USIU-Africa strengthens its capacity to support remote learning by students; records high usage of its digital platforms by students

By Charles Wanjala

Following the closure of the university last month in line with the government’s directive to stop the spread of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), the University Library has continued to be at the forefront of the efforts to ensure that all learning activities on campus continue seamlessly.

USIU-Africa’s Library and Information Center prides itself on being a proactive learning, teaching and research partner run by competent and friendly staff who define all measures of the word ‘Flexible.’ As the world recedes from norms of gatherings, it was inevitable that Librarians worldwide would lead the charge in displaying an array of skills needed to keep the knowledge wheel rolling.

Therefore, the Library rolled out several measures to ensure students could get the support they needed. First of these measures was ensuring that users were familiar with the access and usage of the vast online resources remotely accessible to bona fide members. The system also supports a step-by-step video tutorial for those who may experience challenges accessing the system.

Much as the keyboard cannot replace the warmth of a handshake, we have also recorded impressive statistics on the live chat platform known as AskALibrarian. This online reference service has seen many patrons virtually interact with librarians around the clock. Students have been able to turn in their research proposals and term papers through the platform.

Subject guides that link users to specific databases, links, recommended books and career resources in a particular discipline are being developed and published to support instruction in the summer semester. Given the advent of new internet tools and the daily explosion of new knowledge, our librarians are curating this knowledge aiming to achieve instant gratification to the users. The subject guides or LibGuides as they are popularly known offer easy navigation to core information in a given discipline.

The Library has also subscribed to Cabells, a comprehensive source for journal information, evaluation metrics, and article submission details for researchers and authors. On this platform, one can explore a White List of more than 11,000 suitable qualified peer reviewed journals in which to publish one’s research.

The platform also responds to the growing number of cases exhibited through fraudulent and predatory publishers and journals. This is accomplished through a Journal Blacklist that aims to provide insights on various publishing malpractices that threaten to undermine quality research. This black list contains journal titles that are not suitable publishing outlets. A criteria is also given on how to identify predatory journals.

We have also partnered with Project MUSE, which supports its participating publishers in making scholarly content temporarily available for free on its platform. With many higher education institutions moving into an exclusively online learning environment for the foreseeable future, we hope that easy access to vetted research in the humanities and social sciences, from a variety of distinguished university presses, societies, and related not-for-profit publishers, will help to support teaching, learning, and knowledge discovery for users worldwide.

The University continues to remain dedicated to ensuring that you are equipped with all the knowledge you require as you pursue an education that will take you places.

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