Kenyatta launches virtual learning ‘Anywhere School’

Kenyatta University has become the first in East Africa to have a fully-fledged digital school, offering a wide range of courses through virtual and open learning. A free tablet uploaded with course materials for every student is expected to be a huge drawcard.

The university has transformed its former virtual learning centre, a low key and little known learning facility, into a fully independent open and distance education school with modern facilities, offering undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.

Being marketed under the catch phrase Digitize Masomo – in Swahili, Masomo means ‘education’ – and under the banner of “The Anywhere School”, the institution is hoping to be a hit with East Africans keen to take courses at their own convenience.

The school is targeting adult learners and people unable to commit themselves to attending classes either as full-time or part-time students. The university estimates that there are thousands of potential students among the working classes.

Vice-chancellor Professor Olive Mugenda said at the launch that the university’s Digital School of Virtual and Open Learning, or DSVOL, “demonstrates our understanding of the unique benefits and advantages of digital technology in the education sector, and comes at a time when change is faster than ever”.

Blended learning, incentives

e-Learning had the ability to deliver learning anytime, anyplace and faster than classroom-based instruction, Mugenda added.

“The school will provide a wide range of quality programmes at diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate levels using blended teaching and learning that combines digital instructions with live tutorials.”

Live tutorials will be offered from the institution’s 10 campuses across the country beginning in September 2014, when the e-learning programmes commence.

Each student will, on registering, be issued with a free tablet computer uploaded with all the course units registered for – an incentive that the university believes will attract thousands of technology-savvy Kenyan youth willing to further their education.

A further incentive, according the vice-chancellor, is low fees ranging from US$600 for diplomas to US$1,000 for undergraduate degrees and US$1,400 for postgraduate courses per academic year.

“Programmes will run on a trimester cycle in which students enrolled for undergraduate courses can complete their studies within three calendar years as opposed to four years for full-time students,” said Mugenda. Masters courses will extend over a minimum of 18 months, while postgraduate diploma courses will extend over a minimum of one year.

Courses on offer include diplomas in public relations, guidance and counselling, early childhood education, disaster and crime management, tourism management, information technology, and security and police studies.

Degree courses include education, information technology, sciences, economics, public policy and administration, and agribusiness management. And masters will be offered in fields of education, library and information science, tourism and hospitality management, agriculture, geography and public policy.

Kenyatta University

Kenyatta University is the fastest growing higher education institution in Kenya, with the largest student population – 61,000 enrolments last year – and some of the most expansive physical facilities in the country.

The university, located about 15 kilometres from Nairobi city centre, has been on an ambitious expansion spree marked by development of infrastructure and expansion of courses – the latest being medicine and pharmacy, complete with a referral teaching hospital.

Last year the university commenced construction of a ‘city-within-campus’ on its 162 hectares of land. The ‘Uni-City’ is a multimillion dollar project being created in three phases in partnership with the private sector, and will include a hypermarket, petrol station, shops, food courts, an office block, residential apartments, banking halls and a conference centre.

The university is also developing ultra-modern student hostels at a cost of US$10.1 million in partnership with the private sector, to accommodate the ever-rising number of students.