How Learning Stayed ON for Zetech during the Pandemic
Like in much of the world, education in Kenya has been disrupted by COVID-19, with schools and universities across the nation halting face to face learning. Every center of learning has had to rethink study methodologies to ensure that while classrooms are empty, learning continues uninterrupted.
Huawei ICT Academy Kenya collaborated with its partners for higher learning under the “Learn ON” program to help transition from face-to-face learning to online learning. A webinar with academic partners was held to discuss how learning institutions can join the program.
In this article, Zetech University Head of the Centre for Professional Certifications Samuel Kinuthia takes us through the University’s approach to provision of virtual learning.
Zetech University & Huawei ICT Academy
Zetech University is a Huawei-authorized ICT Academynin Kenya that has integrated Huawei-certified ICT Associate Routing & Switching (HCIA R&S) into its BSc in Information Technology curricula – this was one of many courses that was affected when face-to-face learning was suspended. Through collaboration with Huawei ICT Academy Kenya, the University was among the first to start an online HCIA-R&S class on the Huawei Welink platform. Students were provided with data bundles worth over 2,000 Kenyan shillings (around US$20) each, and were able to access resources from the Huawei ICT Academy platform.
How #LearningNeverStops started
To centralize communications, we created a WhatsApp group for the existing class, which was subdivided into subgroups and each subgroup was allocated a representative. The role of the representative was to mobilize students to attend class and relay any issues to the lecturer. Class monitoring was done using a shared Google sheet, which was marked at the end of the class, with follow-ups of absentees regularly conducted.
Each student was required to have a computer, webcam, Zoom and ENSP software, and access to the Internet.
First, we came up with training schedule that we shared with Huawei staff, who then scheduled Welink meetings for all the classes. At the beginning of each class, hosting rights are transferred to the lecturer for the purpose of class management. The first class was an orientation class, where I instructed students how to use the various features of Zoom and also how to conduct themselves online.
During every three hours online class, I allow a five-minute break every 30 minutes to engage learners and ensure that they don’t detach from class. During practical sessions, all students are required to participate by undertaking activities on their laptops and following the class step by step with the use of lab guides.
All lessons are recorded (audio and video) and sent to students by email after class to ensure that students can review content in their own time.
Tips for Lecturers
From my experience, my advise to my fellow lecturers is:
• Plan and manage class time well
• Regularly engage students to ensure they don’t disengage from class
• Use a variety of teaching aids to make classes interesting
• Ensure that you have stable Internet, your devices are charged, and that you’ve planned for backup
• Ensure that your learning space is free from interruptions
Advantages of teaching online MOOC
• Ensures a diverse learning experience for both lecturers and students
• Ensures classes continue uninterrupted
• Allows for flexible time and location
• Gives easy access to a wide range of learning resources from the interactive Huawei academy platform
Challenges in Online Education
This adopted mode of learning resulted in a few challenges as stated below, and through the leadership of the University and various partners, we found ways to work through them:
• Some students are unable to access learning devices like laptops or desktops
• Poor or lack of Internet connectivity in remote areas
• Minimal in-person contact with students
• Long transition time for students and lecturers to adapt to online teaching and learning
The program is quickly being adopted in universities and colleges and I foresee more students benefiting from more certification programs. Huawei ICT Academy programs can greatly bridge the teaching and learning gap in many higher education institutions by equipping learners with the knowledge and skills they require to join the industry.
The story was first featured here: https://blog.huawei.com/2020/04/16/how-learning-is-staying-on-for-kenyas-zetech-university-during-the-pandemic/