Kenyan universities have been under pressure from the government to introduce online and blended learning to boost access to higher education. And when Covid-19 hit the country, colleges and universities stopped physical classes and adopted distance learning following a directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
However, when the number of positive cases subsided, the government ordered reopening of learning institutions for in-person lesson. While some universities resumed physical learning, some opted for online classes while others chose to blend the two approaches.
For more than a year now, lecturers have been teaching remotely via Google Hangouts, Google Meet, Zoom, Skype, Adobe Connect, among others.
A review of this mode of teaching and learning reveals mixed outcomes, with various challenges standing in the way of smooth virtual learning.
They include lack of/or poor internet connectivity especially in remote areas, power blackouts, limited access to computers, limited computer literacy and special challenges with practicals.
But the benefits of e-learning far outweigh these challenges.
They include easy access to information, convenience, time and cost saving, consistent and dependable, potential for re-use and promotes research and self-learning.
From my experience, there are many areas of improvement in e-learning programmes being offered by local universities and colleges. First, online courses should be made dynamic, interesting and more interactive.
Some learners take these lessons from their beds and many end up in slumber land if their teachers are boring.
Humanise learning process
Efforts should also be made to humanise the learning process, and personal attention provided to students. Lack of personal attention and guidance on distance learning has, for instance, seen some learners cut off from their universities. This may sound funny but some do not know how to register for the online classes.
Such students will definitely lag behind as they await resumption of physical learning since no one knows when the pandemic will end. The government should also invest more in e-learning facilities, especially in public universities. For their part, universities should either subsidise or provide free internet to all learners to boost access to online learning resources such as digital libraries and Moodle.
Clare studies Journalism and Digital Media at KCA University.
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