IDS Embraces Technology to Overcome Covid-19 Hurdles
Since the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic worldwide, many learning institutions have embraced technology to ensure day-to-day academic activities go on uninterrupted.The Institute for Development Studies (IDS), University of Nairobi, is one of the institutions where teaching, research, seminars and examinations have been going on despite the coronavirus scare.
According to the IDS Director Prof Karuti Kanyinga, the Institute has embraced technology fast since it is a graduate institution and its staff has a tradition of working through teamwork. “We also consulted students and they unanimously agreed that they didn’t want any delay. Many students say that online teaching is the way to go and they are keen to proceed with online learning and examination in the post-COVID-19 era,” says Prof Kanyinga.
Besides teaching and examination, IDS has continued smoothly with its bi-monthly seminar series as well as Ph.D. seminars. In many cases, online seminars have attracted more participants than traditional seminars. IDS partners scattered across the globe have been able to participate in the seminars. IDS staff and students have hailed the online engagement via Zoom, Google Meet and other platforms. According to Dr. Joseph Onjala, Senior Research Fellow, the students have been very responsive to the new technology. He says IDS has managed to successfully implement online interactions because of the collegial leadership of the Director and intensive training conducted by the ICT department. He also hails the University of Nairobi management for providing overall leadership.
Dr. Radha Upadhyaya, a Research Fellow, says the online technology has enabled the Institute to continue with its activities without a long break. She, however, acknowledges that the new technology is not bereft of challenges, such as connectivity hitches. “You miss human connection and interactions during online teaching but overall, many students have embraced and enjoyed the new technology,” observes Dr. Upadhyaya.
According to Mr. Victor Onyango, a Master of Development Studies (MDEV) student, the IDS staff have been very committed and have shown a high level of support whenever there are challenges. “Online teaching should be incorporated for students who may not be able to attend the one on one classes. Because of its flexibility, classes can be held any time and even on weekends,” he says.
Ms. Evalyne Mutuku, also an MDEV student, says online technology enables students to learn from the convenience of their homes. She observes that even if a student misses a lecture, it can be followed up later via its recording.