- Background Noise, High data consumption, poor network connection top complaints
While high rate of cellular data consumptions by the Android applications remains a source of concern for many, as amongst other complaints earlier reported, a handful of other students have palpable displeasure trying to configure, navigate and interact with the interfaces of these platforms, UCJ-UNILORIN findings reveal.
Since the commencement of the digital learning system in the university, diverse experiences have been recorded by the students, especially as it has to do with adopted platforms by different lecturers for different classes. Our investigation shows that in about 15 different faculties in the university, each faculty —and so as its departments— has its preferred and adopted platforms.
In the faculty of Agriculture, those who spoke with UCJ-UNILORIN stated that the faculty is currently adopting Google Classroom. Although, while their experiences differ in their interactions with the android application, they however have a uniform complaint – high rate data consumption.
The Faculty of Education, said to be the second most populous faculty, according to our findings, is engaging students with Moodle Application. The point of concern for the majority of those interviewed was that interacting with the platform is a bit cumbersome as many complained of abstruct disengagement during the class periods. This, according to other accounts, is as a result of the high demand of the internet connectivity strength. “Aside from the high rate of data consumption, it also requires a great deal of standard network”, a student of the faculty told UCJ-UNILORIN.
“Moodle app is a bit more complicated than platforms like Google meets and zoom that our colleagues have been exposed to. However, our lecturers have risen to the occasion by being flexible in their mode of impacting knowledge”, Another student of the faculty said.
For the Arts and Humanity students, platforms differed by departments and courses. According to different students in different disciplines, the faculty adopts diverse platforms. Aderemi, 400 level, English, said the choice of platform is “based on what the lecturer finds convenient; some use Telegram, some WhatsApp while some use Google Classroom. So it varies, however it has been indeed fun and I see it as a good development”. HabeebuLlah, Islamic Studies, 400 level, stated that he has, alongside other colleagues “been having classes via virtually all the recommended platforms: Zoom, Google Meet, Google Classroom, WhatsApp and Telegram”.
“I don’t know the exact platform the faculty adopted, this is because we have been engaged via different platforms – Zoom, Google Meet, Google classroom and Telegram”, said another student of the faculty.
As for the Arts, so seems the experience with the students of the faculty of Social Sciences. “Zoom, Google Classroom and Telegram have been the constant platforms we receive lectures.”, said a student of the faculty.
“One difficulty that recurred at the beginning of our virtual classes has been the challenge of lecturers trying to figure it out. It seems they are not familiar with these platforms. After they’ve figured it out, their networks disappoint them too.
“Students too aren’t doing better, they leave their microphones unmuted and disturb the class with their background. Many students have also complained about their networks failing and logging them out of the class.”, a source spoke to us.
Coming from another student of Life sciences, he said: “I just want my fellow students to realize that as students like them, we’re also experiencing the same problem facing them and we can’t be insensitive to our collective plight, we’ll continue to mount pressure on the necessary stakeholders to ensure that these issues are resolved.
“And it’s more or less a market, seems we aren’t orientated yet on how to use the platform, we made use of zoom and most of the students did not mute their microphones”, a student from Physical Sciences, also shared.
UCJ-UNILORIN observes it live!
In one of the virtual classrooms monitored by UCJ-UNILORIN on Wednesday, it was observed that the platform gives peculiar experiences to each participant of the lecture.
For instance, on the resumption of class for the 300 level students of Aquaculture and Fisheries, the lecturer initially complained of low turnout of the student saying “only 21 students are online”; he later requested from the online students if the class should continue or not to which those online, chorosly answered affirmatively.
15mins into the lectures, it was observed that the class became totally silent for about another 7 minutes except for a few of Students who could communicate as there was no sound coming from the lecturer’s end again. However when intermittently the sound came through, it would not be long before it went silent again. For the first one hour into the lecture, more than 30 minutes was the period of silence. This observation was made on Google Meet.
Aware of his disconnection, the lecturer went to the WhatsApp page and announced that he could not hear the students responses.
“For more than twenty minutes I have been talking and…(again silence took over)”, he said when he was connected to the audiovisual platform yet again.
For a lecture programmed to run for 2hours, starting by 12noon, “have a nice day” was the last thing faintly heard from the lecturer’s end at about 1:03pm, while a couple of students also intoned: “this lecture was just a waste of time”.
What our poll reveals
At the weekend, UCJ-UNILORIN conducted a serial online poll to gauge the opinions of the students and other privileged public on the just introduced e-platforms of learning in the school. The poll sought opinions based on the frequencies of the similar subject of concern for the students.
According to the poll on the major problems student contend with while on virtual platform, while a handful of them commented the high rate of data consumption, about 50% of a well above a hundred responders maintained that virtual class coordination is a big issue; 27% polled that poor network is a source of concern for them. This is to say that virtual experiences to the majority had been with admixture of noise infiltrations from many ends of virtual class participants thereby drastically reducing the efficiency of the platform.
Would the students prefer virtual learning systems to the physical system? Our poll reveals that a well above 50% of the poll participants would appreciate the conventional system to the digital platforms. This is in line with another poll that put virtual class personal experiences of the students to be mind-numbing when compared with nothing.
On the best platform to have the best virtual e-Learning experience, ironically, of well above two hundred participants, 43%, representing the larger population, preferred Zoom platform to Microsoft Teams (12%), Google Classroom (24%) and Google Meet (21%).
The earlier positions of the Management
Earlier before the formal commencement of the virtual learning, the school authority, in a special radio session aimed at sensitizing the publics – student populace and the lecturers alike – on the new developments on the campus, the academic calendar and enquiries round the virility of the virtual classroom initiative explained the modalities with which the management had expected every concerned individual to follow in the course of interacting with the new system.
The program tagged: ‘Table-talk Program’, an audience participatory program, monitored by our reporter, hosted live the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academics, Professor Sylvia Malomo and the Director of Computer Services and Information Technology (COMSIT), on the 6th and 7th of January, respectively, on the university’s radio network, Unilorin FM.
Questions were however answered regarding those who by one means or the other are experiencing some forms of digital divide, like in the case of Adam and others in his shoes as reported. In response, the DVC and Co. inter alia stated that “as regard to data (subscription and consumption) if students are physically present in school, they will have to pay for house rent, transportation, food and other monetary needs. So since they will be having online class, parents are advised to divert all this money to get their wards Data”
“(also) depending on the accessories used, whether tablet, phone or a computer, it consumes different amounts of data. Use the one you are comfortable with. We understand that issue about interference in network, and you may not be able to fully participate in class, you may go back and recover that missed classes and lectures
“For those who do not have a phone or laptop, large screens have been provided in some places. Students who come on campus can go to receive lectures by following up their lecturers on the large screen. The places for these large screens however only accommodate fifty students in adherence to the covid-19 protocols.”