If the statements “let me know when you can see my screen” or “let’s give everyone a minute to join” ring a loud bell in your mind, then you are certainly not alone. 2020 has, for the most part, been a year of a massive and abrupt transition. A lot of plans that people and organizations made at the beginning of the year have been altered or even completely changed, and our ability to adapt has been tremendously tested.
ALU has not been exempt from this new reality and most certainly, our plans have had to change too. By this time, our ALU Rwanda students were meant to be experiencing and making new memories at their new, state-of-the-art campus and our ALC Mauritius students enjoying the beautiful island and re-connecting with their classmates. Our #DoHardThings motto was truly tested, and the transition to online learning hasn’t been easy as our community is used to being together. However, the collaboration between our leadership, faculty, staff, and students has made it possible for lessons to proceed smoothly and for our students to continue learning and experiencing each other from their different homes across the continent.
Learning during a pandemic can be confusing. There is a lot of information to take in and a lot of tech-navigation is required. The last thing students and facilitators want is a complicated system and too many hubs of information that may overwhelm them. In order to facilitate a smooth learning experience, ALU has introduced a new platform known as the Canvas Learning Management System or Canvas for short. This integrated system ensures that students are able to access all materials and additional resources, in preparation for class. The platform is divided into different tabs where facilitators are able to send important announcements to students, post quizzes, open up discussion floors, and even post assignments. This, overall, makes it an easy-to-navigate platform that is centralized and keeps students up-to-date at all times.
Student Academic Support
When you are a student, knowing that you are a few steps away from your facilitator gives you certain peace because you know that at any given point in time when you face a challenge, you can walk up to them and ask for help. This time it is different. There is no facilitator a few steps away; no facilitator to say “pass by at lunchtime and I will explain it to you”.
Our facilitators have had to go the extra mile in providing academic support online during both class time and outside of class. Aside from “office hours”, which are a scheduled tutor session you can book with your facilitator, their Google Hangouts are always available and their responsiveness to student queries has been nothing short of.
Much like the rest of the world, the pandemic has certainly taken its toll on our community’s overall wellness. The ALU Wellness Center is an ALU Student Life offering aimed at the promotion of holistic health for all members of our community. They are working hard to support our students during this time.
So, whether our students are trying to get to the other side of this pandemic in one piece, or need a level of wellness to develop a skill, our counselors and coaches are available to help through online sessions from Monday to Friday.
What our students had to say
We also e-met up with some of our students from different years who gave us some interesting and exciting accounts of their online “Back-To-School” journeys so far.
“The transition to online learning has been smooth, however, I still miss the human interaction”- Final year IBT student
“The experience has been different. The time zones have me waking up at 6 am for a 7 am class so that was a bit hard in the beginning, but we’ll get used to it”- 3rd year Computer Science Student
“I am just happy to reconnect with my classmates! The banter we have during class discussions, whether online or on-campus, is always priceless. Also, I’m grateful for the support from our facilitators” – Final IBT year student
Undoubtedly, our biggest anticipation at this time is the day we get to see and enjoy each other and just enjoy our pan-African experience again. We are looking forward to meeting the new faces who will be joining our community in January, and to start seeing our new ALU Rwanda and the beautiful ALC Mauritius campuses full of student-happy faces!
But in all of this, we are grateful for the present too; the lessons and the virtue of resilience that this season has taught us have built character within each and every one of us in a life-changing way. And so, in as much as we look forward to all these exciting times, we appreciate what the present has taught us.
We are in awe of how much our community has shown great collaboration in making sure that this time is one of innovation, teamwork, and restless excellence.