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A Millennial Lecturer in a GEN-Z Class – Episode 7

A millennial lecturer shares his over a decade experience in the academia teaching and supervising most GEN-Z. Welcome on the 10-episode series recollection.
Macaulay, Babajide Milton Ph.D., EMBA
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Welcome to the 10-episode series on my shocking experience as a millennial lecturer teaching Gen-Z students in a Federal University in Nigeria in the last 12 years. It’s a collection of my classroom interactions with a generation of quick-witted, internet-savvy young adults who are “too bold” for their own good. Read episode 6 here.


Gen-Zs are generally regarded as digital natives, because they were born into a world of mobile phones, computer games, electronic gadgets, social media and the internet of things! As a result, one would expect that they should find it easy to navigate anything related to computerisation. Therefore, you can understand the shock on my face when I came across some Gen-Z students unable to operate a computer.

First, I am proud that my employer was among the first universities in Nigeria shortly after 2010 to begin computer-based tests/exams (CBTs/CBEs). They initially started with Post-UTMEs then later transitioned to computerising all 100 Level and a few 200 Level undergraduate courses. Sadly, I came across a good number of 100 Level students taking CBTs/CBEs who did not know how to scroll down their screens. Some others were dragging the mouse off the flat surface of their desks, misplacing the cursor in the process. It was so bad that some of them didn’t even know where the forward slash button is located on their keyboards; therefore, they spend up to 10 mins trying to figure out how to type their matric numbers. For a test of 10 mins or an exam of 20 mins, a student lacking basic computing skills is already disadvantaged!

If such a student performs poorly in the test/exam, it may not necessarily be because he/she doesn’t have a good grasp of the course content, it could painfully be because the student struggled to navigate the computer system until his/her time elapsed. This is a problem that worries me a lot because the university system should not be responsible for introducing Fresh year students to basic computing skills when such students are expected to have been exposed to such skills earlier in their educational life. Right from primary and secondary schools, the students should have been taught the different components of a computer and their uses, as well as how to use basic computing software such as the Microsoft Office packages.

I understand that WAEC only recently introduced the CBE as an option for the WASSCE, but how did these students pass the UTME which is completely electronic based?

That’s a food for thought.

Perhaps the reason this problem exists is because there is a large digital divide caused by variations in the quality of the primary/secondary schools in Nigeria. While some schools (usually private) have enough computers and a resident teacher to arm their students with digital skills, other schools (usually public) have nothing and will produce students that are disadvantaged as they attempt to climb higher in their academic pursuit.

It is grossly unrealistic to expect the university to cover the loopholes caused by basic educational systems. As tutors in tertiary institutions, our job is to enhance “basal” capabilities and not to establish fundamentals which should have been nurtured before university entry. Even if a student is from a poor home and cannot afford to purchase a computer, a good primary or secondary school should have covered that digital gap, indicating that this is not a social-related problem but a systemic educational problem.

However, there is the counter argument that a part of the problem is social, because most students who grew up in urbanised cities are digitally savvy. Therefore, to build a truly inclusive educational system, our basic schools must equally equip every student with adequate digital skills, irrespective of their socio-economic background or geographical limitations. This would make the duties of tertiary institutions much easier. As millennial lecturers what we could do to bridge the digital skill gap on our campuses is to be intentional with the design of students assessment structure. We could incorporate term papers and oral presentations into the continuous assessment to compel undergraduate students to learn relevant computer software like Microsoft Word and PowerPoint.

While I was a Teaching Assistant at the University of Manchester, UK, I noticed that undergraduate students were exposed to oral presentation skills from their first year on campus. In Nigeria, we could begin ours from the 2nd year of undergraduate study, and do not have to wait until they get to final year as commonly done because of the mandatory I.T. and Seminar presentations. The earlier we expose them to these digital, communication and presentation skills, the more competent they will become when they graduate.

I hope you enjoyed Episode 7?

Watch out for Episode 8.

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