In his hand was a t313 model (torchlight) Tecno phone. He was on a call when this reporter approached him – his voice still carried some harshness, and his face was taken over by disappointment.
“of course, as you can see, I have been taking part in the virtual classes”, he said this while disgruntledly flaunting his semi-internet enable Tecno phone, a gesture to mock his predicament and to pour his subtle anger, though in mild manners, on our reporter.
Adam would later share with us the reason for his initial near-me-not look: He is a 400 level *agricultural science student and a self-sponsoring student; the sudden switch to digital learning platform by the university at a time when he cannot command a functional android phone is really taking a toll on him. He has not been attending virtual classes, and according to him, “loads of assignments and readings have been done in the last one week the school resumed its virtual classes and I’ve not been part of any.”, he said with a visible pain in his voice.
Abisola, a 300 level Finance student, shared with us a story which is not so un-similar to Adam’s. Although she has a functional android phone, however the high rate of data consumption has been a great source of worry for her. “My experience has not really been fair. The cost of data and data consumption on these (android) Apps we use in the course of our online classes is too expensive.”, she recounted but not too long after Medina, a 500 level Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering student shared with our reporter her experience thus far: “the data consumption by the platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Meet are too large…I have only few megabytes left, I have to do a new subscription now if I am to attend other classes today”. Medina had said.
Shukrah, a 100 level Agriculture student lost her track while trying to configure and incorporate her studentship details into one of the Applications her department adopted for the e-Learning experience. Showing this reporter the interface of the Microsoft Teams, she tensely asked: “how can I solve this problem?”
Shukrah is not only one with this predicament. *Saidat, a microbiology 300 level student also recounted: “I’ve downloaded three different Apps, all because of virtual class! At the end of it my data finished. I did not gain anything. I couldn’t attend two classes yesterday because I was unable to connect; they said because the class is full – this is when only three quarters of the class have not had access to the class”, she recounted via WhatsApp chat with a lot of crying emoticons.
What Saidat said wasn’t any different from Faith’s experience. According to her, “(initially) I haven’t been able to access Microsoft Teams and about four of my friends face the same issue. I have opened the student Gmail but a code said to be sent to me failed. Eventually when the code came, I tried to do it again, but it has been saying error, that my g-mail isn’t on the organization’s database”. But for *Bimbo, Mathematics, 300 level, “other social media platforms, such as Telegram could be adopted by the lecturers for online class. This kind of platform would assist students with minimal data usage, ease interactions between lecturers and students and make it easy to retrieve notes and documents. (Using an audiovisual platform) will make the class more like the market. It seems we are not yet oriented on how to use these platforms. We use Zoom and most of the students did not mute their microphones. And before I could eventually join, I was logged out three times with the claim that the address was having another meeting”, she added.
For Abdulsomad, Law, 400 level, “I’ve been to only one virtual class. It was taken on Telegram. It was interesting via chatting. Though not really special and it lacks the physical representation of a class. Also data is the main issue for those using video interfaces for their classes. Even lecturers are lamenting about the high rate of data consumption.”
- Regardless, the experiences are worth it – Student leaders express optimism
Meanwhile, leaderships of some student unions in the school have admonished their fellow students to continue enduring any hardships they might be encountering, weighing that the new system provides better alternative to learning system and that considering the prevailing nature of thing in the country and globally, introduction of the new learning system is best way to go.
Talking to us, the immediate past president of Ilorin University Medical Students Association (ILUMSA) said the development is a welcomed one. In his word, “It is an opportunity for the university to build its online resources and library. Recording lectures and uploading them on accessible (facilities) will help a lot of students who may have network problems or cannot meet up with the class at the time.”
Also, a onetime Senator from the faculty of Social Science expressed optimism with the new system. According to him, “As far as you have never experience it before, it will never be easy. And that’s the psychology behind things like this. Bus going forward, all parties involved will adjust and you will later see that it is more efficient and cost saving than going to school for physical classes. Besides, Covid-19 are still increasing. So it is an opportunity to innovate or stay at home doing nothing till the coast is clear.”
President of the Senate council, Titiloye David, also enjoined the student populace to consider the new system as a redefining one saying “it provides a true test for our abilities to surmount challenges as administrators and individuals in respective fields.”
“Albeit the challenges, I believe the virtual learning is a good initiative, although it ought to have come sooner. However one of the positive aspects of COVID-19 era is that it has brought out the ingenuity and innovative ways in us all, either as individuals or institutions.
“The challenges should however be quite understandable bearing in mind that no one prepared ahead for a time like this, this being said, I believed it is a redefining moment which provides a true test for our abilities to surmount challenges. I also have the faith in the capacity of the school management to tackle these challenges as they arise.”