– Uroupa Kiakubu
New Ways of Learning: why E-learning should be incorporated as an Integral Part of the Nigerian Educational System as the World Evolves
It is no longer news that face-to-face learning in the classroom has been severely hampered by the novel coronavirus pandemic that led to the national lockdown and the closure of schools in Nigeria and across the globe. As a result, various institutions of higher learning across Nigeria have adopted an online approach to teaching and learning. This has led to the use of various online platforms such as Zoom, Telegram and Whatsapp to facilitate e-learning. The private universities in Nigeria are taking the lead while public universities are lagging behind in this area.
The educational sector has been among the hardest hit by the pandemic as academic activities seemed to have grounded to a halt in many Nigerian universities. However, this was not the case with some private universities in the country; instead, they chose to go virtual just like their counterparts in the developed world while the public universities are still waiting for the reopening of schools before resuming academic activities. Some of the private universities that are setting the pace in e-learning in Nigeria include Adeleke University, a private, faith-based institution 200 km north-east of Lagos and Babcock University.
Speaking with University World News, Mr Remigius Obunezi, Director of ICT at Adeleke University said “examinations are going to be conducted online, we are only waiting for the relevant approval from the National Universities Commission. As soon as the approval is given, within a space of two weeks, we can start administering exams. All staff and students have been adequately advised.”
Obunze disclosed that the university took to virtual learning following the closing down of schools by the Federal Government on March 20. He said students have been attending classes via online platforms such as Zoom, WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams as well as an in-house e-learning management system.
The ICT Director of the university also said that the university is preparing to conduct its examinations online for the first time using its custom-built application as the 2019/2020 session draws to a close.
Obunze also revealed that measures have been put in place to guard against examination malpractice.
Furthermore, Obunze disclosed that the University has created a platform for virtual convocations so that students can take part in the ceremony without setting foot on the university’s premises. “Adeleke has created a platform for virtual convocations, so that once students have completed their examinations and the results have been confirmed by the university senate, they can graduate through an interactive online ceremony. So they will just graduate without setting foot into our university,” he said.
Babcock is another private university that is setting the pace in e-learning in Nigeria. The university promptly leveraged online platforms such as Zoom to continue with their academic activities shortly after the closure of schools by the federal government. Exams have also been conducted online. According to Mr Kolade Ajilore, a Professor of Communications Studies at Babcock’s Department of Mass Communication, “Immediately after the lockdown, when it became clear that the re-opening of the university was not foreseeable, we went online,” he said.
This proactive move by private universities is quite laudable; however, it is not without its challenges as some students have aired their views on the new development.
A final-year undergraduate student at Adeleke University had this to say to the University World News, “I am not comfortable with the entire e-learning programme.”
“Even if you have the money, to get good internet reception is a problem. Sometimes you may be in your room and the entire environment may not have [internet] service, and you may have a class at that exact time and it won’t be possible to attend. So, if you’re given a particular hour to write an exam paper and there is no network, how will the person meet the exact timing of the school? If it was in a very technologically advanced country, like America, it could be acceptable, but this is Nigeria.”
Members of the academic community including students and teachers have, however, disclosed to University World News that academic activities have been on hold in public schools since the lockdown.
Lagos State University (LASU) is the only public university that has adopted e-learning since the lockdown.