Third Eye

Invigorating higher education through technology

Wednesday, September 8th, 2021 00:00 |
Digital world. Photo/Courtesy

Teresa Akenga 

The outbreak of Covid-19 created a panic in the universities and other learning institutions. 

At the onset, government declared countrywide lock down and curfews. This resulted in the universities academic programmes coming to abrupt halt.

Most colleges and universities cancelled in-person classes.

By the time of the outbreak, most learning institutions had not invested adequately in online learning.

This meant shifting to the new and expensive platform as the new academic frontier.

Apart from disruption of classes, the pandemic threatened the university admissions, enrollment and financial stability due to unexpected costs and fall in revenue.

But learning institutions quickly adjusted to the situation to ensure academic programmes and other activities were restored.

Universities devised new survival methods that would go a long way in redefining the country’s education, political, socio-economic environment.

Covid-19 led to fast-tracking of digitalisation which is providing opportunities to be harnessed during the recovery phase.

In the new normal, digital connectivity is a top priority. Universities have relied on digital platforms to offer various services to the students and the community.

Cooperation between public institutions and the private sector has been critical for the deployment of new technologies.

The pandemic has transformed the way people teach, learn and conduct business.

Institutions and businesses that had not yet transitioned to cloud technology-based services that can be accessed anywhere with an Internet connection were forced to roll-out new systems, distribute portable devices and provide extensive IT helpdesk services to their staff who struggled to adjust to remote work.

At University of Eldoret, a Science and Technology institution, we adapted to the new-normal and shifted to online-only applications for admission via emails.

This was done through scanning and sending of processed admission letters through online mediums and applicants were alerted on the progress of their applications through sms, WhatsApp or email.

The university came up with flexible study options aimed at overcoming potential delays in the commencement of studies.

This was overseen through the newly established Open and Distance e-Learning Directorate which ensured that the university offered a blended mode of learning, hence offering remote learning to learners.

Our first year class of 2020 and postgraduate students were the major beneficiaries, as they were exposed to remote learning and online thesis defences.

The pandemic had a devastating effect on student admission and enrollment but through rigorous e-marketing strategy the admission and enrollment was boosted.

We carried out follow-ups of applicants via email, WhatsApp, sms and phone calls.

This proved vital as it brought the university in close proximity with the would-be applicants and it assisted in the improvement of the enrollment and admissions of students.

The university entered into agreements with key service providers on subsidized bundles for online classes and this enhanced admission and enrollment for students who intended to pursue their programmes remotely.

The university enhanced internet bandwidth which facilitated wireless access and free Wi-Fi access for genuine students.

We have introduced virtual meetings in conducting university’s business and internal communication through email which has greatly helped in saving costs. — The writer is the Vice Chancellor, University of Eldoret

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