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AVAILABILITY AND UTILIZATION OF WEB-BASED TOOLS FOR EFFECTIVE DELIVERY OF INSTRUCTION IN NIGERIAN UNIVERSITIES IN SOUTH-SOUTH ZONE

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the Study

Education is the enabler of social and economic change. It is a continuous process of shaping and modifying behaviours of an individual for adequate adjustments in the society. According to Akubue and Okolo (2008), education is a process of acculturation through which the individual is helped to sustain the development of his potentialities, and maximum activation when necessary thereby achieving self-fulfilment. The importance of education is undeniable for every single person because it is a self-enlightening process, which provides us with knowledge about the world, paves the way for a good career, helps build character, lays the foundation of a stronger nation and crucial to the overall development of an individual and the society at large (Itedjere, 1997; Whawo, 1997). To the researcher, education is an indispensable part of life personally and socially. However, the level of unequal standard and access to university education are still major problems that need to be solved. As a result of this, new strategies are being made to resolve the problem.

University education in Nigeria is faced by problems of access, population explosion and other problems associated with the learning process. According to Enaohwo (2008) access to University education implies the right, opportunity and means of making education available within the reach of every citizen of a nation. Access to education in its full and broad sense means free and unlimited, unhindered, unfettered opportunities to obtain knowledge, skills, and abilities available at each level of education needed to optimally participate and contribute to the development of the society (Okeke, 2008).

It has been observed that most of the candidates who sat for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME) conducted by the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) are usually not admitted by various universities because of carrying capacity (Edukugbo, 2012). Edukugbo further maintained that this has led to denial of access to university education and leaves the candidates with no hope for the future. According to Edukugbo, in 2011/2012 academic session, a total of 1,493,604 candidates sat for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME) conducted by the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), the results announced showed that 842,851 candidates scored above 180 indicating that less than 45 percent passed the examination. JAMB later fixed 180 marks as minimum for university students, yet most of them were not admitted by the various universities (Edukugbo, 2012).

As at 2003 the capacity of tertiary institutions across the country is only about 500,000 (Afinsulu & Scannews, 2013). This shows that there is indeed a need for other alternatives to the conventional mode of education, that is, the teacher – student – chalkboard method of teaching. Alternative strategies such as distance learning, blended learning, electronic learning, web-based learning, will help in solving the problems of access, population explosion, other problems such as; problem of students not being able to complete their programs, inadequate learning, route learning, problem of fund, problem of not completing the curriculum within the time frame, problem of large class size which greatly affect learning outcome, time constrains for students who are working, and mostly distance that stands as barrier for some students. But, the availability of resources and its utilization by lecturers and students to enhance these alternative methods poses a problem. In the quest for abating this trend, the researcher intends to find out the extent of availability and utilization of web-based tools for effective delivery of instruction by lecturers and students in Nigerian universities (NUs). In Nigeria, there are federal, state, and private universities which are being managed by the owners. Several factors help to establish who owns a university and what rights the university may, or may not, have. It is commonly agreed that to own something, is to have certain rights and duties over it. In essence, ownership is a bundle of rights and duties.

Federal universities are universities that are operated and managed by the federal government, and for each state in the country there is a federal university. State owned universities are also called public or state government owned university. Every state also has a university which is been funded and managed by the state government. While Private universities are universities not operated by governments but by private individuals who fund and manage the affairs of the university, although many of these universities receive tax breaks, public student loans, and grants. Depending on their location, private universities may be subject to government regulation. In Nigeria there are a number of private universities, one of which is Igbinedion University, located in Okada, a town in Benin, Edo state. Hence, for the country to actualize its educational objectives of meeting the educational needs of her citizens, then, other modes of teaching and learning must be imbibed. Web-based instruction is seen as a means of meeting the educational needs of every single individual if it’s being utilized by universities in the country.

Web-based instruction is a hypermedia-based instructional program which utilizes the attributes and resources of the World Wide Web to create a meaningful learning environment where learning is fostered and supported (Khan, 1997). It is delivered via the computer using the Internet, making it capable of instant updating, distribution, and sharing of information (Rosenberg, 2001). Activities like on-line forums, chats, mailing list, and web-quest are used to enhance teaching and learning on the web. The outcome may include effective interaction, feedback, knowledge and skills transfer to facilitate learning. Web-based instruction is one of the alternative strategies to education that uses web-based tools for effective delivery of learning. Web-based tools provide integrated environments of various technologies to support diverse educators’ and learners’ needs via the Internet.  The goal of these tools is to enhance face-to-face instruction and to deliver distance-learning courses. Web-based tools allow one to carry out  task online that is, learning activities are done on a web browser and no separate download or installation of other software is required  (Kilby, 2008). All the learning activities are accessible from anywhere where there is internet connection.

There are numerous web-based tools for educational purposes that can be effectively used to enhance communication. According to Almpanis, Miller, Ross, Price, and James (2011), these web-based tools include: – Content management system: this is used to create, edit, update content or document on a website; it helps to manage work flow on the web.  Picture management: this software makes it easy to import pictures and manage them. In addition, it gives one the ability to edit the images of documents, and allows for backups of files to prevent loss of original pictures. School management software is used for all administrative, management and learning activities; it is used to manage students, teachers, employees, courses and all the systems and processes related to running an institution efficiently. Document management: it’s a computer system or program used to track and store electronic documents. It also keeps track of the different versions modified by different users. Web conferencing: refers to a service that allows conferencing events to be shared with remote locations. This service is made possible by internet technologies; the service allows real-time multicast communications from one sender to many receivers. It offers data streams of text-based massages, voice and video chat to be shared simultaneously across geographically dispersed locations. Others are learning management system, simulation, Google document, content management system, wikis, weblogs, and podcast. The tools can be used to manage student’s records, enhance participation and assignments, improve students’ writing and research skills,  motivate students to learn, design websites, send e-mails, write collaborative documents with colleagues or students, demonstrate concepts in an interesting way, get other teachers’ opinions about teaching issues, help students develop team work skills, and learn the use of internet responsibly. Therefore, the place of Web-based tools in the delivery of instruction as an alternative to conventional method to education cannot be over-emphasised. As the number of participants in education continues to increase, so does the importance of providing effective instruction that focuses on the needs of learners increases. Successful web-based learning is believed to revolve around a learner-centred system of instruction designed to meet the needs of individual learners. Web-based instruction is a rapidly growing instructional format that is challenging the traditional learning model in higher education and many institutions of higher learning in other countries are running furiously to join in this trend (Gordon, He, and Abdous, 2009). For an effective web-based instruction, there are software such as moodle, blackboard, among others that contains these web-based tools that can be used for academic purposes.

Moodle: This is an Open Source Course Management System (CMS), also known as learning and content management system (LCMS); an Open Source Course Management System is a free delivery means for students to learn subject matter electronically. CMS is a complete programme for managing educational content electronically, and this happens to be the engines of web-based learning that provide mechanisms for organising academic curriculum, delivering various modes of assessment which allows for communication between instructors and students (Dougiamas and Taylor, 2003). These programmes work on the internet or through educational institution’s local networks connected to computers, it lets teachers, trainers and administrators manage online learning and online training. The LCMS can be used to conduct courses online or to support face-to-face teaching and learning, it can also be extended with modules for assignments, quizzes, grading, certification, social and collaborative learning in an engaging manner. Moodle can be integrated with online content resource repositories for managing course registration, payment and enrolment, course schedules, allocation of training resources (Bauer and Kurtemeyer, 2005). This software is free and can also be an essential tool for effective delivery of web-based learning experience and can also be used effectively in the conventional method of teaching and learning process such that, teachers and students can communicate through e-mails, submit  assignments, and news posting. Blackboard learn is of another importance in the utilization of web-based tools for effective delivery of instruction.

Blackboard: This is propriety of web-based learning management system (LMS), similar to moodle. It is designed to support fully online courses or provide a space for face-to-face course supplementation; Blackboard provides many types of tools and features for enriching the learning experience, allows instructors to put class materials on the internet, provides a variety of tools to facilitate teaching and learning using the web.  The basic components used in a Blackboard Learn course include a syllabus, Learning Module, discussions, calendar, e-mail, announcements, grade book, exams, and assignments (Storey, Bavelas, Wang, and Phillips, 2009). The system consists of two parts – student and lecturer. To access the system, the user first registers either as a lecturer or a student, and also gets username and password for logging into the system. To access the main content of the application, the system performs authentication in which the user uses his/her personal username and password to log in, the administrator of the system can also login into the system using his/her password for any update. The student can log on to the application after registering, to check for any assignment posted by the lecturer on each course registered for, does the assignment, upload database, he/she can also log in again to check for marked assignments and the grades. The lecturers also log in to develop content, posts his/ her assignment to the students, and later log on to assess students’ activities (Loch and Reushle, 2008). The lecturer’s ability to develop and deliver course content utilizing the various tools found in Blackboard is vital for effective delivery of web-based instruction.

Web-based instruction can be achieved by utilizing any form of the available web tools. Any institution that must engage in any of these new strategies to improve access to education must provide adequate resources in terms of setting up computer laboratories in Information and Communication Technology centres (ICTC) and in each faculty;  develop a comprehensive network design to cover academic and administrative units, student hostels and staff quarters with consideration for connectivity, train all staff of academic departments and programmes to possess the ability to use multimedia teaching workstations, equip lecture halls for multimedia instruction, develop and select virtual learning software, and other software that can be useful for educational purposes (Web-Based Education Commission, 2005).

Utilization, for the purpose of this study is making effective use of available web tools or resources. The lecturer, as well as the student’s role is an important factor in the utilization of web-based tools for effective delivery of instruction, also, the lecturer and the student has to be competent in utilizing these available tools. According to Maor (2003) there are several facets of the role of the lecturer that can impact upon how web-based tools are developed and delivered. The lecturer will have to develop and deliver the course content depending upon the students’ pedagogical needs which should include the learning outcomes, assignment requirements and relevant resources. Lecturers will have to check the online communication facilities for new postings and provide prompt and adequate replies to students’ questions to ensure effectiveness of the delivery. Also, how the lecturers perceive the importance of web-based activities will influence how web-based tools are utilized and integrated into their teaching practices (Gordon, et’al, 2009). Lecturers with a low perception of the importance of web-based activities may not fully consider how to apply web-based tools strategies to enhance their students’ learning. Learning strategies can also be developed to encourage students to utilize online communication facilities such as conducting discussions about specific topics and discussion based on issues relating to their assignments (Smith and Ragan, 2005; Bull, Kimball, and Stansberry, 1998). If the lecturers and students are able to utilize these web-based tools, effective delivery of instruction becomes easier for them which definitely will bring about learning outcome.  The lecturer must have the basic skills to be able to develop an appropriate content that will meet the needs of the students. Content development is a core component of web-based instruction and in so doing; the lecturer will have in mind the pedagogical needs of the students.

In using pedagogical approaches for web-based learning, according to Bruning, Schraw, Norby, and Ronning (2004)   the lecturer will have to consider the ability of the learner in terms of;

Cognitive perspective which focuses on the cognitive processes involved in learning as well as how the brain works. Emotional perspective which focuses on the emotional aspects of learning, like motivation, engagement, fun. Behavioural perspective focuses on the skills and behavioural outcomes of the learning process. Role-playing and application to the learning settings. Contextual perspective focuses on the environmental and social aspects which can stimulate learning. Interaction with other people, collaborative discovery and the importance of peer support as well as pressure.

When all these attributes are put in place it becomes easier, more interactive, interesting, and fun for both lecturers and students which will bring about effective utilization of web-based tools for effective delivery of instruction. Lecturers will also have to assess the ability of the learners to determine learning outcome, e-assessment by lecturers to assess the usability of student on web-tools is an essential aspect of effective delivery of web-based instruction.

E-assessment as it relates to education consists of all the procedures and strategies that are used to obtain information about students’ learning. According to Pachler, Mellar, Daly, Mor, Wiliam, and Laurillard (2009) e-assessments methods emanate from the specific learning objectives of a subject; hence e-assessment should be included in the planning of web-based instruction. E-assessments can be designed as an ongoing process (formative) or it can be designed to be used at the end of a prescribed period of learning (summative). Different e-assessment strategies such as e-testing, e-examination will also ensure accommodation of the different learning styles of the students. Classroom presentation naturally suits verbal or linguistic learners as it requires students to verbalise their knowledge but visual learners are likely to achieve higher in e-assessments which include pictures, videos, diagrams, maps because these will help them figure out their responses. Lecturers have access to a range of digital tools with which to organise their feedback and assessment in order to make learning more efficient, and to make room for formative, normative, or summative e-assessment processes. In addition, the lecturers have a range of different technologies that allow students either together or alone, to show their understanding of knowledge, phenomena and ideas by presenting tasks in various ways using different digital tools.  Example of this is the possibility of making models, podcasts, videos and multimodal texts into which sound, image and video can be integrated for a collaborative learning outcome.

E-assessment, can therefore, be used by lecturers to assess the cognitive and practical abilities of students. Cognitive abilities can be assessed using e-testing software; practical abilities can also be assessed using e-portfolios or simulation software for them to have an effective delivery of instruction. The students should also have access to course content and not be restricted.

Web-based tools accessibility is another important factor in effective delivery of web-based instruction; this involves the ability of students to access course content developed on the web. First of all, both the learning content and the learning platform should be accessible by students in order to effectively use these web-based tools. Web-based tools are often used with specific technology, or configuration, which can make them less available to people who have limited access capabilities or who are using non-standard computer equipment. As with most types of web applications, student should be conversant with LCMS environments which have become progressively more complex as instructors and students demand more features and more capability from their learning environments (Kwan and Fong, 2005). In terms of the interface elements, such as logging in, logging out, navigating to courses and content, communicating with instructors and other students, the LCMS core environment has its fixed interface elements, instructors have the ability to add further navigation issues in the form of multi-layered content folders, hyperlinks, html content(hyper text makeup language). All of these can typically be mixed together in any number of ways to enhance learning, this also creates flexibility for instructors and course designers, it can leave users of assistive technologies learning not just how to interact with the core LCMS features but with the individual courses as built by the instructors (UNESCO Bangkok, 2006). For instance, the websites for the Blackboard and Moodle LCMS tools both address the issue of accessibility of students; the Moodle site offers authors a basic accessibility overview and some do’s and don’ts in terms of course design and content format, while Blackboard offers comprehensive instructions to students in terms of using the system with assistive technologies. The Blackboard website also address the accessibility from an instructors point of view, in terms of managing content which can include editing the names of items, deleting items or setting the sequence of items, and then adding content into the modules such as images, videos, links, documents, html element and perhaps sub-folders, these are among the most common. In the light of the above, the students’ use of web-based tools for content accessibility developed on the web is important for effective delivery of web-based instruction (Porter, 2004). Another issue of research importance in the utilization of web-based tools is gender influence. Many people behave differently and act differently to certain issues with respect to biological and psychological traits when it comes to web activities.

Gender influence is an important factor in the utilization of web-based tools for effective delivery of instruction; gender is a characteristic that distinguishes between male and female in the aspect of their behaviour, activities, and attitudes which must be considered in the investigation process of this work. Research has shown that gender issues affect all aspects of the society as regarding their profession, competencies in higher institution and so on, which actually reflects biasness in their performance level. Although most researchers have found male performing better than female especially on higher order knowledge, a few others saw female out-performing the male, while some others established no significant difference particularly during early education (Adeleke, 2008). A review of some gender based studies that were carried out showed that there is a considerable inconsistency in the literature as to the nature, extent and sources of bias in the differential performances between male and female in web-based learning. Loyd and Gressand (1991) cited in Onuzulike (2011) also found out that females have lower grade scores on computer technology competencies than male. Onuzulike further stated that, gender has been identified as a critical factor that affects lecturer’s attitudes towards the use of computer. The study is therefore posed to investigate the influence of gender according to lecturers and students in the utilization of web-based tools in course content development, e-assessment, and course content accessibility in Nigerian Universities (NUs) for effective delivery of instruction.

Statement of the Problem

In Nigeria, millions of students pass the university entrance qualifying exam every year, but most of them never attend a university class. This is as a result of carrying capacity of the universities. Also, those that are already admitted into the system are faced with challenges. This is because the conventional mode of education is associated with a lot of problems such as; students not being able to complete their programs, problem of fund, not being able to complete the curriculum,  large class size which greatly affect learning outcome, time constrains for students who are working, and distance from school. Therefore, alternative mode to education have emerged providing opportunities for student to practice and to analyze what have been learnt, offering better access to education, and relevant articles for teaching and learning which is web-based instruction.

Despite the obvious and enormous advantages that come with using web-based tools in teaching and learning, lecturers and students in Nigerian universities have been finding education processes and research difficult because of the traditional educational delivery system still in practice. This calls for urgent attention by the government and the National University Commission (NUC) to ensure that web-based instructions are collaborated into the university system to improve access to education. Also, some of the lecturers in the universities in Nigeria lack adequate knowledge and skills required for effective web-based instructional delivery. The problem therefore, is to determine the extent of availability and utilization of web-based tools for effective delivery of instruction in Nigerian universities.

Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of the study was to find out the extent of availability and utilization of web-based tools for effective delivery of instruction in Nigerian Universities. Specifically, the study seeks to;

  1. Determine the available web-tools for effective delivery of instruction in Nigerian universities.
  1. Determine the extent of availability of resources for the utilization of web-based tools in Federal, State, and Private universities in Nigeria.
  2. Determine the extent of utilization of available web-based tools in the delivery of course content by lecturers in Nigerian universities.
  3. Determine lecturers’ use of web-based tools in e-assessment of students’ in Nigerian universities.
  4. Determine the influence of lecturers’ gender on their use of web-based tools in content delivery in Nigerian universities.
  1. Determine the extent to which students utilize web-based tools for academic purposes in Nigerian universities.
  1. Determine the extent to which students utilize web-based tools in content accessibility Nigerian universities.
  2. Determine the influence of gender on students’ use of web-based tools in content accessibility in Nigerian universities.
  1. Identify factors that hinder the use of web-based tools for effective delivery of instruction in Nigerian universities.

Significance of the Study

        Generally, the study was significant both in theoretical and practical dimensions to education. Theoretically, the study anchored on Activity-Based Learning Theory by (Vygotsky, 1978). The theory aims to enrich students’ academic experience and learning outcomes by connecting theory with practice, and concepts with methods, using data and insight they obtain through engagement with the larger world. This theory is an ideal theory for web-based instruction, where the learner is actively engaged in the learning process, and learning experiences are connected with other human

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