As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to keep countries and economies under lock, there has been a lot of shift from the physical ways of doing things to more digital methods. Remote work, for instance, has seen a spike in the adoption of remote working tools like Zoom, Slack and others.
Religion, one of the most vibrant aspects of our country has seen the adoption of online worship platforms to keep the faithful in communion with God.
e-Commerce and payments platforms also saw a spike in usage and engagement as more people shopped online due to the growing pandemic.
But education has suffered tremendously since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic as schools had been forced to shut down to check the spread. While some states like Ogun and Kaduna tried different methods of continuous education, they just weren’t anywhere as effective.
Tertiary education has suffered too as university students have remained at home without much to do. This has led to calls from several quarters about the problem of redundancy and why Nigerian universities, like their counterparts elsewhere, can’t initiate e-learning for their students.
The chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof Biodun Ogunyemi has responded that Nigerian Universities can’t carry out e-learning because lecturers lack the required skills to execute it.
In a chat with Punch, the academic don expressed concerns about the quality of content that would be generated by lecturers who already struggle with face to face engagements.
According to the chairman, explaining concepts and illustrating presentations are already hard enough in actual lecture rooms. Trying them out on virtual platforms might be problematic for the lecturers and hard to understand for the students, a situation he described as “garbage in and garbage out.”
“So if you talk of tertiary institutions, the first thing is when they (lecturers) don’t have the skills they will water down the quality in terms of content generation, what should go into content, it is different from loading students with materials.Prof Biodun Ogunyemi
This challenge is asides the more obvious infrastructural challenges like constant power, reliable and affordable internet, requisite hardware like laptops or macs, and other infrastructural requirements.
While these infrastructural requirements have mostly been viewed through the lenses of the students, many of whom may not be able to get and sustain the availability of these resources, Prof Ogunyemi says these requirements are even more pressing on the part of the lecturers and the institutions in general.
“I think the first question we need to ask ourselves is: do we have the infrastructure for that?” the chairman asked. “When you talk of infrastructures in the institutions concerned, do they have facilities?”
This utterances by the ASUU brings to the fore the poor digital state of the country’s universities.
The admitted lack of infrastructure on one hand and the debilitating lack of pedagogical skills on the part of the lecturers indicates how far behind Nigerian institutions have fallen when compared to the rest of the world.
Different institutions have tried some form of e-learning during the lockdown. These efforts are mostly limited to Zoom, emails and WhatsApp. But these efforts soon fizzled out as the lecturers and students largely couldn’t keep up with the tedious requirements.
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