University of Rwanda (UR) has over the last one year relied on virtual learning platforms to teach students in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. Nonetheless, while this has generally been helpful, it has come with several challenges, according to students.
After the Ministry of Health announced on March 14, 2020 that Rwanda had registered its first coronavirus case, University of Rwanda and other learning institutions were soon ordered to send students back home and turn to e-learning platforms to continue with studies.
Until then e-learning platforms were barely an integral part of the day-to-day learning experience at the university.
“We hardly had prior experience learning online and it was hard to adjust because we were used to physical classes where we interacted with lecturers and other students,” said Gloria Tuyishime, from UR’s School of Journalism and Communication.
She said that often times the online system froze, urging authorities to look into the issue.
Moise Bahati Mugisha, former UR student, said: “I started using UR’s e-learning platform well before Covid. I think at the time it was still under trial with lecturers uploading assignments and we had to write and submit our answers via the platform.”
“There are several challenges with online platforms though; for instance, you can miss classes when you have problems with the internet. You also lose the assistance that you often get from your lecturer during physical classes.”
Gad Kwizera, a law student in level three shared his experience with e-learning stating “It really helps but requires too much discipline that even contributes to understanding the subject very well”. He ensures that it has much benefits other than queuing for the bus going to school which results in being late and it is a sort of time management, according to him.
Her classmate , Gisele Igizeneza didn’t go far from the opinion too. “ E-learning get things less complicated as long it doesn’t require you to make long journey heading to the campus, it really helps though challenges may be encountered but generally it is very useful”
Amongst more than 20 students that were interviewed by Kaminuza Star, many of them showed that the inconvenience that sometimes occurs on the website where at the situation, access is hard, is the general challenge they both mentioned.
However, officials in charge of the online system at the UR said they were unaware of any particular technical issues.
“The e-learning platform runs well, we use it every day, almost seamlessly,” said Leon Ntabomvura, a member of the technical team in charge of the system. “Unless there are individual cases that haven’t been brought to our attention.”
He called on students to not hesitate informing authorities whenever they encounter challenges accessing or using the online learning system. “It’s every student’s right to alert (the university) whenever they are having a problem with the online platform.”
E-learning platforms are expected to remain a key part of the UR learning infrastructure even as the varsity gradually resumes physical classes in all of its campuses across the country.