Live digital  classes at NUL

Live digital classes at NUL

ROMA-THREE National University of Lesotho (NUL) students have developed a brilliant learning platform that gives learners live class experiences.
With this system, students go to live classes, like they would in physical classes.

When they enter the digital classrooms, they find a whole new library of learning material and access to their classmates.
The system is a close-to-perfect way for students to survive the miseries of having to learn amid Covid-19.
“As a student, you are suddenly told to do online learning which is, in effect, a distant learning if we call it by its name,” says Reitumetse Sehloho, one of the students who developed the platform.

If you are a student, this is how you use the system called Educ, created by Sehloho and his team-mates, Tšepo Thamae and Thapelo Maraisane.
Now you can get into the system and test it here: educlms.trdesigners.com (please test it using these login details: Email/username: student01, password: 123456, just for testing).

Once in, the whole new world opens up.
What a world compared to the present “distant learning” way of doing things!
In the present way, you just find notes there waiting for you to read and, later, tests, assignments or exams, testing you on what you “might” have read.

If you are writing a test, according to Sehloho, “sometimes just moving from question one to question two is a problem as the system is “loading” forever. Such are the frustrations Covid-19 has forced us to endure.”
Some teachers prefer to put these things on WhatsApp and get the students’ work on emails.
But that doesn’t help much either because, “sometimes I had no data, no signal, my battery was off, dropped out of the group, and I didn’t see there was a test, an assignment or anything, some of which came with little to no warning or a predictable timetabling whatsoever.”

The point these folks are driving at is that the present tools we are using for what we call “online learning” are scattered at best, and frustrating to students and teachers at worst, and rightly so, “because they were not meant to provide online learning in the first place.”
Things are all over the place.
“Educ is different, it’s a one stop shop,” Sehloho says.

Once you are logged in and you have selected your course, you find that oops! you are in a classroom (like you are in a DTF or CTM if you know what we mean), clad with your classmates, and ability to chat to them, watch videos, discuss issues and so on.
The teacher is able to create a live video in which he can now start having live interactions with you using Zoom (or Zoom-like platforms).

Such platforms are embedded in this system and you even use them even when you don’t necessarily have their mobile app versions in your cellphone.
“That live interaction is key,” Sehloho says.
You find all necessary information about your course, put in an organised manner.

You know when you will have tests, quizzes or exams.
There are around 10 forms of assessments the teacher can use, including the traditional way of posting a test and getting written answers back, all on the same platform.
If your assessments happen online, you won’t faint because, “our system is designed to handle them seamlessly, without issues.”

If you missed a class, you don’t have to rely on your classmates to recount what was said in the class.
Rather, you play a recorded episode and there you go.
In fact, there is also a social media platform where you can even talk about things not related to the course—just to hang out with fellas in or outside of the classroom but within the university.

Why have these guys gone through all the trouble of creating this platform?
The coronavirus may be one of the smallest materials (living things) ever seen.
That hasn’t stopped it from forcing us into hiding, including hiding away from classrooms.
Unfortunately, many schools, even universities, were caught off-guard.
Platforms, which were used mainly for sharing materials online were suddenly called online learning platforms when schools found that there was nowhere to run to.

NUL, according to Sehloho and fellow developers, was not an exception.
“Within no time, we as students were confused enough to start complaining and soon enough, we were on strike, against the new method of learning,” Sehloho says.
“The lack of interaction with our teachers was the hardest pill to swallow.”
But these folks knew there was more than one way to tackle the challenge.
In fact, the most effective way was to search for a solution themselves.
He and his team knew they had to go beyond just complaining. Although students of Economics, they learned basics of Computer Science at college and, according to Sehloho, they put “tons and tons of hours into self-learning.”

They were right.
With time, Covid-19 is proving to be deadlier and physical interaction is proving impossible.
So, what a better place to run to than the Educ!
Yes, with proper planning and testing, it can be paid for, and used.
Why not contact the folks if you think they can help?

Own Correspondent

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