GTUC out to improve online learning

The Ghana Technology University College (GTUC) has rolled out an Emergency Remote Teaching (ERT) process, a novelty to further improve online teaching and learning, particularly for faculty members.
Vice President of the GTUC, Professor Isaac Abeku Blankson

The Emergency Remote Teaching is more suitable for periods such as the closure of tertiary institutions due to the COVID -19 pandemic and requires craft and guile, both of which have had very little time investment. It is particularly suitable for institutions with low technology-enhanced learning (TEL) capabilities.

It is being implemented by GTUC’s Centre for Online Learning and Teaching (COLT), in partnership with other universities such as the University of Coventry in the United Kingdom, Anhalt University in Germany, Ramaiah University in India and Aalborg University in Denmark.

Speaking to the Daily Graphic in an exclusive interview at GTUC Koforidua campus, the Vice President of the GTUC, Professor Isaac Abeku Blankson emphasised three main components of the new learning and teaching process which he said had become necessary due to the outbreak of the coronavirus ( COVID -19) and the consequent forced closure of tertiary educational institutions in the country.

Appropriate technology                                                                                                                                                                                            Professor Blankson indicated that lecturers or faculty members should not overwhelm students with too much material, especially avoiding long videos lasting an hour but settling on 10-minute videos with vibrant contents.

Monotonous reading by lecturers, according to Professor Blankson, must be avoided while due attention must be paid to the quality of the video and audio.

He further explained that short audio clips to give feedback via WhatsApp, zoom conferencing and regular channels such as emails or even within Turnitin can give students quick feedback on the go.

Such channels, Professor Blankson said could also be used alongside the institutional learning management systems (LMS) like Moodle, Blackboard and Sakai.

Instructional material
According to him, since remote teaching practices are different from the traditional classroom teaching and learning, uploading power point notes into LMS might not be effective and that those new to this teaching approach would require some adjusting period.

He referred to quality open educational resources from credible institutions available online for use of which faculty should explore as a guide in designing their online instructions. He gave an example of the University of Illinois Course-In-A-Box, a helpful resource for effective course design.

Student’s duty
Delving deep on instructions, Professor Blankson called for a well-designed and structured online class, a I-pager for example, detailing what topics and in which format (group discussion, online quiz among others) as well as timeliness for students and always giving enough time (depending on the task) for students to complete tasks.

Regarding assessment, the university don explained that it can be done using e-portfolios such as Evernote or Mahara which enable students to track their own progress while lecturers teaching large classes as in the case of Ghana can group their students to work collaboratively online.

On cheating, he stated that such an issue could be addressed with pre-emptively using LMS randomised and timed multiple-choice questions) as well as proctoring systems that alert and disconnect students as soon as they try to look up for an answer online.

Given the emergency that has forced many institutions to go online, Professor Blankson pointed out that student and faculty feedback is critical to streamlining online teaching and learning and that institutions must listen to their faculty since they form a critical part of the stakeholders in the remote teaching process.

Dwelling on data, Professor Blankson was of the view that institutions must utilize data analytics to generate insights for improvement.

Such data, he said, could be generated from the LMS to know, for example the number of students participating in online discussions and the rate per task per student at the end of semester.

LMS, such as Moodle generates activity logs and reports per each student at the click of a button, he said.

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