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VOX POP: Is e-learning a viable alternative to classroom learning?

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Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, students in Nigeria and abroad have been forced to look for alternative means of education.

As at Tuesday, June 16, 2020, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC’s) statistics show Nigeria has 17,148 total confirmed cases. Out of the figure, 5,623 have been discharged and 455 deaths recorded.

Some offices are partially opened, but schools remain shut. Therefore, parents tutoring and e-learning have become two of the more popular methods of education as students are forced to stay at home to cushion the effect of the pandemic.

Ultimately, e-Learning has become one of the more embraced trends because of its flexibility and accessibility.

However, many people have pointed to some factors that can deter the smooth operation of e-learning if not managed properly.

In Nigeria, e-learning has been a subject of mixed feelings among many academic stakeholders for various reasons.

While many clamour for its development as a viable alternative to classroom learning, others think otherwise and hold the assertion that the country is not yet prepared to embrace such development with the belief it would complicate the educational system.

Be that as it may, the Covid-19 pandemic and the abrupt closure of schools nationwide has brought e-learning to the centre stage again as a critical subject of discussion.

Understandably, many Nigerians are proposing that e-learning infrastructures are provided as an alternative to traditional classroom education at least until the COVID-19 pandemic is resolved.

Others believe that e-learning is not a proper method of education, and argue that classroom education is the best method of teaching.

In view of this, TechEconomy.ng decided to sample the opinions of Nigerians on the controversial topic. Below are excerpts:

Jefferey Okougha:

“Yes, I believe e-learning is a viable alternative to classroom learning especially in this digital age that we are. It should be encouraged and given a platform to thrive.

But just like any other things there are some challenges to it especially in Nigeria:

First, Power:

“We still do not operate 24 hrs power supply. And without power,  the devices needed may not function well.

Secondly, Data and Internet providers:

“To achieve success with e learning, we need access to 24hrs internet and cheap data plans that are fast and reliable. Data here is very expensive and internet speed is something that is a huge challenge. Imagine having lectures and connections reboots, hangs or stops. It makes learning frustrating and slow learners will feel it even more.

Thirdly, Internet restrictions:

“Kids are prone to surf the internet and check other sites. Without proper guidance they can have access into adult sites that might damage them or turn them into bad kids. So there should be proper restrictions to certain sites so as to guide them.

Mia 

Of course, It is a viable alternative. I know some parents doing home school for their children.

What is not viable is when you say it is the only option. It is not possible.

Restriction of what your children can see can easily be done on Apple devices.

Here are some of the considerations that matter: Data, Electricity, Expense for the course itself. 

And the pedigree of the courses as well.

“If the parents can afford the time, constant electricity, sufficient data, proper check-ups on assignments and stuff, then yes It is. 

Certainly, it should not be the only option. It will be unrealistic

Precious Ogwara 

No I don’t believe E- learning is an alternative to classroom learning due to the following considerations:

One, it is complicated. Not everyone will get it, not everyone will understand it.

Two, limited interaction: Since E-learning is not physical, interactions won’t be active compared to physical learning. Reactions will also be passive.

Three, financial constraint: Unlike classroom education which is free or at a very minimal cost, E-learning requires spending money on internet connection subscriptions which can be a financial burden to many.  

It will be a good development If the government can make data subscription more affordable and if possible, provide free internet spots across the country so that E-learning can be made   easily accessible to every student.

Ndubuisi Umoro

Yes. E-learning is the way to go. It is a viable alternative today especially in the light of the present reality occasioned by the pandemic. E-learning enables students to have access to more resource materials that aid learning. It exposes the students to learning that they may not have access to in the classroom and facilitates interactive engagement between the students and the teachers.

Several factors that negates the success of e-learning in the Nigerian education system include; 

Poverty- Many Nigerian homes are poverty stricken and many students can’t afford the devices necessary for e-learning; poor knowledge of operating the devices.

Epileptic power supply; lack of political will on the part of the government to invest in such developments and availability of funds, provision of infrastructure, training/retraining of d users, adequate power supply, political will, etc.

Boluwatife Bakare:

No, I don’t believe e-learning is an alternative to classroom learning. Reason being that students over here  won’t take it seriously, for example, there was a course we did via e-learning, everyone I know will just go online to mark attendance and after that, they leave d class.

Itunu 

No, e-learning is not an alternative to classroom education due to the following;

Lack of funds. In this context I meant an average Nigerian student doesn’t  have an Android phone. Even if he or she has a smartphone, most often, they do not have money to buy data

Lack of concentration. Most secondary School students would rather indulge in social media activities and video games rather than concentrate on e-learning. 

Victoria Mbachu

“E-learning is not a viable alternative to classroom learning, especially in Nigeria.

Major issues associated with e-learning include:

Erratic power supply; unfavourable internet facilities /connection; the inability of parents/guardians and even the pupils and students themselves to manipulate and operate the computer gadgets”

Titilope Saizonou

“When we are talking about e-learning, it is a digital access to perform classroom duties, for easy understanding to gain more knowledge,The point is that e-learning is very important because we are already in a digital world

Some of the factors that hinder e-learning methods include:

“Lack of Smart phones – smart phones are one of the tools that an individual should have for e-learning but a lot of students do not possess it. Without  smartphones, it is difficult for the students to perform any online learning.

“Data- this is very important because without data connection, you can’t access any information during e-learning.

“Limitation in focus: Many students abuse this opportunity and would be found doing other distracting things online like Facebook, WhatsApp , Twitter, Instagram, etc. Which makes them not to focus on their online lecture.

“I think teachers and students should be enlightened on the importance of e-learning. The government also has to invest in it for our education to move forward.

Yetunde Olusesi

“Yes, I do think e-learning is an alternative to classroom learning and this is based on my e-learning experience in school. The tendency of understanding was high as there was no distraction like side talks while the lecture was on.

“Another advantage is that you can record and replay the lecture which helps the brain to retain information better compared to classroom teaching where the lecture can easily be forgotten.

Florence Azebokhai

“I think e-learning is a viable alternative to classroom learning but the problem with many Nigerians is that they are resistant to change and prefer to continue with the form of learning they have been used to.

“Many people are scared of making use of technology. I personally wish that it is encouraged by the educational authorities. The following issues should also be put into consideration.

“Data: The internet service providers are making it difficult for internet subscribers. Data subscription is expensive and this discourages people from embracing e-learning. The internet service providers can resolve this issue by giving special internet services to students and teachers to encourage e-learning. 

“Bad internet network: E-learning cannot work successfully in areas where the network is poor as the lecture will keep getting disrupted. Data providers need to improve on their networks to encourage a free flowing e-learning lecture.

“Rigid teachers: Many of the teachers cannot operate e-learning devices and rather than adapt to this new method of teaching, they find it more convenient to continue with the old form of classroom teaching they have been used to.

“The education system should make it mandatory for teachers to be enlightened and educated on how to operate these devices and appreciate the value of e-learning.

Saviour Adugba is a journalist by day and a poet by night. He is fascinated by the internet of things, virtual reality and connecting the dots for brands. Saviour is the Lead, Content Development at TechEconomy.ng.