Online we go!

Posted by: KSG-admin Post Date: June 27, 2020

Online we go!

As COVID continues to ravage the world, countries -19 are slowly beginning to adopt to the new normal. This includes quarantine rules, working from home, doing business online, relying on home deliveries of shopping and food, and generally staying at home.

In Kenya, schools and institutions of higher learning have all since been closed with a possibility of reopening later in September. Yet life must continue – the country cannot afford to simply press a pause button until the crisis abates.

The School Director General, Prof. Ludeki Chweya, notes that the COVID-19 pandemic poses great danger to humanity, and left unattended could easily lead to extinction of the human race. He says that thus far a lot has been said on what to do to avoid contracting this deadly disease which includes maintaining social distance, washing hands with soap and running water and staying at home.

Prof. Chweya advises people to leave home only if it is absolutely necessary as any time one steps out of their home, they expose themselves to grave risk as well as putting the lives of their family members at risk.

“The trip making you step out of your home must be compelling and worth the risk of death, if the trip is not made. Such a trip must have consequences in comparable proportion to death from COVID- 19. Therefore, let stepping out of your house be in search of hospital attention, medicine, in search of food, and offering critical services including attending to patients,” advices Prof. Chweya.

In adapting to this new way of life, learning institutions are quickly evolving their digital tools and platforms to ensure uninterrupted and continuous educational delivery. The Kenya School of Government has equally rolled out a number of programs among other deliveries on the online platform.

Prof. Chweya affirms that KSG has already put in place robust support mechanisms to ensure no participant is left behind in the online delivery mode.

“Our online platform has been designed to ensure that the delivery of programs remain as effective as could have been the case during the face to face delivery,” says the Director General.

Prof. Chweya urges participants to enroll for the online programs to continue honing their skills and competencies in service delivery.

“The only difference is that you are taking the sessions from the comfort of your homes. The School, therefore, expects you to take the sessions seriously with the commitment the training deserves,” Prof. Chweya says.

The Director Academic Affairs, Dr. Josephine Mwanzia says, a course to introduce the School faculty to the Learning Management System (LMS), including fundamentals of facilitating programs online had to first be rolled out to ensure effectiveness.

“We have to embrace and accept change as it happens by encouraging agility and adaptability. This way we were assured to deliver as usual and very effectively to our participants,” says Dr. Mwanzia.

She discloses that delays in rolling out the online training was occasioned by the feedback from participants who indicated that they were not initially prepared to continue with training online, many citing lack of laptops, access to internet, inability to bear the extra cost of data bundles and lack of environments conducive for learning at home.

“We have had to settle all these issues to assure our participants before the roll out of the programs,” Dr. Mwanzia explains.

Programs that have already been successfully piloted include the Senior Management Course (SMC) and the Diplomacy, Protocol, Etiquette, Presentation Skills and Event Management Course.

The SMC, in Lower Kabete, was halfway done at the time it was suspended. A total of 48 participants signed up for the online platform while the Protocol Program attracted over 60 participants and had to be run in two cohorts.

The SMC Coordinator, Mr. Joshua Ochuka, observes that for any learning methodology to be effective, it must address the leading challenges to adult learning which is first and foremost lack of time or the whole aspect of learner convenience in terms of appropriateness of time for optimal balance between learning and work life balance.

“Adult learners are also more critical when it comes to the value for money proposition. Most adult learners are clear as to their expectation from any program be it face to face or online. A program can only be effective if the learner expectations have been met,” says Mr. Ochuka.

According to him, the idea of emodules for the SMC program was warmly received by participants owing to inherent convenience with regard to COVID-19 situation.

“It was convenient in that participants did not have to continue waiting indefinitely for them to resume the SMC program that had been halted midstream. Even the medics who were participating in this program and are now on the frontline on the war with COVID-19, have continued with the program to a logical completion,” he says.

Even better, Mr. Ochuka observes, is the fact that participants can safely stay at home and achieve some progress since they do not have to travel anywhere to study, but simply log in from the comfort of their own home or office.

“As a Coordinator, I have had to go through the whole program to ascertain completeness, relevance and compliance with the curriculum. My experience and conclusion is that the way in which this program is structured, participants will, as a matter of fact, learn more than they would have done in the traditional face to face offering,” opines Mr. Ochuka.

Tasked to share on the envisaged challenges for the program, the Coordinator observed that the greatest challenge is the mindset change.

“The common belief that courses and examinations can only take place when learners are guided by their instructor in a physical location like a class room, and the common view that examinations cannot be offered online and still meet necessary thresholds has to be shelved. I am glad that through wide consultations we have been able to overcome this challenge,” says Mr. Ochuka.

As is the norm at the School, every class appoints a class president. Ms. Sarah Mukami Karongo, a Physiotherapist at the Mama Lucy Hospital, was appointed the class president of the Lower Kabete based SMC program.

The writers caught up with her online. She says that at the first stages of the program rollout, challenges relating to intermittent connections were experienced, this was resolved thanks to KSG technical gurus.

“It was initially problematic logging into the platform and just getting to understand the flow. Logging in was critical but we are grateful to the ICT team in the School for solving this problem,” says Ms. Mukami.

“We already have in mind that we actually have to do proper research. The fact that we are having in-depth discussions makes it engaging and very effective,” she says.

Examinations are usually administered as guided by the School Academic Board. The Senior Management Course participants, for instance, are accorded an opportunity to present, through video conference, the research component of the examinations besides the continuous assessment and the two written examination papers that are usually taken in the program.