1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Education is a critical component of long-term growth (Chimombo 2005). Most developing nations in the world, including Nigeria, today see education as a critical aspect in catching up to the developed world in areas such as global competitiveness (Hawkins 2002). Predictably, educational environments in poor nations differ from those in wealthy countries, such as low educational quality and limited opportunities to attend school in remote areas due to long distances and high opportunity costs (Ibid 2005). To promote universal access to education, Chimombo (2005) believes that country-specific circumstances affecting compulsory and free education must be rectified. The right to compulsory and free education for all is already enshrined in Article 26 of the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN Human Rights 1948).
On a yearly basis, more individuals throughout the world get linked to the internet network, its capacity expands, and its use becomes increasingly intertwined with global events. Individuals’ access to this internet network has become a crucial determinant in their possibilities, success, and contentment. Information, communication, and technology are now being regarded in Nigeria as a means of achieving an e-enabled and knowledge-based society by the year 2020. Technology is transforming the learning and teaching environment, just as it has altered the globe. E-learning, blended learning (Maier, 2007), and distant learning are only a few examples of learning methods that make use of information and communication technologies (ICT). ICT can benefit students in remote regions by allowing them to attend classes as distance learners and improving their learning abilities. In this light, e-learning is thought to be a feasible safeguard for educational advancement. However, information transfer between industrialized and underdeveloped nations is not only difficult but also expensive.
E-learning is defined as the use of information and communication technology (ICT) by both teachers and students. Traditional training, such as classes, ad-hoc training, chosen learning objects, formalization through document collections, and community development, which may be accomplished using social software, are all examples of e-learning. ‘Schmidt’ is a (2005). Several research have demonstrated that a variety of e-learning systems are currently available in developing nations (Kohn et al. 2008). Various national and international efforts in the country are developing these programs. According to Lockwood and Gooley (2002), the creation and extension of e-learning programs is driven by the desire to provide education in more accessible and cost-efficient methods, as well as enhanced access to information, effective learning, and greater flexibility.
Despite the widespread interest in online learning, Stephenson (2001) underlined the need for more thorough study on its overall efficacy. While there is still much work to be done, he concedes that a number of e-learning courses focused at making sustainable development a reality have been produced, demonstrating how e-learning may reach thousands, if not millions, of minds and potentially plant the seeds of change. Students in higher education institutions who used E-Learning did better than those who took face-to-face classes, according to research. According to (Holley, 2002), students who participate in E-Learning obtain higher marks than those who study traditional methods. As a result of these discoveries, E-learning is rapidly gaining in popularity, and many higher education institutions are implementing virtual learning systems, which, while costly to operate, are extremely convenient for students. Today, numerous colleges throughout the world employ e-learning. Some higher education institutions’ E-learning adds little value to the institution’s teaching and learning activities, and they may not evaluate the influence of virtual learning on students’ academic achievement. This research will examine how E-learning influences students’ academic achievement. This study is highly significant because it will determine the association between E-Learning use and undergraduate students’ academic achievement at the Federal University of Agriculture in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The goal of implementing E-learning in schools is to improve the teaching-learning process’ efficiency and effectiveness. Thus, in a developing country like Nigeria, E-learning is currently facing challenges such as the lack of computers, well-equipped computer laboratories with internet access, videophone systems and teleconferencing devices, fax and wireless applications, digital library, digital classrooms, multimedia systems, and the problem of developing multimedia courseware, among others (Global Information Technology Report, 2010). Other studies have indicated that there are a shortage of qualified E-learning teachers, as well as a lack of facilities, infrastructure, and equipment (Ikemenjima, 2005; and Jegede & Owolabi, 2003).
In the industrialized world, e-learning has already had an impact on teaching, training, and development. A growing number of higher education courses are being delivered through the internet, resulting in an increase in student numbers (Chang, 2001). Many educational stakeholders believe that online learning is the way of the future for their educational programs (Barron, 1999). However, there isn’t enough evidence to indicate that E-learning is a successful delivery system for the people who are being taught. Many education system researchers, according to Aroyo and Dicheva (2004), are concerned with transferring their study to a coherent realm of collaborative intelligence from dispersed intelligence. There are few research that have looked into distant learning students’ perceptions of the impact of e-learning on their academic achievement. This study will therefore investigate the perception of distance learning students on the influence of online interaction on the academic performance of distance learning students of Micheal Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, Abia State, Nigeria.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main objective of this study is to investigate the perception of distance learning students on the influence of online interaction on their academic performance of distance learning students of Micheal Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, Abia State, Nigeria. However, the specific objectives are:
- To examine the effects of online interaction on distance learning students of Micheal Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, Abia State Nigeria.
- To find out whether there is any relationship between distance learning students of Micheal Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, Abia State, Nigeria engagement in online interaction and their academic performance
- To determine the challenges faced by distance learning students of Micheal Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, Abia State Nigeria on online interaction and its effects on their academic performance.
- To proffer solutions to the challenges faced by distance learning students of Micheal Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, Abia State Nigeria on online interaction on how it will enhance their better academic performance
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
The following shall be the research hypotheses that will be tested for this study:
HO1: There is no significant effects of online interaction on distance learning students of Micheal Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, Abia State Nigeria.
HO2: There is no significant relationship between distance learning students of Micheal Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, Abia State, Nigeria engagement in online interaction and their academic performance .
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE O THE STUDY
This study has great significance. First of all, the study findings will provide an idea about the e-learning aspects and academic performance in order to provide key information to further research work in such areas. In the same way, the study will provide knowledge and guidelines that may be of help to policymakers. The research will therefore be of a great importance for planners, and other social scientists. Finally, this study provides an input to the students, teachers and researchers in the areas of e-learning. Research works are embarked upon with a view to extending the frontier of knowledge. This study will therefore be carried out with this same objective, especially in the field of e-learning. It will undoubtedly contribute to the extension of the frontier of knowledge in the following ways. First, the study will show the predictive power of the selected factors, especially socio-demographic factors, prior computer skills and time management status in the determination of the academic performance. Lastly, government will as well benefit from the study because it will show how the provision of adequate learning facilities can enhance better academic performance in our tertiary institutions all over the country.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study investigates the perception of distance learning students on the influence of online interaction on their academic performance of distance learning students of Micheal Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, Abia State Nigeria. Therefore, the study shall be carried out among the distance learning students of Micheal Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, Abia State Nigeria.
1.7 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. The significant constraint was the scanty literature on the subject owing that it is a new discourse thus the researcher incurred more financial expenses and much time was required in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection, which is why the researcher resorted to a limited choice of sample size covering only Micheal Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, Abia State Nigeria. . Thus findings of this study cannot be used for generalization for other higher institution in other States within Nigeria. Additionally, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work will impede maximum devotion to the research. Finally, respondent could not return all the questionnaires distributed to the researcher and this has only made the researcher to only work with the ones that got to him. Howbeit, despite the constraint encountered during the research, all factors were downplayed in other to give the best and make the research successful.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
The following terms were used in the course of this study:
Academic performance: the extent to which a student has achieved his/her short or long-term educational goals. Cumulative GPA and completion of educational degrees especially bachelor’s degrees represent academic achievement.
Distance learning: a way of learning remotely without being in regular face-to-face contact with a teacher in the classroom.
E-learning: learning utilizing electronic technologies to access educational curriculum outside of a traditional classroom.
Internet: a global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities, consisting of interconnected networks using standardized communication protocols.
Perception: the way in which something is regarded, understood, or interpreted.