During a time when everyday activities are done remotely, a collection of professors and students share their perspectives on online classes in Morocco.
Rabat – Morocco declared a state of emergency in March in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Schools all around Morocco shut their doors as a precautionary measure to combat the spread of the virus. The transition from classrooms to online classes has impacted professors’ teaching methods and students’ learning processes.
In an interview with Morocco World News (MWN), three instructors and three students shared their experiences with online classes.
Teachers share benefits and drawbacks
Halima Zaari, a professor at University Mohammed V’s Faculty of Sciences in Rabat, thinks that online classes are highly practical on several levels. Working remotely, Zaari usually organizes teaching materials on her laptop and then starts a meeting with students, sharing her screen with them. “I think that the feature of screen sharing is fantastic!” Zaari said.
The professor also expressed enthusiasm about the app “Google Classroom” and is even considering using it in the future to complement the courses she teaches on campus. “Google Classroom is a really practical app! I use it to check the homework of my students and I can leave comments and correct their mistakes.”
According to Zaari, the difficulties encountered when teaching online are internet related. Some students do not have the means to pay for an internet subscription or purchase laptops. The lack of resources can hinder the potential of online classes.
Another instructor seems to share Zaari’s concerns. Aziz Laghribi is an English teacher in Annassim High School in Temara, directly south of Rabat. Laghribi thinks that “students who live in precarious conditions to a great extent are neglected.”
A learning experience for instructors
Laghribi compared online classes to buying a new product with no user manual. The English teacher believes that the Ministry of Education should have provided the necessary resources to students in need in order to guarantee a successful online learning experience.
Despite expressing concerns about the availability of resources to students, Laghribi thinks that “distance learning is an opportunity for self-development for both teachers and students.”
Naima Azzouzi is a professor of mathematics at Moulay Idriss high school in Casablanca who approached online teaching with pragmatic optimism. “At the very least, online classes are the best option we have currently. It’s either that or nothing,” Azzouzi said.
Azzouzi found it very easy to teach remotely. “It usually takes me a long time to just get the attention of the students when they are in a classroom, they get distracted easily. However, they are very attentive during online classes and I’m happy about that,” Azzouzi said.
“It’s not all daisies and sunshine,” and there are drawbacks of online learning. Similarly to the other interviewees, Azzouzi mentioned the lack of resources necessary for online classes and the problems that some financially struggling students face.
Moroccan students weigh in
Rim Reggoug, a first year student at the Moroccan School of Engineering Sciences in Casablanca, has experienced ups and downs when it comes to online classes.
Reggoug enjoyed online classes in the beginning as they are generally easier to get ready for. “I didn’t have to worry about getting ready for school in the morning, and it felt really good.”
After a few weeks of distance learning, Reggoug started having trouble focusing when attending online classes. The engineering student no longer felt motivated to study. “I became lazier and lazier, to the point where I started finding it hard to get out of bed,” Reggoug said.
She explained that due to her shy and reserved nature, she faced some difficulties asking questions and participating. “I prefer directly talking to the professors without getting the attention of my classmates, but when taking online classes it was impossible for me because I can’t ask the professors for individual meetings,” Reggoug lamented.
Mohamed Bouya Malainin is a student at the Akhawayn University in Ifrane who thinks that “online classes are a double-edged sword.”
Malainin recalls wasting time on campus hanging out with friends, and says online classes have helped him solve this problem. The absence of distractions present on campus have helped Malainin become more disciplined.
“We basically take control of our own lives and we take it at our own pace and I think that’s incredible,” he said.
The social setback
On the other edge of the sword, Malainin mentioned the issue of missing out on real life interactions between students and professors. According to the mechanical engineering student, the essence of learning lies within real life interactions.
Malainin is not satisfied with the current quality of apps used for remote teaching and learning, saying that “these apps should be improved.”
Zaineb Soleimani shared a different perspective on online classes. Soleimani is a student of the Faculty of Sciences at Rabat’s University Mohammed V and believes that the most important aspects of online classes are the virtual meetings where professors explain the course material—which are not always a given.
“Some professors share the course material with us without properly going through it in a virtual meeting, in which case we don’t fully understand the course,” she explained.
In other cases, her professors hold meetings with the students and explain the course material. Soleimani and her peers have been “very satisfied with the meetings that the professors held,” although she said “there was not much of a difference between regular and online classes in this scenario.”
An overwhelming percentage of Soleimani’s classmates struggle with internet problems, especially those who live in small towns and do not have the means to pay for active internet connection. These students usually do not attend online classes, and their peers try to help them by sending them summaries of the course material and explaining it to them through texts.
The interviewees revealed that online teaching and learning has both benefits and drawbacks. According to them, the system requires improvement as it is the sole means of continuing education in the midst of a pandemic.