Students across the world have been grappling with online learning, which has now become the only feasible method of teaching and learning as a result of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Online learning for MUT students has meant spending more time on Blackboard and Moodle, which are both Learning Material Systems (LMS) that are mainly being used to deliver online learning. MUT students can access for the LMS for free thanks to the zero-rating of data services by Cell C, MTN, Telkom and Vodacom. The platforms have been user-friendly for many students despite the occasional error messages when downloading documents.
For MUT Public Management student, Miranda Ngobese, Blackboard in particular has been her go-to site for online learning and the challenge that she often faces when trying to download learning materials has prompted her and her fellow students to think of solutions.
“We have a WhatsApp group class, but do not usually use it and it is only opened for admins to send through messages because once it opens everyone posts jokes and things that are not connected with academic work,” said Miranda. “So what we did was a few of us opened another small group for only individuals that are willing to learn only. There we exchange notes and send each other downloaded material for those who cannot download via Blackboard.”
This new WhatsApp group has enabled Miranda and her classmates not only to share study material but to also interact with one another regarding the course and how they could tackle issues raised in the course material. The group has become a virtual alternative that replaced “the actual interaction with the lecturers, engaging in face-to-face discussions and debates about a certain topic and being able to know how other students think and tackle questions from lecturers,” said Miranda. These are all the qualities of face-to-face teaching and learning that Miranda and her fellow classmates miss the most.
Miranda is hopeful that online learning will eventual move in a direction where all students could be in a virtual class at the same time. For now, having video-dominated material would enhance learning for students who learn better by seeing and listening to someone explaining.