Computer and internet facilities use in distance education: a survey of sandwich students of University of Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria.

Author:Akande, Samson Oyeniyi
Position:Report
 
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Introduction

Distance education is taking a new dimension in the history of education in Nigeria. The Nigerian Government has demonstrated commitment to nthe development of distance learning by going into cooperation and partnership with International Organizations like the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), UNESCO and UNICEF. Dada(2001) gave a report of the international workshop organized by the Federal Government of Nigeria on Distance Learning in collaboration with UNESCO, UNICEF and Commonwealth of Learning(COL). According to him, this conference led to the formulation of a national policy on Distance Education and the design of a ten year programme. The provisions of policy and structural framework for the smooth take-off of distance education are strong indications that the Government is committed to the provision of Distance Education to those who are interested. Umoru-Onuka(2001) defines Distance Education as a means of providing alternative educational opportunities for those who lost such opportunities earlier and are now willing to take advantage of such alternative to ameliorate a lost opportunity or for those who could not afford education through its formal route because they want to study and at the same time keep their jobs'.

Distance Learning programmes embraces minimal physical contact between the teacher and student but emphasize much reliance on electronic communications. This implies that the learner receives the formalised learning while he/she is on a location outside the university- campus. Distance learning is variously described as external degree, part-time degree, correspondence or sandwich programmes. Mabawonku(2004) opines that it involves the open learning approach and little (occasional), if any, interaction with the teacher. She believes that the focus is on the needs of the individual student and is more learner- centred.

The advances in electronic--based information and Communication technologies (ICTs) rapidly transforming social and economic conditions across the globe have brought a great improvement in the education sector. This is by providing new tools for providing access to information and knowledge management as well as sharing. Khorrami-Arani(2001) asserts that computers have made a dramatic impact on our society, particularly in the field of education. Computers are common tools in most schools, and are being used increasingly in all subject areas.

The rationale behind the running of Distance learning programmes is that students could learn from there chosen locations which could be thousands of miles away. It is therefore expected that distance learning would demand much use of information and communication technology. This would enable the students to access electronic information resources like CD-ROM, Internet, Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC) and other electronic databases through the use of computers. The use of computers facilitate learning as students make use of word processing applications to type assignments, do class work and surf the Internet to access current information for their time-papers and projects.

Provision of electronic resources in university libraries, cybercafes, homes and technology centres inn the universities is very crucial in that it provides access to vast amount of information which students need to achieve their academic goals. Ray and Day(1998) compares electronic and print sources and opines that recalling information from electronic information sources are often faster than consulting print sources.

Several studies have been conducted to survey the use of Internet and Computers by students in the universities. For example, Anasi(2006); Olatunji-Bello, Ibegwam and Odugbemi(2002); Ojo and Akande(2005); Ojedokun(2001) all focused on regular or full-time students' use of Internet facilities of the undergraduates but this study will focus the distance learning students or the sandwich students. Furthermore, it appears generally as if not much research have been done on distance learning in Nigeria and the use of information materials by the distance learning students(Mabawonku,2004). This study, therefore, was designed to investigate computer and Internet usage by distance learning students in university of Ado-Ekiti in Nigeria.

Literature Review

University education is expected to equip the students with skill in reading, inquiry, and independent thinking. Little wonder that Shaw and Giacquinta(2000) suggested that, faculty in addition to integrating computer use in their courses make regularly available a wide range of short-format, hands-on workshop ad demonstrations in which undergraduates can be given individual attention. Romiszowki and Mason(1996) cited in Sam et. al(2005) states that higher education will expand academic computing resources not only for their pedagogical benefits but also 'because it will be seen to be the duty of education to use such systems in order to prepare its graduates for the reality of a workplace where they will be obliged to use them". Computing technology has tremendous impact on learning and teaching processes. This probably while Sam et.al(2005) quoting Bultzine(2000) and Reiser(2001) remarks that ' educators who advocate technology integration in the learning process believe that it will improve learning and better prepare students to effectively participate in the 21st century workplace". Ramirex(2003) carried out a study on the impact of the Internet on the reading practices of College students in National University of Mexico. The findings of the study reveal that there was a growing interest in digital reading and that a significant percentage of the surveyed students increasingly depended on the Internet for their school--related activities because it was easy and fast. Anasi(2006) investigated the pattern of Internet use by the undergraduates at the University of...

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