Digilaw the future of formal education is edtech

Introduction

Edtech is the applicatory transformation of education with technology. The sector is expected to grow at a rate of 7%, amounting to $252 million by 2020.

According to I.K Davies, “Educational technology (EdTech) is concerned with the problems of education and training context and it is characterized by the disciplined and systematic approach to the organization of resources for learning”. In simpler terms, EdTech is basically a learning process through which the internet serves as the bedrock. There is an urgent need for compliance with global shifts in formal education, in order to improve the training and evaluation of students in Nigeria.

Is EdTech Necessary? How Can It Be Adopted?

Everyone learns better online learning as opposed to traditional learning within the four walls of a lecture room. This technological revolution has led to remarkable changes in the way content is accessed, consumed, discussed and distributed. Educational courses are particularly advantageous for students with part time jobs.
The number of EdTech solutions leveraging on the internet is indeed spiraling, with each of them attempting to solve a specific problem. With an estimated population of over 193 million, with 162 million mobile subscribers, an internet penetration rate at 84%, and about 104.6 million internet users as of August 2018, these EdTech startups have gained some level of traction.

According to Statistics, about 10.5 million, (60% coming from Northern Nigeria) are currently out of school. This is the highest number in the world. This figure probably sounds unsurprising. It should be noted that Nigeria’s child population is just about 80 million. The focus of EdTech so far has been extending access to education beyond the conventional classroom setting. This way, every person or student rather can learn in a more efficient way.

“Learning at the tertiary level of education in Nigeria could be described as being effective if it results in bringing about the expected transformations in the attitude, skills and knowledge of higher education students over a period of time”.

– Babalola and Jaiyeoba 2008

The main concern about the poor learning in Nigerian Universities becomes more intense as many Nigerian youths find it difficult to gain employment in the formal sector. It is for this reason, among other that Babalola and Jaiyeoba stressed that university education must keep pace with the advances of learning technologies.

There are several EdTech startups in Nigeria focused on primary and secondary schools such as Prepclass, ProTeach, ScholarX, Tutor.ng, etc. However, what about tertiary institutions in Nigeria? Are there tertiary institutions making use of EdTech? A notable example of this is National Open University of Nigeria which leverages on technology. They upload their lecture notes on their courseware sites. Students of NOUN make use of the website for virtually everything except writing exams. take tests online, download materials from the internet and pay school fees online. Students can learn at their own convenience. This model works for students with part time jobs or families to cater for.
Universities can join the EdTech train by creating their own platform or partnering with EdTech platforms such as Edx, Coursera, Udemy and so on.

Barriers to EdTech in Nigeria

While the EdTech sector is indeed making progress, there is still a lot of resistance slowing down its overall progress. Most of the problems of EdTech are often related to misconceptions, resistance to change and the unwillingness to embrace the change technology brings. A few of these problems include:

  • Inadequate funding
  • Dilapidated infrastructure
  • Poor mindsets/lack of exposure
  • Lack of professionally trained personnel
  • Slow progression of the educational sector in Nigeria
  • Bureaucratic bottlenecks and rigid organizational structure
  • The Nigerian educational system places too much emphasis on examination and certification. This limits the extent to which EdTech tools and techniques can be used in the instructional process

Conclusion

Typically, teaching and learning in Nigerian universities places the teacher/lecturer at the center of everything. In this scenario, learning is quite passive for the student. Teachers most times do the intellectual work while students are the docile receptacles. As technology disrupts other sectors, it will change expectations of what Nigerian university students must learn and how they learn in order to function effectively. EdTech is not a panacea to all educational problems, it does have numerous benefits.

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