By Sani Nahuche
Universally, education has not only been attached to achievements, but it has become a bedrock upon which a lot of advancements have been founded. Be it organised education or self-acquired, education like love, is one of the pillars holding the world together. But to be realistic, it has different approaches to it, from one country to another or on a larger spectrum, from one continent to another.
Defining education in Nigeria would have a very close relationship with the organisation of its education system. The 6-3-3-4 model, which came with the introduction of Universal Basic Education, and since its stability in 1990, stands as a representation of education in Nigeria. However, putting such model under the 21st century microscope, it obviously would take a larger share in the regressive growth of the Nigerian Development.
How does this assertion come in relevance with Nigeria’s growth? Aside from the intrinsic fact that the children and youth (who are subjects of standard education) are the leaders of tomorrow, and are obviously nowhere near taking up the role of leadership with their present conditions with education, the Nigerian education model or system does not seem to be a feasible contributor to growth and development in this age.
A close look at the education and schooling model in a country like Finland and the successes of the United Arab Emirates through education as majorly documented by Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, in his book “My Vision”, made it clearer that for a country like Nigeria to move ahead and wear the garments of development, there has to be an overhauling in its education system.
Mention any developed country, there is an assurance that there is a symbiotic relationship between the growth and development going on there, and the education system. It is unarguably true and universally acceptable that countries that embrace research are always steps ahead of their peers. Of course, researches are carried out by students and academics, which are usually funded by either governments, business owners, entrepreneurs and innovators, in order to find solutions to bothering human issues or improve existing knowledge.
Take a look at China, United Kingdom, United States, Japan, India, Saudi Arabia and more, they did not come to their successes with a rigid education system that neglects advancement. They all applied all the available advancements to improve education and learning for effective growth and development. And talking of these advancements, technology and internet have a very huge role to play. Basically, these countries acknowledge that they had to move away from the ideas of the industrial age, and embrace all that the information and digital age has brought.
The Nigerian ecosystem in itself is not only unfavourable to the education system, talk of infrastructures, health, transportation, water supply, agriculture and more, they are all suffering from the existing system. While one of the major, yet unproductive focus of government in the improvement of education in Nigeria has been the establishment of more schools, which will allow for more infrastructures that would end up not maintained, it comes disheartening that what should be the main focus this time; the application of technology in education, has been left unattended to.
To give assertions to this claim, a trip in quick history shows that, every of the recent attempts to enhance the general ICT and technological space in the country, have been futile. Goals were set in 2012 concerning the National ICT policy but have been met with abandonment. Not only that, there was another failed 3-year ‘Nigeria ICT roadmap for 2017 -2020’, that was introduced to establish and accelerate the implementation of existing ICT policies and to boost different sectors of the Nigerian economy, but as of now has not seen improvements.
It is unfortunate that in this time that countries and powers are harnessing the possibilities that come with technology in various areas to enhance growth and development, Nigeria as a country is still battling with having ICT policies and implementations that would make things work.
What then is the hope for the Nigerian children? What should be their expectations since their reality is no more to be considered as a way forward? Application of technology in the education system is the answer.
Talking hope for the Nigerian children and education system, it should be known that wherever technology is applied in this time and age, there is possibility there would be, if not always, a way out. Proper examination of developed countries has proven that with the application of various technological advancements in the education system have been productive.
If the Nigerian government can divert a large amount of allocation to building technological infrastructures at strategic regions of the country with proper monitoring, there would be a forward movement in the countries development. Fortunately, land mass and natural resources to build technological materials are in abundance; only the technical know-how and enhanced skill acquisition would be needed to set things in motion.
Likewise, the government should take a closer look into reviewing the curriculums from primary school level to tertiary levels, and construct a new set of curriculums that embrace a form of applied knowledge that would work in hand with technological provisions. This would not only restructure the education system but also make education come in a new light and welcoming to the Nigerian children.
Though, as practiced in Finland, technology is not the only contributing factor to improved education. Factors like lesser home works, absence of standardised tests asides one taken at the end of students’ senior year in high school, lesser school hours, subsidised meals for all full-time students, and most importantly prioritising practical exercises over theoretical ones. Also, the existence of work groups and optimal embrace of creativity through acknowledgement of students’ innate talents and interest, all contributed to their continual successes.
As presented on Pledre website, a Nigerian tech start-up into building technology for education, “more than 60% of Nigerians are currently uneducated and only about 30% of secondary school leavers get admitted into a tertiary institution. This is largely due to the absence of adequate infrastructures to accommodate the populace. But what if schools could leverage technology and digital infrastructures, virtual reality, and augmented reality to substitute for the unavailable and expensive laboratories and lecture rooms? This could create a more dynamic and engaging learning environment for students.”
Without further ado, this article would take a closer look at existing technology that, if applied and maintained in the Nigerian education system with other determining factors like re-adjustment in the curriculums and the school system, there would be a brighter future for the Nigerian children. These are the adoption of:
- Virtual and Augmented Reality
- Learning Management System
Application of Virtual and Augmented Reality in Learning
The world is panning towards smart learning, a product of technological applications to enhance learning experience and importantly to make learning an enjoyable experience. Basically, it is bringing learning into a full level of practicality; this is why both augmented and virtual reality are of great importance.
What is Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality?
Virtual Reality (VR), entails the recreation of an experience with the adoption of specialised devices and software. It makes use of devices like VR Gears and 360 Gears to create a simulated environment. While Augmented Reality (AR), involves the combination of digital information with their own environment. It is an enhanced version of reality that is created by adding digital information on an image of something with the use of technology.
How can they be used to enhance learning?
- To bring in excitement and engagement in learning process: “Creativity is intelligence having fun”, Albert Einstein. One vital benefit of virtual and augmented reality is that they make learning come seamlessly, and with an assurance that learners get to implement all they are taught immediately without any form of repercussion or danger attached. AR and VR aid deep understanding of the subject as they easily prompt questions from participants. In place of being just a spectator in the process of learning, they become active participants because they would easily capture and interact with what they see. To a larger extent, AR and VR eliminates higher level of boredom.
- AR and VR create seemingly impossible or challenging scenarios: There are stages in learning that there would be need for on-site explanations of real life situations. With this comes dangers and emergencies; with the use of AR and VR, those are eliminated and concentration would be on learning. This do not only reduce risk to the minimal, it also reduces cost, stress, time and energy.
- They enhance self-guided exploration: Recently, any learning process that do not allow mistakes and resilience is not worth to be categorised as one. And since VR and AR presents an environment for multiple experiments that reduces a huge cost or exposure of learners to risk, it allows learners to confidently learn from their mistakes, correct them and explore multiple options during experiments till desired results are achieved. This is AR and VR’s approach to bring efficiency, involvement and elimination of risk to learning.
The future of smart learning is awesome, and if Nigeria could tap into its opportunities now that it is still in its early years, it is an avenue to rebrand the current Nigeria, even through the hands of tomorrow’s leaders as they are fondly called.
Application of Gamification in Learning
What is Gamification?
This technological approach makes use of game mechanics and designs to enhance non-game contexts like classroom learning, by increasing participation, engagement, competition and loyalty. The whole concept includes direct competitions, leader boards, points and badges or stickers. Due to its efficiency, industries like personal healthcare, and definitely the bone of contention here, education.
Bringing gamification down to education is a great shift in result-oriented moves in harnessing the best of each student. Gamification, originally was known to be attributed to increasing productivity in industries and organisations. For example, an automobile company like Ford adopted it, with its innovative dashboard of the Ford Fusion hybrid. More like Sales, Marketing, Co-working and more have all experienced it. But how would this help Education?
Though gamification comes majorly in two ways, either to do physical rewarding with the use of leader boards, stickers or badges to measure ranks, etc., or to codify learning into actual games with proper designing and mechanism. This article would touch the two slightly to aid further research.
How can Gamification be used to enhance education?
All of these various ways have been tested by educators and have seen positive results around the world:
- Use of Badges and Stickers as Awards for Students: This is very relevant in building interest in education from the primary school levels. Teachers are to award students with stickers or badges for completing assignments. Schools like Western Oklahoma State College is highly practicalizing this. They added a form of gamification into their technology classes, and make rewards come in badges like “Moodle Noob No More,” or, a personal favourite “Drop It Like It Hot”, this is to indicate levels of mastery of Dropbox. Nevertheless, it should be noted that, some value should be added to badges or stickers, like skill levels, bonus points, etc.
- Adoption of Video Games designed from Educational Curriculum: As it is in real games context, that individuals fail, restart, overcome, stay focused, and persevere, the same is what happens with games are applied in educational curriculum. Gaming makes students see themselves as agencies in games they play. In games, they control their choices, make innate decisions, and the more agencies students have, the more efforts to put into it. Therefore, rewards like instant feedback (big or small), become external contributing factors and motivators. In addition to this, let there be a touch of competition, tournament or league, this would drive huge interest to partake individually to the success of a team on individual level, and create a sense of teamwork in the larger approach.
- Gamification of homework to enhance informal learning: It has never been recorded that the confines of classroom education has been able to instil all that is needed to be in students, hence; the need for extension of activities like homework. If gamification can be applied in administering homework to students, it would encourage interesting adventure and allow for curiosity after closing hours.
Adopting Learning Management Systems (LMSs) in Learning
What are Learning Management Systems and how can they be applied?
Learning Management Systems (LMS) serve as a technological bridge provided for students and teachers to both experience education in an advanced setting or environment. When applied in educational environments, they facilitate a synchronised communication between teachers and students, and also raise new challenges.
For clarity, all e-learning platforms are also regarded as Learning Management Systems. They make use of internet and software that allow instructors to prepare and manage course/subject materials distribution, assignments, communications and every other areas of instructions for learning.
In developed countries, LMSs have been developed to become an integral part of their educational systems. Though, this does not mean that traditional classrooms were short down, they only come to complement the learning process, by allowing a hybrid approach that synchronizes exercises that go on in class with other online activities pertaining to learning.
The systems in the LMS, also make use of other technological approaches that have been discussed earlier in this article. Learning Management Systems, serve partly as a convergence for some of the technological approach to learning. For example, there could be an integration of games in the materials shared by teachers and the whole class on the Learning Management System. With that, students would go ahead to engage in adventures, working towards applying all their efforts to get to the top of the leader boards, and also earn badges for outstanding performances.
What is the way forward?
The question is no more about if education will rule the world, it should be about if the Nigerian children would be allowed and trained to actively partake in the leadership education has brought. Any Nigerian child should not be denied neither education nor the benefits application of technology has brought to education in the world. Therefore, it is expected of the Nigerian government to wake for their slumber and begin to fashion a brighter future for its children.
Likewise, there should also be an accelerated rise in the number of private sectors like Pledre, who should be actively involved in enhancing the educational environment in Nigeria. While the government should also be set to implement policies that would allow private investors to find the process easy and interesting. Furthermore, as a country, Nigeria should see partnering with world leading educational tech companies, as a venture to invest in and explore for the country’s rapid growth and development.
Though, bringing such a huge change to the Nigerian educational system does not promise an easy ride, but it should be acknowledged that growth and development would not come, if conscious efforts are not taken to bring them to life. Till then, the hope of the Nigerian children is still hanging in the air.