MAJOR CHALLENGES OF ONLINE LEARNING & SOLUTIONS
Here are some of the most common challenges undergraduate students are currently facing with online classes along with specific tips on how to address them:
- Technical issues.
- Distractions and time management.
- Staying motivated.
- Understanding course expectations.
- Lack of in-person interaction.
- Adapting to unfamiliar technology.
- Uncertainty about the future.
Common issues are unreliable power supply; unexpected malfunctioning of alternative power supply; possibility of a computer shutting down un-expectedly during videoconferencing and moments for interconnectivity of Wi-Fi.
The solution: The most important step is to stay in touch with teachers and inform them about what’s happening. Teachers will hopefully understand and be flexible about the situation, perhaps even recording class sessions as a backup.
Distractions and Time Management
While studying from home or wherever students may be, there can be more distractions than usual, especially with family and possibly younger siblings around. As a result of these distractions – and possibly having additional responsibilities – time management becomes more challenging.
The solution: A daily to-do-list and discipline time management is expected of every student– figuring out what they’re going to do and then sharing that with the other people in your house. Most important is for students to also have a “Why- Not- Do- List” as a check on their Daily- To- Do- List. They must understand activities that can be carried out by other members of their family.
Students should also try to identify a quiet time and place in their house to complete their assignments, if possible – even if that time is late at night. For tertiary institution students, if their other responsibilities become too overwhelming, they should consider talking with their academic adviser about course load options for the semester.
Many students are motivated to learn by being in physical contact and interacting with their friends. It is always a struggle to see our homes as a space for serious academic works.
The solution: Having a daily schedule list, finding a productive workspace, staying in touch with classmates, in addition to having easy access to teachers or academic staff are needed to motivate students.
Understanding Course Expectations
The uncertainty surrounding schools reopening and commencement of another academic term/ semester has left some students confused about the next stage of their studies, including course requirements for the rest of the semester. Students in terminal classes are concerned about their final examinations and selection criteria for admissions into higher institutions. Most worrisome are students with interest in foreign Universities. SAT and CAT examinations have been suspended in preference for direct interview and grading of students by the Universities.
The solution: Students should be proactive in asking their teachers and professors questions about government policies for the reopening of schools, including course expectations and requirements for progressing their education.
Lack of In-Person Interaction
The lack of in-person interaction with both instructors and classmates can be particularly challenging. The adjustment can be particularly difficult for students taking classes that are better suited for the face-to-face format, like those with science lab components.
The solution: Students should take advantage of the tools at their disposal. While not ideal for all learners, the best alternative to actual face-to-face interaction maybe video conferencing programs like Zoom, Skype or FaceTime, including WhatsApp videoconferencing. Talking on the phone with classmates or a teacher is also an option.
A major positive development of the COVID -19 pandemic is the rapid transition to online classes during the lockdown by both the public and private schools. Every person has learned to use technology in the last couple of months that most students and teachers have never heard of, only an insignificant few may have used just a little bit of.
Adapting to Unfamiliar Technology
The solution: Students may have to use the resources available through their schools. There is a need to set up robust technical support for students and students also watch video tutorials online to answer/ solve their technology questions online.
Uncertainty About the Future
Their high level of uncertainty on the mode of teaching in the future, following the sudden switch to online classes by most schools. There is the fear that the students from poor families and densely populated homes may lose out in the mad rush to online classes. The ownership of android phones and iPads are very low at 40% in Nigeria and other African countries. There is the high cost of data acquisition at # 400 per I Gb in Nigeria, with current daily wage at the same level.
The solution: There is a need for special intervention plans to accommodate students from low-income homes in online classes. There is a need for a special data rate for students and educational activities. The ongoing reduction in the right of ways for the laying of critical commination infrastructure will encourage telecon providers to reduce down their data rates.
Regardless of the challenges that come with the transition to online classes, students should remember that online classes are a necessary component and a major necessity for enhancing learning in the Africa Schools and the world is now a global village. Working online and remotely from homes is the new shift in the workplace. The earlier the students perfect the art and science of online classes the better.