Newly appointed Chief Administrative Secretary for Education, Dr. Sara Ruto visits USIU-Africa for benchmarking session
By CTW Team
Last week, the newly appointed Chief Administrative Secretary for Education, Dr. Sara Ruto visited USIU-Africa for an online learning benchmarking session. Accompanied by Dr. David Njegere from the Ministry of Education, the CAS visited the University to be taken through how it has adapted to online learning as a result of the ongoing pandemic.
In her remarks, Dr. Ruto noted that the visit to USIU-Africa was motivated by the need to witness first-hand some of the educational reforms that the Ministry had been conceptualizing.
“For many years, one had to go outside the country to find an institution to benchmark with. USIU-Africa allows us to visit and see the practical application of some of the reforms that the Ministry is aspiring to,” she said.
“The Ministry of Education is doing everything in its power to ensure that drastic improvements are made as soon as possible in the Kenyan education system,” she added.
In his presentation, the Director of E-learning, USIU-Africa Online, Dr. Phillip Machoka noted that e-learning at USIU-Africa and the University’s ability to pivot seamlessly to online learning at the start of the pandemic was something that had taken years to refine.
“E-learning has been in use at USIU-Africa for over 14 years now. With the growth in the number of students over the years, the University began to seriously explore how it could expand its online learning offering to correspond to the pedagogical changes it was implementing in face to face teaching and learning,” he noted.
“The aspiration to strengthen online learning led to the formation of the USIU-Africa Online Learning Directorate, which is in charge of designing and preparing online courses as well as facilitating online teaching and learning. “
Dr. Machoka’s presentation covered the workings of the Blackboard System, which is the Learning Management System currently in use at the university. He demonstrated some of the system’s capabilities, including one on one contact with students, administration of assessments and examinations, its collaborative elements, its access by students regardless of their location, among others.
Other measures that have been taken to ensure that students continue to access top-notch online learning include membership to Quality Management, whose membership the university attained in 2021, as well as a planned migration to the latest version of Blackboard, Blackboard Ultra, scheduled to take place in May 2021.
“One of the biggest achievements for the Online Directorate was the development of the Online MBA, the first program of its kind approved by CUE and WSCUC in Kenya and the United States, respectively. Our inaugural class has 21 students out of the 25 that had been targeted for the class. Investment wise, we spend about Kshs. 13 million every year to ensure that all our licenses are up to date to support the delivery of online learning,” he added.