When the University of Liberia announced it introducing an online learning semester due mostly to the pandemic, both students and faculties freaked before adapting to the new mode of instruction and learning.
For many, it was like walking a minefield with no alternative route. And this they (instructors and students) did for roughly sixteen weeks. During final exams, students were asked to share their experience about their first online learning.
Below are some experiences shared by students: (We used pseudonyms since we did could not get consent from those whose views are shared here).
“My experience with the “Special eLearning semester” will remain one to think about. In the early days, it was like “will I make it”? Was it necessary to take the number of credit hours? Will I even understand the courses? These were some of the questions that sail through me. However, amidst all of the challenges, it was worth it, to be honest.”
“Oh yes, it had advantages for me, considering the distance I travel to go Fendall (the university campus). It made me save on transportation and took away the stress associated with commuting to campus every week. Did I not spend cash during the eLearning? I did, but far less compared to what would spend going to school every day and back. My new experience with technology was amazing. I learned new ideas, especially through different media or electronic platforms. Understanding communication through eLearning for me was just an added advantage. I think my Department Instructors were up to the task and they made the special semester an experience to always think about.”
“In all fairness, I missed the traditional (face-to-face) class. The face-to-face interaction with instructors and friends was greatly missed. Compared to face-to-face learning, it was difficult to get clearer explanations on some topics. Feedback from teachers was delayed and sometimes never came. Did I miss the noisy classmates? Oh yes! That makes learning exciting. At some point, the eLearning became boring. Poor and very slow internet added to the negatives of the semester. Even instructors had the same experience and could not upload contents on time. In one course, I could not access anything up to the end of the semester”.
“My likes about the E-Learning are:
It Saved me from the high cost of transportation considering how far I live from campus. Learning online saves you time in that you can work freely without having to worry about skipping job to attend lectures. This was especially true and wonderful for me since I have a very difficult boss at work”.
Unlike in the face-to-face learning when instructors gave less materials, some instructors in the online learning uploaded an entire book for students to download at high data cost. An additional challenge was with storage capacity on the phone. Downloading large files was not possible because my phone has low storage capacity.
On the overall, however, I think the experience was great and I personal thank the UL administration for introducing online learning. At least we didn’t have to sit doing nothing and wasting precious time. My department helped in making the experience less stressful”.
“Firstly, I want to thank the University of Liberia for taking the bold step to introduce eLearning.”
“Learning online gave students sufficient time to do other things and still go to school. More importantly for me, online learning forces students to learn independently. Students now had to read and comprehend by themselves without much input from teachers and this was good. It meant independently researching to find answers to questions”.
“My biggest dislike about the eLearning process is the high cost of data usage. Some phones, like mine, consume data very fast and instructors care very little about this.”
“The special e-learning semester had its ups and downs, some of the advantages included: cut in cost on transportation, the fight to get on a car or bus to get on campus, early rise from bed, etc. disadvantages include: high data cost, mediated, instead of physical, interactions with instructors and colleagues, etc.”