Egerton University has embarked on upgrading its digital infrastructure to enable its over 50,000 students continue with their academic programs in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
Vice Chancellor (VC) Professor Rose Mwonya said the university’s senate will hold a meeting to approve an online time table and formulate other regulations.
Speaking during a video conference meeting of Alliance for African Partnership (AAP) Public Dialogue Series on COVID-19 Pandemic Responses and Lessons Learnt on Thursday, Professor Mwonya said regardless of its damaging effects on global health and the economy, the pandemic was a blessing in disguise for learning institutions as it was revolutionizing education systems in the continent.
The event brought together Vice Chancellors of Makerere University and Botswana, Professors Barnabas Nawangwe, and Davis Norris respectively and the Rector of the Cheikh Anta Diop University, Professor Ibrahima Thioub. It was moderated by the United States International University – Africa VC, Professor Paul Tiyambe Zeleza.
Professor Mwonya told the meeting the pandemic had made the University realize that it was not making full use of its resources at the School of Distance Learning (SoDL).
“We approached the Kenya Education Network Trust (KENET) to train lecturers on the use of their online teaching and learning system, as the University is revitalizing its e-learning platform alongside setting up online communication platforms such as Zoom and the KENET conferencing facility,” she said.
The VC noted though some institutions were establishing short term virtual teaching and learning activities, Kenya was on track to embracing a new education model even in the post-Covid-19 period.
Last month, 913 students at the institution graduated through a virtual platform. The brief ceremony was attended by only 15 people in the University’s main hall and followed all the laid out directives by the Ministry of Health. Students caught up with the ceremony online via the university’s YouTube, Facebook and Twitter platforms. They were also able to link with the event through Zoom.
Separately, Academic Affairs Registrar Professor Seth Fredrick Owido has assured students that all programmes offered at Egerton through e-learning will conform to learning outcomes and other requirements specified in the face-to-face delivery of the curriculum.
Speaking to Kenya News Agency in his office, Professor Owido said new students who were to report on 13th August for their first year will now register, report and be oriented through the virtual platform.
“Virtual reporting for first years is ongoing. We will commence online learning by the end of this month. Going forward, there will be no physical reporting and learning,” stated the Academic Registrar.
Professor Owido said the online platform has been designed to facilitate old students to get value out of e- learning and enable the institution to handle an influx of new entrants who want to complete their coursework on time.
Owing to the fact that people with eye sight challenges cannot access reading material online Professor Owido said the University was exploring mobile phone calls as one of the options in delivering the curriculum.
“For those who may not have access to online support, we will make arrangements to ensure that no one is left behind,” he added. The university, he said, is considering purchasing specialized software for online exams, further clarifying that students will have the liberty to attend classes on the virtual platform after the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We will ensure that lecturers maintain the same depth of engagement with students like they would have in a classroom setting.”
However, Professor Owido said those who will be unable to access the internet will continue with their studies once universities re-open.