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Mixed feelings about online classes

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With the initiative, learners can access content on Schoolgate (www.schoolgate.ng); MobileClassroom (www.mobileclassroom.com.ng); National Open University (ceagslearn.nouedu.net); Khan Academy (www.khanacademy.com) and Seesaw (web.seesaw.me) free.

The various state ministries of education have also come up with their e-learning initiatives; while private schools use all kinds of online platforms to engage their learners at a cost. At the low end, schools use WhatsApp to post worksheets, videos lessons, and while at the high end, schools use platforms, such as Google meets; Google classrooms, and Zoom to teach.

The experience has been mixed for parents and students.

Mrs. Adesola Adediran, Head of School, Soundhope Montessori Nursery and Primary School, Ipaja, Lagos, noted that online classes in the school had been effective so far because notes, worksheets and assignments could be sent to pupils via Whatsapp and other online channels, adding that grading and corrections could be done immediately too.

She, nonetheless, stated that online classes could not be compared to physical classes because the teacher uses teaching aids and other apparatus to enhance effectiveness.

“It has been effective so far because we can send notes, work sheet and homework to pupils. We can mark online and equally do corrections immediately. But it cannot be compared to physical classroom. Because as a teacher in the physical classroom, you will understand your pupils better. There are so many methods to reinforce a particular topic. All these are not available online classes,” she noted.

A parent, Mrs. Adijat Jimoh, said her children get their work on WhatsApp.  She, however, lamented that the process of following up on the assignments for each child was tedious as the chatroom gets crowded with comments and the teacher’s lesson becomes difficult to find in the process.

“In my children’s school, their teachers send videos and lessons to their class groups on WhatsApp. My children do the assignments, then we post to the group. Sometimes, I spend a long time scrolling in search of the teacher’s post because many others would have posted after that.  The constant post fills up my phone memory.  I called the headmistress that I would come to the school to pick their text books.  I am tired of it,” she said.

On her own part, a parent, Mrs Olawole, noted that e-learning is not being deployed in her children’s school, adding that she employed a private tutor to teach them at home since the lockdown began.

She said: “My children attend a private a school and they are not into the e-learning stuff. Since I don’t want them to stay idle, I got a teacher to teach them at home.”


Tertiary: No gadgets, no classes

At the tertiary level, some schools have been deploying e-learning but not for all courses. Also, not all students have been able to participate.

Adepoju Joshua, a student of the Department of Architecture, Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, said the virtual learning has proved to be effective, though only few courses are available on the platform.  He  noted that the Google Classroom is in use for some courses while others are accessible via the institution’s e-learning portal on their website.

He also disclosed that handouts are being uploaded in form of PDF files, while there is a chat section where lecturers and students can interact. He said assignments were also uploaded by lecturers and students upload their answers accordingly too.

He, however, lamented that practical courses were not available on the portal, noting that less than 50 per cent of his classmates had taken part in the online programme because they do not have smart phones.

He said: “The virtual learning has been effective. Only a few courses are running currently, though. Google Classroom is being used for a few courses.

“Handouts are uploaded in form of PDFs. There is a chat section for lecturers and students to engage one another.Then, assignments are uploaded by the lecturers. Students are expected to upload their answers to the assignments.  Some courses are accessible via the school’s e-learning portal on the school’s website.

“Sadly, practical courses are not activated on the portal for now. Less than 50 percent of the class has taken part in this virtual learning programme. Those who haven’t taken part are lagging behind. People without browsing phones are not participating.”

A student of Ekiti State University (EKSU), Oyindamola Dada, said that the school started virtual learning at some point but later stopped due to lack of commitment on the part of the students mostly because they do not have computers or smartphones to use for the classes.

“We have stopped the e-learning programme because students were not really keen on it. And apart from that, not all the students have android phones, so the school decided to stop. However, my department has a WhatsApp group where we do tutorials. Our lecturers are not involved. It is to keep ourselves busy,” Oyindamola said.

At the University of Lagos (UNILAG), a final year student, Fidelia Udoh, said e-learning was yet to start.  She noted though that a notice had been sent to all departments and faculties, but nothing had been done so far.

“I have been hearing for some time that it will start soon, but I have not seen anything to suggest that. Even though the notice has been to all departments, we are still waiting for e-learning to commence,” she said.

 No provision for e-learning in some schools

Adah Gift, a student in  the University of Calabar (UNICAL), said no provision has been made for  virtual learning in their school ever since the lockdown began.

“We have been staying at home doing nothing. The school did not make any provision for virtual learning at all,” she said.

Acquiescing with the above, Tolulope Ajose, a student of Ogun State Polytechnic of Health Technology, said that e-learning was not in operation in the school, hence, students will wait till school resumes before receiving lectures again.

Private schools better off

Private universities seem to be faring better with e-learning however.  Though it was off to a false start last week with its second semester examinations online, Babcock University successfully began conducting the examination on Monday after suspending it for one week.

Daniel Adekunle, a Biochemistry student of the university said the course work for the semester had been completed before the closure, so the students did not do any online classes since the closure.  So far, he said he had written three papers online between Monday and Tuesday.

With schools still closed, many schools at all levels have turned to e-learning to keep their pupils and students learning.  At the tertiary level, the Education Minister, Mallam Adamu Adamu, mandated institutions to launch online classes, while at the primary and secondary levels, the Federal Ministry of Education (FME) broadcast classes on radio and television.

The FME also collaborated with education digital content providers and telecommunication firms to provide free internet access to online educational resources at no cost.

We were already done with classes before .  We were about to start exams before they sent us home, so we did not have online classes before the online exams started,” he said.

Temi Lucas, a Mass Communication student of Covenant University, Ota, said her online classes had been running smoothly since school closed.

“Classes have been running well.  They also give us projects to work on.  We have had tests,” she said.

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