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National Computer Studies Teachers Conference - 13th November 2010 - Strathmore University

As part of the ongoing project with secondary schools, last November we organized a national conference for all Computer Studies teacher across the country. The theme of the conference was: ‘Best Practices in Teaching Computer Studies in Schools’ Invitations were sent to all the Head Teachers and Principals of the schools teaching computer studies or have interest in ICT in education. The conference received a very positive response: a total of 60 teachers were in attendance.

A group photo of a section of the teachers at the conference

The conference was graced by the Guest of Honour Mr. Ngware Kuria who is the Senior Deputy Director Secondary & Tertiary Education. Mr. Ngware represented the Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Education (Prof. James Ole Kiyiapi) which endorsed the conference. In his speech the PS, highlighted the efforts of the Ministry in integrating ICTs in the curriculum in the Teaching and learning process. He pointed out the urgent need for concerted efforts to bridge the digital divide and transform the society. He also praised the conference efforts as a major step in the realization of Kenya’s vision 2030 which recognizes the special role to be played by Science Technology and Innovation as the basis for rapid social-economic transformation. Others in attendance were the Deputy Vice Chancellor in-charge of Academic Affair Dr. Izael Da Silva and the Dean Faculty of Information Technology Dr. Reuben Marwanga.

three people watching proceedings

two women watching proceedings

Throughout the morning and afternoon sessions, very interesting and useful discussions emerged on the conference topics including: the challenges of teaching computer studies, promoting best teaching practices, sharing technology and digital resources, relevance of the current Computer Studies’ syllabus etc. Going forward, some points emerged which the research group will continue to pursue. These include: creating a forum for collaboration and exchange through the eLearning platform (under development on: www.kcse.strathmore.edu), developing a programme for IT skills enhancement for Teachers, installing the Rural café in the schools (See: http://code.google.com/p/ruralcafe/wiki/Introduction) and creating a mailing list for correspondence with the Teachers. We hope to pursue these tasks in the course of this year. A future review conference has been planned for August 2011.

Use of ICT in Enhancing Teaching and Curriclum Delivery in Marginalised Secondary Schools in Kenya

Background Information

In November 2009, the ICT FOR DEVELOPMENT (ICT4D) research group in the Faculty of Information Technology (FIT)-Strathmore University was awarded U$15000 by the Internet Society Community Programme. The grant was additional support for an ongoing two-year research project titled ‘Use of ICT in Enhancing Teaching and Curriculum delivery in marginalised Secondary Schools in Kenya’. The project is running in collaboration with five secondary schools-four of them are girl’s only schools located in rural Kenya. See: www.strathmore.edu/hp for details. This project is supported by 10 faculty members and 20 undergraduate students.

The project aims at developing an eLearning portal to support secondary school education, improve IT infrastructure in rural school, enabling Internet access (including the local communities), mentoring secondary school students especially the girl child and supporting teachers in the delivery of the Computer Studies course offered as part of the official KCSE (Kenya Certificate of Secondary School Education) curriculum.

This update narrates the on-going activities carried out by the project team supported by the funds.

School Visits

In the past one year (from September 2009), the 20 undergraduate students in the project have been visiting the 5 schools to mentor, encourage and support the teaching of computer studies. The students have been divided in 5 groups of 4 students each. The groups have been visiting the schools on Saturdays during the school term to support the respective computer studies teachers in mentoring the students in areas of the syllabus that have not been sufficiently covered or the students did not understand. The main aim is to encourage the secondary school students especially the girls to take an interest in computing and possibly pursue this area as a future career.

So far the undergraduate students have made over 30 visits to the schools with positive response from the school teachers, administration and the students. We have learnt that working with undergraduate students to complement the teaching of computer studies in schools has been very effective. The students have developed very innovative ways of motivating, cultivating interest in the high schools students especially students in the candidate class. Our undergraduate students have sacrificed their free time on weekends to support the goals of the project.

The project has achieved a number of milestones including:

  • Organising of an Open Day event in January 2010 for students in the participating schools to visit the university and interact with prominent personalities in the ICT industry to motivate and encourage the students. Some of the pictures of the Open Day can be seen below:

man presenting career talk

teacher instructing high school students

group of students

  • Setting up of an eLearning platform that will host open educational resources supporting the National Secondary School curriculum. At the moment the work of developing these educational resources is on-going with the resources located at www.kcse.strathmore.edu. We still have the challenge of providing Internet connectivity to the schools to be able to access the online educational resources. One possible solution is the implementation of the rural café system. This is a system that provides enhanced web access in areas with limited or no Internet access through a cache of related subject areas on a local area network. This system has been provided by the support of J. Chen a PhD candidate at New York University. We have deployed the system at Kahuhia Girls High School with positive response from the subject teacher and the students.
  • Part of the Internet Society grant has been used in purchasing 5 projectors for use by the undergraduate students in supporting teaching and mentoring of the undergraduate students. The projectors have been very useful in improving the visual effect of the teaching practical topics of the computer studies course.

We hope that the undergraduate students and the project have made a positive impact in changing and improving the performance of the students in computer studies. More updates will be posted as the project progresses.

By. Emmanuel Kweyu. ekweyu@strathmore.edu

Posted: 8 October 2010 by Emmanuel Kweyu

Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.