Mixed feelings over UI’s online learning
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University of Ibadan(UI), like other tertiary institutions in the country, resorted to e-learning following COVID-19 disruptions to education and other sectors. Nevertheless, students of the institution have urged authorities to improve their online learning system, reports TIJANI ABDULKABEER (UI).
Following the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many schools had to switch over to e-learning. The University of Ibadan (UI) was not left out as it announced that lectures for the first semester the 2020/2021 academic year would be virtual.
The decision was taken by the Senate of the university.
A statement by the Senate said: “The Senate of the University of Ibadan, at its meeting, has reiterated its earlier decision that lectures for the first semester of the 2020/2021 academic session will only be delivered online.”
Further, the statement stated that students were not expected to be on campus until second semester. There were, however, advised to read extensively about Moodle, an e-learning platform, in preparation for virtual classes.
According to Omitoyin Oluwaferanmi, Students’ Representative Council (SRC) speaker in UI, Moodle-based Learning Management System, adopted by the institution, is a platform where resources like slides, videos, and voice recordings are provided and made accessible to concerned individuals. He noted that the platform was user-friendly and consumed less data. Thus, business organisations and various learning institutions have made Moodle their go-to platform for virtual activities.
However, students of the institution have expressed their displeasure with the virtual learning mode and the non-responsive attitude of the management towards addressing the problems identified.
Olu Adeleke, a 100-Level student, said the irregularities in the school’s virtual learning system made him lose motivation.
He said: “I am in need of motivation for studies. I am really tired. I am drained and fed up of the system.”
Another student, Kunle Akinwale, also said the online learning model had been tiring. He said he had issues with the model he had to attend to, if he truly wanted to come out good at the end of the semester.
Ire Oluseye, a 300-Level student in the Faculty of Science, is displeased with the virtual classes being conducted by the school management.
She complained of difficulty in sourcing for data to join classes coupled with the fact that the nature of her course wasn’t put into consideration.
She said: “Lecturers were just dropping slides on the learning platform and cases of lab tests that dealt with preparations ended up with jargons. I couldn’t do practicals. What if my job requirements demand that?”
Boluwatife Owin, a 100-Level Chemistry student, described the school’s online learning system as tiresome.
She complained that the majority of students had challenges attempting test online.
“Online learning is impracticable in a country that lacks necessary facilities,” she said.
For Muftau Shuaib, a 100-Level student, it is difficult to cope with data prices. He noted that he relied on his parents for data subscription.
“I am fed up. I don’t even know what to do. My parents have stopped attending to my call because they know I am only asking for money for data,” he said.
Michael Odeniyi, a 200-Level student, said: “Virtual learning is increasingly adopted to limit the total disruption in this sector and even UNESCO recommended the use of distance learning programmes, open educational applications, and platforms by schools and teachers to reach learners remotely.
“Sadly, as pleasant as this solution is, the presence of some major internal crisis coupled with the unpreparedness of our government for situations like this, makes it impossible to be achieved.
“Poverty is one of the factors making it impossible. As stated by the World Poverty Clock, the nation has about 50 per cent of its population living in poverty, with many of the citizens struggling to afford three square meals, despite the palliative measures by the government. Looking at the above indices coupled with some others, there are lots of students who do not have access to either food and shelter, television, standby smartphones amid erratic power supply. Such students also do not have access to the internet nor educational resources, a situation that would keep on creating gaps in their academic progress for as long as this pandemic persists.”
Another student, Mutiu Oduwole, said:”I couldn’t access lectures. I was forced to move down from Sokoto and that’s because I couldn’t get information about the virtual classes. The whole thing is even tiring.”
Busayo Ogungbayi, a 200-Level student in the Faculty of Social Sciences, while decrying the online learning system, said:”I have taken my mind off the online classes to attend to more urgent personal issues.
“Attending online classes is not interesting to me. I will only give attention to what places food on my table and that’s my side hustle.”
Similarly, Wale Johnson, a100-Level student of English, explained that he lost a test schedule to hold for two minutes on the Moodle application.
“Just imagine, I had an English test slated to hold for two minutes, and considering the congested traffic on the Moodle site, it was difficult for many students to access the test page at the same time, before I could load the page to get the questions, several minutes had gone and by the end of the duration, I couldn’t even attempt any question,” he said.
Similarly, in some departments, the larger proportion of students decried the state of electricity around UI metropolis and the poor teaching method adopted by most lecturers.
Ranti Adelakun, a 100-Level student in Arts and Humanities, said: “Some lecturers just come online and lecture the normal way and at the end drop bulky materials for students to read.
“Students find it difficult to cope with reading those materials and when it is time for tests, many find it difficult to attempt questions.”
Despite the challenges, some students are pleased with the institution’s virtual learning system.
Omolola Ekundayo, a student of French, said: “This virtual learning is beneficial to me. It takes away unnecessary stress and let me engage in some other things that matter in my life. It gives me time to do other tasks. I just pray it continues.”
For Tunde Adeniyi, a 300-Level student, the hitches could be rectified, noting that the system was still work-in-progress.
“Data issues, network issues and all could be worked on to achieve better results in future. Nobody knew the coronavirus would catch us unawares.The management just needs to improve the overall system. Encouraging results can still be achieved and students won’t complain anymore,” he said.
Also, for Segun Ogunbanjo, a 300-Level Physics student, evaluation of the online learning system and application to detect major challenges would go a long way in ensuring that the issues were properly addressed. He, however, said virtual learning through Moodle was interesting, despite the hitches.
“The management should do a thorough evaluation of the online learning system to detect major challenges encountered by students.This would help in solving the technical hitches.The Moodle application is quite interesting to utilise in learning, despite the challenges,” he said.
Reacting to this development, a lecturer in the institution who pleaded anonymity explained that the virtual learning was worthwhile, stressing that it was so seamless that he could engage more with his students.
He said: “I enjoyed the virtual classes.” Speaking on some challenges faced, he noted that the management promised the lecturers data which came just a few weeks to the end of the semester. He complained of spending very much on data to ensure that he organised online classes.
He said the challenges faced by students were inevitable, adding that they should be ever ready for such. He blamed the Federal Government while absolving the school management of any blame.
“This is not really a management thing. The Federal Government should take the blame. Virtual learning has come to stay. Hence, the need for Federal Government’s intervention,” he said.
A Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) expert and an international youth ambassador, Olasupo Abideen, expressed dissatisfaction with the poor handling of alternative education.
He said the education sector remained comatose with the government paying lip service to it. He said it was very unfortunate that a country like ours couldn’t properly explore virtual learning in public institutions.
His words: “According to a recent United Nations report, it noted that because a good percentage of all technologies deployed for learning are being imported, it says the cost of maintaining stable internet access will be challenging.
“The United Nations ranks Nigeria under the Lower Middle-Income Countries which record only a 20 per cent access to the internet and a personal computer.”
According to him, a World Bank report published in June, last year, also established that the education sector would be disrupted after ban on schools opening are lifted.
He added: “Without effective policy responses when students return to school, approximately $10 trillion of lifecycle earnings could be lost for learners — because of their lower levels of learning, their lost months in school closures, or their potential for dropping out of school.
“This is approximately 16 per cent of the investments that governments have made in students’ basic education.”
Olasupo further noted that there was the need to review the curriculum to conform with the virtual space, and for the government to start training lecturers, and equipping public institutions with modern equipment that would make virtual learning realistic.
“In a recent report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), it was revealed that an estimated 1.725 billion learners were affected by school closures, representing about 99.9 per cent of the world’s student population. In response to these statistics, developed countries had to embrace technological innovations.
“It is imperative for the Federal Government to start considering the categories of students that we have in various institutions while the state government should ensure proper internet usage,” he added.
However, in a chat with Campuslife, Mr Olatunji Oladejo, Director of Communication University of Ibadan, noted that the institution was aware of the virtual learning challenge and remained ready to address it holistically. He assured the students of lasting solution.