To enhance the learning environment at student hostels KENET is deploying off campus eduroam wifi installation at off campus hostels at JKUAT and Laikipia main campuses. KENET has set up off-campus eduroam Wi-Fi installation at private hostels at JKUAT and Laikipia University main campuses. This involves extending point-to-point links to the hostels and installing the required Wi-Fi access points. This is part of KENET's strategic initiative to promote and facilitate the digital transformation and digital inclusion of member institutions using ICT as the National Roaming Operator of Eduroam in Kenya.
Eduroam is the free secure worldwided roaming access service developed for the international research and education community. The eduroam off campus projects provides bursting during off-peak hours helping in bandwidth utilization hence making it easier for students to do their academic work and conduct their research activities. The project is a huge cost saving option as most students can now access reliable and highspeed internet for free compared to buying data bundles.
Eduroam connected offcampus hostels
The Covid 19 pandemic increased the demand for a shift to blended learning approach requiring students to have access to reliable internet. Students spent a lot of money purchasing bundles to attend classes and conduct research online. With Eduroam students access internet for studying at the comfort of their homes at no additional cost at the comfort of their homes. KENET donated over 40 Ubiquity Access Points to start off the eduroam project at JKUAT. Eduroam accounts were created for students and staff with an understanding that they can connect at any eduroam site they visit regardless of the location.
Speaking on the project, Dr. Fredah Karambu Rimberia Wanzala, JKUAT Associate Professor and Dean of Students descrobed Eduroam as a big leap forward in development specifically for learning institutions highlighting how it has aided education and research. "Eduroam has transformed the education and research experience in academia with the good internet connection browsing the bulk of research materials can now be easily accessed through elibrary. Eduroam has been very helpful to students as it caters to their different browsing needs, " said Dr. Karambu.
Eduroam has encouraged uptake of online services by the university and helped in the facilitation of online classes making it easier to access information and catering to the educational needs of the students . It has also reduced traffic in the library as there is good internet connectivity in the hostels compared to when only the library had good connectivity. "Eduroam has a positive impact as it is affordable and cost effective compared to other internet options. It also does not buffer no matter the number of users making it easy to browse and conduct research online, " said Lewis Nyambega, a resident of Mwenge House, one of the Eduroam connected hostels.
Mr Arthur Wainaina, Department of ICT, Head of Infrastructure and Support Services at JKUAT emphasized on the need to support the Eduroam project and have it expanded to denselt populated student residential areas to ensure more students benefit from it. "Eduroam is also essential for cooperation within universities as users can still be authenticated when visiting other institutions and use their bandwidth to roam. It provides unlimited camapcity forteaching and internet access and aids in conducting research for references, " said Mr. Wainaina.
Eduroam connected offcampus hostels
Eduroam has reduces financial costs for students in Laikipia University making it easy for students to conduct theit studies and research outside of the primary materials taught in class at the comfort of their hostels. "In today's digital era most assignments and classwork are online and with eduroam we have been able to conduct the classwork and assignments successfully because of the good connection, "saif Trisha Pagasa, 2nd year student at Laikipia University.
With Eduroam the students can stay updated on the current global issues making online research easier and reducing the financial burden of the students. The project has attracted the attention of other private hostels owners near Laikipia University who have now expressed interest in having their hostels connceted as this is highly requested as this is highly requested by the students.
ACORN (Qwetu and Qejani)
Qwetu and Qejani CUEA hostels opening ceremony
KENET partnered with Acorn Holdings Limited to provide internet connectivity broadband internet by extending eduroam to all Qwetu and Qejani hostels located within the neighborhood of connected university campuses.
ACORN Holdings Consultant, Prof Noah Midamba, highlighted the need fot student accomodation for university students among other universities core values such as research, teach and community service leading to the introduction of Qwetu and Qejani. "There is a need for students to be accomodated in a safe environment which is conducive for learning, " said Prof. Midamba.
KENET considers student hostels to be learning spaces which support both online learning and private study and will provide broadband internet to students to facilitate online learning. With the Eduroam single log in students will be able to have seamless and authenticated access to institutional digital infrastructure, services and assets.
Other similar projects undertaken by KENET include the Open Wi-Fi installation at Eastern Zone at Kenyatta University on campus hostels with a capacity of up to 5000 students. KENET is working towards extending eduroam to on-campus hostels at Kenyatta University, University of Nairobi, Egerton University and Moi University with an aim of generating access for the benefit of students. KENET has the capacity to provide technical support to other university-financed initiatives to extend eduroam to lower capacity on- and off- campus student hostels.