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MSU Professor Helps Nigerian University Put Tablets in Hands of Students


Murray State Journalism and Mass Communication faculty member Dr. Bella Ezumah is doing ground-breaking work with Osun State University in the state of Osun, Nigeria, to provide advancing students with computer tablets preloaded with lesson notes, audio tutorials and other resources. She speaks with Kate Lochte about her work on Sounds Good.

Opón Ìmò, “Tablet of Knowledge” Device

Opón Ìmò - The Tablet of Knowledge

The tablet computer initiative puts learning devices in the hands of senior secondary school students to prepare for standardized testing, namely the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE). The iPad-like device is loaded with 63 textbooks and over 40,000 practice questions from previous tests, also visual aids and 12,000 Yoruba proverbs. Dr. Bella Ezumah says the students are also learning the culture of the land (Osun State is located in the homeland of the Yoruba people in Southwestern Nigeria).

The initiative to give tablets to all seniors in public secondary schools was developed by Osun Governor RaufAregbesola, who sought to improve the quality of learning for public school students who cannot afford to attend one of the expensive private schools in Nigeria. By working with a consulting firm, the OpónÌmò is the product of recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of the One Laptop Per Child initiative as well as interviews with teachers, ministers of education, parents and students in Osun. 

More about the tablet on the Osun Government website

How Does This Compare to One Laptop Per Child

At Howard University, Dr. Bella Ezumah's doctoral dissertation was on One Laptop Per Child - tracking two schools in Nigeria and Ghana where the program was to be implemented. Unfortunately, she says, the program wasn't sustained in these two countries. Since then, she has been reading on initiatives that improve learning in communities in developing countries - what works and what doesn't. Last May, she visited professors at Osun State University to learn about The Tablet of Knowledge program. The program is under a three year study to determine the impact on student learning and results from standardized testing. Also, to find out if there is a social or cultural impact on not only students but their families and the community as a whole. 

Dr. Ezumah speculates that one of the reasons One Laptop Per Child wasn't effective was that it failed to include local experts and educators in the planning process. The program overlooked literacy level, she says, and that since it was geared towards the primary school sector, the young students saw it as a gaming tool rather than a learning tool. 

Credit Osun State University Student Portal Administration, Facebook

How Does Osun State University Compare to Murray State?

Osun is a new school, less than 10 years old. It's not as elaborate as Murray State in terms of departments and programs. For instance, the journalism department doesn't have as many lecturers and is housed within the arts department alongside drama and theatre. However, Osun State has more students than Murray State. This is because of the number of young people vying for very few universities in the public sector. Private universities are very expensive in Nigeria and not many students can afford it. If a learning tool like OpónÌmò turns out to be successful, then opportunities for educational attainment might no longer be limited to one who can cut the largest check.

More about Osun State University

Matt Markgraf joined the WKMS team as a student in January 2007. He's served in a variety of roles over the years: as News Director March 2016-September 2019 and previously as the New Media & Promotions Coordinator beginning in 2011. Prior to that, he was a graduate and undergraduate assistant. He is currently the host of the international music show Imported on Sunday nights at 10 p.m.
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