E-learning in Nigeria: an integrated, creative entrepreneurship model.
In recent years, the term "e-learning" has been very popular in communication circles yet so many are not aware of what it actually means. E-learning can simply be defined as "a computer based educational tool or system that enables you to learn anywhere and at any time" (Epignosis LLC, 2014). Though a number of definitions abound, conditioned by different professional approaches and concepts; discussions and practices of e-learning primarily focuses on the intersection of education, teaching and learning with information and communications technology. Hence, e-learning is seen as a means to an end. Simply put, e-learning is a means of facilitating the achievement of formal or informal learning goals using computerised communication systems as an environment for communication for the exchange of information and interaction between students and instructors (Sangra, Vlachopoulos, & Cabrera, 2012).
Though a certain school of thought defines e*learning as the use of the internet for education, it is no gain-saying the fact that e-learning heavily depends on the availability and access to internet services. The internet is required for exchange of information which includes sharing of study material of all formats such as videos, slideshows, word documents and PDFs. Conducting webinars (live online classes), communicating with instructors or colleagues via chat and message fora, taking real-time test and viewing progress report is also part of the unique features of the e*learning available to users (Sangra et al., 2012).
Nigeria is number seven (7th) in the list of top twenty (20) countries with internet users, just behind Russia, with 46,250.0% growth of internet user population from 2000 to November, 2015 (Miniwatts Marketing, 2016). Over 92 million Nigerians have access to the internet via various devices, ranging from computers to mobile phones. In the light of the foregoing, implementing e-learning concepts in our tertiary institutions to complement the classroom experience will not be hindered by lack of access to course material due to unavailability of internet service. It is believed that the vast majority of internet users in Nigeria are between the ages of 18 and 45; students in different institutions of higher learning and fresh graduates with jobs account for the majority of this. Nowadays, most students of higher learning browse assignments on the internet via their phones, tablets or laptops. Yet as stated above, it is not enough to have access, but planned teaching and learning that transverse the boundary of the classroom and can prepare graduates for self-employment is necessary. Many challenges have inhibited proper entrepreneurship in Nigeria.
2. Challenges to Effective Teaching and Learning for Entrepreneurship
2.1 The Quest for Government Jobs
Nigeria is blessed with abundant human resources. There is abundance of graduates with degrees; employed or unemployed. Some residing in Nigeria, some employed abroad and others traveling out in search of greener pastures. There is continuous rise in the unemployment rate yet more and more candidates apply every year, through JAMB, for admission to institutions of higher learning. Youths are more inclined to achieving educational excellence in degree awarding institutions. Since 2007, over one (1) million Nigerians apply yearly through JAMB to study in degree awarding institutions and over 200 thousand candidates are admitted yearly in these institutions (Shu'ara, 2010). Though the population of graduates released to the labour market by the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) in the past decade cannot be ascertained at this time but it is believed that over 100,000 graduates are certified annually and cleared for the labour market. Of the population of new entrants to the labour market, not more than 20% are employed within the first year while the remainder add to the backlog of unemployed graduates.
Most young graduates crave for employment in Government establishments. In fact, the primary goal of tertiary institution students, these days, is to graduate and be employed by the Government. The quest for the achievement of this primary goal impacts the creative capabilities of students and young graduates. Whenever there is an opening for employment in government establishments, young graduates crowd the venues with brown envelopes containing application and credentials. Some young graduates refuse to be employed by anybody except the government. Hence, you find graduates, back in their parents' houses, waiting patiently on government jobs; some, for more than five (5) years after graduation. Unfortunately, in a country like Nigeria with a population of over 180 million people, the government cannot employ all or majority of graduates. It is saddening to note that even already employed graduates still crave for government jobs which are in limited supply. We are then compelled to ask: What are the driving factors or why do young Nigerians crave for government jobs?
2.2 Society as a Quagmire
Today's society tends to see entrepreneurship not as a passion but as frustration. With the above in view, it is commonplace to hear a graduate who engages his/herself in a trade, when asked what he/she does, reply "I have no job, I'm just managing a shop/boutique".
An interview conducted on a diversity of professional revealed that school leavers shun entrepreneurship due to stigmatising attitudes of the society based on ego factor, dearth of mentorship, selfishness and discouragement from mentors.
Q: What do you do?
A: No job o o!
Q: So you are not doing anything for a living?
A: I run a boutique.
Q: Can't find a job?
A: Till now!
An accountant who would have loved to be an entrepreneur had this to say: "societal influence overwhelmed my internal motivation. So, I was forced to get a government job by my uncle".
2.3 Entrepreneurship Curriculum of Distress: A Challenge for Planners
Curriculum planners are government employer focused, not entrepreneurship oriented. This is why Onweh (2011) asserted that
"the effectiveness of a training system is measured by the extent to which it is able to equip the young learner with skills which the employer needs" not to practice by him/herself.
In the same view, Azih (2011) also stated this as the aim of Office Technology and Management programme: to prepare secretarial and office technology students to have work skills for employment in various fields of endeavour. The above reflects that at the planning level, the learner is supposed to graduate with a mentality to be employed and not venture into entrepreneurship. The preferential attitude of young graduates towards employment in government establishments and other sectors of the Nigerian economy robs the desire to be creative and entrepreneurial. With 7.5% unemployment rate in Nigeria as at the 3rd quarter of 2015 and 16.6% underemployment rate (UNESCO), it is pertinent to note that Nigerians cannot afford to be completely unemployed. Sadly, the unemployment rate has moved from 6.4% in second quarter of 2015 to 7.5% in the third quarter of 2015 and 9.9% in the last quarter. This indicates that the unemployment rate is on the rise and there is need to find alternatives to sole dependence on government jobs by young graduates.
2.4 Vocational Education Training (VET) and Higher Education
In time past, there were a number of Vocational Education Training (VET) centres in each senatorial district of the federation. This is not the case today as most of these centres are either not functional or not equipped for productivity. There is little or no funding of these institutions by the government as they are more focussed on the development of primary, secondary and higher education. Graduates of Vocational Education Training institutions are very essential in the development of country's economy. Though VET is no longer popular, its benefits as a form education, training and learning cannot be over emphasized. VET plays important roles in the shift towards knowledge-intensive societies and is essential in achieving smart, sustainable and inclusive growth of any country (Lettmayr & Riihimaki, 2011). The benefits of VET are categorized into economic and social benefits. This is highlighted in the diagram below.
The primary benefit of Vocational Education Training (VET) in Nigeria is the ability to be self employed. Since it is rather impossible to convince secondary school leavers to enrol for vocational training rather than pursue admission into degree awarding institutions, integrating some components of vocational training in institutions of higher learning as some add-on learning module will be more feasible and productive.
2.5 Ignorance of Government Programmes/Bureaucratic Impediment
A good population of Nigerians between the ages of 35 and 64 are willing and able entrepreneurs but are constrained by government policy regarding small and medium enterprises (SME). Nigeria is believed to be the world leader in entrepreneurial spirits from the results of the GEM 2012 ("GEM Global Entrepreneurship Monitor," n.d.). In a study conducted by Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), 82% of Nigerian respondents were found to be unaware of government-sponsored small and medium enterprise (SME) programmes ("GEM Global Entrepreneurship Monitor," n.d.). They were not aware that as far back 2003, government through the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) was supposed to fund entrepreneurial initiatives for youth development. For those who were aware, they were discouraged by the arduous bureaucratic processes of accessing and the refunding laws.
GEM 2013 report gave this summary as key indicators of entrepreneurship using ICT.
Without effective use of ICT, advertising online, purchasing goods online and marketing the products pose a major problem. This is due to the fact that marketers will find it difficult to cover wide areas for Entrepreneurship.
E-learning is the art of ICT that seeks to influence pedagogical processes of teaching and learning. Initially, it was seen as new ways of doing something familiar; that is teaching and learning in an electronic classroom. Later the concept metamorphosed into using learning technologies to advance beyond what is possible in the classroom; but meets new objectives and purposes of teaching and learning especially for Higher education. eLearning has been widely implemented using Learning Management Systems (LMS). A Learning Management System (LMS) is an application software used for administration, documentation, tracking and delivery of e-learning courses or training. LMS range from applications for managing trainings, educational records, delivery of online courses with online collaboration and course assessment modules for augmented on-campus courses. LMS is often designed and implemented based on international best practices for e-learning systems using the SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) specification.
Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) is a collection of standards and specifications for web-based e-learning system that defines a way of constructing Learning Management Systems and training content so that they work well in any other SCORM conformant system (Epignosis LLC, 2014). SCORM is a specification of the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative. The conformance to this specification ensures interoperability between different LMS systems. Simply put, any LMS that conforms to SCORM specification can play any SCORM content and any SCORM content can be played in any SCORM conformant LMS(Wikipedia, 2016).
SCORM was first introduced in 2000 but in September 2011, the initial draft of the next generation of SCORM known as Tin Can API was released. By April 2013, version 1.0.0 of the Tin Can API was release and renamed to "Experience API" or "xAPI"; all three names are often used interchangeably to refer to the same e-learning specification (Wikipedia, 2016). Though SCORM was specifically designed to track and report web-based e-learning activities, xAPI was designed to extend the features of the SCORM specification to accommodate emerging technological trends.
xAPI enables e-learning systems to support new capabilities which were not supported by SCORM such as: taking e-learning outside the web-browser, eLearning on native mobile application, solid security using Oauth specification, ability to track real world performance, team based e-learning, offline learning tracking, informal learning tracking, platform transition (computer to mobile) and ability to track games/simulations (Wikipedia, 2012). xAPI extends the capabilities of SCORM beyond formal learning experiences. An LMS which is SCORM and xAPI compliant is capable of communicating, tracking and recording traditional eLearning courses and learning experiences with collaboration platforms, document management systems, enterprise resource planning systems (ERP), helpdesk systems, talent management portals, performance management etc (Foreman, 2013). xAPI extends SCORM beyond tracking attendance, completions and test score to actual work inputs, outputs, deliverables, task and informal activities that may constitute a learning experience.
3.1 E-Learning Framework
ELearning could be used as a tool for administering effective vocational skills acquisition in institutions of higher learning in Nigeria by incorporating it as an add-on module in the curriculum. In the light of this, we shall adapt the Strategic Framework for Designing Entrepreneur E-Learning System to propose the model for creative entrepreneurship based on SCORM and xAPI specifications.
For entrepreneurship which advocates self-employment to be effective, its training must be well planned, technologically driven through social networking, internet marketing/advertisement and enhanced by better and sustainable attitudinal shift. Before this is discussed, it is pertinent to look at the "Education-Research-Entrepreneurship" trinity.
The framework above pays attention to three key areas viz: Research, Education, and Entrepreneurship.
In the electronic education system, three main approaches are to be considered which include: blended learning, collaborative learning and active learning. The first involves the adoption of online approaches such as
* Blended learning--a combination of online approaches that recognise traditional pedagogies
* Collaborative learning--activities, group work in mutual co-existence among learners.
* Active learning--methods that involve learners in the learning process.
The above should focus on teachers' training and evaluation, workshops and professional courses in entrepreneurship.
To attain research goals, the framework emphasizes two key strategies: creating Virtual Research institutions (VRI) and creating Virtual laboratories (Asgarimehr et al., 2012). These virtual research environments allow for collegial research around the globe to enhance teacher-learner activities unlike traditional learning situation.
The third, entrepreneurship involves creating virtual incubators and technology transfer, providing insurance services to entrepreneurs and providing credit services which is a major challenge to entrepreneurs as well as other commercial activities (Asgarimehr et al., 2012).
3.2 Vocational Skill for Entrepreneurship (VSE)
It is true that most young graduates who had vocational training before admission into tertiary institutions are less dependent on government jobs. They tend to improve their efficiency in service delivery of acquired vocational skill and are often self-employed in the interim. Technological influence of social networking and the internet for marketing, advertisement and showcase of their products/services with enhanced entrepreneurial attitude has been fundamental to their successes. As a matter of fact, vocational skills in addition to a professional degree encourages entrepreneurship development among young graduates.
Vocational Skills for Entrepreneurship (VSE) is a conception of the authors to identify, classify and group vocational skills as self-reliant, less dependent and entrepreneurially enabled. These vocations are identified based on the fact that they advocate or encourage entrepreneurial development (as they require minimal investment responsibility), are also innovative and creative skills. Not all vocational skills can be classified as VSE. Hence, it is necessary to define a checklist of requirements to identify vocational skills that can independently drive entrepreneurship and certify them as VSE compliant. It is worthy of note that a standard specification for VSE compliant vocations has not been defined yet. VSE is a proposed concept which could be adopted to define standard. Some vocational skills that we have identified as VSE compliant include:
* Paint Production
* Fashion Designing
* Furniture Making
* Graphics and Branding
* Software Development
* Fish farming
* Livestock Feed Production
* Beads Design and Making
* Cakes Design and Micro-bakeries
* Curtain and Bedsheet Making
4. The Integrated Creative Entrepreneurship Model (ICEM)
Adapting Asgarimehr (2012) framework to design an Integrated, Creative Entrepreneurship Model, the authors have adopted the Education-Research-Entrepreneurship trinity component, identified related Vocational Skills for Entrepreneurship components and integrated it with a single Web 2.0 platform in order to foster growth and development in entrepreneurship. It is our hope that successful implementation of this model will aid the achievement of the primary goals of entrepreneurship and self-reliance, innovation and job creation for others.
The Creative Entrepreneurship Model is designed to leverage existing internet infrastructure and educational channels to develop and implement the acquisition and creative application of Vocational Skills for Entrepreneurship (VSE) via an integrated eLearning environment. This eLearning system shall be designed to be SCORM and xAPI compliant to ensure tracking of learning experiences beyond the conventional Learning Management System.
This model does not replace but adds creative features to existing core components (education-research-entrepreneurship) of the adapted strategic framework for designing eLearning system.
4.1 eVSE Platform
The eVSE Platform is a Web 2.0 platform that incorporates an Enterprise Portal, a Learning Management System and a Learning Record Store, implementing the SCORM and xAPI specifications for eLearning Systems. This platform may be designed from ground up based on the standard specifications mentioned above or implemented by interfacing, integrating and deploying existing open sourced Learning Management System (LMS) and Learning record Store (LRS) solutions. It is the central platform of the ICEM model that incorporates other xAPI enabled enterprise portals and coordinates the tracking, recording and reporting or activity streams from different components of the ICEM. eVSE is the core of the ICEM and integrates the three major components of the ICEM model namely: VSE-Study, VSE--Application and VSE -Research & Review.
eVSE could be best implemented using the "Platform as a Service" model in the Cloud to leverage the Web 2.0 features which enhance social web, interoperability, collaboration and usability via various devices. This platforms serves as the portal that incorporate the VSE Education-Entrepreneurship-Research components and implements the xAPI standard specification. With this, users will be able to access the eLearning system through a web browser or native mobile applications. With its administrative functions, administrators can define activities to or xAPI enabled enterprise systems to track.
The VSE core components could be simplified as follows:
* VSE--S: Vocational Skills for
* VSE--A: Vocational Skills for
* VSE--RR: Vocational Skills for
Entrepreneurship Research and Review
4.1.1 VSE--S (Vocational Skills for Entrepreneurship Study)
The vocational skills for entrepreneurship study is a component of the ICEM that is basically a SCORM compliant Learning Management System. It enables the administration of traditional eLearning functions in trainings or course management, tracking of course completions, assessment functions and reporting. Selected VSE courses maybe administered through this component using the different formats which could be text, audio or video. Different tasks can also be defined by the instructor to track student learning experience; both formal and informally.
4.1.2 VSE--A (Vocational Skills for Entrepreneurship Application)
This component implements the features of xAPI specification. Based on the defined settings of the administrator, informal learning experiences of a candidate can be tracked using the VSE--A component. The component focuses on how the acquired vocational skills are applied in the real world.
xAPI enabled systems for productivity such as Customer Relationship Manager (CRM), Inventory management system, social networks, entrepreneurship forum applications and accounting systems may be incorporated to track and record activity streams of real world events This records may be used to generate reports and advise the young entrepreneurs on adjustments that could make them efficient entrepreneurs.
This component provides collaborative functions for team work and sharing of ideas which may be recorded. Data collected here may be used to modify the teaching methods used in the VSE-S component or for research purposes to produce new or modify existing product designs. Recorded market performance of products may be used to encourage investor partnership or crowd funding to develop the young entrepreneur beyond basics.
4.1.3 VSE--RR (Vocational Skills for Entrepreneurship Research & Review)
Research and review is very essential in the ICEM. This component encourages the review of existing design of VSE products and research into emerging global trends on similar products, perform value analysis and modify the design where applicable for aesthetical reasons or to reduce the cost of production and increase market performance.
This component encourages users to share new or modified designs whose specifications may be used to update the teaching methods and product design in the VSE-S and VSE-A components. It also offer publication of product design updates based on global inventions emerging technologies or innovations. The updates may be shared among community members with or without moderation by the administrators.
More and more Nigerians are interested in using their skills and knowledge to initiate an entrepreneurial activity. This needs to be encouraged by complementing the theoretical entrepreneurship courses introduced less than a decade ago into the curriculum of degree awarding institutions with more robust, practical vocational skill acquisition options through elearning.
We therefore recommend the following:
* Curriculum redesign for effective entrepreneurship education in institutions of higher learning
* SWOT analyses
* Review and adoption of the ICEM model for entrepreneurship studies
* Societal reorientation
* Advocating policies that promote training in the use of ICT for business
This paper identifies the challenges confronting entrepreneurship studies in Nigerian institutions of Higher Learning. It goes on to x-ray the position of Nigeria in the adoption of e-learning. The paper maintains that the adoption of Integrated Creative Entrepreneurship model as it applies to the areas of education, research and entrepreneurship, particularly using Web 2.0, will greatly enhance graduates capacity to become self-employed after school.
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Dr. (Mrs.) Emem Udofia holds a PhD degree in Library and Information Science with specialization in Information Technology. She has been a lecturer in Library and Information Science and a past Head of Department of Educational Technology and Library Science, University of Uyo, Uyo. She is author of four books, articles in reputable journals and book chapters. Dr. Udofia is currently the Polytechnic Librarian, Federal Polytechnic, Ukana, Akwa Ibom State.
David Alphonsus Inyang-Etoh holds a B.Eng degree in Mechanical Engineering and awaiting the award of M.Eng in Production Engineering. He is a seasoned programmer and web developer with experience in web application development and implementation of open source technologies. He has been researching on emerging open source and cloud technologies for development of ecommerce solutions, eLearning solutions and artificial intelligence for task automation in production and service delivery. He is currently serving as a Programmer at the Federal Polytechnic, Ukana, Akwa Ibom State.
Emem Paul Udofia
Department of Educational Technology & Library Science
University of Uyo
Akwa Ibom State
David Alphonsus Inyang-Etoh
ICT Unit, Computer Science Department
Federal Polytechnic, Ukana
P.M.B. 2014, Ikot Ekpene
Akwa Ibom State
Table 1: Indicators of online marketing by entrepreneurs % Activity 75% Use cell phones 52% Use ICT for finding suppliers 22% Purchase goods online 13% Advertise online 4% Young entrepreneurs sell online
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|Author:||Udofia, Emem Paul; Inyang-Etoh, David Alphonsus|
|Publication:||Computing and Information Systems|
|Date:||Oct 1, 2016|
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