The Changing Role of Technology in University Management in Era of Pandemic: The Mediating Role of Academic Staff of Universities in North Central Zone of Nigeria
Keywords:University Management, Academic Staff, Technology, COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented crisis with momentous challenges for higher education institutions worldwide. The unplanned closure of schools due to the pandemic left millions of students at all levels out of schools. Academic leaders have been charged with restructuring their systems, ensuring instructional quality while operating with significantly diminished resources. However, the use of technologies offered opportunities for educators and students to engage in remote pedagogical activities during the school closures. With relatively little warning, personnel in educational organizations, abandoned face-to-face instruction and shifted rapidly to online learning. Educational managers were tasked with maintaining relationships and ensuring quality, while balancing student needs with their own personal safety. This paper reviews the relevant situation of the COVID-19 outbreak with focus on university education, the role of academics and their response to the pandemic, in the North Central Zone of Nigeria. This research uses an exploratory quantitative approach, supported by literature content analysis techniques. The data set for this study was collected after the resumption of lectures in 2021. We used SPSS to conduct a descriptive analysis and PLS-SEM to analyse data collected from 233 academic staff of four different universities in the North Central zone of Nigeria. These academics disclosed various challenges encountered in an attempt to adopt digital technology platform applications for online learning. These include: inadaptability and unfamiliarity of the new online learning environment, poor and inadequate infrastructures, students’ unpreparedness, lack of motivation, and personal health challenges related to stress and anxiety. It is recommended that university management should adopt those teaching initiatives that have proved to be effective during the remote learning phase and integrate them into the regular education system. It is quite critical and germane to empower academics, investing in the necessary skills development and capacity building to exploit the full potential of remote and blended learning.
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