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Digital learning and Nigeria’s education sector

Hundreds of Nigerians have access to the internet and more than 100m are estimated to have some sort of mobile device, with, more than half…

Hundreds of Nigerians have access to the internet and more than 100m are estimated to have some sort of mobile device, with, more than half of them being smartphones. This level of connectivity has influenced how Nigerians engage with one another, get their news, study and see the world around them.

This digital transformation has heavily impacted the education industry too. From primary school educators through to those in higher education, the digital transformation has affected classrooms and how the teachers reach their students. These changes had been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which in 2020 closed schools across the country. And in an effort to help students keep learning, many schools and teachers turned to technology to help them bridge the gap.

This explained why the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) said that continued investment in digital innovation would boost the education sector and the economy as a whole. The NITDA’s Director-General, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi  said as the prime agency for e-government implementation, internet governance, and overall IT development in Nigeria, NITDA is poised to actualize its mandate by providing flourishing atmosphere in Nigeria’s education space.

But the use of online learning has been only one noticebale way that digital technology and advancements have impacted Nigerian students and trends in their classrooms. 

According to online education magazine, EHL Insights, there are top 8 digital trends that have been emerging as schools begin to embrace the power of the internet in the school environment.

 Improved accessibility and access

One of the most inspiring digital transformation trends visible in education is the improved accessibility to school, lessons and even degree programs for students of all ages. Students who may have impairments that hinder their ability to access certain types of information will find that technology can go a long way in removing these barriers. For example, text-to-speech programs and programs that transcribe dictated content can help to improve the ability of all students to access the information presented through schools. Those with visual or audio challenges, as well as reading disabilities, can all benefit from these different types of technology that allow them to learn and earn degrees.

Personalized learning approaches

Personalized learning approaches have also been an important component of the digital education revolution. Rather than trying to fit everyone into the same metaphorical box, many schools and programs have begun to realize the value of offering adaptable solutions for students based on their own strengths and weaknesses.

Personalized learning approaches provide a number of benefits for students and learning institutions. When students are allowed to learn in a way that fits their own learning approaches best, it helps them absorb and retain critical information; personalization empowers them to move forward in their education. Learners become encouraged to earn the degrees and qualify for the educational and job opportunities that suit them well, but might have felt out of reach before.

Virtual reality

Virtual reality has become an increasingly important component of technology across all sectors. Although it was initially used as a form of entertainment, it has also attracted attention for its potential in training sequences or even shopping.

In the world of education, virtual reality can provide students with the chance to ‘experience’ the material they learn before they actually move into real-world applications. For example, in the hospitality industry, students can see firsthand the different potential work environments, feel as though they are in a situation where they need to serve customers, and receive training that gives them hands-on experience without even leaving their classroom.

Cloud-based learning opportunities

The cloud offers students and teachers the chance to connect from virtually anywhere. They can use these types of applications while sitting in a lecture hall in person, from home, or even half-way around the world. When the pandemic hit, it only accelerated the potential for these types of applications. Teachers began using a variety of different platforms to host lectures and post videos for students to help them keep up with their education despite not being able to meet in person.

These platforms offer a host of opportunities. They enable the streaming of lectures, thus making online classes possible and interactive. Students can also use many applications to submit their assignments, track their syllabi, and even connect and engage with others in their class. The platforms can be used to break out into smaller groups so that students can collaborate together on projects and assignments.

Cloud-based applications that have been designed specifically for students can even allow students to take exams.

Thanks to these types of programs, students from a wide range of backgrounds have more access to classes and educational opportunities. Learners who require degree programs that offer improved flexibility, students who do not live near a college or university that offers their desired program, or those who cannot attend class in person for any number of reasons will all experience benefits from the growth of cloud-based learning. 

 Incorporating the Internet of Things into the school environment

In the age of ‘smart’ devices, the Internet of Things, or IoT, can be found with increasing prevalence throughout people’s lives. No longer are simply phones considered ‘smart’, but people can take advantage of technological improvements that make everything from their plugs and outlets to their thermostats ‘smart’. In education, this trend has begun to help connect learning institutions and students in an entirely new way.

On one level, IoT can benefit education campuses by helping schools improve security and comfort features while controlling costs. Smart devices that allow school officials to understand traffic patterns will inform them where lights and security features will have the most value. Smart devices can also gauge when temperature control systems should be switched on and take other steps to provide the students with a comfortable learning experience.

Security across digital devices

With technology quickly becoming such a critical feature in the daily lives of students and teachers, security has become another necessary trend in the digital education revolution. Schools collecting a wealth of information on students, from their personal data to grades, want to know that this information is protected and secured.

Security protocols that allow schools to record, store and transmit sensitive student data will be critical throughout the digital transformation. Schools will also want to make sure that they have a means of securely allowing students to digitally submit assignments and verify user authenticity. This becomes even more critical in instances when students may take exams or other assessments digitally. Security breaches can be devastating for individuals and institutions as a whole, making them an important priority and trend throughout the adoption of education technology.

Teaching digital citizenship

As these digital transformation trends have impacted students in a variety of ways throughout their lives, students need to know how to interact politely and civilly online. This is similar to students learning how to be professional in an office or hospital setting. Schools have begun to recognize this importance, and teaching students in the principles of good digital citizenship has become an increasingly important trend throughout education.

When educating students on being a good digital citizen, schools empower students to embrace the full capacity of technology. To see the best results from digital citizenship instruction, institutions should aim to make it part of the culture for the students and teachers alike. These principles guide people to behave more collaboratively online, which can help students succeed in their classes and in a professional environment.

Big data

Schools have long collected a wealth of information about their students, including their demographics, grades and classes. Big data provides them with the opportunity to take this information much further and use it to better understand student trends and successes. Big data refers to the growing technological capabilities to track large amounts of data and interpret it with the assistance of algorithms to find patterns and helpful information.

This includes the convergence of a variety of different sources of data. Schools may have previously gathered a wide range of useful information about students, but it was siloed and only really accessible to the particular person or department who collected the data. This made it harder to put the information in context and understand everything it could tell the school about the educational experiences they provide. Schools that learn how to break down these silos will find that they have a better chance of building a thorough understanding of their students and degree programs.

Using the data compiled and analyzed through big data capabilities can tell schools helpful information such as:

Where students struggle and thrive in their programs. They can then uncover any particular patterns about the students that excel in particular areas and use this to help them improve the learning experience.

They can track greater trends in student populations, including student performance and professional outcomes. The better they understand how their degrees impact their students, the easier it will be for them to improve the education and resources they offer.

How well students respond to different types of information delivery and class styles. If they uncover trends about online classes, seminar classes and lectures for particular topics, they will understand how to shape their degree program to help students thrive after graduation.

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