Virtual learning system operational, officials say

Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd reassured the public yesterday that the learning management system used for virtual learning is “fully operational” and said the challenges with the system experienced by students and teachers are in the past.

“It has been tested and retested to determine its capability of absorbing the demand that was placed upon it in the initial stages of Tuesday morning,” said Lloyd at a press conference at the Ministry of Education on University Drive.

“It has not only met those demands; it has exceeded it.”

Students and teachers in the public school system were unable to utilize the platform for an extended period of time on Tuesday due to major “technical difficulties”.

However, Lloyd noted that about 13,000 users were able to access the system on Tuesday and 21,000 users on Wednesday.

Assistant Director of Education Sharmaine Sinclair noted that even though the system was tested last week ahead of the first day of virtual learning, the problems persisted.

“Last week, we did a load testing of 50,000 users coming onto the system,” Sinclair said.

“One of the issues that he brought up was that because we are so eager here, schools would have told parents and students that on Tuesday when we begin by 8:40 a.m., everyone should be in their virtual class or on the platform. So, at 8:39 a.m., many persons, thousands of persons that click that button for ‘log in’, that would have been the issue that brought up the challenge that we had.”

As the press conference was taking place, some users complained on social media about ongoing difficulties with the virtual platform.

“It’s not so much a system challenge,” said Director of Education Marcellus Taylor.

“You heard the minister talk about confidence, so because of what happened on Tuesday, some people may not have gone back on until they were sure now that the system was working.”

He added, “The need for students to be assigned to the correct classes and teachers to be assigned to the correct classes and some of that, we require more detailed information from the school so that we can properly place student ‘x’ in class ‘y’ with teacher ‘z’.”

Officials said the issue will likely be resolved within the next week.

Taylor said some teachers have resorted to alternative measures while they continue to iron out the kinks.

“Over the course of the next week or so, working with the district superintendents, working with the principals, working with the school level system administrators, we will deal with all of these timetable issues, and so now some people are not going through the platform because of these challenges or some students may go into the platform, and there’s no teacher there because the teacher is working offline, so this is now what we have to consolidate,” he said.

The ministry partnered with One on One, an eLearning solutions provider, for the development of the platform.

One on One Representative Ricardo Allen, who was present via Zoom for the press conference, said the performance thus far with the system has been commendable given the circumstances.

“We have made a lot of headway in terms of success,” Allen said.

“I can happily report that as of yesterday (Wednesday), we had over 150 classes that were going on within the one-hour period, and so the starting of the hour between 10 and 11 we had over 150 classes simultaneously and these are some of the successes…”

He acknowledged that there are still some challenges.

Taylor said while the system may present future issues, the ministry is focused on ensuring students have access to a quality education.

“As the education system, it’s our job to try and minimize those challenges so that we will not have any incompetencies in students learning,” he said.

“The same way we target challenges pre-COVID, one by one, is the same way we are seeking to do it on the virtual platform.”

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Italia Clarke

Italia Clarke joined the Nassau Guardian in August 2020. Clarke covers national, human interest and social issues. Education: University of The Bahamas, BA in Media Journalism

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