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Virus woes: Virtual learning goes viral as UoN joins online lectures

Tuesday March 31 2020

e-learning

A student studying online. The University of Nairobi is considering online learning so that students can complete their studies on time. PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK 

OUMA WANZALA
By OUMA WANZALA
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KARIUKI WAIHENYA
By KARIUKI WAIHENYA
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The University of Nairobi has now turned to online teaching to ensure that its more than 60,000 students complete their studies on time.

Tuesday, the university’s senate chaired by Prof Stephen Kiama, who is also the vice-chancellor, will meet to approve an online time table and give other regulations.

UoN director of corporate affairs John Orindi said the institution had also turned to online teaching because it was still paying lecturers and other staff.

“We have already trained staff on the programme. We will be shifting focus to learners this week ahead of the roll-out next week,” said Mr Orindi.

He said all students will be required to be on email in order to get learning materials.

INTERNET
However, Mr Orindi said those who will unable to access the Internet will continue with their studies once universities re-open.

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Students in science courses will not benefit from the programme.
Lecturers at the university however criticised the decision saying they were not consulted over the plans and neither were they ready.

“The idea is obviously prudent but it cannot be implemented without the input of the views of lecturers and students who form the core of the university community,” said Dr Richard Bosire, the chairman of Universities Academic Staff Union — Nairobi chapter.

Speaking by phone, he said that not all lecturers had been trained and those who had were waiting for directions on how to proceed.

REGULAR STUDENTS

Dr Bosire further noted that “Most students do not have laptops or money to buy Internet bundles to sustain a three-hour online course. Some of them who live in far-flung areas such as Turkana do not even have access to the Internet so how will they be expected to come on board?

At Kisii University, Director of E-learning Ratemo Mikiya said a total of 7,000 students are already benefiting from e-learning.

“Lecturers are in contact with their learners. Students are getting assignments and submitting them online,” said Dr Mikiya.

At Rongo University, Prof Samuel Gudu said: “The students were given assignments online but there is no teaching.” Kenyatta University head of communications Machua Koinange said there is no online learning as all teaching was suspended.

Mount Kenya University’s acting VC, Prof Peter Wanderi, said they had extended the online teaching platform to regular students.

“Online learning will be supplemented through televised lectures in collaboration with TV 47,” said Prof Wandera.

St Paul’s VC Joseph Galgalo said: “For the remaining part of the semester, classes and other planned academic sessions, including continuous assessment tests, will be administered virtually.”