The National Inspectorate Board (NIB) of the Ministry of Education has taken a bold step towards boosting and institutionalising Electronic Learning (E-Learning) in the country following the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the closure of schools with the development of National E-Learning Guidelines for Pre-Tertiary Schools.
The guidelines provide guidance on how schools can design and implement e-learning approaches to ensure continuity of learning outside the traditional classrooms.
E-learning is the act of acquiring knowledge through the utilisation of electronic technologies to access educational curriculum outside of a traditional classroom.
This is normally done through learning management system (LMS) either hosted by the school or free to use sites on the internet. The LMS is a software that is used to administer, track and report on lessons.
According to the guidelines, many schools in Ghana were now using different LMSs to support effective delivery of teaching and learning, especially during disruptions of traditional classroom lessons.
“E-learning as a new paradigm has become a very effective way of connecting with learners outside the traditional classroom setting to ensure the continuity of teaching and learning. It can be used to engage most learners who cannot attend school or serve as a way of engaging them during vacations.
“Additionally, it can serve as an effective learning platform to develop all types of skills we desire to equip our learners with. Although it can be expensive to host a School Proprietary LMS, there are readily free open-source e-learning platforms that schools can benefit from,” the guidelines said.
“The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic presents an opportunity for private and public pre-tertiary schools to implement e-learning programmes to ensure that teaching and learning continues while learners are at home.
Beyond this pandemic, schools are encouraged to ensure the continuity of the use of E-learning programmes which offer opportunities for flexible learning when needed.
“To this end, the National Inspectorate Board has issued this e-learning guideline for schools that may wish to take advantage and implement either a commercial or free open-source, installed or a cloud-base learning management system,” the Executive Secretary of the NIB, Dr Haggar Hilda Ampadu said.
She noted that the board felt the need, as a regulator of the industry, to develop guidelines to help schools which wanted to deliver learning and teaching online.
“The guidelines are to serve as a guide since there are certain things that we expect schools to follow,” she said.
Dr Ampadu underscored the need for parental guidance of children that would be using electronic or digital devices to go online for studies.
“In order for children to sit at home and not be doing anything, doing something is better than nothing. Parental guidance; setting up firewalls on your computer and adopting safety guidelines to ensure that children do not go to websites they are not supposed to visit,” she said.
Pre-tertiary education has recorded many strides in the quality of teaching and learning in the country’s traditional classroom and is advancing towards the effective incorporation of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in the delivery of lessons.
In recognising this advancement in education systems in other jurisdictions, government, in 2008 introduced the ICT in Education Policy to enable schools enhance teaching and learning through the use of ICT.
Dr Ampadu, therefore, encouraged all school leaderships to take up the challenge and move in the direction of e-learning, all with the goal of ensuring our children continue to enjoy quality education.
“In the guidelines, we stated that we expected that schools would continue to offer some form of online learning so that in the event there is any kind of crisis and we can’t access classrooms like we are doing now, then we have the e-learning system to fall on,” she said.
The NIB was established under the Education Act 778 of the 2008 Education Reforms.
The Act mandates the board to set up inspection panels to undertake inspection, to evaluate teaching and learning periodically and to set and enforce quality standards in public and private pre-tertiary institutions in Ghana.