General News of Friday, 26 October 2018
Some aggrieved students of the University of Ghana’s distance education unit are calling on the university authorities to improve their teaching and learning conditions.
According to them, the poor services rendered to them is unbearable.
Although their mode of study; distance education is to allow them to combine e-learning and face to face interaction mode of the learning, the reality according to them is completely different. They have thus threatened to embark on a demonstration to push the university authorities to do what is right.
In an interview, the students expressed their frustrations over lack of lecture halls, delay in the provision of learning materials, a non-functional online portal for registration and delay in the release of grades.
Uncomfortable lecture theatres
The students are unhappy about the discomfort due to the congestion in these lecture halls.
An open source learning management system (LMS), Sakai, that was created for the students for assignments is fraught with operational challenges.
“When we come for lectures, we are mostly overcrowded in the class. We do not even have a place to sit. Even lecturers don’t come on time. When we are going to take our Sakai online tests at the labs, there is no space. There are few computers that can’t serve a large number of students. We need more computers to ease the pressure on us.
The high cost of school fees
The students also claim the cost of tuition coupled with poor services rendered is taking a toll on their finances.
They accused lecturers of leaving them in the hands of ‘inexperienced’ teaching assistants.
According to one of the students, “We are not getting value for the fees we pay. The school fees is expensive, but conditions for teaching and learning are extremely poor. At times, we travel long distances for lectures and meet the class cancelled”.
“There are instances where we do not even see our lecturers throughout the whole the semester. The teaching assistants who teach us are also not up to the task, and it affects us during the end of semester examinations,” he added.
Challenges with online registration
The students who are expected to register for the academic semester said there are always issues with the online portal when the time for registration is due.
They also bemoaned instances where grades for courses they had taken for previous semesters are delayed unnecessarily or even not released.
“There are times the online portal for registration is not opened for weeks. And if you do not register, management tends to blame you for negligence. There are always delays, and they tell us different stories. Some of our grades are still not in. We have complained about it several times but to no avail”, a frustrated student disclosed.
UG distance education programme
The University of Ghana introduced the distance education module as a way of widening access to its academic programmes through technology-mediated learning.
The programme has over the years been revised to harness the potential of cutting-edge educational technology that will reduce the space between the lecturer and the distance learner.
In spite of these innovations, students enrolled in the programme are unhappy about how the module is run.