Every year, almost 1.2 million learners qualify for an undergraduate education in Nigeria. However, the 104 universities in Nigeria can only accommodate 300,000 learners in campus. This is something very uncomfortable for the aspiring learners in Nigeria. This imbalance actually caused the demand for online education in the nation and as it allows more learners to have an access of education, it has become the most loving mode of getting a degree.
Online education is something which cannot be effectually defined by anyone. Each one of us can have a different perspective of the same. According to UNESCO in 2002, open and distance education simply represents the focus on the open access of learning and training provision to the learners. Also, there will be no constraints of time and space and therefore it is just an easy way out for classroom learning. Hence, online or distance education is simply the way of providing knowledge to the learners at their home, or office or any other place. Hulsmann, in the year 1997, defined distance education as:
• Separating learners from the teacher in place and time.
• Necessity of proper university accreditation and the influence of any educational institution.
• Using technology in order to get a degree. For example, taking help of television, radio, audio cassettes, computers, etc.
• Two way interaction between learners and teachers in both synchronise and a synchronise manner.
Cost effectiveness on online learning
According to Obanya, there is lack of proper learning resources in Nigeria. With this low quality education scenario, the future of the learners is bleak. Hence, all this definitely calls for a change in the scenario and online education comes as an easy respite. UNESCO reported, “In efforts to meet the new and changing demands for education and training, open and distance learning may be seen as an approach that is at least complimentary and under certain circumstances, an appropriate substitute for the face-to-face methods that still dominates most educational systems.”The way online education is so much flexible and affordable that it has actually become a very cost effective way of getting a degree in Nigeria.
Online learning or distance education has a number of potential for the learners and other stakeholders in education. For all the learners, online distance learning is all about freedom to education as well as a wide range of skills and opportunities for education. It is much cheaper as well. The online learning courses are pretty much affordable as well. The learners do not need any kind of conveyance cost, food or lodging costs and the tuition fees in itself is very nominal.
What students think about e-learning in Nigeria?
A Post Graduate student in Graphic Design
“I see it as an avenue to further my education. I have Bachelor’s degree but my job cannot allow me to go back to the four walls of any institution as a full time student. As a proprietor of my venture if I try it, that will be the end of the business.”
A Law student
“I have been dreaming of studying Law but the normal (conventional) university will not allow this because I have to write entrance examination which my schedule of work has not permitted me to prepare for in the last four years. Whatever it will cost, this system of distance learning has made it possible for me to start the Law programme and definitely I will finish it and get my Law degree.”
“This is the kind of school that can help people like me. Although it is possible to get study leave from my place of work but there is no certainty that one will get the job back when he is back with whatever certificate he would have acquired from the study he went for. There are lots of people who will just fill up the vacancy created immediately one proceeds on a leave of absence. With this distance learning programme, I know that I will get a Master degree after completion and still have my job.”
Online learning is therefore a very cost effective approach to education. Learners do not need to worry about funds and they can relax while earning the degree they have dreamt of for so long. It has simply altered the way of acquiring a degree and Nigeria is one of the places which has got mostly helped by technology in learning.