KENET support for research and education during COVID-19
Concerted efforts to utilize technology in support of remote learning and teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic are emerging and evolving rapidly. The extraordinary disruption caused by the pandemic in Learning institutions has called for KENET to offer support and guidance on adopting innovative ways in ensuring learning continuity.
KENET whose mandate is to transform research and learning using ICT has a list of educational platforms, resources and services that are deliberately designed to benefit member institutions navigate smoothly towards remote learning and teaching.
Training and support on the use of free KENET Web Conference Platform
KENET has a web conference solution running on BigBlueButton (BBB) which is open to all its member institutions. https://conference.ke/
The platform can be used to organize virtual remote classes and meetings. In general, the web conferencing facility can be used for training events, lectures, or presentations from a web-connected device such as computer, smart phone and tablet to other web-connected devices made possible by internet technologies.
Its high-quality and easy to use format has made it a great solution for most member institutions with more focus put on online and distance learning. The platform has a vast of interactive features for the instructor that include real-time sharing of audio, video, slides, chat, and screen.
KENET has continuously conducted trainings on the use of the platform to its member institution to provide essential skills to participants for ease of use. There are two sets of training: training the trainer and faculty user training.
The train the trainer trainers is focused on the nominated champions who will spearhead virtual learning at the institution. The champions have a role of conducting similar trainings to their respective institutions and to offer basic support knowledge and aspects of practice of the platform to users. The basic user training is open to all faculty members and focuses on training users on creating account, managing users and highlighting interactive features.
KENET offers technical and user support regarding Web Conferencing to all its members.
Virtual Classroom setup and Hosting on BigBlueButton
KENET has the capacity to support institutions setup their own instance of BigBlueButton (BBB) and recommends it as a virtual classroom solution. The customized KENET web conferencing solution for any institution will require varying server specificationsdepending on the number of concurrent classes, participants per concurrent session and what media users are sharing in a session. The customized setup has the added advantage of being able to seamlessly integrate with learning management system (LMS) such as Moodle.
The integration allows one to create multiple activity links to online sessions within any course and attach open/close dates for the session. Hosts can also access and manage recordings easily within a course, create custom welcome messages and manage users by limiting students from joining a session until an instructor (moderator) allows them in.
LMS and Digital Repository Setup and Hosting
A learning management system (LMS) is a software application or web-based technology used to plan, implement and assess a specific learning process. The learning processes can be blended learning, online learning and remote learning. An LMS helps provide optimal support for all forms of training, learning and knowledge sharing. Therefore, an LMS forms a key part in utilizing eLearning platforms. An institution can incorporate all courses and training material in one place for easy administration. At KENET, we setup and customize Moodle LMS and host upon request the VPS to our Data centre.
KENET also hosts digital repositories for its member institutions, allowing them to provide reliable online access to their scholarly and pedagogical output. A digital repository is an archive for collecting, preserving, and disseminating online resources including dissertations, thesis, published and unpublished journals, relevant documents, audio files, images and datasets. Having digital repositories help to provide easy access to institutional research output. There are countless benefits of hosting with KENET. KENET has the technical capacity to setup and host the LMS and digital repositories for the learning institutions. KENET can offer leased infrastructure for this service or colocation of the institution server infrastructure at its data centres.
Discounted Data Bundles
KENET in partnership with mobile networks providers (Safaricom PLC, Airtel Network and Telkom Kenya) have come up with eLearning Discounted Bundlesfor the higher education community. The eLearning Discounted Bundle is a perfect off-campus solution for students and faculties in order to facilitate remote learning and teaching. The discounted bundles are restricted to accessing educational resources from sources that are whitelisted by the mobile network service providers. The institutions can provide a list of sites to be included in the subsidized bundle by visiting https://registration.kenet.or.ke/url_whitelist and uploading the required information.
Below are the negotiated pre- paid bundle plans for the KENET Community: -
1. Safaricom - 10GB/month data bundle at KES 500
2. Telkom discounted bundles for students
3. KENET sponsored TKL SIM cards for faculty and staff who need to teach or work remotely from their homes (up to 30GB per month).
4. Airtel Networks - 12GB/month data bundle at KES 500
All students and staff of institutions of higher learning (Universities, University Colleges, etc) are eligible to sign up and purchase the discounted bundles once the subscriber has been whitelisted/activated.
As institutions move online, the faculty who do not have access to institution-issued devices will have to use personal devices. This presents a security concern for the Institution as the faculty will be required to download critical student data onto their personal devices. Security training for the faculty is essential to mitigate against various forms of cyber-attacks. KENET has developed an online cyber security training that the Faculty, Staff and Students can undertake as part of their security awareness training. Registration is ongoing and can be accessed here: https://www.kenet.or.ke/content/cyber-security .