Until March 2020, no one dreamed of the dramatic impact of covid-19 on normal life. People went to school, visited the markets and banks to conduct business activities, and visited their places of worship. All these activities involved close face-to-face interactions between interactants with very little distance from each other.
When the government announced the country’s first covid-19 case in March, no one imagined it would have so much impact and define how we interact with each other.
To contain the pandemic, the government announced several measures including the closure of schools. At the University of Liberia, students, instructors, and school authorities were preparing to resume a new semester. After nearly 90 days of watching the situation and realizing an end was no where in sight, the University authorities took a decision to adopt online learning like most other universities. This would be the first time in the University of Liberia that teachers would be turning to technology to deliver contents to anxious students, most of whom lack basic computer and internet skills. Added to the worries is the burden of ignoring other survival needs to make sure electronic devices (I.e., mobile phones, tablets, laptops) get connected to the internet (i.e., buying recharge cards for internet data). For others, the decision would compel them to purchase the appropriate devices (e.g., smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc.) to get online.
Understanding the challenges that students would face, the University authorities consummated a deal with a local GSM company to give cheap data packages to students enrolling in the online learning semester. Even as students celebrated this news, many still worried about the lack of knowledge of the adopted eLearning technology or platform and how to access contents uploaded by teachers.
To address the latter concern and to ensure students of the Mass Communication Department are prepared for the new challenge, the department organized a one-day orientation in the use of the online learning management system (Moodle). The goal was to give students the necessary knowledge and competency to navigate the online platform to be able to access contents and undertake learning activities such as assignments, quizzes, and exams presented by teachers.
Later in the department’s Messenger chatroom, students would comment and say, “thanks for today’s experience”, “thanks for the knowledge today”, “many thanks today for the knowledge shared, it has lessened to a great extent the fear of this whole eLearning studies”.
we wish our students and faculties all the best as the entire university confronts the new challenge pushed upon the world by covid-19.