By Bisade Ojoye
The Acting Director, Information and Communication Technology Resource Centre (ICTREC) of the University, Dr. Olutayo Ajayi has adjudged the ongoing virtual learning programme in the University as encouraging and so far successful. Giving his assessment, Dr. Ajayi said, “What we are experiencing is a ‘new normal’, occasioned by the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the ‘new normal’ has made us to understand that we have to follow COVID-19 non-pharmaceutical preventive measures by ensuring strict adherence to physical distancing. But for us to continue with our academic activities while still keeping to these guidelines is to do so virtually and by so doing, the University came to understand that we have to adopt a method”.
According to him, there were two methods that were adopted by the University. The straight Virtual Learning and the Hybrid Learning. “For the virtual learning, we took time to study so many of these applications that are in use and we adopted one which is the Google Classroom because it is an App, which was developed in the cloud and it takes a lot of infrastructure off the University, as it takes away the issue of power and network. Again, we adopted the Google Classroom because the App is very user-friendly, easily understandable and adaptable for our system”.
Dr. Ajayi disclosed further that the University realised that it cannot make all its courses virtual, as there are some courses that have fewer students, especially for students in the final year and would have to combine both the virtual and the onsite learning modes, which is called the hybrid learning. Speaking on some of the challenges being experienced as a new project, Dr. Ajayi said lecturers and students had to be properly trained to adapt to the new method by creating a learning programme that was placed online for them to go through. In his overall assessment, he said, “We know that we can cope and so far, we have made use of the limited resources we have to achieve this and the assessment I am getting from other stakeholders is that we can get an assessment of about 65 to 70 per cent pass mark for what we have done so far and I can assure that as we go on with this, we will get used to it. We will continue to learn and continue to get the best out of it”.
Speaking on the advantages of virtual learning, the Acting Director said a lecturer can be anywhere and deliver his/her lecture and does not necessarily have to be in the office, adding that this makes it easier to do powerpoint voiceover whereby lecturers can develop their lecture materials and speak to the PowerPoint slides. On the part of the students, he revealed that they can view a lecture over and over again unlike onsite lecture whereby when a lecture is delivered anyone who misses the lecture cannot have access to it again. However, Oluwapelumi Oyemade from the Department of Horticulture, College of Plant Science and Crop Production (COLPLANT), stated that generally, online lecture is a time and data-consuming programme. She blamed COVID-19 for ‘forcing’ schools to introduce the virtual class even though she still prefers physical lectures over online lectures while advising strict adherence the non-pharmaceutical precautionary measures.
Oluwakoyejo Oyewole of the Department of Soil Science and Land Management (COLPLANT) has lauded the University Management for organising virtual classes for students. He urged the University to work on the network platform so as to accommodate more students at a time. Ibukunoluwa Odegbami of the Department of Animal Nutrition, College of Animal Science and Livestock Production (COLANIM) advised students to read very well and access online lectures. Elias Akingbade of the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, College of Food Science and Human Ecology (COLFHEC) observed that online lectures were improving by the day and that there was room for improvement while commending members of staff of ICTREC for a job well-done.