The government abruptly shut down higher education institutions during the coronavirus pandemic, and students were told to leave campuses as one of the steps to prevent further infections. Universities throughout the continent are implementing online learning to ensure uninterrupted educational delivery. During the Covid-19 lockout, this study looked into the perceptions of students at South East federal universities on online education. This study used a descriptive survey research design, with a structured questionnaire as the data gathering tool. One hundred and forty-eight (148) undergraduate students responded to the survey. Tables, frequency counts, charts, and percentages were used to analyze the data. On the plus side, the study found that the majority of respondents claimed to be well-versed in online learning and ready to participate. Furthermore, the majority of respondents indicated a high level of ICT skills and competencies required for online learning, according to the data. On the negative side, high data costs, inadequate internet services, irregular power supply, inaccessibility to online library materials, and limited computer access were all cited as key barriers to effective online learning. The study made recommendations based on these findings.
Background of the study
The COVID-19 pandemic, which was caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and broke out in December 2019, caused significant interruptions in human activities, including education (Mouchantaf, 2020). Citizens were forced to adopt a new way of life that curtailed personal interaction and subjected them to a series of restrictive measures known as lockdowns. Approximately 70 percent of educational institutions, ranging from early childhood education to higher education, have closed schools and ceased face-to-face teaching, affecting over 1.5 billion students (Gupta et al., 2020). In March 2020, Zimbabwean universities, colleges, and schools were forced to close, affecting roughly 4.56 million students (OCHA, 2020).
Face-to-face instruction was prohibited, so students turned to online learning. Most higher education institutions in Nigeria moved to an online environment for the first time to protect the lives of staff and students.
As a result of the coronavirus epidemic, the government shut down higher education institutions, and students were told to leave campuses as one of the steps to prevent further infections. The continuous face-to-face classes programs of various institutions of learning were severely distorted as a result of this consequence. The closure of these institutions would have a significant impact on students, the higher education industry, and the economic development of countries (Tamrat & Teferra, 2020). Disruption of a student’s cognitive learning process, delay in graduation, and inclinations are all consequences of such conduct. Universities throughout the continent are forming institution-wide task committees to reduce the impact of the pandemic in order to bridge the gap and maintain ongoing educational delivery. Many institutions, national, continental, and international programs are seeking to convert to online teaching and learning. Online learning is seen as a form of alternative education that is entirely reliant on the use of the internet and other vital technologies, with no actual contact between students and instructors. 2020 (Tamrat & Teferra). Many higher education institutions in industrialized nations have quickly shifted to online learning in order to keep students engaged with their courses and programs of study.
(Awojide, 2020). Similarly, many low and middle-income countries are making concerted efforts to adopt the same strategy; nevertheless, this has proven to be a challenging challenge due to a lack of infrastructure, mixed perceptions, and inadequate institutional and student preparation.
The transition to the online environment was disruptive, and students faced various constraints and challenges. Students rushed off campuses, leaving little time to acclimate to the new standard; this necessitated increased financial resources for distance learning. Students had received no official training in technology-based learning, and they and their professors experimented with technologies as they migrated to a totally online setting.
It was a terrible learning experience as a result. Students would typically rely on campus-based resources like computer laboratories and Wi-Fi access. The university curriculum was designed for in-person learning, and institutions were unprepared for a rapid shift due to a lack of resources to accommodate emergency remote teaching. This produced anxiety among students.
The rationale for using online learning during the epidemic is that it allows for greater flexibility in instructional methodologies, content management, synchronous and asynchronous interaction between teachers and students, and course organization and structure. It also offers distant learning, which is capable of establishing new learning settings in order to accomplish a successful academic program, as well as tools for students to communicate with their classmates and teachers. In this context, the study was aimed to investigate the perceptions of online education among students at South Eastern federal universities during the Covid-19 shutdown.
Statement of the problem
The Nigerian Federal Government urged heads of higher education institutions to recommence their cancelled academic sessions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic via online learning (ASUU-UI Publicity Committee, 2020). However, this sparked a lot of debate and differing opinions among the general public, students, and professors, who blamed it on a lack of a properly constructed foundation for implementing online learning. Other stated problems include a lack of technological skills and experience, as well as inadequate instructional infrastructure needed to run online learning smoothly. Online learning is well known to be dependent on the availability of functional ICT facilities, technical know-how (skills), and student preparation. In light of this, the purpose of this study is to look into undergraduate students’ attitudes, readiness, and skills regarding online learning amid the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
Objective of the study
The major goal of this study is to look into the perceptions of South East federal university students towards online education during the Covid-19 lockout, using University Of Nigeria Nsukka as a case study. The study’s objectives are as follows:
1. Determine how familiar pupils are with online learning.
2. To find out how students felt about the online learning platform during the Covid-19 lockout.
3. Determine whether students are ready to use an online learning platform.
4. To find out what skills and abilities students have for using an online learning environment.
5. To identify the perceived barriers to students’ effective participation in online learning platforms during the Covid-19 period.
The following research questions led this study:
1. Are the pupils familiar with online learning?
2. How do students feel about the online learning platform during the Covid-19 lockdown?
3. Are students ready to use an online learning platform?
4. What abilities and skills do students need to use an online learning platform?
5. What are the perceived barriers to students’ effective participation in online learning platforms during the Covid-19 period?
Significance of the study
This research will inform the government, professors, students, and the general public about the subject under investigation, as it will show students’ perceptions of online education during the Covid-19 shutdown. It will explain how the dramatic decision and implementation of lockdown as a technique for containing the spread of Covid-19 affected the Nigerian educational system, among other things. Researchers will benefit from this study depending on their area of interest.
Scope of the study
This study will be on the South East federal university student’s perception of online education amidst covid-19 lockdown. It will be carried out to determine the Perception and Readiness of Students’ Towards Online Learning in Nigeria During Covid-19 Pandemic. Geographically, the study will be carried out in University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu state.
Limitation of the study
This study focuses on the perceptions of online education among students at South East federal universities during the Covid-19 lockout. Work of this magnitude or nature can be carried out without restriction in the absence of restrictions on research. As a result, several limitations were experienced during the course.
The cost of careful research is not something a student can afford. The cost of the materials required for this project has increased, as has the cost of transportation.
Time: one of the constraints in carrying out this investigation was time.
Lack of Literature: The study ran into considerable difficulties collecting literature, particularly on the bank’s history and activities. This has hampered the smooth operation of this project.
Definition of terms
Covid-19 is an illness caused by a new coronavirus strain. The letters CO, VI, and D stand for corona, virus, and disease, respectively. This disease was previously known as the ‘2019 novel coronavirus,’ or ‘2019-nCoV.’
Pandemic: An infectious disease outbreak that has spread across a huge area, such as multiple continents or the entire world, impacting a significant number of people.
Lockdown: A lockdown is an emergency technique employed by authorities to prohibit people from leaving a certain region. A full lockdown means that everyone in the affected area must stay put and must not leave or enter any building or place.
“Those who acquired their prior education abroad,” according to the OECD.