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INFLUENCE OF DIGITAL LEARNING EQUIPMENT ON THE ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE OF STUDENTS (A CASE STUDY OF NATIONAL OPEN UNIVERSITY, BENUE STATE)
1.1 Background of the study
Digital natives, the net-generation, the digital-generation, and millenniums are all labels to identify today’s learners. Marc Prensky (2001) created the term digital native in his work Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants to describe the generation of learners growing up interacting with digital technology. Marc Prensky (2001), educational author, noted that the average college student has spent less than 5,000 hours of his/her life reading, yet he/she has spent over 10,000 hours playing video games and 20,000 hours watching television. The National School Board Association (2007) reported teens engage in social networking almost as much as they watch television. Marc Prensky (2001) stated, “Our students have changed radically. Today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach” (p.1). Media entrepreneur Rupert Murdock (2005) agreed with Prensky when he stated that today’s generation and future generations will “never know a world without ubiquitous broadband Internet access.” Referring to himself as a digital immigrant he continued, “We may never become true digital natives, but we can and must begin to assimilate to their culture and way of thinking” (Murdock, 2005, p. 1). The Nigerian Government has ambitions to raise educational attainment for all learners, and to narrow the gaps in attainment between the most and least disadvantaged children in Nigeria. Tackling youth unemployment is also a priority of the Nigerian Government. It has set a target to reduce the proportion of young people who are not in education, employment or training by 40% by 2020, and Curriculum for Excellence aims to support all children and young people to develop essential skills they will need to live and work in the twenty first century. To help pursue its ambitions, the Nigeria Government has developed initiatives to support and encourage the use of digital technology in schools, with the vision that ‘Scotland’s educators, learners and parents take full advantage of the opportunities offered by digital technology in order to raise attainment, ambition and opportunities for all’. One of the main elements of this work to date has been the delivery of Glow, an online learning environment that provides access to a variety of digital tools and resources, funded by the Scottish Government and made available to all schools across Scotland1 . Education Nigeria recently published a report on the digital technology area of Curriculum for Excellence, which found that ICT is ‘used as an enhancement to learning’ but is ‘on the fringes of the main purpose of tasks or lessons’. In some of the case study schools which provided the findings for the report, inspectors found that ICT can have ‘a much more significant influence on learning which motivates learners and encourages career ambitions using technologies’ but the extent of change in the use of technologies in schools ‘has been modest at best’. The study is of the view that there was more work to be done to place digital technology ‘at the heart of learning’ in Nigeria, and that it had confirmed ‘beyond doubt that our children and young people need digital skills and technologies to be given an absolutely central role in the learning process – no longer an enhancement or ‘bolt-on’, but a foundation and a primary consideration for any planned learning.’ The Nigerian Government has commissioned this literature review to explore how the use of digital technology for learning and teaching can support teachers, parents, children and young people in improving outcomes and achieving its ambitions for education in Nigeria. During the last ten years, there has been much focus on the place of technology in education (Hatlevik et al., 2013). Already in 2013, more than 80 percent of second-year students in upper secondary education reported that they used laptops always or regularly during class. In August 2017, the Norwegian Government presented the new digitization strategy for education, which aims to increase technology literacy among the students to make them more equipped to handle the future (Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, 2017). The strategy states that educational institutions should be in a leading position in digitization as digital literacy will result in better labor market outcomes, and investments in technology at an early stage may increase returns to education drastically. The new knowledge society is based on exploiting technological advancement (Erstad et al., 2005). Gaining access to digital tools in education including laptops will, therefore, be important. However, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) conducted in 70 countries shows that students from countries which have heavily invested in educational information and communications technology (ICT) do not perform better than students in other countries (OECD, 2015b). It is a paradox that extensive investments in digital infrastructure have been made while there is no clear guidance on how to take advantage of the digital devices in teaching (Hatlevik et al., 2009). In the report ICT in Norwegian Education 2013 Hatlevik et al. (2013) show that almost half of the students in the second year of upper secondary school find the use of laptops in classroom disturbing for their educational outcomes. Further, about half of the students agree that they use too much time on non-educational activities and that the laptop (or tablet) displace time from activities that are conducive to learning. To fully exploit the benefits of laptop use in education it must complement existing teaching methods and improve the quality of education (OECD, 2015b). The heavy investments in computers in school are made at the expense of traditional inputs such as educating better teachers and improved learning material (OECD, 2015b). For the program to be economically efficient it should yield better educational outcomes than alternative investments. During the last two decades the higher education institutions have invested heavily in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). ICT have impacted the university context, organization and the teaching and learning methods. One puzzling question is the effective impact of these technologies on student’s achievement and on the returns of education. Plethoric academic researches have tried to answer this question at the theoretical and the empirical levels. They faced two main difficulties. On one hand, student’s performance is hard to observe and there is still confusion about its definition. On the other hand, ICT are evolving technologies and their effects are difficult to isolate from their environment. There’s no standard definition for students’ performance. Standard approach focuses on achievement and curricula. How students understand the courses and obtain their degrees or their marks. However, more extensive definition deals with competencies, skills and attitudes learned through the education experience. The narrow definition allows the observation of the outcomes of any change in higher education. The more extensive definition needs a more complex strategy of observation and a focus on the labour market. The outcomes of education are mainly validated in the labour market. The relationship between the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and students’ performance in Higher Education is not clear. The literature shows contradictory results. Earlier economic research has failed to provide a clear consensus concerning the effect on students’ achievement.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The direct link between digital learning equipment and students’ performance was in the heart of an extensive literature during the last two decades. Several studies have tried to explain the role and the added value of those technologies on classrooms and on student’s performances. The first body of the literature explored the impact of computers uses. Since the Internet revolution, there’s a shift in the literature that focuses more on the impact of online activities: use of Internet, use of educative online platforms, digital devices, use of blogs and wikis. It is against this backdrop that the researcher decide to investigate the effect of digital learning equipment on the academic performance of student.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The main objective of the study is to ascertain the impact of digital learning equipment on the academic performance of student. To aid the completion of the study, the researcher intends to achieve the following specific objectives;
i) To investigate the effect of digital learning equipment on the academic performance of student
ii) To ascertain the impact of digital equipment on the learning culture of student
iii) To examine the role of government in enhancing the availability of digital learning equipment in higher institution
iv) To ascertain if there is any relationship between digital learning equipment and student academic performance
1.4 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
To aid the successful completion of the study, the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher;
H0: Digital learning equipment does not have any significant effect on the academic performance of students in higher institutions
H1: Digital learning equipment does have a significant effect on the academic performance of students in higher institutions
H02: There is no significant relationship between digital learning equipment and student academic performance in Nigeria
H2: There is a significant relationship between digital learning equipment and student academic performance in Nigeria.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
It is believed that at the completion of the study, the findings will be of great importance to the management of higher institutions as the study seek to investigate if the benefit of digital learning equipment is commensurate with the cost of acquisition. The study will also be of great importance to the student as the study seek to explore the benefit of digital learning in the development of our educational system, the study will also be of great importance to researcher, academia, students and the general public as the study will add to the pool of existing literature, the study will also be of importance to researchers who intends to embark on study on a similar topic on the subject matter
1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The scope of the study covers the effect of digital learning equipment on the academic performance of student in Nigeria higher institutions. But in the cause of the study, there were some factors which militate against the scope of the study;
a) AVAILABILITY OF RESEARCH MATERIAL: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study.
b) TIME: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.
c) FINANCE: The finance available for the research work does not allow for wider coverage as resources are very limited as the researcher has other academic bills to cover.
1.7 OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
Digital learning equipment
Digital learning is any type of learning that is facilitated by technology or by instructional practice that makes effective use of technology. It encompasses the application of a wide spectrum of practices including: blended and virtual learning
Information and communication technology is another/extensional term for information technology which stresses the role of unified communications and the integration of telecommunications,
Technology is the collection of techniques, skills, methods, and processes used in the production of goods or services or in the accomplishment of objectives, such as scientific investigation
1.8 ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY
This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), statement of problem, objectives of the study, research question, significance or the study, research methodology, definition of terms and historical background of the study. Chapter two highlight the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding. Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study.
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