By Hauwa Abdulkareem
‘’Our ultimate goal is to gradually and systematically replace the analogue teaching and learning mode delivery in line with 21st century ICT guided teaching mode. We will ultimately replace exercise books with laptops and iPads as well as analogue form of writing examination with computer based tests. By the beginning of second semester 2013/14, laptops and iPads with embedded line of software will be available and student will get them with interest-free loan payable in two academic sessions’’- these were the words of Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, the former Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria at the matriculation ceremony of students for the 2013/14 academic session.
His words that day generated applauds from the joyous crowd as parents, teachers and students of the institution re-ignite their optimistic beliefs that the greatest and largest university in west Africa is ready to rub shoulders with technological advanced institutions in Nigeria, Africa and the world at large. However, presently, the institution is at the peak of its second semester of the 2015/16 session, the promised Laptop and other proposed technological device that will aid learning is not in sight. Not only this, students are still writing exams with the known traditional method against what was promised by the former Vice chancellor. A university of this caliber should be more technologically advanced than its present situation. The world is moving fast, technology is shaping the way we think and act, and for ABU to compete with other higher institutions there is a need for it to engage in rapid technological development.
Apart from some of the technology- inclined innovations brought by the former VC, there are other ways the university can enhance teaching and learning to meet world standard. For examples, presently, there are technologies that enhances lecturing and make everyone part of the show. The university can build lecture theatres which should contain large screens at the front, connected to live camera which zooms in on whoever is speaking at the time- whether it is the lecturer, a guest speaker, or one of the students. Each seat has a button, which student press to indicate that they want to ask question or contribute to a discussion, and microphones to ensure everyone can make themselves heard.
Also, in the present 21st century, many universities are now using online software to make course materials available free of charge, not just for their students, but for anyone with internet access. ABU can also adopt this method of E-learning. Materials for all courses offered by the institution can be uploaded in the university’s website in a PDF format, where students would just hit the download button and start reading. This is because it is important for universities to remain accessible and relevant to an increasingly tech-savvy student population. The promised iPods and laptops will come handy in actualizing this innovation.
ABU should also try to organize seminars and presentations for its lecturers on the use of these technologies. It is a fact that some of the lecturers cannot manipulate these tools. For instance, only few lecturers in the university make use of the smart boards provided in the lecture theatres in teaching their students. This should be worrisome as there are some concepts that are best explained and understood through video or pictorial display. Lecturers should also try to have a blog or website where they can upload their lectures material, and even lectures video for students to download with a click. These will go a long way in enhancing and improving lecture delivery and learning.
Furthermore, the university should try and improve its wireless service. Before the end of 2016, ABU should be boasting of 100% percent wireless service connectivity where the service will be available in every nook and cranny of the institution. This will enable and encourage an internet-friendly environment, and also enhance communication within the campus.
Finally, ABU should as a matter of urgency work on its website. Information and news should be frequently updated as most universities rating criteria involve the qualities of their online presence. Also, improving and increasing its social networks connection and appearance will be an added advantage. The world is now a global village, people and institutions no longer isolate themselves. ABU should come out from its bubble and expand its horizon and reach. This is the age of technology and digitalization, ABU must not be portrayed as an analogue university that has no use of the electronic device. ABU is looking up to the new Vice chancellor, Professor Ibrahim Garba to achieve this feat.