Tablets Delivered, But Are They Used?

Here’s the picture of a typical Wamunyu classroom: cement walls with a few handmade posters of learning concepts, worn wooden bench desks that seat 2 to 3 students, a blackboard and a cracked cement floor. The classrooms are typically dark, but filled with the radiance of pupils, eager to learn.

In 2017, the Kenyan government issued a laptop computer and tablets to the primary schools in Kenya including Wamunyu in an effort to provide 21st century learning.   One would think, finally….technology had come to the classroom, but….. and this is a big but…..most teachers did not know how to use the technology and kept the tablets and computer locked away for safe keeping. Most of these teachers had never used a computer, tablet or even smart phone and the brief training that was provided 8 months prior to the dissemination of the equipment wasn’t adequate. Not only did they not know how to integrate technology into the Kenyan curriculum, they were petrified to use the equipment in fear that it might break.

As Kenya Connect staff learned of this challenge, they consulted with the local Curriculum Development Officer to see if training at our Learning Resource Center would be helpful. As a result, Patrick Munguti, Director of Technology Education and ICT at Kenya Connect, met with experts on how to use the tablets and computer and developed a training for local teachers and teachers from the nearby Kyaithani Cluster. This Digital Literacy class teaches basic ICT skills, how to use the teacher and student devices, and the Netscape manager control.

In addition to providing the basics to the teachers on how to use the computer and tablets, Patrick has worked with the teachers on how to integrate the technology into the curriculum. He also demonstrated the use of the World Possible Rachel Plus, a content-rich device that can be used as a “server” to the instructional computer. The Rachel Plus has e-books, interactive components of the Kenyan curriculum, Wikipedia, Ted Talks, and much more. Kenya Connect has Rachel Plus devices that teachers can check out of our lending library to use in the classroom. One of our goals is to eventually have enough Rachel Plus devices for each school.

I never knew that these gadgets had so much to learn and teach my students. I will now incorporate technology in my class. –Mr. Kyuu from Ngului PS

The teachers attending these classes are invited to join a “WhatsApp” group so they can share questions, ideas and how they have used the technology with each other. In an effort to make sure the devices are being used and to support the teachers, Patrick will be visiting the classrooms during the remainder of the academic year and serves as “tech” support to them.

I am quite impressed by the follow-up calls the teachers are making to ask for help in case they get stuck while at school. This is an indicator that they are using the technology in their classrooms. Patrick Munguti

This is just one of the many initiatives that Kenya Connect is providing to our 55 partner schools to help transform education in our village. We are striving to have our students become 21st century learners fully utilizing the resources provided.

Training has been conducted for 172 teachers from KC partner schools and 24 teachers from Kyaithani cluster for a total of 196 teachers. By July we expect to have a total of 216 teachers trained. We are grateful to the Sunshine Coast-Sechelt Rotary Club of British Columbia, Canada who provided a generous grant to support this technology training.