When Desire Habarurema realised that home-coaching options in the neighbourhood may clash with protective measures to fight coronavirus, (it would likely require a group of students studying at the same time), he turned to online tools.
The 30-year-old high school teacher tells Education that he looked into some online tools and platforms, and with the help of IT specialists, started keeping up with his students while observing the government’s directives to fight COVID-19.
“Of course at the beginning of all this, as a teacher, I could not help but wonder how this academic year was going to be. I did not understand how I would survive at the same time do my job with passion. But I am so grateful that there are a number of digital resources to help us interact with students and keep up with this,” says Mugunga.
Elisa Niyonkuru, a software developer and an IT professional who has taken several courses with an online tutor, tells Education that it is very enjoyable and skilful.
“During my classes, I have particularly enjoyed a number of live quizzes that expose me to a wider platform, as opposed to competing with only a few classmates. I also get a private advisor who particularly knows my strengths and weaknesses, which boosts my work as all my weak areas have been identified.
“This also made me feel like things are normal; I never really take a lot of time to worry about going back to the school setting,” Niyonkuru says.
However, Habarurema is of the view that sometimes the only challenge faced is the expense of internet, or poor connection.
“You know the only problem is that students are not employed, therefore, sometimes you can miss helpful interesting online lessons due to no internet. So far, that’s the only challenge I have noticed.”
Habarurema is one of many teachers who found themselves out of work after schools and other public assemblies were directed to be temporarily closed in order to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus.
However, following the increased number of cases confirmed in the country and the prevailing challenges, the government extended the reopening of schools to September, 2020.
Resources for online coaching amid COVID-19
Unsure of when normalcy will resume, some teachers have already opted for online coaching tools.
For children, it might be fun to take a break from the school workload for a moment and enjoy TV shows. However, experts have raised concerns suggesting that there is an ultimate need to make sure students have someone privately following up with them to ensure they are on the right track.
According to Lonzen Rugira, an education expert, teachers ought to make good use of the online coaching materials, tools for fun and remote home-schooling in the face of the pandemic.
Software developers and educators share some of the resources recommended and designed for different purposes, such as online coaching platforms, e-books and directories, and short courses.
Zoom is a web conferencing tool. It allows instructors to easily convene online meetings with students, chat with or without video enabled, and deliver presentations while maintaining a good quality connection among all participants. Instructors can also poll students during the session and record videos that can be watched later.
Here, other video conferencing modes likes Skype and Google Meet can also be pursued.
Google Classrooms is an easy way to create an online educational environment. Google Classrooms are open to anyone with a Google account. Now every student can take advantage of this remarkable tool that makes education, training, and even outreach possible. So anyone can set up a classroom where students who wish can join the class and learn.
These classes are used by some Rwandan students carrying out training with iDebate Rwanda.
For coaches willing to use different techniques with their students, the Coaching Canvas is a communication tool that helps you facilitate great coaching conversations. Unlike most of the current coaching models, the Coaching Canvas is a physical board that lets you interact in a dynamic and engaged way.
This interactive platform is being used by the students at Kigali-based Southern New Hampshire University to take USA courses in Rwanda. Some advisors are put in place to monitor the students’ performance.
REB’s e-learning platform
There are some students who are even undertaking the online courses from the Rwanda Education Board’s e-learning platform and use them to interact with their facilitators, Education has learnt.
Recently, Charles Murigande, Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Institutional Advancement of the University of Rwanda, says that teachers are not sleeping, they are working closely with students to help create a smooth learning environment from the government’s learning platform.
The range of online platforms that several teachers are undertaking to interact with their students also varies. Some bloggers and vloggers are even uploading material to interact with students.
Martine Uwacu Karekezi, a French tutor at Green Hills Academy, says that these pathways are another great platform for teachers to keep delivering content to their students, and earn some income if all goes well.
Irénée Ndayambaje, Director-General of Rwanda Education Board, is of the view that though teachers are using different platforms, they should use them to teach and not merely focus on income generation.
He appeals to schools’ parent committees asking them to do their best to retain teachers because winners always look for the best players.
“You are aware that the winning team does its best to always retain the best players. That is why schools should organise different solidarity initiatives to support the teachers, because they will need them afterwards,” he says.Follow ByishimoBertra3