While Nigerian universities are still under locks owing to both the COVID-19 pandemic and ASUU strike, Babcock University is preparing for the virtual convocation ceremony of their graduating students.
After all forms of physical teaching were halted in order to restrict people from spreading the Coronavirus, some private schools and universities continued with lectures and tests.
According to a source close to the school, Babcock University made use of the virtual conference platform, Zoom, to carry on with lectures, complete tests, conduct exams as well as for project defence.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the school already conducted some exams online from its CBT centre. General courses like the use of library and some of its 100 and 200 level courses already had their exams taken online from the CBT centre.
To meet the challenge of assessing students by examinations and quizzes, the school connected its online examination platform to each student’s portal thereby making it accessible from other remote venues besides the CBT centre.
The challenges when Babcock went virtual
For the students, it was an easy transition because the institution already issued each one of them a Samsung tablet that aids study. Before moving classes to Zoom, the need for a suitable device had already been met.
The devices came at no additional cost to the student besides ensuring that they had adequate supply of data and electricity.
The virtual examination platform, however, was another story. The first time it was used, the platform proved unable to handle the traffic of students that needed to write their exams on it. But Babcock has since scaled up the platform and it now handles every traffic.
Still employing technology, final year students of the institution are set for their graduation ceremony on August 20. While a select few will be invited to represent the entire set at a physical ceremony, others will join the event via Zoom.
The problem with online studies in Federal and state Institutions
Responding to the progress made by private universities like Covenant and Babcock University, some undergraduates of federal and state-owned universities have taken to Twitter to share their opinions on why the online model is not working in their schools.
For some, the lecturers in these institutions do not have relevant and updated content that can be taught in video format to the student. According to @am_leg_end_ary, “Normally some of our lecturers just come to class to read note without any proper explanation I doubt if they will have any reasonable thing to teach.”
A glaring reason why the online model may not be easily embraced by these other universities is that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has taken a stance against online learning. According to the President of ASUU, Prof Abiodun Ogunyemi, “It (virtual learning) will not work.”
“Let’s break it down; when you talk of virtual learning practically online teaching and learning, I think the first question we need to ask ourselves is: do we have the infrastructure for that? When you talk of infrastructures in the institutions concerned, do they have facilities? And if you want to take it to individuals, can they afford it?”
To support Ogunyemi’s stance, some students agree that infrastructure and cost are two major reasons why the model is not being embraced by schools.
As the Universities prepare to reopen, whatever the stance of schools is towards online learning, it is evident that technology has created a divide between students in tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
Whether the online model is perfect or still in its formative stage, the schools that have embraced it for academic continuity have made some progress and have results to show for it.