By Dayo Adesulu, Tare Youdeowei, Elizabeth Uwandu & Kelechukwu Iruoma
OVER dependence on the internet: Speaking on the over dependence of students on the internet, a lecturer at the Federal University Ndufu Alike Ikwo, FUNAI , Ebonyi State , Prof. Ameh Dennis Akoh said that students void the essence of the internet by using it to cut corners by accessing quick information without necessarily dissecting books. He also frowned at students who surf the net without vetting the source of their information.
“Most of the current generation of students, also referred to as ‘Indomie generation’ just want to download information hook, line and sinker, without vetting the source. They also have misconstrued the whole essence of the internet as a veritable source of information. It is true that the net is meant to give us quick access to needed materials. However, we, especially the students don’t have to swallow everything without dissecting it.”
In consonance, Dr. Chukwuemeka (not his real name because of the sensitivity of his response), who lectures in one of the federal univerisites, said the internet has technically replaced students’ think-ability but there is a solution. “The internet from the perspective of what it has done to the students; you find that the lazy students don’t read because answers are readily available but schools’ management are conscious of this and are remedying it.
For instance students are not permitted to take phones or iPads into the exam hall because they are potent instruments to use to cheat.
Stemming the tide: Univerisites have come up with a solution as disclosed by Dr. Chukwuemeka; “Presently, the Nigerian tertiary institutions use what is called Turn-It-In software. When a student is done with research, lecturers run it through the software to check how much online and other people’s work are in the completed work. For some universities the percentage of other people’s work one is permitted to site should not be more that 25% for undergraduate, masters’ degree threshold is 20%, while Ph.D. is between 10 to 15%, depending on the school.
“What this suggests is that you are not permitted to use so many online materials rather, students are expected to read textbooks and site them appropriately. In the UK, for every assignment given, lecturers state that they do not want online materials but library sourced books. For that environment where this culture is entrenched, you realise that people still read textbooks.
As a lecturer, I do not give assignment to students because they will go and copy from the internet, rather I formulate life situations and ask them to relate it to life situations and apply themselves in solving problems.
“If you look at it from this perspective, those that haven’t embraced the Turn-It-In software, you find that the students do not think any more, the students simply go online and lift what they find. You discover that ten students can use one work; they would simply change the lead paragraph and rearrange the content.
By this you will find that in a class of 100 students, only five or ten will write something different. This is why I give practical questions. Hence for schools that have not adopted Turn-It-In, yes, the internet has replaced knowledge and brain work.
Pros of the internet for students: Nevertheless, negating the claim that the internet has replaced the brain, Dr. Chukwuemeka said; “In a way, the internet has also not affected knowledge or replaced our brain. I say this because the internet is a knowledge base, what we are expected to do is take this knowledge and apply it in solving problems. ”You will realise that there are certain things you didn’t know before that you have learnt from the internet.
We cannot say that the internet has replaced human reasoning because it is simply a source of knowledge. ”Because we are lazy to read that is why instead of researching in books, we turn to the internet to make it quick, for ready answers, this is why students, even academics, turn to the internet.”
In incongurence, Mr Onome Ahante, Executive Director, GOA Learningtree, an education platform, said that the net cannot replace the brain, only that its usefulness can be utilised through information technology on the part of the children to access and manage information. “The internet cannot replace the brains of children as a valuable source of information.
The processing and sorting of information will always be the responsibility of the user (child). What children need is good info-tech skills which should help them understand how to source for relevant information and more importantly how to use or apply the information.”
Students performance before internet and now: Comparing the times before the internet and now, Chukwuemeka said; “Before the advent of internet when you want information you end up reading a lot of books.
Now, with the internet reading output is very low. Then to get content on a topic one would have to read about ten books, but with the internet a summary of the ten books is a few clicks away. Hence in terms of reading habit, the internet has short changed us.
“In terms of quality of students several factors have to be considered that have nothing to do with the internet. One of the major ones is overpopulation. When I was doing my undergraduate programme, we were about 59. The lecturer knew us by name. In my news writing and reporting class the lecturer could tells us to write five news stories, mark everything and advice each of us appropriately.
There was adequate attention. Compare it to now, most of the government universities admit more than 200 students in a class and as a lecturer I am taking ten courses, where would I have the energy to mark the course, know the students by name and advice them appropriately.
Level of productivity
The over population of students in the universities, in terms of intake, has reduced the level of productivity. Lecturers themselves are overwhelmed. So, it is not the internet primarily that has affected the quality of students.”
Students react: Chiamaka Ezegwu, a student of Mass Communication from University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN, stated that the internet has made it possible for students to better understand what they have read. “For instance, when an assignment is given, it is supposed to be downloaded, read and relevant info extracted, and in some cases students ought to read and then write in their own words and understanding. But the reverse is the case, as students download and paste in their word document as downloaded and submit to the lecturers.”
She noted that the blame is not on the internet but on the students because the internet is a platform students can tap into scholarly materials from all over the world. “Now students have chosen to be lazy not exercising their brain through reading and understanding of internet materials.
“Nevertheless, It has enabled us to tap from the knowledge of professionals and other scholarly materials beyond our discipline. With it students are able to know little about everything. It has also curbed the problem of travelling to distant places, with its inherent dangers just to get information,” she said.
Internet as a slave: On his part, Owner of Brila FM, Dr. Larry Izamoje said he disagrees that the internet has replaced the brain of students. According to him, the internet is like a slave. “A slave has a slave master. The master of that slave is the owner of the device and the one who pays for the data. The internet won’t force itself on you. When you get on it, it won’t tell you where to go. So, the slave master determines what the slave does.
“What is wrong with us is not the internet. What is wrong with us is us. If we chose to do the right thing with the internet, it is an information super highway. However, it depends on the kind of information you are looking for. So, if you want to do research, it can be from the internet as it provides information across the globe. Now, it is now a function of what you do about it. If you chose to do the wrong things, or right, the internet won’t complain. It is a slave.
”We are the ones that should not swap places. If we swap places it means that we turn the slave to the slave master and we become the slave. We need to turn the under head, flip it. We are the boss, we are the slave owner and the slave does what we want.
“‘Everyone can control the slave. If you say you can not control the slave , it means you are helpless. God has given us the power and will to do what you want . So, you can chose to hold the phone and say you will be my slave masters, or tell the phone, am your boss, I bought you, you didn’t buy me. You can chose to pick calls when you want to.’’
“The Internet is like making us poorer, even though it has immense positive effects,” said Chidiebere Kalu, a Mass Communication students from UNN.
He noted that the internet has made many students in tertiary institutions very lazy. “Many students now don’t even really read print materials which most often than not are more credible than online sources. And that’s a pitfall for students,” said Kalu.
He added that the internet had increased the rate of plagiarism. “Now students just go online, and do “copy and paste” in people’s sweat that are online, without proper documentation and referencing.
Cyber crime and virus attacks
Some students have fallen prey of the dangers presented by the Internet, such as pornography, cyber crime and virus attacks, he said.” Speaking on the merit of the internet to students, Kalu said, “Internet has helped to facilitate academic research. Nowadays, one can surf the Internet for credible sources all in a bid to advance academics. It is also a good form of intellectual exercise. Instead of wasting precious time in frivolities like party in, drugs, etc, it is better to use that time to read up good stuffs online.”
He added that the internet has provided job opportunities for students too, revealing that some students have turned bloggers while some write for online media outlets and are also correspondents for the online versions of newspapers and magazine.
Past and present output of students, before internet and now: Before the internet, because you want information you end up reading a lot of books. Said Dr. Chukwuemeka. “Now, with the internet reading output is very low. To get content on a topic one would have read about ten books, but with the internet a summary of the ten books is a few clicks away. Hence in terms of reading habit, the internet has short changed us.