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COVID-19: Nigerian public university system, e-learning as substitute

COVID-19 has not only posed an indelible mark in virtually all spheres of our lives from health care, education, big and small business enterprises, private sectors etc. for the elitist, middle, lower class workers and the unemployed, but has exposed our lack of preparedness in a continuously dynamic and technologically evolving world.

The impact of COVID-19 was not only disastrous in the developed world in terms of death rate but has also led to disruptions in production of goods and services, pushing many into unemployment and families into poverty.

The Nigerian public university system has been in a sour taste for decades as a result of inadequate and overstretched facilities, lack of up-to-date research equipment, poor remuneration and motivation of academics as compared to their international counterparts; unstable government policies, non-commitment to agreements and lack of will power by successive governments to take the bull by the horn in addressing these issues once and for all has caused interruptible academic strikes by ASUU (Academic Staff Union of Universities).

Government should create prosperous environment and policies in the research fields of mechatronics, robotics and artificial intelligence as the world will never be the same as technology is fast changing the way we do things e.g. going to markets, schools and some work places will no longer be customary with time.

E-learning which has long taken its roots in developed countries will be the new normal of uninterrupted mode of learning.

Many world class universities like Harvard and Cambridge are yet to resume face-to-face teaching with possibility of resumption either in fall (October) or up till 2021.

Many private universities in Nigeria have continued with their sessions online, which is in reality effective, comfortable and a robust teach-from-home depending on how well prepared the instructor/tutor/lecturer is.

Teaching is done via the aid of free google classroom with user friendly teaching aid menus to construct ‘meet video’ live link, assignments, tests, exams, CBTs or provide lecture materials.

Lectures could be automatically saved in google drive if the recording button was triggered from the onset.

So many resources are available to aid in constructing teaching slides as the mode is entirely different form face to face learning.

Lectures could be live where there is internet network stability or could be pre-recorded and linked with u-tube channel accessible by students where network is not reliable.

Even practical online resources and software are available for students in the sciences and engineering field where laboratory practical are required.

Adopting e-learning in the public universities is undoubtedly going to be an enormous and challenging task considering the huge number of students in hundreds, lack of available gadgets and devices by both tutors and students, procurement of internet data recharge (teach-from-home) and poor remuneration of academics.

You just don’t use any laptop for online teaching, you need a high quality audio laptop to effectively deliver.

Because of the nature of delivery and possibility of being recorded and used several times by students and supervising authority, high sense of preparedness is put into it.

This could only be realised when good remuneration and motivation to academics are guaranteed and thus will set ablaze the passion for e-teaching by academics with great potential of being effective in public university systems.

Though, I don’t personally subscribe to reopening of schools as COVID-19 is still posing potential danger to the world, but the switch to e-learning is indispensable and invaluable in the present circumstance we find ourselves.

Reopen schools and endanger the lives of our children and students OR how long shall we continue to wait?

 

Dr. B. Dan-asabe, Senior Lecturer, Department of Mechanical, Automotive and Mechatronics Engineering, A.B.U. Zaria.  bashar.dan.asabe@gmail.com

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