Editor's note: Terry Nicholas, a tech enthusiast and public affairs analyst in this piece, writes on how educational technology makes learning easier, faster, and safer for Nigerian students, with a focus on how the schools fared during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The recent COVID19 lockdown spawned some very hilarious memes. A particularly funny meme featured a smiling adolescent schoolboy with the words “They tell us we can’t bring our phones to school. Now the school is in the phone” it is funny because it is true.
Long and unfortunately still in some quarters viewed as a distraction for the youth, the cellular phone and similar devices like laptops and tablets have become essential tools for teaching them.
When COVID-19 hit, schools leveraged the internet and apps like zoom to move their classes online, ensuring that our children did not miss a topic throughout the stay-home period.
Yes, the internet holds a lot of distractions for young people - adults too. However, when properly harnessed, it becomes an always-on teaching and knowledge sharing tool that can be accessed by anyone from virtually anywhere.
Here are 4 technological innovations that make learning easier and faster for students:
One immediately obvious advantage that eBooks have over paperbacks is portability. They take extra no space whatsoever as they are stored on a student’s mobile device.
With eBooks, students do not have to worry about ripping pages or damaging the books in any way.
Once downloaded, eBooks can be accessed anytime as long the student’s device is charged. And for eBooks that can only be accessed online, a decent internet connection will give a student unlimited access to the books he or she needs.
eBooks are also more cost-effective than physical copies with many expensive books being available for free online.
2. Video And Audio Conferencing
Zoom classes were not just a stop-gap measure used by schools to keep students learning through the lockdown. Video conferencing is the future of teaching. In fact, it is the present.
As computer and smartphone ownership, as well as internet access grows across the country, the viability of online learning increases.
Research has shown that students as likely to be attentive in the online class as they are to be in the classroom. In fact, the fact that video conferencing puts all participants front and center means that teachers are able to monitor all students at once. This gives the students fewer opportunities for shenanigans.
Referencing the lockdown once again, in times where mass gatherings are deemed unsafe, video conferencing technology offers us a way to continue educating and learning safely.
3. Virtual Reality
Students love field trips. They enthusiastically seek their parents’ approval and look forward to the date. However, while these fun field trips tend to be few and far between, with Virtual Reality technology, students can have field trips every day.
As the technology becomes more affordable and more easily accessible, teachers are using VR headsets to transport their students to exciting locations- ancient ruins, museums, underwater, etc.
This is not just a fun activity. It helps students gain a better appreciation of what they are being taught and makes them look forward to the classes even more earnestly than they would have without the infusion of the technology.
4. Virtual Libraries
The internet didn’t kill libraries- it made them better. By providing resources in digital format, virtual libraries are able to provide relevant and up-to-date resources to their visitors.
With virtual libraries, the relevant information is easier and faster to access.
The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Virtual Library project was set up in recognition of the value this innovation brings to students as well as teachers.
Beginning with the establishment of a virtual library at NITDA headquarters in 2013, the agency has gone on to establish fully functional libraries at the following locations:
The Federal University Oye, Ekiti
Kogi State Polytechnic
Nasarawa State University, Keffi
Akuku-Toru Local Government, Rivers State
These libraries are also remotely accessible making them an always-on learning tool for the populace.
Visit NITDA website today to learn more about the virtual library project and other relevant interventions the agency is undertaking across the country.
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