The world is going through tough times and with the Novel COVID-19 pandemic showing no signs of ending anytime soon, Educational Institutions across the world have resorted to an online learning environment.
Ghana being one of the Countries affected by the virus is no exception. Measures have been put in place especially at the Junior High School and Senior High School levels by the Ghana Education Service through the Ministry of Education to keep students glued to their academic work amidst this pandemic period. This is a laudable intervention.
Colleges of Education just like the main universities have not been left out of the rolling out of online classes which have been applauded by most students. Despite the plaudits, some concerns are being raised by the students who need immediate intervention.
As indicated, students face a series of technical and operational challenges that need to be addressed. These challenges include but are not limited to the following:
Cost of data: Concerns have been raised by students regarding the cost of data for accessing these online lectures and course materials. According to the students the cost of data for accessing the online platforms to take advantage of the teaching and learning is on the higher side. Some complained that due to the lockdown they are not able to make ends meet to cater for such expenses. According to others, their parents are not able to help them out. Accordingly, they pray their Association, Teacher Trainees Association of Ghana (TTAG), come to their aid by liaising with the telecommunication companies to give out abated data packages and if possible free data packages to students for curricular activities. Other students are of the view that the Student Loan Trust Fund considers paying them their monthly allowances so they can cater for the expenses involved in the virtual teaching and learning environment.
Network connectivity: Concerns of network connectivity was also raised by the students as they complained that they are not guaranteed good network and reach, as such, they might not be able to follow live classes. This, they bemoaned, might sometimes go against them even though audiovisuals of previous lessons can be uploaded for anyone who is unable to access live classes to access them later.
Knowledge of ICT: Some students have also raised concerns about their limited knowledge in the use of ICT which might gravely affect them in participating in the online classroom platforms such as Google classroom, telegram, etc.
ICT Gadgets: Concerns have been further raised by some students not having access to laptops and smartphones or better still not able to afford smartphones or laptops for accessing these online learning environments.
Mode of assessment: Students have raised issues with the online mode of assessment. They have concerns about the mode of delivery and roll calls. According to them there should be flexibility on assessment and class participation since some students cannot be guaranteed good networks.
Other issues of concern were the inconvenience the class would cause them since they sometimes have different responsibilities to attend to at home.
Though the students consider the online class a good and laudable initiative, they believe that its effectiveness depends on the extent to which their concerns (technical and operational) as expressed are promptly and adequately addressed by stakeholders.
Spread calm not fear
EKISSI STANLEY EDEM
ST. FRANCIS COLLEGE OF EDUCATION, HOHOE
OLA COLLEGE OF EDUCATION,