Varsities struggle to set up e-classes

Majority of university students have been locked out of online classes hurriedly put in place following a school lockdown in mid-March, a new report has shown.

The survey by Universities Fund (UF) conducted in June lists the high internet costs, poor or no internet connectivity, lack of an e-learning policy and ICT infrastructure such as laptops, mobile phones and servers as major challenges facing online classes.Nearly half of public and private universities were surveyed.

The survey mainly focused on e-learning platforms used, costs incurred, challenges and measures to solve the obstacles.The report indicates that most of the universities were unprepared to offer online classes. Those that already had online programmes did not have the capacity to handle a large number of students.

Hurried implementation

“As universities hurriedly started to offer online classes, they were not able to put systems in place that could accommodate all students regardless of their geographical location,” states the report.

Most universities started offering online classes after the directive of President Uhuru Kenyatta on March 15 to shut all learning institutions.

Among the platforms used by universities to roll out online teaching include Moodle Learning Managing Systems, emails, zoom, Google classroom/meet, Microsoft Teams, Kenet systems, WhatsApp, internally developed systems, Hangouts and Big Blue Button.

The survey indicates that the systems and platforms put in place by universities only favoured students with access to electricity, the internet, smart phones and laptops, and those conversant with how the electronic gadgets work.

“Timetabling classes, inability to conduct practicals and meeting requirements of students with special cases is also a major challenge to online programmes,” states the report.

Universities Fund CEO Milton Njuki said most of the universities in the survey indicated that they did not have adequate resources to start proper online courses.The institutions proposed a collaboration with service providers to offer more affordable and accessible e-learning services.

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