Ever since a State of Emergency was declared in March, higher education institutions had to immediately transition from face-to-face teaching, to complete online education, to prevent the spread of the virus. This came with its own challenges, and unfortunately, not all students are able to, or are equipped with the necessary devices to enable them to commit to online education.
The University of Namibia has tried its best to make sure that every student received internet gadgets. Yet, even if students have received them, network issues still remain, as some students hail from home areas with low bandwidth internet, to no network coverage at all.
Students’ experience so far
Even though online learning appears to be easier, according to the Easy LMS website, many students are finding the work overwhelming and they do not believe that they are learning at all. “The switch was totally unexpected and uncomfortable,” said Ayeshe Elago, a Biochemistry first-year student. “I admit, it is not my favourite teaching method, as I learn better by interacting with lecturers.”
Queen Katamba, doing her first year in Statistics, said: “I struggle to understand the online mode.
“There is a lack of personalised feedback from our lecturers – in a way creating a feeling of dissatisfaction.”
Various students are complaining about the workload and how the university seems to care more about submissions and not whether students are learning at all. “Work keeps piling up by the day,” said Shanice Klaaste anxiously. “Sometimes we have to focus more on meeting deadlines, than understanding the work,” said the future Biochemist.
Lecturers are putting in an effort
On the other hand, lecturers are trying to ensure their students are learning and studying. From lecture videos and tutorials to YouTube video suggestions, lecturers are doing almost everything they can for their students.
Aliché Januarie, a first year biomedical student, had a positive experience with online learning. “I could access online materials easily.”
“At first I found it difficult, since I have never studied online before. But self-discipline is the big secret.” She also appreciates how lecturers are putting in extra effort – especially how modules were presented in a podcast manner. This allowed students to listen to them as frequently as possible, until one could understand the subject matter.
A Law student, Reinhardt Kamatoto, found the teaching method “satisfactory” and he was “coping well” with the online learning experience.
Although online learning has been in existence for a while, it has now become the ‘new normal’ for all students to complete modules in order to pass the first semester. However, it is not easy. The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly brought major changes, not only to the education sector, but almost all sectors around the world. The world now has to adjust to the new normal until everything hopefully simmers down. So far, a number of students have completed their first semester modules and are now waiting for the results to come out.
*Naango Kainge is a 1st year BSc in Applied Biochemistry & Biomedicine student, and is a story contributor to Forum Online.