During the outbreak of Covid-19 in the world, many things were affected, including the education system of the country. Schools were shut down and forced to take online classes to continue with the school activities.
This article focuses on the effectiveness of online learning during the Covid-19 period, the challenges, and how the country can maximize this new learning platform to improve the country’s education system.
Online learning, or e-learning as it is generally called in Nigeria, integrates electronic technology into the education system.
E-learning offers students considerable benefits, including the convenience of time, place, and availability of a greater variety of learning resources.
Historically, the development of online learning can be traced back to telecommunication development, which began in 1886 when the colonial masters established e-cable connections. In 1983, National Open University was established by an Act of the National Assembly as the first distance learning tertiary institution in Nigeria.
During the pandemic outbreak, many schools and private tutors look for a way to continue to engage their students. Most of the platforms that most schools use include telegram, WhatsApp, skype, zoom, LMS (Learning Management System), etc. The LMS is the e-learning platform created on the school portal where students can download lecture materials, submit an assignment, take CBT, etc.
Lagos State government made an effort by creating a website (lagosschoolsonline.com) where students can access world-class online learning resources, which can be downloaded and printed for use by teachers in the classroom or parents at home to support the learning of pupils.
However, some teachers, lecturers, and students complained that virtual learning platform isn’t as effective as physical classes. In Nigeria, we are used to physical classes, and online classes are a bit strange to us, so the transition process was a bit difficult for both students and teachers.
In my children’s school and many other schools in Nigeria, the idea of e-learning was aborted, especially at the primary and junior secondary school level, because many parents felt it isn’t going to work out. Some of the excuses given include inadequate power supply, high rate of internet data charged by the network providers, poor network services, teachers are inexperienced to handle e-classes, and how children will be monitored if parents aren’t at home during the remote learning, etc.
So there are many excuses that made the e-classes not work out in Nigeria, and the majority of students were made to stay at home for the period of the lockdown without interacting with their teachers.
Challenges of E-Learning in Nigeria
High rate of Data Charged by Network Provider
The cost of 1Gigabyte is N1000, and the usage of this data is limited. My point is if the learning platform is Zoom, you can’t use 1GB for 1hr because it can’t be enough. So many people can’t afford this amount daily or weekly for their children to use for learning.
Epileptic Power Supply
The power supply in this country is not encouraging, which is one reason why e-learning is ineffective. To effectively charge your mobile device, you need close to a 3-4hrs power supply and there are some areas or even cities that can’t boast of 5 hours power supply.
Poor/Slow network services
For compelling learning adventure online, the network service must be solid and fast. Sometimes network services are worst, especially during rainy season. The downloading and uploading speed can be less than 10kb/s during the rainy season. To get a downloading speed or uploading speed of 1Mb/s is very rare. So this is one of the significant challenges online classes are facing in Nigeria.
Response of students during online classes
During e-learning, students respond half-heartedly, and some are not even interested in what you teach online. As a tutor, I discovered that majority of students prefers social media than online class. For example, suppose a teacher engages a student on the telegraph, and a friend just uploaded a picture on Instagram. In that case, the student will prefer to view the image rather than stay connected to the class. This way, the student gets distracted.
Finally, the government should look for a way to solve these challenges facing online learning in Nigeria by providing the basic amenities that can aid learning. By doing this, primary, secondary, and tertiary institutions will be able to maximize the benefits that comes with remote learning.