The fact that ICT is melting down all other methods of doing things is no longer a prediction. Some years ago, it was predicted that sometimes in the future, ICT (in the form of machines, robots, and devices) would take over everything and many people will be laid off from work. That future is now, that time is now and the prediction is coming to pass, ICT has infiltrated many sectors of our business and in fact, many sectors of our everyday living. There is almost nothing we do today that will not in the least observable way, reflect our dependence on ICT.
It has not stopped, it has not relented, it is infiltrating still and will not stop until it takes over every aspect of our lives, I mean, 100% aspect of our lives.
This indeed brings us to education. Integration of ICT and the introduction of the electronic learning system, e-Learning system was seen as a project and idea by and for the advanced countries and the very big educational institutions, by the developing world. In the developing world, only a few saw the need to inculcate the electronic system of learning in the mind of the students and the teachers. As a result, we have made an evidently inevitable method of teaching and learning, optional. We made it seem almost attainable and a method reserved specifically for the ‘big shots’ in the academic industries. We see the cost, as a bottleneck, and make every effort to avoid spending such amount of money, setting up and maintaining an online system of education. In an attempt to do this, we end up spending even more in maintenance and handling of data, as well as be at the risk of losing data, and very vital information, while trying to protect it. This may sound rather paradoxical, but it is, in actual fact, the real situation of things.
Okay, let us take a walk through a tip of the iceberg of the Benefits of the Online system of Learning.
Ease of Delivering and Updating Lectures
The Online Learning System has made creating learning content super easy, as well as updating the created content. Depending on how the content creator (teacher, editor, or the admin), wants it done, the learning contents created, can be seen at the same time they are made public for view by learners. This is the same for updates and modifications made. Also, the teacher can reach out to a hundred, thousand and even millions of students at the same time, without restriction by geographical location, timing, and lack of resources, when you have just your mobile phone or any other internet-enabled device with you. Teaching can be done on-the-go as well as learning. No group has to gather at a particular location for lectures when teaching and learning can be done in the comfort of your bedroom.
Another interesting thing about going online is that there exist several tools online, with the ability to translate from one language to any other language that the reader so desires. An example of such a tool is Google Translate®. The teacher doesn’t necessarily have to understand a language, the tool will help translate it with very high accuracy and learners from different parts of the world will have the ability to take your course in their own language.
Administration of Tests and Examinations
Just as much ease as we had for delivering and taking lectures, using the Online Learning System, administering examinations cannot be any easier than it will be, using the online learning system. Everything becomes very automated and the teacher or content creator simply sets up the examination, creates a marking scheme and instructs the system, on how to communicate with the created contents and grade every test taker. He does not have to do anything more. This system is also very time efficient. Results are available, immediately after submission, unless otherwise setup by the administrator or content creator.
The system grades the students on their performances and the most beautiful aspect of all these is the fact that every form of discrimination or favoritism is eliminated because the grading system will pay no attention to a test taker’s name or origin and grading will be done fairly and timely.
As a result of the kind of organization, a school usually document a lot of things, ranging from the students’ details, parents’ or guardians’’ details, staff details, logistics, purchases, and so on. This usually makes the school file room, very tight with files and folders everywhere. These files, even when arranges neatly on shelves still become messy when there arises a needed to get a student’s record from the pile of files on the shelves.
What if there is the need to carry several files from one office to another or an administrator wishes to go through records of students from several years? What do you do?
Okay, this is what happens in a real-life scenario, the secretary leaves her office, goes to the file room, scatters everywhere and have the files arranged neatly in a cart or trolley and rolled into the manager’s office. The manager, on seeing the number of files he must go through just to get a little information, gets really tired, even before lifting the very first file. This system of file handling is in the past.
In this modern age, file sorting, record soring, does not have to be that difficult. The secretary does not have to leave her office, once the request is made, she simply opens the folder on her computer where the information is located, searches for it and they forward it to the manager who receives it and does with it, whatever he wants, it is just a matter of filtering. In the real sense, the manager may already have access to the data and may not even need to request the information from the secretary. This, however, makes management and administrative processes seamless, in many other respects.
Communication with Parents and Stakeholders
Another ease enjoyed by integrating the Online Learning system into the school management process is the ease in communication between the school and parents or other stakeholders.
This aspect is as very important in school management as communication is very important in the effective running of every business and execution of every project.
Communication is done with just a click of a button and messages get sent to parents and stakeholders of the school, all at once, with a little more advanced tolls and settings, we get notified when the messages are delivered as well as when the messages are opened. So that you are sure your message went through. From the online Learning System platform, the school administrator may also send messages directly to stakeholders’ phone. And if there is need to hold a meeting that restricts physical contact, like we had during the COVID-19, we can also hold a teleconferencing, where meetings are held with all that are concerned, from the very comfort of your home. Communication cannot get easier at the moment.
Management and Administration Process
The School management process can be very tedious, depending on the method used to get things done. The school administration process involves both the school and the stakeholders. Besides building a very strong and reliable communication system with the stakeholders, there is also the need to grant them the ability to enjoy ease in several dealings with the school. By this I mean, parents would want to have access to monitor their children’s or wards’ performances at school, monitor their record of punctuality, activities and a few other comments about their wards, without having to contact the school. The school can make this very possible and save the parents, the stress of driving to the school or calling the school, every time, unless there is an issue that requires their physical presence.
What if the parents could just have the bills of the students cleared and every other payment made, from their homes or offices or on their way home from work? What if there is a system that sends update to parents on their pending fees and deadline for payment?
Okay, I suppose, a system like that will really make the administrative job of the school very easy and comfortable and the parents and other stakeholders will find it very comfortable as well.
Keeping record of students
Students records are very sensitive data and 60% of schools, especially the primary and secondary schools do not have this information handy. This data has been lost due to handling, rodents, water, fire or carelessness. This is not a palatable news to give to a student who has traveled from a far state, only to come and get information from his or her file. Will the occurrence not translate to the fact the said student did not attend that school?
This at all, should not be the case, every data, all student’s data should be stored in the cloud. Not on papers and in files. Those can easily get lost and sometimes even inaccessible without to stress yourself out. This is another very important reason that every school should integrate INT into their school management system and run the school almost online. The school creates a portal for every student, who then have access to his or her information from the school database for use, at any point and at any time it is needed. There are of course, some sensitive information that only the school must provide. For this, the students therefore, simply contact the school with their information and the school in response, gives the student the information or sends them a one-time-password (OTP) to enable them view the information and extract the data they need.
There are always security measures put in place, to make sure that data theft is avoided and keep the information stored online, as safe as possible.
Also, note that integrating ICT into schools does not make the school an online school. It only gives the school an online presence, and if we want to look at it in a different sense, we may see it as a branch of the school.