This study was done to gauge the sensitivity of University teachers to the use of emerging technologies for teaching in Nigerian universities. The study was a survey of the academic of the Faculties of Education in Universities across North Central Nigeria. The study is borne out of the need to x-ray some complexities in the Nigerian educational system that may likely underlie the rather slow pace and magnitude of use of relevant emerging technologies in teaching in Nigerian universities. The paper attempted to measure the level of awareness and responsiveness as well as proficiency among university teachers in the use of emerging technologies like use of personal computers, computerized grading, e-textbooks, gammification, simulation, active and flipped classrooms in teaching. A semi-structured questionnaire was used to collect data which was analyzed using simple percentages. Findings indicate that the percentage level of awareness of the existence of some relevant technologies for teaching is generally very low while teacher responsiveness is as low and invariably poor. The percentage skill level was also very low. It was concluded that the relative slow pace of the application of emerging ICT for teaching in Nigerian universities is likely connected with teachers’ sensitivity to the use of such ICTs in teaching. It was recommended among other things that educators generally and university teachers in particular should be made aware of relevant emerging technologies through policies and regulations that ensure teachers at such a discerning level of education are fully trained and incentivized to use the relevant ICT in delivering their diverse services like the most needed rich scholarly content as well as relevant skills for the 21st Century learner.
Teacher sensitivity, Emerging Technology, Nigerian Universities
The modern technology has continued to introduce amazing changes in the contemporary society in all spheres of human life personally and professionally, with education at the fore. In Nigeria since the awareness and use of ICT in higher institutions in 2004 for processing students’ records in the aspects of registration and school charges it has continued to grow in other dimensions albeit slow and not without challenges. Sequel to this awareness, the National Universities Commission (NUC) charged with regulating Nigerian universities, recommended in 2007 that Nigerian universities should ensure the provision of personal computers (PCs) for all universities in the ratio of 1 PC to 2 lecturers below the rank of Lecturer I, 1 PC per lecturer I/senior lecturer, and 1 notebook per Professor/Reader. But up till date nearly ten years after this recommendation was issued, the condition is far from been met. It is understood that the ICT has already invaded and dominated universities in the developed world, while in Nigeria it has been painfully slow while most lecturers are yet to acquire PCs and the requisite ICT skills, even where opportunities exists for them to do so. As observed by Aginam (2006) this may likely attributes to the low use of ICT in Nigerian Universities coupled with the problems of poor infrastructure for cyber centers, computer equipped classrooms or high speed internet in most university campuses as well as the rather epileptic power supply typical of a Nigerian society. It is interesting that the Federal Government introduction of Universal Mandatory Information Technology Training (UMITT) is now being embraced by universities but it still leaves much to be desired because less than 12 percent of the Nigerian academic curricula have digital content. There is however reason to harness the potential of these developments in the service of high quality higher education as this will have an ultimate multiplier effect on other levels of education in Nigeria, (The European Commission, 2014). The socio-economic imperatives that call for higher level skills and a growing need for lifelong education is as offered by the digital technologies. The Commission estimates the worldwide demand for higher education to grow exponentially in this knowledge driven era, which growth will be particularly driven by emerging economies like China and India. They also assert that it is most likely that enrolments in university education may continue to rise particularly for countries like Nigeria that are experiencing increasing explosive populations in educational enrolments. Such projections raise worthwhile questions concerning how prepared tertiary institutions and teachers in Nigeria are to get on the digital wavelength to sustain and improve the quality of instruction and learning experience in the face of continuing growth and diversifying student populations as well as institutional responsiveness to meeting the broad range of needs implied. The concern therefore is how aware and responsive teachers in Nigerian Universities are to the emerging ICT. This study attempts to gauge teacher sensitivities involved in the use of these new technologies and the pedagogical tools that can be harnessed in administering higher quality university education.
A survey was conducted in search for answers to the questions highlighted here:
1. What percentage of Nigerian university teachers are aware of the existence of emergent technologies for use in teaching?
2. How responsive are Nigerian university teachers to the use of the emerging technologies for teaching in the classroom?
3. How equipped are Nigerian university teachers to use relevant emerging technologies in teaching their courses?
Ahalt and Fecho in their study in 2015 asserted that some emerging technologies hold great promise for enriching and revitalizing the Nigerian higher education generally and the university in particular by bringing desirable educational reforms. These technologies include Computerized Grading, Electronic Textbooks or e-textbooks; Simulation Technology; Gamification; Flipped Classrooms; Active Learning Classrooms; Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs); Collaborative Distance Learning Environments; Active Learning Forum Platforms and Learning Management Systems (LMSs). For this study it is apt to research in-depth on issues of responsiveness and the scale of use of some of these and other technologies in higher education in developing countries like Nigeria.
Higher education is the type of education that follows the secondary education and as provided by the Nigerian National Policy on Education (2004) it is education of a higher level taking its roots from the elementary education. Higher education may range from polytechnics, colleges of education and advanced professional studies; colleges of Arts, science and technologies; universities and seminaries. University education is one that is characterized by a high academic and scholarly spirited education system that imparts knowledge in one field of specialty or another like teaching, social sciences, medicine, humanities and arts while helping the beneficiaries to perceive the world and facts of life more rationally. It is an institutional education that typically includes undergraduate and postgraduate programs in various disciplines. There is a rapidly growing demand for university education as people seek to develop their capabilities by self-improvement to improve their job prospects and social status ( Krishnakumar and Rajest Kumar, 2011).
The use of electronic technology in education simply points to a wide array of computer based technology that encompasses relevant tools that may enhance teaching and learning. By emerging here means newly developed or appearing ones, implying that technological tools are continuously evolving to feature better innovations to bring forth ‘the state of the art’ with higher qualities and easier applications in the field. They may range from web-based teaching materials, blogs, the hyper/multimedia CD-ROMs, collaborative software, e-mails, wi-fis, educational animations, simulations, games, learning management systems/software. Using technology for teaching may as well encompass e-learning which involves all other aspects of computer-based training, use of mobile devices and web-based facilities for teaching and learning. The dynamic interface offered by the screen technology has continued to evolve even more relevant tools that hold great promise for enhancing the provision of most needed rich content in Nigerian university education and can help deliver supportive innovations for teaching in higher education generally. For example the video has found very useful applications for teaching and learning some abstract phenomenon, concepts by helping individuals to watch same content as many times as need be till it is mastered.
Teachers’ sensitivity to use of technology simply refers to two key areas of teacher attitude involving awareness and responsiveness. How well informed are teachers in Nigerian universities about emerging technologies they can harness for use in teaching and this goes beyond mere acquisition of relevant academic qualifications in areas of one’s specialty. Responsiveness here refers to the act of reacting quickly, strongly or favorably to the applications offered by the emerging technology. It also involves willingness to make adjustments by way of changing attitudes/mindsets as well as acquiring relevant skills through training to fit in with such technological innovations as it relates to the pedagogical provisions of the courses taught.
A Personal Computer (PC) refers to a single-user computer with its own operating system and a wide selection of software, intended to be used by one person. The computer is the hub of each emerging technology from the desktop, laptop, classmate, notepad or the palmtop the central thing been to process data, store, edit and retrieve as the need may be. Most cell phones are now imbued with these attributes in addition to internet connectivity to provide adequate access to the World Wide Web for all and sundry. This of course underscores the necessity of the emerging technologies in all spheres of human endeavor especially in education, (Atser, 2015).
Computerized grading refers to the technique that uses artificial intelligence to determine the statistical probability that a human grader would award a particular grade to an essay. It uses software that searches the aspects of writing like number of words, spellings, punctuation as well as sentence structure/average length of sentence and accuracy of quotes (Strauss in Ahalt and Fecho, 2015). According to Markoff (2013) and Cody (2014) computerized grading makes use provides feedbacks as well as help standardize the grading process. In Nigeria computerized grading has continued to gain applications with the erection of computer based testing centers in some universities and institutions across the Nation. Some examination bodies like the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board have also taken to computerized examinations. It is believed that computerized grading cuts some costs involved in running examinations notwithstanding some inherent challenges.
E-textbooks are internet/tools that provide greater portability and reduced cost in procuring and use of books. Compared to the traditional paper book e-textbooks are aimed at creating a big time dynamic interactive learning experience for students by linking them with real world data and references wherever. According to Murray and Perez (2011) this technological tool empowers students with data to explore graphical software packages, statistical texts and other forms of data analysis.
Simulation technology is an electronic tool that actively engages students in the learning process while allowing them to practice and master needed skills with flexibility and in safety (Damassa and Stiko, 2010). The Simulation technology which had initial roots in aviation industry and other high risk industries like the military and nuclear energy has now found good applications in education and as an important training tool for medical and health sciences. In medical settings team based role playing can be experienced while micro-teaching and micro-counselling skills can also be studied using same tool.
Gamification on the other hand refers to the use of game theory and practices in developing digital simulation for e-learning. It is a concept that is premised on the principle that if learners are engaged with the learning process they can achieve greater academic success especially using competition, incentives and goal attainment. It makes use of relevant games that make learning all fun, less drudgery but more engaging.
Flipped learning /classrooms is a web-based learning tool in which educators prepare online lectures and interactive lessons that students are required to review before coming to class while the subsequent class time is spent engaging in ‘hands-on’ kind of homework discussion and other relevant classroom activities. It provides more personalized instructions and works on the principle of active learning even for higher classroom populations. According to EDUCAUSE (2014) and Yarbro et al (2014) flipped classroom requires high quality online video content that is simultaneously engaging and informative which. This calls for sufficient training to make teachers proficient not only in administering the flipped classroom but also integrating the online and in-class instruction into the entire course curriculum. In ideal digitalized classrooms, the flipped classroom is a condensed classroom with compressed and summarized learning material that can be easily understood and assimilated by students (Bogost, 2014). It has good applications for practical oriented curriculum as in the Fine and Dramatic Arts, Carpentry and Joinery as well as food processing lessons.
Closely related to the flipped classroom is the concept of active learning wherein both teachers and students are engaged in the learning process through collaborative classroom activities and reflections. It is done in an environment featured with round computer and network-equipped tables to accommodate small student teams and a central teaching station for teacher circulation and multiple computer screens placed strategically to enhance visual hearing that gives a dynamic learning environment (Beichner, 2014). The active learning classroom has great potential for promoting team-oriented, highly collaborative and student driven teacher facilitated ‘hands on’ learning experience that prepares students for the real world –learning by doing interactive process. It also holds great promise for improving performance of low achievers while it can be applied to both large and small class sizes. It has been reportedly adopted at the university of Minnesota and North Carolina State University (http//www.nesu.edu/per/Scaleup.html).
- Quote paper
- Comfort Atser (Author), 2018, Teachers' Sensitivity to Emerging Electronic Technology for Teaching in Nigerian Universities, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/439056