Enhancing ICT competence and capacity in bio-entrepreneurship education is central for reaching a wide number of students in Sub-Saharan Africa. PBL-BioAfrica has started on this task by investigating teachers’ current usage of digital learning platforms in Kenya and Zambia through surveys and focus group interviews.
Issues in online teaching
An online survey about teachers’ pedagogical competences received more than 90 replies from teachers in Kenya and Zambia. Each partner university conducted focus group discussions in which 4–6 deans, lecturers and ICT staff members participated.
Based on the survey and the focus group discussions, the need for improving usage of digital platforms in bio-entrepreneurship education became evident. All partner HEIs (Higher Education Institutions) already do have online platforms in use, but equipment and software are often out of date or inadequate. Connectivity is also problematic in remote teaching; although the internet connection might be excellent on university campuses, the quality of the connections varies in teachers’ and students’ homes and off-campus offices.
Another issue that came up was the attitude towards online teaching among both teachers and students. Due to the pandemic, a large part of teaching has been forced to take place online, and the situation has been unpleasant to many. Teachers and students struggle with keeping the lectures as interactive as in classroom teaching, and using digital platforms often causes additional work for teachers.
“While some universities have trained their lecturers and students on using the online platforms, questions of motivation and converting the courses to e-learning mode need to be addressed. This is because many course units are yet to be converted for e-learning delivery”, says Dr. Samuel Ruhiu, University of Nairobi.
“With the onset of COVID-19 restrictions, many lecturers have been forced to deliver their ‘normal’ lectures through the online platforms without the supportive interactive features of e-learning, which may not be engaging for students. There is therefore need to train the lecturers on converting their courses to e-learning mode, and to motivate them to invest the time and effort required to do the actual conversion.”