Hitches in the online systems deployed by tertiary institutions to run examinations in the wake of COVID-19 conditions have forced some major decisions by the schools.
The University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), for instance, has accepted to rerun the exams for final year students who could not access the online platforms due to challenges with internet service.
While some of the students have described the process as friendly and fair, others said unreliable internet services had made the process frustrating.
In the midst of the difficulties that some students face, the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) has proposed that “that instead of exams or quizzes, a student could be given an assignment where he or she can research in a 24-hour time frame to submit to ease the frustration with the internet service.
“Thankfully, institutions such as the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) adopted that process,” NUGS President, Mr Isaac Hyde, told the Daily Graphic.
“One of the key challenges with this online education is accessibility to the system, and basically that is about the network and sometimes ensuring that students have access to appropriate devices,” he added.
Indeed, institutions such as the Ashesi University and the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), have conducted the online examinations already, while the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ), University of Ghana, Legon and the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) are still running their exams.
The online processes allow students to log into the relevant school system with their ID.
The student usually has between an hour and two hours to answer mostly questions that came with answer options, and once the student starts work, he or she is automatically timed. The system goes off automatically when the time is up.
If the answers are submitted within the time, the results are made available to the candidate immediately.
Some students said although the questions required simple answer options, they required deep thinking to get the answers right.
A number of students said it was fair because it did not provide an avenue for cheating.
A level 100 Actuarial Science student at the UPSA, Mr Elikplim Agbanyo, described his first ever online exams experience as “shaky”.
“We go onto the virtual platform provided by the school to access questions and submit answers back on the platform within 48 hours, at least with this first course I did not experience any internet disconnection,” he said.
“Even though the school’s virtual platform is free and does not require data, my course is more practical and the slides and assignments we were given were ones that required a lot of online research and data bundle which I had to purchase,” he said.
No room for cheating
Some students of GIMPA said contrary to speculation, the process did not give room for cheating.
A second year diploma student, Ms Alexina Elaine Adja-Cudjoe, who took part in an Organisational Behaviour course online exam, said: “Initially I was scared that the platform was going to be jammed because of the number of students from two classes that had to partake in that exam from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.”.
“You cannot even discuss with a mate even if you are with others because the time runs so fast; it won’t allow for that,” she said.
GIJ’s slow network
Some first year Diploma students at the GIJ expressed concerns over slow network and the time questions had to load once they logged into the school’s portal.
According to the students, once they logged in they had to spend about 15 to 20 minutes waiting for the next question to load even while the timer read.
Mawusi Asare said she experienced network problems anytime she had a paper and was unable to finish all 60 questions with answer options.
“I have six more papers and so far it has been difficult completing within the time given because of slow network, so I just answer what I can,” she said.
Schools have closed since March 16, 2020 as Ghana recorded some cases of COVID-19, with tertiary institutions resorting to online tuition.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on May 31, 2020 announced the easing of restrictions to allow final year tertiary, senior high and junior high school students to return to school starting from June 15, 2020.
Source: Daily Graphic
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