CHRONICLES OF ONLINE CLASSES

2020, the year the world almost stopped

The Advent Of Online Classes: How It Started, How it is Going.

One thing we do know is, if the world were to stop rotating on it’s axis, chaos would ensue. In 2020, the world didn’t stop rotating but it came very close to.

For a couple of months, everything was shut down on a global level, whether you admit it or not, the pandemic was a catalyst for some major crisis and catastrophes we experienced and are still experiencing in 2021.

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As a biologist, I’ve been conditioned to look at the world from a certain angle. I considered the global pandemic and couldn’t help but compare the world to a living cell.

I knew from experience that if certain organelles stopped working within the cell, it would die. I also knew that in times of stress or extreme conditions, a cell would develop attributes that would help it overcome it’s current limitations, ensuring it’s survival. This is referred to as adaptation and like a cell, I watched the world adapt to the pandemic.

…course reps removing their lecturers from class groups during lectures just because they can, I saw a student get an instant carryover for swearing in a class group on WhatsApp.

In a period where physical contact was restricted, we adapted by going virtual to maintain communication. Businesses went virtual, we saw virtual stores, virtual supermarkets, virtual work environments, education also went virtual.

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The world found a way to move forward, despite the pandemic and long periods of lockdown. But not everyone managed to move forward, as most of us know, the educational system in my country (Nigeria) suffered a major setback and took us for a cruise, literally.

ASUU constantly going on strike actions

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) embarked on an indefinite strike at the beginning of 2020, a few weeks before the pandemic hit the world on a global level.

As students, we expected we would move on with the rest of the world, but we sat back and watched the Union and the Federal Government butt heads, playing a game of cat and mouse with our education.

After 9 months, almost a year! The Union and the Government resolved their issues and tertiary institutions were reopened all around the country.

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It took some universities a month to adopt an academic calendar, after so many revisions, and fix a date for resumption.

On the first day of resumption in my school, I saw an influx of students, many of them happy to be in school, tired of staring at the four walls of their parents’ home for so long.

They flocked into their classrooms, only to be told that due to the emergence of a new strain of the virus and the still rising cases of CoVID-19 in the country, the NCC and NCDC expressed concerns for students returning to school.

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Considering the fact that most institutions were not equipped to take in students to learn, while still adhering to the laid down COVID-19 guidelines.

There was an emergency meeting where the academic stakeholders decided that all classes would go virtual with immediate effect.

After 11 months, our educational institutions decided to adopt virtual learning when the rest of the world was far ahead of us.

Whatsapp update of a very anxious student

During that first week, I watched students run around like headless chickens, utterly confused on what to do.

Students worriedly chatting on Whatsapp after an assignment was to be submitted via the comment section of Twitter

Some did not have smartphones, some were meeting virtual platforms for the first time, with no idea on how to navigate their features.

Complaint from a student finding it difficult to operate Telegram

Others didn’t have the internal storage space to download these applications on their phones on such short notice — students were expected to have at least three to five applications, depending on what caught the lecturer’s fancy, the stakeholders never decided on a particular platform to use.

A student laughs about those who were not on Twitter, after an assignment was shared on Twitter

What about the issue of data bundles, subscription and network availability? There was a rumour of the school opening a fast, free, internet channel for students.

This is week three and there is still no word concerning the matter. I watched students fight for charging stations because of battery life for online classes.

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Some days, there was no power supply on or off-campus, double trouble. For the first time, some people discovered how to use their emails, because of assignments.

Students weren’t the only ones having issues adapting to the virtual world, it was worse off for some their lecturers.

I saw a whole class, consisting of two departments, come online for a class and spend two hours waiting for their lecturer to begin the class. He didn’t attend his, because his system was low, no power supply to charge his system.

Or the time a lecturer conducted a lecture through zoom, his microphone was on mute without him realising it. When his students called his attention, it took another half-hour for him to find the mic and turn it on.

Another time when a lecturer locked three quarter of his class out of his Google classroom. Remember, there are time limits on these invites to groups. If your data connection is slow and you’re a second late, you’re done for.

Most stories I’ve witnessed, others I’ve heard, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Course reps removing their lecturers from class groups just because they can.

A student replies to another on the Whatsapp platform which also contains the course lecturer

I’ve seen a student get an instant carryover for swearing in class group.

The Course lecturer grants the student a Carry-Over instantly

What about time for tests? A whole drama of its own, students learning how to use Google forms and other platforms to write tests, if you snooze, you lose.

Like I said, most students miss out because of slow internet connections.

I’ve seen a lot, I mean, if students came to school with only a notebook and pen before the pandemic, they’re coming to school with only phone and earpiece now.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I cannot laugh alone, bringing about the birth of this mini series — The Chronicles Of Online Classes, coined from real experiences of students.

Meanwhile, if you’ve got any tips to surviving post CoVID-19, please do share in the comment section. If you also do have any tip for the students, don’t leave without commenting, they need your counsel.

Chelsea Brown is an undergraduate student of the University of Port Harcourt. An Evironmentalist, avid reader of mystery and psychological thrillers, as well as a professional content writer and fiction writer, with her debut novel featured on Webnovel.

A writer of short stories which have ranked top ten in various writing competitions.

The Chronicles Of Online Classes is Chelsea Brown’s first blog post, borne out of the challenges new and returning students in Nigeria face when confronted with the innovative learning technology in the era of CoVID-19.

You can contact Chelsea Brown on Twitter with your personal experience on the subject of online classes.

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