Beyond “carrots” and “sticks” of On-line Learning During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Case of Uganda Martyrs University
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Listening and appreciating the views of the academic staff and students is critical in a learning period characterised by abrupt changes in the mode of classroom delivery where the traditional classroom teaching and learning is replaced by virtual classes. This study explored the “carrots” and “sticks” of on-line learning experienced by both academic staff and students at Uganda Martyrs University in Uganda. The study used a qualitative research approach involving in-depth interviews for academic staff and focus groups with selected university students from three academic Faculties. The study results showed that both students and academic staff found on-line learning beneficial in terms of incurring reduced transport expenses and chances of getting infected with Covid-19 due to reduced physical mobility. Due to increased use of technologies, the participants became more innovative and conscious in time use during the teaching-learning process. However, the effectiveness of on-line learning was limited by the challenges of limited data, unreliable internet connection, failure to record lectures, few zoom links at Faculty level, limited class control, and unstable attendance by students. Results further revealed the challenges of time constraint for computational subjects, assessment challenge, limited skills and knowledge in using, limited consultations, and speedy lecturers. The results provide valuable information on the progress in adjusting to the demands of the “new normal” in higher education teaching and learning. Concerted efforts of institutional leadership, academic staff and students should be the norm especially in acquiring and using ICT Infrastructure to enable academic staff and students’ transit to the “new normal”.