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Restrictions have been imposed and schools cannot open due to the novel Coronavirus (COVID – 19) global pandemic.Owing to these developments, the traditional university education and training methodology is no longer practicable all over the country and many parts of the world.
Students have gone back home to many different geographical locations and perhaps the only way our universities can reach out to their students will be to deploy Information Communication Technology (ICT) to optimize the learning environment as a panacea to the problem facing teaching and learning as a result of the global pandemic.
In Ghana, nearly all Universities (Public and some Private) have secured their Academic Boards blessings to complete the remaining weeks of the second semester via full e-learning mode of delivery instead of the traditional face-to-face method of delivery or in some cases the blended methods in use before COVID-19 related restrictions were imposed.
For the avoidance of doubt, blended learning environments are conceptualized as those settings involving, to varying degrees, both face-to-face interactions and the use of e-learning tools in the teaching and learning process.
This publication is an extract from a full Quality Assessment Report conducted to understand the challenges and concerns of students regarding e-learning since it was rolled out for all students and staff some weeks ago.
The researcher took the view that such timely feedback is important for the enhancement of participation of students in e-learning as it becomes the new normal mode of delivery of teaching and learning due to COVI-19. The report also examines the cost of internet connectivity and data burden on our students as well as their views on school re-opening.
Data for this publication was collected via online survey of 2670 students from the three streams of delivery in the Kumasi Technical University (ie. Regular, Evening and Weekend).
A structured questionnaire was designed to encapsulate the findings. The convenience sampling method applied in reaching our target population of students was satisfactorily efficient. IBM-SPSS version 25 was used to analyse the data collected. Tables and other figures were redesigned in Microsoft excel.
Reopening of Universities
This section represents views from participants in respect of whether or not the Government should allow schools to reopen soon. The pie chart below reveals that about 2474 of the respondents (representing 93.0%) across all levels and the various modes of delivery do wish that schools reopen soon.
Only 196 (representing 7.0%) of participants do wish that the shut down of schools should remain for a while. Those who wish school resumes soon have given full assurance to adhere to all COVI-19 safety protocols should school reopen.
This call from students makes it imperative for Universities' managements to visibly strengthen the various measures already underway to secure the campuses and Hostels of the university awaiting a possible partial or full reopening of schools for full face-to-face or a blend of the online and the face-to-face systems to resume especially for purposes of adequate revision and for standard examinations to be conducted.
The study reveals the problem of 23% plus poor internet connectivity at the various geographical locations of our students. So even as many Universities try to assist students with internet data, connectivity has remained a big hindrance to the full adoption of e-learning in our jurisdiction.
The researcher appeals to the Communication Ministry and allied agencies to as a matter of urgency ensure that the Telecom Companies expand network to all parts of the country.
Cost of Internet Data burden
Interpretation of the measures of location and spread for the section was limited to the median and mode for location, and the quartiles / percentiles for spread since those are the most robust measures in instances where data contain many strange entries or outliers as was the case in this particular cost data. Both averages, the median and the mode reveals that students spend up to Ghc 5.00 per each active e-class day to be able to participate actively.
This is confirmed by the spread measures (the 25th and the 50th percentiles). The highest reasonable amount, barring any unexpected strange entry was found to be Ghc 10.00 as estimated by the 75th percentile.
The plot below shows the amount spent on internet data per day as black line series 1, a trend line (orange) line and finally a two period moving average forecasting plot for the data (indigo line.)
Conclusion and Recommendation:
Many public universities are in session via e-learning. However, the full adoption of this system has been challenged by the absence of reliable internet connectivity and the cost of internet data.
Many universities have therefore strengthened their response mechanism in readiness for a partial or full reopening of university campuses. The 93% of our students who want school to resume soon have given full assurance to adhere to all COVI-19 safety protocols upon school reopening.
The researchers therefore recommend that the Government reviews the restrictions imposed favourably, especially on University campuses to pave way for adequate revision and for standard examinations to be conducted.
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