When learning institutions in Kenya were closed, many were hoping that learning would continue online. Several institutions announced that they were going to focus on moving all classes online, while the government had mentioned that students preparing for national exams would be helped to that through online learning.

However, the attempt to take learning online has proved difficult, except for a few people who have the necessary resources such as an Internet connection and the required devices. These are students in high-end schools.

For the majority, there has been a need to innovate their way around e-learning. From universities to kindergartens, these are the various ways that are improvising to keep the learning going.

How WhatsApp is being used for education in Kenya

One thing about WhatsApp is that it is used by most people and works in almost all types of phones. This is why it has become an educational tool in some places.

Some teachers are using WhatsApp to guide their students remotely. One teacher explained that she would make a PowerPoint presentation and convert it into a video with voice, then share it with students through a WhatsApp group. She also shares documents and records voice notes to respond to questions that are raised.

While this simple approach is not a substitute for face to face meetings with students, it still delivers. The teacher can monitor who is online by monitoring read receipts.

Using TV and radio for educating Kenyan learners

With the high cost of internet connection and few people being able to afford computers, TV and Radio have become a possible tool for education.

Kenya has several free to air TV channels which are now airing educational content. This is an alternative for those who do not have any other media they can use. Most schools are not offering any form of eLearning and therefore the TV has become a suitable alternative. The government has also asked even the Pay-TV service providers to include educational channels in their bouquet.

While this is a one-way communication that does not provide a mechanism for feedback, the TV happens to be very available in many homes in Kenya. In rural areas, those who do not have TV can easily watch with neighbors who have. For radio, most people have access to this and it costs even less in terms of power demands.

The benefits of free Internet

One of the biggest barriers to online learning is the cost of the internet. On average, it would cost at least Kshs 300 to be online for three hours using Zoom and other platforms.

The University of Nairobi has partnered with Telkom Kenya to provide affordable internet to its students. This involves giving the students some SIM cards with preloaded data to access the university’s portal for eLearning. This is supposed to reduce the cost of access and enable all students to participate in online learning.

Challenges

While there are some success stories, there are still many challenges that have to do with resources and skills. Many lecturers and teachers did not have the necessary skills to offer to learn online, and getting them to skill up and become proficient would take time

The positive aspect is that whatever has been started will form a baseline for enabling online learning in the future, and more learning institutions will work to make themselves more resilient in the future.

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