Technowack!… has the sun set before it is risen?

“Which yeye technology? All na technowack!“…

The above statement was made by a student who I approached for comments as regards the ongoing GS online tests. The statement clearly conveys his frustrations at the way the online tests were going.

The Moodle platform which is one of the latest innovations introduced under the watch of the innovation-minded Vice Chancellor of UNN, Prof. B. C. Ozumba. 

Moodle, which is an acronym for modular object-oriented dynamic learning environment was originally developed by Martin Dougiamas ~Click here to read about him on Wikipedia~ (Along with Alejandro Fish) to help educators create on-line courses with a focus on interaction and collaborative construction of content. The first version of Moodle was launched successfully on 20th August 2002 and since then, has continued to gain popularity. 

 

However, despite the many prospects and enthusiasm that greeted the introduction of the Moodle platform into UNN, the platform has failed to generate the needed popularity which has distinguished it in other climes where it has been experimented. The students for whom the platform was launched are yet to fully embrace it as anticipated. This was clearly seen with the low turn-out of students for the training organised for them by the Administration on the use of the platform in November, 2016 and a make-up session in January, 2017. 

 

What is not yet clear is what actually is the reason for the unpopularity of the platform among the students. From my findings, many of the students simply do not  buy into the idea of e-learning. To them, it is better to maintain the status quo of paper and pencil than the unreliable CBT platforms. To these fellows, it is clearly understandable judging by the fact that the country is yet to technologically advance. Many other students I found out are simply open for it so long it will not be deployed for their academic assessment. For this set, they hinged their fears on the General shortcomings of e-learning and its sister platforms such as e-shopping, e-voting and e-banking in the country. This set of students will readily offer their reasons for why the platform should not be launched in assessing them, making reference to the examples of the JAMB CBT testing and also the ill-fated CBT GSP 101 exam conducted for the first time in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka on March 18th, 2016 during the 2015/2016 session. 

 

That examination’s shortcomings clearly showed in the results of students released by the Use of English Unit, as the number of students who failed the exam seemed to be higher than those who passed. For instance, in the Department of the English and Literary Studies, over 100 students failed the exam, in the Department of History and International Studies, about 80 students out of the about 98 that sat for the exam failed. Similar cases abound same many other departments and faculties. Although, the high number of failures recorded in that exam was blamed on the students (as is always the case) but it was clearly a failure of the platform (that is a story for another day).

 

Interestingly, there is another set of students that have excitedly welcomed the new development, to this set, they are ready to do whatever it could be said is required to make sure the platform works. However, there appears to be a major stumbling block for this set of students and that is the unresponsiveness of the site. The site clearly is not yet ready to receive the number of traffic which the University community will provide. This unreadiness manifested recently when dates were announced for e-tests by the various units in the GS Department. These tests failed to hold due to several challenges recorded and the tests had to be suspended. These challenges which were mainly logistics included lack of information on how to go about the test and also the unavailability of “Enrolment keys”. They clearly show that the University is not yet ready with the launch of the Moodle in UNN. Some of these challenges noticed were quickly addressed by the University’s ICT department and new dates for the tests announced.

 

However, when it appeared all was going to work out and students busied themselves with the processes of the e-testing, many more shortcomings of the platform began to emerge. This time around, they were technical challenges which range from navigation issues, some departments and lecturers not being listed on the site, the unresponsiveness of the site as many students began the tests and were not able to submit theirs, while many others kept on receiving error messages.(see images below)

 

 

As I write this post, I have not been able to write my own part of the e-test due to the challenges listed above. I therefore call on the ICT department to move in to address the various issues noticed, this is not a time to fix blames, but a time to fix the problem. The students could be engaged on how best the platform could be better improved. I also wish to call on the University administration ably led by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. V. C. Ozumba to suspend the use of the site for academic assessment until all the challenges have been fully addressed. This is to forestall a repeat of the mass failures recorded during the début of the CBT platform for semester examinations in the school.