Analysing the effectiveness of e-learning platforms used for teaching and learning amidst COVID-19 pandemic (A case of Kapasa Makasa and Copperbelt Universities
Chaamwe, Dr. Nchimunya
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Since the beginning of 2019, COVID-19 has wreaked havoc across the world and many critical sectors such as education have not been spared. According to the report by UNESCO, an estimated population of 800 million learners from around the world were affected as institutions of higher learning were forced to close premature as a measure to mitigate the spread of the pandemic. During this period, institutions were forced to shift from the tradition face to face mode of teaching and learning to e-learning. Various e-learning platforms were utilised by many institutions to ensure continuous learning. Prominent among these platforms included Google classrooms, Moodle, Astria e-learning, Zoom, Google meet among many other platforms. According to Association for Talent Development, (2020), there are different elements that make up an e-learning programme; these include live or pre-recorded lecture content, videos, quizzes, simulations, games, activities, and other interactive elements. It was however observed many learning institutions in the country that claimed to be offering e-learning were in the actual fact just using e-learning tools to support learners with reading contents and the administration of assignments. According to proponents of e-learning, the teaching and learning must be interactive, in that there is communication between teacher/ lecturer and pupils/students and certain sessions must be delivered live on the platform to allow learners to electronically raise their hands and interact in real time with their instructors (e-learningNC, 2020). Against this background, a study was conducted to analyse the effectiveness of e-learning platforms used for teaching and learning amidst COVID-19 pandemic at Kapasa Makasa and Copperbelt Universities. Each platform was analysed using a method called feature content analysis. The feature content analysis focused on analysing e-learning platform whether it is capable of offering recorded lecture content, videos, quizzes, simulations, games, activities, and other interactive elements that makes-up e-Learning platforms. The findings of the study revealed that, most of the platforms utilized by lecturers during this period of COVID-19 pandemic were farfetched from successfully delivering comprehensive virtual lessons. It was further established that, though some platforms such as Moodle and Zoom and Google-meet provides the ability for some interactivity, many lecturers still struggle to effectively utilize them. Based on these findings, the study recommended that deliberate measures should be put in place by the institutions to acquire and train their members of staff on how to use these platforms. It was further recommended that, university management at both institutions should compel their members of the academic staff to strive and get the basic skills needed to effective deliver their lessons using these platforms. In the same manner, students should be trained or provided with user manuals in order to allow them use the system properly during the much anticipated fourth wave of COVID-19.