Renowned academic scholars drawn from various higher institutions both in Nigeria and Malaysia, have pointed out that online learning has come to stay following the lockdown experience occasioned by the novel coronavirus disease.
They urged governments across the world to key into online learning, noting it is one of the important new normal from COVID-19.
This much was disclosed at a symposium organised by Okeola Olakanpo Nursery and Primary School (OLAS) Oorelope, Alubata, Apete, Ibadan, Nigeria December 6, with the theme; “Overviewing Online Learning During COVID-19: Challenges and Way Forward.”
Distinguished keynote note speakers who collaborated with the primary school in putting up a successful event include: Associate. Prof. Dr. Abdul Talib Hashim — from Sultan Idris Education University – Malaysia; Associate Prof. Dr. Muhammed Yusuf, also from Sultan Idris Education University; Associate Prof. Dr. Kazeem Bakare from Al-Madinah International University, Malaysia; and Dr. Morufudeen Adeniyi Shittu from Michael Otedola College of Primary Education, Nigeria.
The symposium which held on Google Meet was moderated by a Nigerian-born scholar, Dr. Monsuru Salisu of Sultan Idris Education University, Malaysia.
According to Dr Salisu, “The event will enable concerned stakeholders in Nigeria, Malaysia, and all over the world to know the real online learning challenges faced by lecturers, teachers, students, and parents. It allows us to discover the impact of online challenges on students’ academic performance. Indeed, such an event is desirable from time to time.”
In his remark, the first keynote speaker, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Hashim shared Malaysia’s experience on COVID-19, emphasizing that rural area students are the most victimized group of students during the pandemic.
He said, “This is because some of them were lacking effective technological devices like internet servers, computers, gadgets, and others. Practically, not abstractly, the Malaysian government has done its best in supporting students with several packages such as posting learning materials to their homes, free internet data, and several financial packages to make sure that students can study during the COVID-19.
“Also, the ministry of education ordered schools and universities to organize many visual pieces of training for the lecturers, teachers, admins, human resources, and IT personnel, to enhance the technological skills of learning institutions nationwide. As a result, today, online learning is going smoothly in Malaysia especially at the university level.”
On his part, the second keynote speaker, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Yusuf hinged the advantages of online learning on accessibility, self-directed learning approach, remote learning, easy administration, comfort, and asynchronous learning.
To enhance students’ performance in online learning, he recommended the followings: reduced teaching cognitive load, IT skill development, incorporation of TBL into the curriculum, integration of proper online assessment, increase interactivities, special revision classes, LMS automatic plagiarism software to check assignments, increase learning institutions’ servers’ capacities, support students with sufficient data to study online with students’ restriction software to help then focus on their studies, and house learning studio to prevent unwanted interferences.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Bakare, who was the third keynote speaker, indicated that online learning serves as a mindset shift, since many people do not believe in it and they have a negative perception towards it.
He noted that the Malaysian government and other serious governments called for the implementation of education 4.0 and other technological bits of intelligence in the teaching and learning sectors, which unfortunately, many people did not take seriously.
Narrating his own experience at Michael Otedola College of Primary Education, Nigeria, Dr. Shittu said most students preferred physical learning to virtual learning due to the challenges associated with the former.
“According to the research conducted by the college, many students preferred face to face than online learning due to several challenges facing individual students in terms of technology devices like computers, desktops, laptops, i-phones, and gadgets. The challenges included power supply, inadequate data and network problems,” he said.
Rounding off the session, the panelists said online learning has come to stay while urging various governments to provide the needed support in technology and other areas for virtual learning to thrive.
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