The exchange of knowledge from one generation to the other dates back as far as 1801, when large pieces of slate were hung on school walls as a means of providing information to large audiences. Education then graduated to the use of blackboard in the mid-19th century, then the whiteboards came into use during the late 1980s
Although there seems to be an improvement in the adoption of technology in education through the use of projector, slides, m-learning (mobile learning) in the 20th century, the educational system in Nigeria still needs overhauling if its standard is to come at par with or close to that of the developed countries like the USA, China, Finland and a host of others.
The world has shifted into the digital era and become a global village in the words of Marshal McLuhan, the great scholar of Mass Communication. Consequently, technology has come to bear upon every facet of man’s life, including his education especially in the positive and utopian sense. However, technology has not been fully adopted in the educational system in Nigeria and teaching has largely remained in the chalk and board mode.
Educational technology commonly abbreviated as “edutech” or “edtech” is the combined use of computer hardware and software to facilitate learning. In the era of civilization, the world is gradually becoming a global village as technology is dominating every sphere of the world. The pandemic proved, once and for all, that the importance of technology in education cannot be overemphasized.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, physical classes were banned and learning had to take place online. However, many students found it difficult to participate in these online classes because they were ill-prepared and had not been equipped with the necessary skills needed to adapt to these changes.
Ertmer (1999) further classified the challenges encountered during online learning into two broad groups: First level barriers, and Second level barriers. He defined the First level barriers as those physical obstacles that can impede students from accessing information during online classes. These include: lack of devices such as computer, laptop, tablet, android phone, and paucity of skilled teacher.
Ertmer defined Second level barriers as those hindrances that can affect students’ assimilation while learning online. Some of which are as a result of the method employed by the instructor during teaching and the psychological state of the student during the online classes. The process of adopting technology fully into the educational system in Nigeria is still in its inchoate and burgeoning stage.
Several other issues like incessant power failure, overworked and overburdened workforce, and incompetent educators need to be addressed in the country before such plan can be fully actualised. However, the Nigerian government can improve the current state of online learning in the country by providing students with the necessary information and communication devices, equipping educators with the relevant digital skill, and sensitising the teachers and students about the importance of acquiring tech skills.
Both teachers and students should be properly educated that tech skills are not just a requirement for those employees who have a tech job, such as Java Programmers, Database Designer and Software Developers. Tech skills are increasingly important for everyone, regardless of whether one’s job is in the industry or the classroom.
Furthermore, educators can leverage technology to achieve new level of productivity and efficiency in the classroom. They can implement useful digital tools to expand learning opportunities for students, and increase students’ understanding and engagement in class activities.
Technology has the power to make learning more engaging. When students are engaged and interested, they are able to learn. Classroom management itself is subsumed under the use of technological teaching aids. This is because students become cooperative and attentive and quite incapable of classroom disruptive behaviour once relevant technology is deployed in the teaching process. Technology-based projects also enable students to have hands-on experience on learning as opposed to cramming- This is the process of absorbing information quickly and hastily without fully understanding the concept.
Though technology itself can be costly, it can also help schools save money. Virtual field trips, electronic documents, email instead of printed memos, virtual labs, electronic textbooks, and the thousands of free online materials assists schools in saving money while still providing learners with impactful learning experiences.
Technology is without doubt the future of learning. Students and teachers need to gain an appreciable level of proficiency in the use of technology in the teaching and learning process not only because it uplifts quality of instruction but also because it provides a robust platform for students to interact with classmates from all over the world.
It also avails them the boundless opportunity of accessing rich and diverse contents with just the click of a button. Lisa Nelson of Douglass Independent School District U.S.A believes that helping students become digitally savvy prepares them for college and the workplace. Also, equipping students with the necessary technological skills allows them stay relevant in the job market.
John Dewey, a famous educational reformer, once said: “If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow”. In other words, the time to embrace technology in education is now!