Lack of e-learning policies in schools hinders progress

the herald

Chimururi Shepherd

Interactive Youth Correspondent

The lack of clear e-learning policies by schools is negatively affecting students and hindering the migration to blended learning which is at the heart of the government’s national e-learning strategy for schools in Zimbabwe, which must last until 2025.

Online learning policies and procedures are important because they help schools establish rules and procedures and create standards to improve the quality of school education.

Every organization needs internal policies and procedures to make sure everything runs smoothly.

A civilized learning environment requires students to have a clear understanding of what teachers expect of them and vice versa.

Lerato Gamuchirai, a first-grader at Christ Ministries High, said e-learning policies are a critical tool without which schools will lack the direction and commitment needed to safely acquire and use ICT gadgets. .

“Rules are needed to guide teachers as some of the online lessons during the Covid-19 lockdown were really bad.

“When I was in seventh grade, some gave their lessons with a lot of background noise. Sometimes you could hear people selling floor wax in the background, sometimes kids were screaming.

An e-learning policy has broad but necessary elements. Without the guidelines, teachers will have no standards, each going their own way with students working without a code of conduct.

An e-learning policy includes guidelines on student privacy, digital content quality and production stages, digital layout and dressing, assignment submission and feedback, emails and online discussions. online, obtaining technical assistance and office time, software standards and formats, teacher and student code of conduct, intellectual property rights and plagiarism, supervision and control, etc.

An e-learning program, although supposed to be a solution to pandemics and book shortages, will sooner or later become a problem in itself if implemented without stipulated guidelines.

Clemence Mushanga, a science student at Bright Stars College, said an e-learning policy must include requirements on gadgets.

“The policy should include guidelines on the type of hardware to purchase, software to install, and internet connection speed needed for e-learning.

“It’s hard to buy a laptop first and then be told it’s not compatible.

“A school should first assess its needs and the sustainability of running a chosen learning management system before directing students to purchase laptops. Affordability by parents should also be considered. taken into account.

Mushanga said, “Schools must first list what they need. A digital library, communication tools for messaging and bulletin boards, collaboration tools such as online forums, diaries and electronic calendars, utility tools for creating content and finally the assessment and scoring are of utmost importance.

Without a policy, the school ends up buying so-called gadgets without considering the technical specifications and the benefits for the students. »

Foster Roberts, vice president of the E-learning and Computer education Trust of Zimbabwe (ECET), stressed that the school must have deliberate policies on the production of digital content.

“It is sad to see that most schools have no intention of developing and producing their own content, but are simply determined to use what they download from the internet.

“This requires a strong comprehensive training of teachers with various 21st century skills necessary for digital content production such as graphic design, editing and design.

“Our research also shows that developing prerequisite skills such as basic computer knowledge is vital. All students should be equipped with sufficient basic knowledge and skills for effective use of ICT. Monitoring and supervision is another key factor.

Unfortunately, at present, most leaders in schools, including the principal, deputy principal, department head, and head teacher, head teacher/lady, do not understand the fundamentals of learning. on line.

“In fact, many of them are computer illiterate.

“It makes it very difficult for them to cooperate and support teachers and students. Once the teachers find out the leader has technophobia, they relax knowing that no one will be around to supervise them and hold them accountable,” Roberts said.

Norma A. Roth