1.1 General Introduction
In today’s world of globalization, knowledge and learning is considered a vital element for acquiring competitive advantage (Lee, 2006). For gaining competitive advantage, firms and institutions are becoming more knowledge intensive, therefore they concentrate more on managing and sharing knowledge to gain significant advantage (Wild et al. 2002). This need of acquiring knowledge, on the other hand, has created a massive increase of student enrollment, hence a challenge to governments and learning institutions.
In order to cope with the increase of student enrollment, many academic institutions have increased the use of Internet to deliver training through E-learning system (Khan, 2005). During the late 1990s many online courses and universities were established, but mixed results of E-learning systems were encountered (Gulatee and Combes, 2007) as cited by (Bashiruddin et al. 2010). Since then, barriers in the implementation process of E-learning have been identified. Mentioned barriers includes infrastructure, type of courses, economic/finance, computer literacy, course contents, staff training, management support and organizational culture (Muilenburg and Berge, 2005).
On the other hand, a number of initiatives are being done worldwide to guarantee effective E-learning. E-Learning Community Initiative Program is one of the cross-countries E-learning initiatives. This program was a result of Bologna declaration signed by 29 European countries to promote E-learning for higher education among European Union universities (EC, 1999). In Asia, the efforts to use E-learning were boosted in June 1983 by establishment of the Center of the International Cooperation for Computerization (CICC). The role of CICC was to create an E-learning bridge between Japan and other Asian countries. Currently CICC is networking 21 countries.
In Africa, the Association of African Universities (AAU) in 2001 launched a project known as “the use of ICT in African Higher Education Institutions”. This was followed by a new project in 2006. One of AAU success was an agreement with AfriNic for a 50% discount on acquisition of IP resources for all African education and research institutions (AAU, 2009). Together with AAU initiatives, eLearning Africa (eLA), an annual event hosted by International Conferences, Workshops and Exhibitions (ICWE), is another commendable job on promoting E-learning. This year (25th – 27th May, 2011) the continent witnessed a total of 1,702 participants from over 90 countries, including 21 African countries, convened at the 6th eLearning Africa conference, held in NIgeria. This year’s event demonstrated increasing investment in ICT and education throughout Africa. African Visual University (AVU) project is another famous E-learning initiative. Since its inception in 1997, AVU has established eLearning network in over 30 African countries (OUT, 2009). Unfortunately, these opportunities are somewhat not optimally utilized by Nigeria HLIs in adaptation of E-learning as its application is still very low. This study was carried out to examine critical barriers that hinder the implementation of E-learning .
At universities and other institutions of higher learning, computers laboratories are available for use by students and academic staff. However, they are not enough to meet the demand. Internet bandwidth for most institutions is in the range of 512kbps to 2Mbps, which is inadequate for most E-learning systems. Few institutions have sufficient multi-media facilities for teaching purposes. Recruitment and retaining of high qualified and skilled staff to manage ICT infrastructure and systems is another challenge facing HLI’s. Reliability and prices of Internet services from service providers is another challenge facing HLIs in the country.
1.1 Statement of the Problem
The situation analysis done for changes needed for higher education in Nigeria showed that, there are rapid changes and advances in the world of science and technology (NHEP, 1999). Yet Nigeria has lagged far behind and was continuing to use old technologies. Then one of the policy statements towards the changing needs for higher education in year 1999 stated that: Long-term training shall consist of expanding student enrolment in institutions of higher education five-fold by the year 2005. Enhancement of ICT, in particular the use of distant learning shall be one of the strategies to achieve the target (NHEP, 1999).
While enrollment has increased significantly, it was expected that the use of E-learning would mitigate the anticipated challenges associated with this massive increase. However, the adaptation of E-learning for teaching and learning at Nigeria HLIs is at infancy stage, hence compromising the quality of education in the country. The basis of this research was to examine critical barriers for E-learning implementation with focus on organizational culture, infrastructure and quality content creation.
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