By Manuel Opoku Onyinah
E-learning is learning utilizing electronic technologies to access educational curriculum outside of a traditional classroom. In most cases, it refers to a course, program or degree delivered completely online. The introduction of computers was the basis of this revolution and with the passage of time, as we get hooked to smartphones, tablets, etc., these devices now have an importance place in the classrooms for learning. Books are gradually getting replaced by electronic educational materials like optical discs or pen drives. Knowledge is now being shared via the Internet, which is accessible 24/7, anywhere, anytime.
Over the years, E-learning in Ghana has been a challenge. Ghana is an emerging market for eLearning, however the country continues to lag behind developed economies in the effective implementation of eLearning.
For some weeks, after the President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo- Addo, announced the closure of our various institutions and the temporal lockdown, the nation’s educational system has automatically moved from the one on one style of education to this system called e-learning. This is because of the pandemic Corona viruse which has taken over many countries.
After the President’s address on the COVID-19, majority of the institutions in Ghana have introduced the e-learning system to ensure that students catch up with their lectures in order not to waste time or lack behind. Also, some senior high schools in the Eastern Region has also introduced the e-learning system to ensure that their students do not stay at home idle since the cases of the pandemic virus increases. The introduction of e-learning has so far been a major challenge for some students in Ghana since they weren’t introduced to this system earlier.
For many people, Africa is known for the poverty of the people, the high illiteracy rates, a lack of economic growth, civil wars, etc. But Africa has the youngest population of all continents, as ambitious as the others. Internet access in Africa varies from country to country, with the percentage of internet users in a given country’s population in some areas of Sub-Sahara Africa falling well below half. Ghana offers a fairly limited access to 3G networks in the main cities such as Accra, Cape Coast and Kumasi, but for basic internet connections, there are more than 140 ISPs (Internet Service Providers) in Ghana. Even as the market develops rapidly, internet access remains quite limited.
Introduction of e-learning in Ghana is a very important idea but the question is “do we have all the necessary material’s that e-learning requires?”
Let’s talk about the challenges associated with e-learning in Ghana.
Poor network: Almost all the Telco’s have problems with fast connectivity’s so it's difficult to follow through a lecture successfully without destructions. (network breakages). One major challenge in Ghana is that some of our service providers finds it difficult to grant access to the citizens all over the country. Up till now, some places in Ghana do not have access to internet due to network. Our internet service providers work best in some parts of the country and bad in different places as well. Internet service providers are strong in certain places in the country and less strong in certain This makes e-learning a challenge and prevents students from following throughout the session or the lecture.
Also, e-learning is costly in Ghana. This is because data bundle in Ghana it's quite expensive as compared to other countries. Majority of the students in the country find it difficult to access the internet because of how costly the data is in the country. Every service provider has its own style of giving out bundles. The affordable ones are limited to certain places in the country
.The cost of 1-gigabit broadband internet data in Ghana is more than Gh¢10 which makes it difficult for one to access the internet.
E-learning in Ghana is not strategic and lack interactivity. This is because all student text at the same time which makes following point uncoordinated. Majority of the students who have access to the internet text at the same time and those who have less access to the internet find it difficult to follow what is going on. Even if you have a question and your internet provider isn’t active, you may find it difficult in understanding a particular information which was disseminated on the platform.
Despite all the challenges of e-learning in Ghana, there are quite a number of advantages of e-learning to students.
Offers access to updated content
A prime benefit of learning online is that it makes sure that you are in synchronization with modern learners. This enables the learner to access updated content whenever they want it. Unlike one on one where students don’t follow or miss the lecture, online studies provide to updated content as in when the Lecturers updates the platform. Online learning websites like “Google Classroom” provides you with notification on your email when the Lecturer updates the platform.
Saves time as a student does not need to travel to the training venue.
You can learn at the comfort of your own place.
As compared to traditional classroom teaching method, this mode has relatively quick delivery cycles. Students don't have to walk all the way from their homes and to campus for lectures. A lot of training time is reduced with respect to trainers, travel, course materials, and accommodation. E-learning don't allow you to rent an apartment or the hostel and prepare for lectures as to when one has a lecture but with the e-learning you can sit at your comfort zones and have a lecture online.
Lectures can be taken any number of times
Unlike classroom teaching, with online learning you can access the content an unlimited number of times. This is especially required at the time of revision when preparing for an exam.
In traditional form of learning, if you cannot attend the lecture, then you have to prepare for that topic on your own; in eLearning, you can attend the lectures whenever you want with ease. (elearningindustry.com)
Due to the wide set of disadvantages it gives to students in Ghana, eLearning has its own advantages and has become quite popular and appreciated among students all over the world.
The writer is a Level 300 student of the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ).