Since the start of the Covid-19 health crisis, Lebanese universities have fully or partially adopted the online teaching mode. Teachers and students have become familiar with e-learning platforms and video conferencing sessions over the months and training. While online learning is part of the daily life of Lebanese students, differences are observed between them in terms of access to electricity, computer equipment and a quality internet connection. Issues that can disadvantage young university students by lowering their average.
Connection and power outages
Many of them repeat that the quality of the Internet network and the fact that they do not have constant access to electricity increasingly prevent them from attending their classes. “With the unreliable connection in Lebanon, it becomes more difficult to follow online courses when multiple people are using WiFi under the same roof at the same time. So sometimes I have to connect with mobile data, and the connection quality is not good either,” explains Nour Ghadban, a third-year chemistry student at Lebanese University. Due to the unstable connection, the young woman has missed classes, which worries her particularly. “Students can consult online resources, but interaction with teachers is essential in the context of learning science subjects. Good exam results are not guaranteed. “Lama Najib, a 3rd year French Literature student at Saint-Joseph University, North Lebanon campus (CLN), agrees: “It’s always possible to update yourself by looking at the recordings of the sessions, but even if the teachers are with us for additional information, it is preferable to be able to interact with them directly during the session. Luckily, the student was able to count on the support of her university, which offered her an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to use during power outages. “Without that,” she emphasizes, “it’s impossible to complete the various courses in one day. »
In an effort to continue their education, students try to find solutions so as not to miss classes. As a result, many of them are forced to pay the cost of both WiFi subscriptions and cellular plan, the latter of which weighs heavily on their monthly budget. “I often connect using my phone’s 4G connection. This is quite expensive and not always of good quality. And I don’t like spending too much time in front of a small screen, it causes vision problems,” says Nour Obeid, a 3rd year French literature student at USJ’s CLN. “Due to the power crisis in Lebanon and the low speed of the internet connection, I had to buy computer equipment: a backup inverter and a WiFi booster. Still, sometimes I have to take classes at my cousins or in a coffee shop,” says Elio Safetly, a third-year bachelor’s student in International Business Management at the American University of Technology (AUT). He believes that this situation lowers his grades in the ratings. “I inevitably miss certain explanations and have no interaction with the teachers,” he laments. Like him, many students trust that they will be forced to connect from somewhere other than their home. “I find it unbearable that the Lebanese are denied access to electricity 24 hours a day. Due to increasingly drastic rationing, I had to attend courses and training courses with my uncles and aunts on several occasions,” regrets a management student at the University of Notre-Dame de Louaizé (NDU) under the guise of anonymity. For the latter, the situation is uncomfortable, since the conditions are not met to focus on his studies. “We can no longer even rely on private generators to be sure we can connect, which is becoming frightening and repulsive. »
Reconnect with a normal social life
Other factors make online learning difficult, e.g. B. the lack of a computer or tablet for personal use and a secluded and quiet workspace. As a result, the young people surveyed agree: They prefer not to have to switch between online and face-to-face courses. Élio Safetly believes that by returning to campus permanently, he will no longer have to deal with the many distractions that prevent him from learning effectively online. Lama Najib also hopes to soon be able to reduce the distance between her and her interlocutors: “I feel isolated and cannot express myself behind my screen as I would like when I have to interact with people, teachers and other students”, she says . Nour Ghadban notes that young people need to reconnect with normal social life, which requires a return to university while maintaining health standards. “Nothing can replace human contact, but given the health crisis, the expected transport costs and political instability, returning to campus next semester promises to be difficult,” regrets Nour Obeid, who, like many students, is concerned about the health consequences – and economic crisis in the land of cedars.
Since the start of the Covid-19 health crisis, Lebanese universities have fully or partially adopted the online teaching mode. Teachers and students have become familiar with e-learning platforms and video conferencing sessions over the months and training. While online learning is part of everyday life for students…