From Mudasiru Olalere Yusuf
The story is told of an enthusiastic young teacher who had returned from a workshop on instructional materials production. He regaled the school principal about the value of the workshop. He recounted how devoted he was to the workshop activities, his intention to train other teachers, and willingness to produce instructional materials for the institution. After that, the principal’s four-word response was, “Will ten naira do?”
By implication, the principal subtly told the young man, instructional materials are just mere add-on, that is not worth the expenses. That was the end of the discussion. This story emanates from the seminal publication with the same title by Prof. Abraham Inanoya Imogie, the former Secretary of Education in the Interim Government of Chief Ernest Shonekan. This story provides an insight into institutional leadership as a critical factor in the adoption of online instruction.
Institutional leadership, apart from the teachers, is a crucial enabler in the adoption of online instruction. It determines the direction of an institution. Institutional vision sometimes can be situated within the ideas of the administration. So, the leadership will determine the substantial changes needed to transform instructional delivery through online teaching.
[Institutional heads] must put in place online learning plans and actions that reflect the larger goals, values and strategies of their institutions.
Broadly, at this level, leadership is either transactional or transformational when it comes to technology integration for learning or online instruction. A transactional leader sees ICTs as mere tech daily administration. A transformational leader sees ICTs as a catalyst for change, that is, substantial renewal of the instructional practices, and as tools for learning a wide variety of subject matters. In this context, the technology exists within a transformative vision of learning. While the transactional leader consolidates to finetune the existing instructional delivery with or without technology, a transformational leader takes the risk, really a ‘leap out’ from the confines of the current instructional system. A transformational leader would assist teachers/lecturers to develop for new roles engendered by online instruction as learners, facilitators to student-centred learning, collaborators and researchers.
Vice-Chancellors, Provosts, Rectors and other institutional heads, must become online instruction advocates. They must put in place online learning plans and actions that reflect the larger goals, values and strategies of their institutions. Their internal advocacy must build internal alliances for the success of online instruction. They must recognise online teaching as an innovation that involves experimentation, risk, and imagination. Therefore, they must be leaders in carrying along institutional stakeholders to support and key-in to the expected changes.
Institutional leaders must facilitate a directorate on e-learning or learning technology support units to support faculty and instructors in efforts to develop skills needed to teach online and integrate technology for teaching. The unit is to provide specific technical and functional support for learning technologies. With expert web developers, instructional designers, instructional multimedia specialists, instructional technologists, assessment specialists, and librarians the directorate will collaborate with faculties/schools, departments, units, and teaching staff to develop support systems underlying institutional online course delivery.
Staff and students’ payment for Internet services should not be seen as IGR to service other sectors of the institution.