By Dayo Adesulu
BOthered by the perennial failure of students in Senior School Certificate Examinations, SSCE, and Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, UTME, e-learning platform has been launched to enhance their performance.
You will recall that in 2012, 2013 and 2014 61, 63 and 70 per cent of students who sat for WAEC failed woefully. Also, out of the 1.7 million students who register annually for tertiary examination conducted by the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board JAMB, only 500,000 of them get admission in Nigerian universities.
Speaking at the official launch of the platform at Lagos State University, Lagos, the Initiator and Project Director of the e-learning system, Professor Peter Okebukola said: “Though the e-learning platform was primarily meant for secondary school students in Lagos state, students across the country can register and use the platform free-of-charge.”
He said that the aim of the project is to present difficult topics in the secondary school curriculum in a learner-friendly manner using e-learning and social media protocols to boost the performance of secondary school students in public examinations especially the Senior School Certificate Examinations, SSCE, NECO and UTME.
According to him, the project takes advantage of the availability of mobile phones that students have in the State as not less than two-thirds of secondary school students in the have mobile phones. “The potential of these hand-held devices is waiting to be tapped for teaching and learning,” he added.
Professor Okebukola who pointed out that a good number of secondary school students are addicted to social media interactions noted that e-learning core subjects will be offered through the platform of Facebook and Twitter. He maintained that since students congregate around such media, it is helpful to embed teaching and learning of perceived difficult topics into their use so that students can be served where their hearts are.
He said: “The intervention phase will present 72 learner-friendly lessons to students on topics they indicated as difficult in the six target subjects- English, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Commerce.
The e-learning system has the ability to deliver subject lessons on three platforms- mobile phones, social media and e-learning.”
It presents SSCE and UTME past questions and answers on each topic, highlights common errors students make in school and public examinations. The e-learning system also teaches students 21-century skills.”
The pilot system which is expected to enrol about 5,000 students, he noted, will be for three months after which the content and delivery modes will be improved upon for scaling up state-wide and nationally.
He, however, envisaged that the project will evolve at some point in the future to the LASU E-learning Institute which will be a centre of excellence in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in Nigeria.
His words: “The intervention phase was preceded by a state-wide survey of e-learning readiness of school facilities, students and teachers.
“A total of 3,441 students and 735 teachers in 320 public and private schools from all six Education Districts in Lagos State were surveyed.
“Highlights of the findings of the survey phase showed that although the Lagos State Government had made significant investment in making its public schools e-learning ready, only about a quarter of the teachers rated themselves, overall to be fully e-learning ready.
“About two-thirds of the students expressed confidence in their ability to use ICT for learning and over 65 percent frequently use social media especially Facebook for interaction and sometimes, learning. More than three quarters of teachers and students rated poor internet connectivity as an impediment to e-learning.
“On all measures of e-learning readiness, private schools outperformed their public counterparts. All teachers and students surveyed listed the topics they perceived which were; English, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Commerce. The intervention phase targeted these perceived difficult topics.”
The LASG-LASU E-learning and Social Media Project which is supported by the Lagos State Research and Development Council had in attendance, during the launch, Professor John Obafunwa, Vice Chancellor, LASU, Dean and HOD of the Faculty of Education and a host of others.
Meanwhile, Chairman, Lagos State Research and Development Grant Council, LRDC, Professor Olufemi Bamiro in his goodwill message said: “The LRDC had absolutely no problem in approving for funding the Okebukola-led research on Implementing E-Learning And Deploying Social Media As Innovative Strategies For Boosting Achievement Of Lagos State Secondary School Students.”
He explained that it was not only the pedigree of the team leader that informed the approval, but, also the relevance of the research topic in tackling the multifaceted problem facing the different levels of the educational ladder in the country; namely, access, quality, and cost.
He averred that the present heavy reliance on the brick-and-mortar approach of establishing, for example, universities, cannot solve the problem of access to higher education in the country.
According to him, developed and developing economies are employing ICT in education at all levels as an avenue to improve educational outreach and standard across their nations and states. Affordable ICT could attain these goals in three important ways.
Bamiro said: “It could be used to support and expand existing curricula by increasing the accuracy, presentation, user-friendliness and attractiveness of courses. It can provide a crucial research resource for both students and teachers. It could forge strategic linkages between educators in the country and beyond, at one level, and between students and the wider global community on the other.
“The potential of ICT to improve access is made possible by the development of customised educational programmes that can reach students all across the country as being demonstrated by the project being launched today involving, even at this 3-month experimental phase, a total of 3,024 students spread over Lagos State. The Research Team should be commended for the adopted methodology to address the problem of quality and relevance of the curriculum.
“It is pertinent to note that ICT could greatly enhance the quality and relevance of the curriculum in three important ways. Firstly, a potentially participatory form of curriculum development could make courses more relevant to both personal and group needs; secondly, the interactive nature of ICT-supported education facilitates effective feedback.