The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated that teaching and learning be pushed online. The faculty at universities and colleges have had to adapt to the digital remote teaching to complete the semester. Many universities are already under-resourced when it comes to the deployment of edutech, with limited access to computers and database resources. Hence, universities were ill-equipped to respond to the remote teaching and learning challenges posed by COVD-19. The transition was particularly difficult for students. Many students do not have access to personal computers, the internet, or consistent electricity. The challenges expose deeper concerns about the implementation of technological tools to improve the university experience for students.
Our Leaders of Africa Live conversation features Professor Rose Mwonya who is the Vice-Chancellor of Egerton University in Kenya and Dr. Jelili Adebiyi who is an Assistant Professor at Michigan State University. Our guests reflect on how African higher education institutions are embracing online teaching and edutech tools in the era of COVID-19 and beyond.
The conversation revealed some important insights about the way forward on using technological tools effectively and obtaining resources:
(1) Importance of creating alternative assessments: Many courses rely on heavily weighted exams. When courses move to an online setting, it becomes very difficult to ensure exam security. One possible remedy is to rely on written assignments and move away from the ‘almighty exam.’ This could unlock the creative and learning potential of students.
(2) Do more with little: Some universities find obtaining resources to integrate technology and train faculty difficult. However, there are reputable training opportunities that can be leveraged to do a trainer of trainers at resource-constrained universities. Some of these opportunities are low cost or even free.
(3) Advocacy and student activism is instrumental: Students and faculty should organize to advocate and lobby for resources. This is particularly important to level the resource playing field between departments within universities.