COVID-19 Pandemic and Higher Education: Leveraging on Digital Technologies and Mobile Applications for Online Learning in Ghana
Since mid-March 2020, educational systems worldwide and particularly Ghana were under increasing pressure to use the new Digital Technologies (DTs) and mobile applications (apps) to assist teachers in guiding students to continue with online learning activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The study is aimed at assessing the utilization of DTs and apps tools by students during the COVID-19 pandemic and how those technologies have affected online learning in institutions of higher education in Ghana. The researcher adopted an online survey and exploratory-based design that utilized quantitative and qualitative approaches to purposively collect data from N=784 students from three major public universities in Ghana. Also, the study applied Uses and Gratification as the theoretical basis in understanding the utilization of DTs and their possible limitations for remote learning during the peak of COVID-19 in Ghana. This study reported that the specific DMTs and mobile apps used by students in higher education for online learning are smarts phones and apps such as Class In, Zoom, Skype, and Instagram live stream. This study also revealed that Personal Learning Network (PLN) such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter were also actively used by students for remote online learning. Again, the study shows that 77.1% of students in the sampled three universities were fully aware of the DTs and apps utilized for online learning during COVID-19. Also, the findings from this study report that students in higher institutions identified unstable electricity for continuous online learning, especially for those students in rural areas, unreliable internet service, poor WiFi connections, expensive smartphones / laptops, and high cost of inter bundle as key challenges of using DMTs and mobile apps for online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, on the perceived usefulness of DTs and mobile apps among students for online learning in higher educational institutions, the findings from this study suggest that DMT’s and apps were of great benefit to students for remote online learning.
Copyright (c) 2021 John Demuyakor
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