BusinessDay
Nigeria's leading finance and market intelligence news report.

Proprietors, parents turn to technology to sustain learning as schools shut down

…find list of online learning management systems 

Effective from Monday March 23, schools across over 15 states in Nigeria will shut down to curb the spread of Coronavirus outbreak, but proprietors and parents are not relenting in efforts to sustain learning, during this period.

Some schools are adopting virtual classrooms and other educational technologies to deliver lessons and monitor the progress of students, while at home. Parents are equally using various smart applications on tablets and smartphones to keep their wards busy learning at home.

“We are currently using Edmodo, Active Learn and Google Classroom to stay in touch with our students. We also investing in video tutorial abilities for our teachers, to enable them deliver lessons through videos,” Oyin Egbeyemi, director, The Foreshore School, Ikoyi  told BusinessDay on phone. “We are also keen about being able to monitor, assess and evaluate learning outcomes by giving appropriate homework at the end each virtual learning session.”

The Successor Generation Community WhatsApp School has sprung up to cater to Senior Secondary students. It provides access to curated lectures for SS students in response to the government closure of schools to contain the coronavirus pandemic. With 257 participants, BusinessDay analyst’s attempt to join the group showed that it was already full.

In the United States of America, teachers and faculty members who have never taught virtual classes are forced to adopt this method. America has 1.5 million faculty members, and, 70 percent of them have never taught a virtual course before, according to education technology researcher Bay View Analytics.

To promote social distancing during the pandemic, universities are sending students home en masse to learn on their laptops. In a matter of weeks, as spring breaks end, the $600 billion-plus higher education industry must suddenly turn to an approach many have long resisted: online education, a Bloomberg report says.

In Nigeria, (particularly Lagos) this is not the first time an epidemic outbreak is disrupting schooling activities but not many schools have developed virtual classroom capabilities. Some schools do not have computers, at all on their premises.

The 2014/2015 academic session allowed schools to plan and act, but they failed to take it. Due to Ebola, school resumption was extended to mid-October and early November respectively, said Elvis Boniface, founder and chief executive officer of Edugist, an education advocacy organisation.

Pupils and students got back to school with all the panic. A few months later, schools were closed again because of the 2015 election.  At the last minute, the presidential election slated for February 14 was moved forward by six weeks. “As is the Nigerian way, we ‘roughed’ it and the academic session still ended in July, coursework completed by 61 percent at best,” Boniface said.

In the feedback debrief of the West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) and the National Examination Council (NECO), it was Nigeria’s worse performance in the two examinations. Lagos and Oyo States had a serious decline in the first school leaving certificate (FSLC) performance.  Unity schools management dropped cut off mark for admission.

Independent findings by Edugist in Lagos; Iwaya, Bariga, Iyana Ipaja, Ketu, Okoko, and Ojo, showed academic activities ceased with school closure. For Maryland and the Lekki area, there was improved performance because, at the homestead, some of the parents were educated, as well as had the finance to pay for home tutors.

Learning globally is being democratised, technology is disrupting the learning and teaching processes. It is time for Nigeria to join the party.

“This, for me, is the blessing of this pandemic to the education sector of Nigeria and Africa at large. Can we jump at this opportunity to disrupt education with technology?  Not forgetting adult education and community development to complement it,” Boniface said.

Below is a list of digital learning management systems that schools and parents can resort to deal with the current shut down of schools.

Blackboard – resources and tools to transition and deliver quality teaching and learning online.

CenturyTech – personal learning pathways with micro-lessons to address gaps in knowledge, challenge students and promote long-term memory retention.

ClassDojo – connects teachers with students and parents to build classroom communities.

Edmodo – tools and resources to manage classrooms and engage students remotely.

Edraak – Arabic language online education with resources for school learners and teachers.

EkStep – open learning platform with a collection of learning resources to support literacy and numeracy.

Google Classroom – helps classes connect remotely, communicate and stay organised.

Moodle – community-driven and globally-supported open learning platform.

Nafham – Arabic language online learning platform hosting educational video lessons that correspond with Egyptian and Syrian curricula.

Schoology – tools to support instruction, learning, grading, collaboration and assessment.

Seesaw – enables the creation of collaborative and sharable digital learning portfolios and learning resources.

Skooler – tools to turn Microsoft Office software into an education platform.

Study Sapuri – Japanese language online learning platform for middle school students.

 

STEPHEN ONYEKWELU 

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