USIU-Africa launches the first ever fully online degree program, the Online Master of Business Administration

The United States International University-Africa launched the Online Master of Business Administration (MBA), making it the first Online MBA in Kenya and the region accredited by the Commission for University Education (CUE) and the United States of America (USA) by WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). The program targets learners who prefer to learn at the convenience of their homes and offices regardless of where they are in the world and begins in January 2021.

Speaking during the launch, Dr. Nancy Onyango, the Director, Office of Internal Audit and Inspection, International Monetary Fund lauded USIU-Africa for achieving this great milestone and championing online teaching and learning.

“Many economic sectors have embraced digitization in the era of COVID-19 but the education sector, particularly Higher Education has been slow to embrace technology and this has a prolonged effect on both students and institutions of higher learning. This could be attributed to the fact that most institutions are still heavily reliant on face-to-face instruction and have limited budget allocations to support Information Technology infrastructure,” she said.

“IT budget allocation in learning institutions is between 2-5 percent of the entire university budget and therefore the education sector can be described as the least digitized and most people-centric sectors in the economic globally,” she added.

Nevertheless, even before the pandemic, the education sector was facing stiff competition from Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and this was because the courses are flexible, and convenient for both employees and employers. “The increased uptake of online courses will only increase post-pandemic and most learning institutions are restructuring their course offerings to include online degree courses,” she noted.

Mr. Paul Kasimu, FIHRM, Chief Human Resources Officer at Safaricom PLC reiterated her words highlighting that the fourth industrial revolution has accelerated during the pandemic and it is challenging organizations to think critically about how they invest in talent development in order to be ‘future-ready’ for the next global disruption.

He further noted that organization are experiencing unprecedented changes during the COVID-19 pandemic and most people are open to enrolling for online courses to enhance their skills or acquire a new one.

“47 percent of people who study online do so due to existing limitations such as work and life commitments; 21 percent enroll for online studies because their employers encourage them to do so because it is efficient and effective for both parties,” he pointed out.

In March 2020, USIU-Africa implemented the business continuity plan fully that saw it move to online teaching and learning owing to the robust IT infrastructure that it has put in place to ensure that students continue learning remotely. The university invests Kshs. 63, 524, 571 annually to maintain and expand the e-learning infrastructure and an additional Kshs. 30, 000, 000 to boost e-resources at the library.

The program delivery will be purely online, using the Learning Management System, Blackboard Learn, as the default platform for asynchronous teaching and learning, Zoom as the video conferencing tool for synchronous teaching and learning and e-books, e-journals and other e-resources from the library. To ensure that the program is credible, exam protocols are in place to accommodate the changed mode of learning through a combination of two solutions on Blackboard: Respondus Lockdown Browser and Respondus Monitor. Respondus Lockdown Browser is a custom browser that locks down the testing environment and is ideal for assessments delivered in classrooms or proctored settings and Respondus Monitor adds webcam and video technology to LockDown Browser to prevent cheating during non-proctored exams – such as those taken remotely.

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