By Rotimi Bello
COVID19 has opened another vista in the annals of education history in the global arena. The threats and frenzy associated with the coronavirus pandemic have compelled schools globally to embrace Zoom online application to reach out to the learners since physical contact has been restraint to prevent the spread of the novel virus that defy all known medications.
Zoom app is the rave of the moment among all the cloud-based video communications. It can reach out to a large audience, depending on the license subscription of the host. It allows the users to set up virtual video and audio for conferencing, meetings, online teaching, thesis defense, church services, funerals, live chats, webinar, oral interview, marketing and proposal presentations, and defense by companies through screen sharing with others and even recording of the live proceeding of events simultaneously.
It is not only beneficial to the education sector as a host of other sectors and institutions benefit from this cloud-based technology established by an America base Chinese man, Eric Yuan, on the 21st of April 2011. It has been there all along unnoticed with few patronages until the escalation of the COVID19 pandemic which stunts global economic growth and development.
This unprecedented global lockdown webified the educational system through a web interface. This is to say the virtual life audio-visual teaching has come to stay, the absence of a lecturer, boss, head of government, Managing Director, and other heads of the organization is not an excuse for a regular meeting not to take place or be postponed indefinitely. Wherever one may be in the world, a meeting schedule invitation could be sent via zoom to the participants to hook up and commence the meetings, classes, or presentation at the scheduled time.
This is the 21st century and indeed 4G and 5G revolution, an era of endless possibilities. A generation loaded with a lot of surprises, awesome jaw-dropping inventions. Electric cars are no longer conjecture but a reality of our modern existence. Other possibilities of this era postulated by researchers are breakthrough in customized fetal DNA test; gene therapy to eliminate disease at conception stage; digital devices enabled not by moving or a touch screen but by mere thinking and imagination and finally growing new organs in a lab and then transplant them into humans. All these sound incredible to a fickle mind, but they are within the realm of possibility. High-level researches are going in advance developed countries to make these suppositions a reality.
Thus, the Zoom video conferencing platform is all-encompassing, it can accommodate up to a thousand participants depend on the level of subscription. It parades multiple features which make online teaching, lesson, or lecture interesting. There is a chat room to entertain questions from the audience. The toolbar could be used for mathematics, drawing, writing, and elaborate explanation. The pooling (multiple-choice test) could be conducted with the assistance of the host to test learners’ knowledge while the lesson is going on with an embedded automatic computerize marking system and instant display of results to learners. The coverage could be recorded and replayed after the lesson by the learners with easy.
It is noted that few schools that use the Zoom app are leading private schools in the country. Some combine google classroom with zoom why the lesser one resort to WhatsApp interface of sending voice message and text message note to the learners. Google classroom is another well-crafted application that is good for sending materials, questions, quizzes, assignments, and computer markings of learner’s work and returning via a similar application. This virtual learning stemming from the coronavirus pandemic may probably not be the best alternative because it is capital intensive to both participants and the organizers as it consumes large chunks of data. Network fluctuation is another major problem encountered by the end-users. Apart from the identified hitches, it is a promising learning application with greater room for improvement for the global educational system.
Succintly put, the combination of the Zoom app and Google Classroom is a wonderful learning tool of this century that has redefined the educational system. Our educational system should blend and streamline to accommodate and be intuned with cloud-based technology capable of preserving the materials for a long period without been damaged. The recent attempt by the Zoom app company to ensure end-to-end encryption to secure user’s conversations from outsiders including the Zoom platform itself speaks volumes of the need for our public educational institutions to key-in to this platform. If I may ask this simple question, what is our minister of education doing to mobilize public universities to embrace virtual learning?
Almost all private universities in the country effectively used Zoom and other related applications to reach out to their students to complete the second semester during lockdown while our public universities were on strike for welfare-related issues and funding of the university education. Our leaders are less perturbed by the ASUU strike because their children are in private universities, thus they have nothing to lose. The world is not going to wait for us to catch up with this new development, our leaders must wake up from their deep slumber and do the needful to rescue public universities from imminent collapse. For us to be amenable to this modern educational system, our internet speed should be upgraded in-line with the international requirement and the internet providers should increase the capacity of their network provisioning in-tune with the user’s request at all times.
Rotimi S. BELLO wrote this piece from Abuja and could be reached via email@example.com
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