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Day One Difficulties With Virtual Learning System

BUT president Belinda Wilson.

BUT president Belinda Wilson.

By LEANDRA ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

lrolle@tribunemedia.net

THE first day of virtual school was plagued with several challenges for some public school students and teachers who were unable to access the Ministry of Education’s virtual learning system yesterday, according to Bahamas Union of Teachers president Belinda Wilson.

In a statement to The Tribune yesterday, Mrs Wilson said despite the lessons of last year, education officials have yet to learn from their mistakes and heed the advice of the union concerning the reopening of schools.

Her comments came hours after education officials told reporters its online learning platform was operating “quite well” and had not experienced any systematic issues as was seen last year.

“Today is the first day of school and we are returning in the virtual modality. We have our LMS (learning management system) and EMS systems functioning quite well to what we know,” Education Director Marcellus Taylor said at a press conference yesterday. “I have not been advised of any glitches and I’ve spoken to my colleagues who are dealing directly with that up to 9.30 am so we are confident that things are going quite well. At this point, as far as we know things are going quite well.”

However, the BUT president dismissed those comments yesterday, saying the platform still remains inadequate and ineffective more than a year later.

She claimed some teachers and students were unable to access the Ministry of Education’s virtual learning system on the first of the new school term, despite officials saying the process went smoothly.

Because of this, Mrs Wilson said educators had to resort to alternative measures to teach students for a consecutive year.

“Despite the rhetoric from Minister Jeffrey Lloyd, on day one the virtual platform is still not working. After 18 months of pontificating, the Ministry of Education learning management system is still inadequate,” she said.

“Teachers and students on the first day of school could not get onto the platform. Teachers and students do not have passwords. Teachers do not have their class lists, many have not been given laptops and internet access at schools are non-existent or inoperable. Administrators are frantically trying to key in students’ names, classrooms and personal information.”

She added: “Some of the tablets that were given to students still need to be upgraded so they are compatible with the Ministry of Education’s platform. So today, day one August 30, 2021, teachers have resorted again to using Zoom and Google classroom and other educational virtual platforms.

“The BUT impresses upon the Minister of Education to please stop talking. Cut the rhetoric and try to put together an efficient LMS. Enough time and enough money has been wasted. The children of our nation are being negatively impacted.”

When contacted for an update yesterday, Mr Taylor maintained that challenges experienced by teachers were not because of system issues. He said there may have been instances where students could not access the platform because they either forgot their log in passwords among other reasons.

“It’s not a systematic problem,” said Mr Taylor. “In some instances, some students may have forgotten their passwords or one or two of the administrators may not have assigned the teachers to a class yet. Last year, we had an issue where the system had trouble accommodating people logging in at the same time, but that kind of problem, we didn’t experience any of that today.”

Public schools opened in a virtual learning format this year due to rising COVID-19 cases in the country.

Mr Lloyd has previously said officials will continue to closely monitor the changing situation to determine when it is safe for students to return to campuses.

However, if infection rates continue and the public healthcare system remains overwhelmed, the education minister said it is likely that online learning will be the dominant model of instruction for the new school year.

Comments

John 8 months, 4 weeks ago

When I went away to college for the first time, registration for the first time was probably my biggest nightmare. Nothing seemed to work out. Classes were either full, canceled or rescheduled at different times. Lines were long and seemingly the only classes open and available were those you didn’t need or ones other students advised against taking because of the professors. But amongst the confusion there were both students, advisors and others who realize you were lost in the maze and rather than stand back and criticize they offered help and assistance. If the system is broken, help fix it. At least try.

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ohdrap4 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Things were simpler under before virtual learning.

If there is a problem with the IT, mostly only IT personell can fix it. The teachers can only report.

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