CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS OF E – EDUCATION IN NIGERIA: A CASE STUDY OF NATIONAL OPEN UNIVERSITY, BENIN CITY CENTER
BACKGROUND OF STUDY
It is a widely accepted fact that technology enhanced system of education, including distance and online instructions, is the known viable instrument necessary for preparing students to participate in the computer-driven teaching and learning activity. The concepts computer-aided teaching and computer-aided learning have given birth to computer-aided instruction, and all combined together to form the basis of e-education. Moreover, access to instruction through the internet is flexible, ensures broad viability and availability of educational opportunities. It is cost effective system of passing instruction to students and learning materials can be accessed irrespective of time and space. The use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) in education has become more and more popular globally.
E-education according to Craige (2007) is the computer and network enabled transfer of skills and knowledge for the diffusion of innovative teaching and learning. E-education according to Rosenberg is the process by which people acquire skills or knowledge for the purpose of enhancing their performance through the internet or intranet and multimedia which leads to reinforced learning by means of video, audio, quizzes and other forms of interaction. Ahmad (2012) maintained that e-education is all about learning with the use of technologies presumably computers and other modern day tools such as phones. E-education involves the use of electronic technology to deliver lessons and teachings, to monitor students’ performance and to report the students’ progress. Hedge and Hayward (2004) view it as an innovative approach for delivering electronically mediated, well-designed, learner-centered and interactive learning and teaching environments to anyone, at any place, at anytime. Its success is mainly based on its benefits and distinctive features; it is easily accessible, cost efficient, gives students the flexibility of learning, it helps provide uniform delivery to all users reducing chances of misinterpretations, as well as promoting team learning and collaboration. Information technology application to education is being deployed all over the world in varying modes from sector to sector; these range from basic e-education or distant learning to the use of small device such as mobile phones.
Education has shifted from the traditional form of education towards new methods of teaching and learning through the explosion of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). The continuous advances in information technology have enabled the realization of a more distributed structure of knowledge transfer through the development of e-education. The developing countries have embraced Information and Communications Technologoies and consequently e-education so as to keep pace with unimaginable speed in the area of technology. The use of Information and Communications Technologies in Nigeria and African countries generally is increasing and dramatically growing.
Classroom and digital collaboration where contents is delivered via the internet, intranet and extranet, audio and or video tapes, satellite TV and CD-ROM are the specification for e-education (Arbaugh, 2000). In Nigeria using National Open University of Nigeria Benin City center as a case study, the commonest type of e-education adopted is in form of lectures note on internet which can be played as at when the students desires. The challenge of this method is unavailability of internet facilities and it is also un-interactive in nature as compared to when lectures are been received in the classroom. Most e-students in Nigeria go to the cyber cafe but because there are people of diverse intension on the net at the same time, and the bandwidth problem, a multimedia interactive cannot be done. Despite all these and other challenges facing e-education in Nigeria educational institution, institutions such as University of Ibadan, Obafemi Awolowo University, University of Benin, University of Abuja, University of Lagos, National Open University of Nigeria among others has the facilities for e-education. The number seems very low (compared to other parts of the world and the usefulness of the e-education in the economy development) because of location of most institutions, bandwidth issue and mostly the challenge of electricity. Although most educational institutions (private and public) have started setting up their Information and Communications Technologies centers for internet services alone without actually taking into consideration other components of e-education centre. The greatest success of e-education in Nigeria is the establishment of National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) (an online and distance learning federal university in Nigeria) on which this study is based.
The National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), was established in July, 1983, by an Act of the National Assembly (as the first distance learning and teaching which are the basis of education in tertiary institution) in Nigeria when it became crystal clear to the then Federal Government that the ever growing demand for education by her people cannot be met by the traditional means of face-to-face classroom instructional delivery. The institution was closed down few weeks after its establishment and the Act that established the University was suspended in 1984 by the then Federal Military Government that overthrew the civilian government. Many years after the closure, the compelling reasons that informed the earlier establishment of the university as well as the need to fill the gap created by the Federal Government clamped down on mushroom outreach study centers of many conventional universities all over the country and the need to take advantage of emerging developments in the field of Information and Communications Technologies which have revolutionalized the techniques and methods of instructional deliveries in the distance education mode necessitated the reactivation of the suspended NOUN Act of 1983 in 2002. This paved the way for the resuscitation of the NOUN. Keegan (1998) once said of Online-education as being “Characterized by the separation of teachers and learners which distinguishes it from self study and private tutoring, the use of a computer network to present or distribute some educational content, the provision of two-ways communication via a computer network so that students may benefit from communication with each other, teachers, and staff ”, linking it with the description of e-education which Arbaugh, (2000) stated that “ e-education implies the abilities of people to use information technology and the internet to learn and teach, improve their teaching and learning skills and strengthen their capabilities in the information society ”.
The emergence and proliferation of new information and communication technologies (ICT), had introduced an unstoppable revolution into education particularly in the areas of teaching and learning. The Internet and the web have further raised the revolutionary tempo especially through the enhancement of e-education. For most open and distance education providers, e-education had added another dimension to the issue of access. While Open and Distance Learning, ODL, itself is hailed by nations as bailing them out of the problem of providing access to education to the masses, e-education is further extending the frontiers by further removing distance from education and helping individuals who can, to access education anywhere, anytime, at their own pace and at any place. E-education offers students excellent opportunities for individual communication with their study materials, study resources, and their tutors. It is the interactive exploits technology and communication systems to improve the learning and teaching experience. It has the potential to transform the way we teach and learn across the board (i.e.24 hours / 7 days) throughout the year. It can raise standards, and widen participation in lifelong education. It is important to bear this in mind that E-education as learning facilitated online through network technologies involves the utilization of virtual technologies in the practice of teaching, learning and assessment (Lee, Hong and Ling, 2002) and at National Open University of Nigeria, e-learning activities started with the most basic use of audio tapes and progressed to the use of CD-ROM, interactive videos and now, the university has a most standard e-learning laboratory using one of the best Learning Management Systems, LMS. The National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN, sprang from the ashes of the defunct National Open University, which was abruptly closed down by a military government in April 1984, barely one year after its establishment. In the year 2000, after an international workshop co-hosted by the Commonwealth of Learning, COL, and the Nigerian Federal Government, the years 2001–2010 were declared a decade of opening distance educational centers in Nigeria. Thereafter, a time-line was drawn for series of activities and implementation strategies. One of such strategies was the resuscitation of the defunct Open University which now had to be re-named National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN). E-education which is basically the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to enhance and support all learning, teaching and research activities in Nigeria(Eteng and Ntui, 2009). It was clear in the mind of the planner’s right from the beginning that e-education would play a major role in the teaching and learning delivery system of the university.
The National Policy on education (FRN, 2004) places emphasis on the provision and utilization of Information and Communication (ICT) when it states that “In recognition of the prominent roles of information and communication technology in advancing knowledge and skills necessary for effective functioning in the modern world, there is urgent need to integrate Information and Communication Technology (ICT) into education in Nigeria”. Educational institutions are getting more interested in improving their program with ICT tools and applications to introduce flexibility in the teaching and learning process.
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
The call for utilization of e-education in various educational sectors / unit on instructional delivery is to infuse and inject efficiency and effectiveness in curriculum implementation. However, in developing countries like Nigeria, e-learning is challenged with the problem of material devices such as computer, computer laboratories, internet and email facilities, videophone systems and teleconferencing devices, fax and wireless applications, digital library, digital classrooms, multimedia systems and the problem of multimedia courseware development among others. Other studies indicates that there is dearth of professional trained and skilled teachers and professionals for e-education, lack of facilities, infrastructures and equipments (Jegede and Owolabi, 2008). It is against this study determine the extent of various challenges facing e-education as well as to examine its prospects and benefits to the education industry if well utilized in Nigeria using National Open University, Benin City Center as a case study.
OBJECTIVES OF STUDY
The general purpose of this study is to analyze the challenges and prospects of e-education in Nigeria using National Open University, Benin City Center as a case study. The specific objectives are to;
- To identify the challenges of e-education in National Open University of Nigeria, Benin City center
- To analyze the prospects of e-education in National Open University of Nigeria, Benin City center
- To examine the effectiveness of e-education in National Open University of Nigeria, Benin City center
- To examine the adequacy of instructional materials for e-education in National Open University of Nigeria, Benin City center
In trying to find solutions to specific problems arising from challenges and prospects of e-education in National Open University of Nigeria, Benin city center, the following research questions were asked.
- What are the challenges of e-education in National Open University of Nigeria, Benin City center?
- What are the prospects of e-education in National Open University of Nigeria, Benin City center?
- What is the effectiveness of e-education in National Open University of Nigeria, Benin City center?
- What is the adequacy of instructional materials for e-education in National Open University of Nigeria, Benin City center?
H01: There are no significant challenges of E-education in National Open University of Nigeria, Benin City center.
H02: There are no significant prospects in E-education in National Open University of Nigeria, Benin City center.
SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
The outcome of this study will provide a diagnostics basis for solving problems on challenges facing e-education as well as knowing the prospects of e-education in Nigerian university education especially in the distant learning system.
It might also help to change the altitude of students as well as teachers/lecturers towards e-education since the results of this study must have educated on the challenges and prospects of e-education.
Also, it will reveal the role of Government to the development of e-education through the provision of e-education equipments as manifested in the results showing the level of effectiveness and adequacy of e-education instructional resources in distant learning universities in Nigeria.
Concept of e-education
The term e-education means something different to almost everyone who uses it. Some use the term to refer to pieces of content packaged using technical infrastructures. Some think only of web-based self-study, while others realize e-education can encompass real-time learning, teaching and collaboration. Almost all also agree that e-education is of strategic importance and that e-education is an effective method that should be blended and incorporated into the current learning and education style.
E-education refers to the use of internet / ICTs i.e. Information and Communication Technology to enhance and support teaching and learning process. It is a way of using wireless and internet technologies to deliver a broad array of training solutions. E-education refers to learning and teaching through the use of computers via the internet or an intranet, or through a hand held device like mobile phone, palm pilot. Marc Rosenberg (2001) suggested the following definition of e-education as “the use of Internet technologies to deliver a broad array of solutions that enhance knowledge and performance. In less than two short years this definition has expanded to include wireless as well as internet technologies often working together to the delivery of focused learning and teaching through the internet. We are all familiar with classroom-based education (c-education) which is face-to-face group learning led by an instructor or subject matter expert. In e-education environments learners interact with learning materials, their instructors and other learners from various locations and often at various times using network technologies. So by its nature, e-education offers significant flexibility as to when and how education occurs. E-education can include independent, facilitated, or collaborative approaches to learning and teaching. However, Facilitated learning is designed to be completed through the online interaction with instructors or coaches. There are several ways and methods to achieve this task, for example, a learner might complete a section of learning on-line then discuss key concepts via e-mail with the instructor, with classmates or the coaches. E-education can be synchronous (meaning learners are experiencing the learning at the same time) or asynchronous (meaning learners are experiencing the learning at different times) or it can incorporate both drawing on the strengths of each. Independent learning is, by definition, asynchronous. Facilitated and collaborative can be either asynchronous or synchronous. Salleh et al (2010) described e-education as the use of Information and Communication Technology e.g. Internet, computer, mobile phone, Learning Management System (LMS), Radios, Televisions and other to enhance teaching and learning activities. They see e-education as a unifying term used to describe the fields on online education, technology delivered instructions and web – based training.