Tertiary institutions in Abia have started the online teaching of courses to keep students busy during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown as directed by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.
NAN reports that Ikpeazu, before closing schools in Abia on March 17, 2020, had directed tertiary institutions to start online teaching of their courses to keep students busy while the break as a result of COVID-19 pandemic lasts.
The governor also promised to support the effort by funding the institutions to the tune of N10 million each to enable them carry out the project.
Some students who spoke to NAN in Aba on Wednesday confirmed the implementation of the directive.
According to them, the online classed have been on for three weeks using the WhatsApp platform.
Ujunwa Ayiam, a Third Year Nursing Student at the Abia State University, Uturu, said she is enjoying the online courses but urged the organisers to reduce the groups’ membership to only students offering the course.
Ayiam noted that reduction of the number of students on a particular lecture platform would reduce information overload on them and make surfing the platforms less cumbersome.
“The process is okay, but the organisation is faulty.
” I was thinking they could have made it in a way that every course will have its own group with only those offering it as members while the lecturers and course reps are admins.
“The current format of having everyone in a class in a single group is very problematic.
“The group is overloaded with Information and most times you see a voice note or a written note in a PDF form that you would require more data to open in order to find out if its contents concerns you or not.
“Honestly, it would have been wonderful if they had created a group each for every course (subject) or a group taking care of two courses only.’’
According to her, most of her classmates who reside in rural areas find it hard to download some of the documents uploaded on the platform.
“So many don’t even have data while others are complaining of battery drained phones and laptops,’’ she said.
Precious Okoli, a First Year Student of Mass Communication, Abia State Polytechnic, Aba , said that she was enjoying the online lectures because they keep her busy.
“It’s interesting in its own way; the whole students in Mass Communication department are in our group.
“You just make sure you’re always online because there’s no time table or expected date for lectures.
“Whenever a note on a course you are offering drops you just pick it because if you miss it, you’ll have to go through much stress to scroll up and down to find it.
“We do ask questions as well and the lecturers reply us both on the platform or via inbox.
“I like it although some are saying it’s stressful; everything is documented, no voice notes,’’ she said.
Some students who chose to be anonymous told NAN that some of challenges accessing the online classes include poor network service, lack of data, unstable electricity supply and lack of suitable phones and laptops.
These they said, also made some of their coursemates not to participate.
Dr Phillip Ntoo, the Rector of Abia State College of Education, Technical, Arochukwu and Mr Achor Elendu, PRO, Abia State University (ABSU ) both confirmed the implementation of the governor’s directive in their institutions.
They, however, were not specific in disclosing if their institutions had accessed the N10 million promised to aid the project.
When contacted, Dr Kanelechi Nwangwa, Abia Commissioner for Education, said that tertiary institutions in Abia had started the online teaching project as directed by the governor.
Nwangwa said: “The government provided them N10 million and I think they are working from there but since we found out that they were already individually involved in it, we allowed them to continue with what they had.
“Ordinarily, we should have taken over from there but because the institutions have some things on ground, so the best we could do was to allow them go on since the lockdown had stopped everything.
“Nobody is running any day to day official operations since that time; the opportunity of finding out could have been there if the offices were running .
“But for now, the schools are allowed to run the programme the way they had planned them.”
He, however, promised to look into some aspects of the programme to make it more effective.
“Most of these things came to us as a surprise. We didn’t have all the time to do all the planning.
“But now that we have seen these challenges, we will sit down and then start working on them because it was ad hoc and a backup they were thinking of.
“Now that it has become a main issue, we will consider all the impediments that will make it difficult for it to be successful.
“We will work on them and this power issue will certainly be one of them,’’ he said.(NAN)