses on offer at the Study Centre.
- Plans, coordinates and executes tutorial facilitations at the Study Centre. Ensures
- Gives one day induction workshop or talk on facilitation in ODL to the Facilitators before the commencement of facilitation.
- Provides a timetable for facilitation and Provides common room and restroom for the Facilitators.
- Makes sure that there are available classrooms, laboratories for theory and practical lessons.
- Supervises and monitors regularly the work of the Facilitators involved in NOUN programmes delivery at the Study Centre.
- Keeps daily attendance of Facilitators that is each Facilitator must sign the attendance register after each facilitation session.
- Supervises the marking of examinations at the Study Centre.
- Makes sure that the course materials are available to both students and Facilitators promptly.
- Provides library facilities and resource materials at the Study Centre. Where this is not possible, he liaises with the host institution or neighbouring higher institution whereby NOUN students can have access to the resource materials.
- Keeps the records of all the Tutor-Marked Assignments (TMAs) and examinations at the Study Centre.
- Devises a means of regularly monitoring the conduct of each Facilitator and the facilitation session and monitors the turnaround of TMAs and tutorials.
- Coordinates the use, by distance learners, the multimedia information and communication technology available at the Study Centre.
- Represent the Vice-Chancellor and Academic Boards of the Faculties of Agricultural Sciences, Arts, Education, Health Sciences, Law, Management Sciences, Social Sciences and Sciences as well as the School of Postgraduate Studies.
Functions of Student Counsellors’ Affairs Unit
The student counselors provide regular guidance and counselling to the students with respect to several aspects of their studies including enrolment, choice of programmes and course, when and how to study, and when to seek for special clinics for academic guidance.
The counselors have the responsibility of keeping in constant touch with distance learners and providing any early warning signals regarding difficulty with studies in order to provide prompt remedial actions. Other functions are:
- Regularly attend meetings on behalf of the Directorate with the Directorate of Examinations and Assessment.
- Disseminating to the students through the Student Counsellors at the Study Centres as quickly as possible by mobile phone and internet any relevant and current information that would enhance their performance.
- Renders guidance services particularly by providing academic information and counselling to students who come to the Headquarters and other members of the general public who are seeking information on how the University is operated.
- Collecting, receiving, and writing excerpt from weekly reports sent from the Study Centres which the Directorate presents to the Committee of Deans and Directors (CDD), Management Committee and the Senate.
- Provides referral services to students or members of the public who require academic and administrative intervention by sending them to the relevant Units, Departments, Faculties and Directorates of the University.
- Keeping in constant touch with students on phone and sometimes face-to-face by providing counselling on how to wriggle out of difficulties and sole related problems in their studies.
- Provide online personal, social and academic support to students.
- Take part in preparing, organsing and holding workshop for students and the Centre Directors regularly.
The Roles of Student Counsellors at the Study Centres
- Provide regular guidance and counselling with respect to several aspects of their studies including enrolment, choice of programmes and courses, when and how to study and when to seek for special clinic for academic guidance.
- Keeps in constant touch with distance learners and to provide early warning signals regarding difficulty with studies in order for prompt remedial actions to be taken by the University, distance learners and other related service providers.
- Guides distance learners in the selection of and registration of programme and courses of study at the National Open University of Nigeria.
- Devises, develops and manages student database for the purpose of providing counselling and guidance services.
- Liaises with Study Centre Director and with the NOUN Headquarters regarding counselling, examination and assignment related matters.
- Play a supervisory role in ensuring that students are adequately attended to by the store officers and when the store has any confusion about any course materials, they resort to counsellors for clarification on such courses
- Coordinates activities regarding non-examinable courses such as Teaching Practice, Practicum, Field trips, Seminars and project by giving adequate orientations to students on these courses.
- Work with faculties and the administrative staff to ensure the students are guided on the right thing to do on the non-examinable courses.
- Prepare students especially the post graduate students for external project defence.
- Keeps records of students’ assignments, type of work done, when assignment is due, when submitted, how many students have or have not submitted their assignments, etc.
- Maintains and communicates up-to-date information about the learners’ progress, and any special needs to other support staff.
- Invigilates examinations at the Study Centre.
Instructional and Tutorial Facilitators
Tutorial Facilitators form an important segment of Learner’s Support Services in NOUN. Facilitators provide the much-needed face-to-face opportunities for learners, they bridge the gap between the “faceless Lecturer or Professor” or the study material writer and, the Learner.
Instructional and tutorial facilitators are required to conduct regular tutorial meetings and facilitate instruction at a distance in the various Study Centres, assist with professional workshops, course development and design, responsible for Tutor Marked Assignments and assist with the conduct of examinations.
In NOUN, the Tutorial Facilitator should provide the following services to our distance learners:
- Provide quality learner support which includes guidance about course choice, preparatory diagnosis, study skills, etc.
- Facilitates students’ learning of instructional materials, regular formal and informal learning such as access group, learning in seminar and tutorials.
- Undertakes the delivery of specified course contents using the study centre for purposes of face-to-face interactions with distance learners.
- Develops and manages essential feedback mechanism characteristic of effective open and distance learning.
- Reviews, assesses and provides feedback on assignments regularly submitted by students as part of the distance learning instructional package and transmits same through the Study Centre Directors to the NOUN Headquarters.
- Participates in regular orientation programmes for new students and staff of the NOUN.
- Monitors distance learners academic progress as/and when necessary or due.
- Reviews, adapts and prepares instructional facilitation materials for use by the University.
- Liaises with external examiners, assessors and advisory peer groups.
- Undertakes examination duties, including where and when called upon to do so, the preparation of examination papers and monitoring of assessment procedures.
- Provides online learning support for students who have access to and prepares the web-based learning environment of the NOUN.
- Engages in creative and innovative roles and activities which will develop and incorporate a range of local needs for support to the communication and discursive requirements of particular courses or programme and learning groups.
- Keeps records of students’ progress, maintaining accurate records of each learner’s work, including assignments and examination and submitting these records to the appropriate Faculty or Centre through the Centre Director.
- Provide guidance on course choice, preparatory diagnosis and study skills.
- To facilitate students’ learning of instructional materials and regular formal and informal learning environments such as access to group learning in seminar and tutorials.
- Undertake delivery of specified course contents at residential schools and other prescribed face to face interactions with distance learners.
- To develop and manage essential feedback mechanism characteristic of effective Open and Distance Learning.
- To participate in regular orientation programmes for new students and staff of the NOUN.
- To monitor distance learners’ academic progress and liaise with external examiners, assessors and advisory peer groups.
- To provide on-line learning support for students who have access to and prefer web-based learning environment of the NOUN.
Functions of the Knowledge Management Technologists
- Develops and supports the University’s management information system including project management system analysis, design, programming user liaison technical support and documentation for internet and need technology projects.
- Constructs, manages and constantly update the University’s website and web-based learning environment.
- Undertakes users’ training for the University’s staff and students.
- Uses java programming especially with flash and multimedia in course development.
- Models, stimulates and visualizes communications and simple queuing theories (example: coding and decoding time and frequency domain representations, convolutions CMSA/CD, M/M/1, M/M/2 etc.).
- Develops computer applications using internet and client/server technologies as well as the provision of technical and user support of computer systems.
- Uses and instructs others in the use of a range of software including UNIX/Linux, Windows, Apache/IIS, Tomcat/OAS, Java Servlet/Applications, XML; Per/PHP/ASP, Flash, Photoshop, Dream weaver, NT/2000, Oracle PL/SQL, Developer 2000 and COBOL.
- Set-up tests, maintains and operates audio visual and editing equipment at Educational Technology and Printing and Publishing Units.
- Works on irregular hours and/or shift duties.
- Implements and maintains different A.V. and computer systems including hardware installation and configuration and software problem solving.
- Assists in the production of multimedia and online components such as computer animations and streaming videos and test various hardware and software on different OS; (NOUN, 2004).
Functions of the Administrative Affairs Office
- Receiving of mails on behalf of the Directorate.
- Updating information coming to the Directorate.
- Drafting of letters and memos for administrative replies.
- Preparing of the Directorate’s requisitions and collecting of all needed consumables and materials for the Directorate.
- Taking charge of all Directorate’s documents and making sure that all mails are properly filed for easy retrieval.
- Taking down of notes during meetings and preparing decisions extract and minutes.
- Administers the enquiry form on the students who have reported to the Directorate with complaints especially with the recent introduction of e-ticketing to help the University resolve complaints concerning students’ academic programmes.
- Carrying out all other Registry related functions.
Functions of the Secretary to the Director
- Typing and preparing letters, memos, notes, etc. regularly from the Director, Learner’s Support Services and the Heads of other Subunits.
- Typing and printing all the Directorate’s documents.
- Receiving of all electronic messages from the Study Centres.
- Sending electronic messages as required through the internet to the Study Centre Directors and Student Counsellors.
- Filing of mails as directed by the Administrative Officers.
- Dispatching mails to all Units, Departments, Faculties and Directorates of the University.
The Range of Possible Functions at the Study Centres
The administrative functions of Study Centres may involve student affairs, such as:
- publishing study opportunities;
- informing and counselling individuals;
- enrolling and registration;
- providing information on mode of fee payment and related financial issues including raising of RRR for payment of fees and charges to the bank or through direct debit;
- maintaining records of students’ status, progression, results, course forward planning, assignments traffic and related academic records;
- explicating rules, academic and administrative regulations, echoes and mores of the University, the parent institution;
- evaluation and assessment i.e. getting involved in the conduct of examinations, practicals, laboratory and workshop activities. The Study Centres also provide first-hand information on the status of the school plant evaluating the various aspects of buildings, furniture and equipment and facilities to ensure and assess their standard and quality.
Distribution of Study Materials
The administrative functions may involve handling study materials. At the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), the distribution of study materials is done at the Study Centres.
As of now, all students receive their study materials directly by hand at the Study Centres. Centres are there responsible for:
- reception, storage, packing/assembling, dispatch to or preparation for collection by students;
- maintaining stocks and records and estimating future needs;
- financial accountability for any materials sold;
administrative functions will also include the proper management of the study centre’s facilities:
- the fabric of the premises and the surroundings;
- furniture and equipment;
- expendable supplies of materials;
- power, water, communication suppliers;
- safety, security and clearing;
- financial management.
The academic functions of Study Centres may involve:
- counselling on general academic matters before enrolment and during the progress of study, sometimes involving detailed advice on individual subjects/courses, as well as vocational guidance and careers counselling;
- providing study skills advice and courses, arranging local teaching/tutoring, managing and monitoring student attendance, and assessing its cost-effectiveness;
- arranging for teaching visits of staff from the parent institution:
- the timetable, attendance of students;
- venues and equipment/materials;
- evaluation of cost effectiveness;
- organisation of study space and facilities for students who need:
- quietness for private study;
- access to resources such as reference materials (text, audio, video, computer), equipment (scientific, audio, video);
- discussion with other students, informal or organised peer-tutorials;
- administering teaching in real time at a distance through:
- telephone (and/or satellite)links for sound only, sound and picture, sound and picture-and-interactive-computer screen transmissions;
- computer conferencing;
- television broadcasts, one-way or interactive;
- monitoring student progress during a study period and taking action to provide encouragement and support when necessary;
- organising final examinations: venues, furniture and materials, supervision, security of papers and scripts, record keeping, dispatch of scripts for marking;
- investigating local demand for non-credit/continuing education courses and activities (consistent with the overall policy of the University).
Study Centres may have a wide range of social functions prescribed by the NOUN expected by the local community, engendered by the students using them and arising inevitably because they are there. The functions prescribed by the University may include:
- mirroring the institution itself, providing a mini-campus experience for users and reflecting the ethos, ambiance, expectations, of the main campus, thus contributing to the institutional socializing of the students;
- representing the parent institution locally at formal and informal functions;
- facilitating and organising occasions relevant to its academic functions and those of its parent institution, such as:
- pre-orientation and orientation sessions for students, parent and friends;
- vocational guidance and careers advisement meetings;
- meetings of alumni (as the University grows);
- graduation and other award ceremonies (as the University grows).
The local community may have expectations of the ways in which a Study Centre might function socially. It may serve to reduce the mystique of higher education study through its use by many and varied people. It may be viewed as a comfortably normal venue for all sorts of purposes from using its virtual library, to using its cafeteria and canteens for meetings. In this way, a Centre may make a valuable contribution to the democratizing of higher education. It is also the plan of NOUN to see her Study Centres promote communities of learning within the localities thus enhancing the level of literacy in the country and rapid realisation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
NOUN also intends encouraging student-users of the Study Centres to initiate a variety of “social” uses of its facilities. They may form a local sports/games clubs; they may hold peer-tutorials and less formal, mutual, academic support meetings at the Centre. They may be led to regard it as their “clubs” where serious academic pursuits may intermingle with informal socializing.
Members of Staff of the Directorate of Learner’s Support Services
Dr. Sefinat O. Omuya
Hajia Fatima Bashir
Matthew O. Imomoh
Principal Assistant Registrar
Asst. Chief Confidential Secretary
Nsa Deborah Nsa
Administrative Officer I
Rita Mancha Kaneng
Administrative Officer II
Assistant Chief Clerical Officer
Senior Secretarial Assistant 1
Senior Clerical Officer
Assistant Chief Environmental Attendant
Assistant Chief Artisan-Driver