Online student engagement in times of emergency: Listening to the voices of students


Addae, D. (2022). Online student engagement in times of emergency: Listening to the voices of students. E-Learning and Digital Media.


The closure of schools and colleges worldwide, as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown and stay-at-home protocols, were timely actions given the surge in infection rates. It became immediately necessary for innovative strategies to be put in place to engage students while they remained at home. In Ghana, many traditional universities adopted the use of online learning tools to promote learning amongst their students during this period of uncertainty. In this exploratory case study, I explore the experiences of final year undergraduate students (N = 18) in the University of Ghana with the intention of examining: (1) the various strategies adopted by lecturers to engage students in online learning during this time when they were at home; (2) the challenges the students experienced; and (3) the students’ views on ways of promoting effective student online learning engagement during future emergencies. Three strategies were identified by the students as being used by the lecturers for online learning engagement, namely videoconferencing, use of discussion boards, and use of regular assignments. It was found that the students experienced manifold engagement challenges in online learning including data and network problems, technical difficulties, assessment overload, as well as administrative issues. In order to ensure effective student online learning engagement in future national emergencies, it was suggested that resources such as internet facilities should be made available to students; assessment load should be reduced while interactive and active online learning engagement strategies are prioritized; and administrative support should be offered to students. The study’s findings have significant implications for the planning, design and the implementation of online learning programmes in higher education.


  • David Addae

Reference Type



  • COVID19
  • Higher education
  • Student engagement