BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
E-learning refers to the use of ICTs i.e. Information and Communication Technology to enhance and support teaching and learning process. E-learning ranges from the way student use e-mail and accessing course work online while following a course on campus to programs offered entirely online. Advances in ICT have revolutionized higher education in many ways like increasing access to post-secondary instruction, improving the availability of educational resources, facilitating meaningful interaction among learners, outmoded educational system and as such better prepare students and the average citizen for the information age, and or accelerate national development efforts (Albirini, 2006).
The term e-learning is not a new phenomenon in promoting education in some parts of world. Presently, some institutions in Nigeria are using it to promote distance education (DE) and life long learning. E-learning according to Sale (2002), is the use of electronic technology to deliver education and training applications, monitor learner’s performance and report learner’s progress. Hedge and Hayward (2004), defined it as an innovative approach for delivering electronically mediated, well-designed, learner-centered and interactive learning environments to anyone, anyplace, anytime by utilizing the internet and digital technologies in concern with instructional design principles. It is all about learning with the use of computers. In this age, learning with the use of computer is simply online ways of acquiring knowledge through the internet or through the offline – CD-ROM; the online involves the use of Internet Explorer/Navigator. It may be in form of Audio, Visual, and or Audio/Visual. The process and applications of e-learning technology include computer-based learning, web-based learning, virtual learning, blended learning, hybrid models, internet learning, networked learning, Tele-learning, computer-assisted learning and online classroom and digital collaboration where contents is delivered via the internet, intranet/extranet, audio and or video tapes, satellite TV and CD-ROM (Arbaugh, 2000; Achuonye, 2004; Ukoha, 2007).
In Nigerian schools, the commonest type of e-learning adopted is in form of lectures note on CD-ROM which can be played as at when the learners desires. The challenge of this method is that the numbers of students per computer in which these facilities are available are un-interactive as compared to when lectures are been received in the classroom. Some institutions adopted the use of intranet facilities; however, this is not well maintained because of incessant power problem and high cost of running generating set. Most students in Nigeria go to the cyber café but because there are people of diverse intension on the net at the same time, and the bandwidth problem, a multimedia interactive cannot be done. Despite all these and other challenges facing e-learning in Nigeria educational institution, institutions such as University of Ibadan, ObafemiAwolowo University, University of Benin, University of Abuja, University of Lagos, National Open University of Nigeria among others has the facilities for e-learning. The number seems very low (compared to other parts of the world and the usefulness of the e-learning in the economy development) because of location of most institutions, bandwidth issue and mostly the challenge of electricity. Though most of the educational institutions (private and public) have started setting up their ICT centres for internet services alone without actually taking into consideration other components of e-learning centre.
The focus of this research work is to find out the challenges and prospects of e-learning in College of Education (COEI), Ikere Ekiti, therefore it is of paramount necessity to take a look into the foundation / history of College of Education (COEI), as well as her mode of Operations and her academic activities.
The College of Education (COEI), Ikere Ekiti was established initially as the defunct Ondo State, College of Education, Ikere-Ekiti with an Edict on December 5, 1977 and as the premier institution of the State. The College was primarily conceived as a training Centre for teachers of technical education, The College was also be unique in the sense that it would principally train technical and vocational education teachers without neglecting academic areas of study. To give respectability and acceptability to its programme, the College was affiliated to the then University of Ife (now ObafemiAwolowo University) which eventually approved its courses and sponsored same for the approval of the National Joint Consultative Committee on education (JCCE) in February 1979. Thus, all programmes of the College were moderated by the University.
In 1992, the National Commission for the Colleges of Education (NCCE) was established to supervise all Colleges of Education in Nigeria and it has since laid the minimum standards for all programmes of teacher education and accreditation certificates and other academic awards in the Colleges of Education.
The College got government approval for the running of the NCE (Primary) Sandwich Programme in 1987 affiliation with University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in 1992 and 2004 respectively.
Keegan (2008) once said of Online-education as being “Characterized by the separation of teachers and learners which distinguishes it from self-study and private tutoring, the use of a computer network to present or distribute some educational content, the provision of two-ways communication via a computer network so that students may benefit from communication with each other, teachers, and staff ”, linking it with the description of e-learning which Arbaugh, 2000; Archuonye, 2004 and Ukoha, 2007 said, “ e-learning implies the abilities of people to use information technology and the internet to learn improve their learning skills and strengthen their capabilities in the information society ”.
The emergence and proliferation of new information and communication technologies (ICT), had introduced an unstoppable revolution into education particularly in the areas of teaching and learning. The Internet and the web have further raised the revolutionary tempo especially through the enhancement of e-learning. For most open and distance learning providers, e-learning had added another dimension to the issue of access. While Open and Distance Learning, ODL, itself is hailed by nations as bailing them out of the problem of providing access to education to the masses, e- learning is further extending the frontiers by further removing distance from education and helping individuals who can, to access education anywhere, anytime, at their own pace and at any place. E-Learning or On-line education offers students excellent opportunities for individual communication with their study materials, study resources, and their tutors. It is the interactive exploits technology and communication systems to improve the learning experience. It has the potential to transform the way we teach and learn across the board (i.e.24 hours / 7 days) throughout the year. It can raise standards, and widen participation in lifelong learning. It is important to bear this in mind that E-learning as learning facilitated online through network technologies involves the utilization of virtual technologies in the practice of teaching, learning and assessment (Lee, Hong and Ling, 2002) and at College of Education, e-learning activities started with the most basic use of audio tapes and progressed to the use of CD-ROM.
The National Policy on Education (FRN, 2004.Pg 17) places emphasis on the provision and utilization of Information and Communication (ICT) when it states that “In recognition of the prominent roles of information and communication technology in advancing knowledge and skills necessary for effective functioning in the modern world, there is urgent need to integrate Information and Communication Technology (ICT) into education in Nigeria”. Educational institutions are getting more interested in improving their programme with ICT tools and applications to introduce flexibility in the teaching and learning process.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEMS
The call for utilization of e-learning in various educational sectors / unit on instructional delivery is to infuse and inject efficiency and effectiveness in Curriculum implementation. However, in developing countries like Nigeria, e-learning is challenged with the problem of material devices such as computer, computer laboratories, internet and email facilities, videophone systems and teleconferencing devices, fax and wireless applications, digital library, digital classrooms, multimedia systems and the problem of multimedia courseware development among others. Other studies indicates that there is dearth of professional trained and skills teachers for e-learning, lack of facilities, infrastructures and equipment’s (Jegede and Owolabi, 2008).
It is against this background that the present study is to be carried out to determine the extent of various challenges facing e-learning as well as to examine its prospects and benefits to the education industry if well utilized.
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