INFLUENCE OF ADULT EDUCATION PROGRAMMES IN PROMOTING DIGITAL LITERACY AMONG ADULT LEARNERS IN NIGERIA
1.1. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Society is transforming so fast into one which is based on information, requiring its citizens to be familiar with and at ease with information-based resources and manipulations. According to Adebola (2008) for a Nigerian learner not to be left out in what is happening in the world, he/she has to key into the use and application of internet and this has to start from the foundation of education. Technology is therefore changing in a way that has never happened before and without proper machinery in place; one stands the risk of being left behind. Adebola further stated that people no longer necessarily go to library to obtain information or knowledge because internet are now available to the user at his/her home, office and cybercafé centres. This is because technology is advancing rapidly and making inroads into personal, business, academic and social life.
Bello et al. (2014) in Bakare (2012) commented that the computer revolution and information technology have transformed systems in areas of communication, teaching, storage and retrieval of data. All modern technologies open new doors and various opportunities for teaching and learning at every level (Bakare, 2012). Adult Education (AE) has been increasingly impacted by technology in recent years as educational institutions, workplaces, and government programs in Nigeria have shifted more of their information and services into digital spaces. These services, which used to require filling out a paper form or a telephone call have shifted into online spaces and now require technology tools to access and use. Citizens require technology access then in addition to knowledge and the skills necessary for working in digital spaces in order to be self sufficient and participate fully in today's society. This study addresses some of the emerging concerns and possibilities with Adult Education and technology literacy efforts for adults in Nigeria. While ongoing technology infrastructure improvements over the past few years is making it increasingly possible for many to have limited free access to computers and the use of the Internet, these opportunities address only part of digital divide concerns.
Broadly, digital divide refers to one’s access to and use of technology. Disparities for our citizens who lack the literacy and digital competencies necessary to make effective use of digital options remains an ongoing challenge of the digital divide. Two areas of digital competencies are of specific interest for this paper: basic technology competence - such as being able to fill out a form online or navigate a web page or website, and cognitive technology competence - such as the ability to apply critical thinking and one's reading comprehension skills to strategically use technology for seeking out and understanding information. Filling out an online form and having the reading comprehension skills necessary to understand information may be beyond the reach of adults who do not meet the U.S. Congress definition of literacy from 1991, “an individual’s ability to read, write, and speak in English, and compute and solve problems at levels of proficiency necessary to function on the job and in society, to achieve one’s goals, and develop one’s knowledge and potential” (National Literacy Act of 1991).
Literature indicates that many lower-literate adults lack even the most basic of technology skills, let alone have the literacy proficiency necessary to realize the Internet’s full potential. We will highlight several of these studies later. In 2012, a digital assessment project and, in 2012, a web-based software system was developed to address several recognized education gaps. Both are in use at regional sites in Minnesota to target digital competency and literacy education for adults. These are the Digital Literacy Program and the Learner Web system.
The Digital Literacy Program at their own pace. The assignments require learners to demonstrate computer and online tasks hands- on and in real-time as opposed to only abstractly learning these skills (Vanek, 2013). These two projects complement each other and are showing promise in furthering digital competence and literacy goals. Though the digital and Learner Web programs were developed by Adult Education educators, researchers, and others who work closely with Adult Education populations, these are suited for addressing literacy needs of this learning audience. Digital literacy program opportunities can play a crucial role as a first step for understanding technology literacy needs and for leveraging this information to better target a starting point for developing a learner's technology literacy. As this is an emerging area of teaching and learning in Adult Education, it is not fully evident which digital literacy program options are useful for the diverse populations Adult Education serves.
1.2. STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The issue of how to teach ICT skills in adult education programmes has not been explicitly addressed (Kambouri, Mellar & Logan, 2014). Tutors sometimes adopt a purely didactic form when teaching ICT skills and digital literacy skills. There is little research concerning best practices to teach basic ICT skills. This study aspires to contribute into filling this gap. Understanding more about adult learners’ difficulties with ICT as well as aspects of adults’ instruction on digital literacy, from the perspective of the educators, constitutes the fundamental purpose of the research reported. The research is justified given the importance placed on ICT both by the Commission and the Greek government, the central role of ICTs’ in the curriculum of the Adult education programme, and the fact that digital literacy in relation to adult learning is an under researched field in Greece (Jimoyiannis & Gravani, 2008). Harnessing a qualitative methodology this research aims at a deeper investigation of adult digital literacy in the context of investigating adult education programmes in Nigeria. Digital literacy is not a new strategy for Adult learners to gain the information and knowledge needed. The capability to use the technology to allow us to right to use the materials is a key aspect of digital literacy. As a starting point, the obvious aspect of digital literacy is an internet. The internet is a no longer complementary tool but primary need in this era (Rahmah, 2015). In spite of the global recognition of the importance of literacy skills to both individual and the nation at large, a substantial number of people are still illiterate. While significant progress has been made towards achieving universal literacy over the past six decades, the poorest and most marginalized set of people have yet to be reached. Many people are inadequately literate because they lack the reading and writing skills that can enable them functional and improve their daily lives. Some lack literacy skills because they have not had the opportunity or the means to attend school and some others because their schooling was cut short or was of poor quality. All these set of people are almost all poor, most are older and a vast majority are from the developing countries mostly from a linguistic and minority groups (Dighe, 2008). However, with the rapid expansion and growth of ICTs, there is now an exceptional opportunities for achieving a wider educational access and reach with considerable improvement in the quality of education provided. As such, it becomes imperative to explore this new trend in the andragogical shift if reasonable progress in terms of ICT use is to be made in adult literacy programmes (Dighe, 2008; Adeyemo, Adedoja & Adelore 2010). This paper addresses adult learning in an attempt to outline a general framework of digital and ICT literacy in adult education programs from the educators’ perspective.
1.3. OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major purpose of this study is to examine the influence of adult education programmes in promoting digital literacy among adult learners. Other general objectives of the study are:
1. To examine the digital competency assessment and possibilities in adult literacy.
2. To examine the perceptions of adult learners regarding digital tools for learning.
3. To examine the influence of adult education programmes in promoting digital literacy among adult learners.
4. To examine the factors that will enhance effective utilization of digital tools for learning in the literacy class.
5. To examine the relationship between adult education programmes and promotion of digital literacy among adult learners.
6. To examine the challenges that adult educators faced in the course of exposing adult learners to the use of digital tools in adult literacy programmes.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. How is the digital competency assessment and possibilities in adult literacy?
2. What are the perceptions of adult learners regarding digital tools for learning?
3. What are the influences of adult education programmes in promoting digital literacy among adult learners?
4. What are the factors that will enhance effective utilization of digital tools for learning in the literacy class?
5. What is the relationship between adult education programmes and promotion of digital literacy among adult learners?
6. What are the challenges that adult educators faced in the course of exposing adult learners to the use of digital tools in adult literacy programmes?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
1. Ho: There is no significant influence of adult education programmes in promoting digital literacy among adult learners in Nigeria.
2. Ho: There is no significant relationship between adult education programmes and promotion of digital literacy among adult learners in Nigeria.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study may provide useful information to policy makers as it will hopefully shed more light on the reasons behind low participation in adult literacy in the area of study. Education managers may be better placed to implement literacy programmes that are relevant to learners‟ needs and to guide instructors appropriately. The literacy instructors maybe equipped with appropriate skills for managing literacy programmes at centre level leading to increased participation and eventually contribute to a rise in the country’s literacy rate. Adult learners will be equipped with relevant skills to enable them improve on their ICT skills and quality of life hence contributing to digital literacy in their environment and the country in general. It is therefore anticipated that the discoveries of this study will assist, government, agencies and organisations which offer educational programmes for adults to better understand what factors are important when selecting an educational programme and to improve on the use of new technologies strategies of increasing adults’ persistence in learning programmes.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is based on influence of adult education programmes in promoting digital literacy among adult learners in Nigeria. This study was conducted in Abuja metropolis.
1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Adult Learner: An adult person is defined differently in different countries. For example, he / she can be defined according to age, economic status, cultural and social roles he/she plays in his her community. Therefore, an adult learner is defined as any mature individual who participate in a learning situation that will bring about changes.
Literacy programmes: Literacy Programmes refers to systematic and planned activities intended to equip individual participants to become skilful in the ability to read, write and compute to an appreciable level.
Digital Literacy: Refers to an individual's ability to produce clear information through writing and other forms of communication on various digital platforms. Digitally literacy showcases an individual's grammar, computer, writing, and typing skills on platforms, such as, social media sites and blog sites. Digital Literacy also includes other devices, such as, smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop PCs. While digital literacy initially focused on digital skills and stand-alone computers, its focus has shifted to network devices including the Internet and use of social media. Digital literacy does not replace traditional forms of literacy. Instead, it builds upon the foundation of traditional forms of literacy.
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