Bernard Mugo, a faculty member at Kenyatta University (KU) in the Department of Educational Communication and Technology didn’t question his level of expertise until he spent a year at Syracuse University (SU) in New York to enrich his doctoral studies in special education through a U.S. Agency for International Development-funded Higher Education for Development (HED) partnership. “I used to say that I am knowledgeable in technology in my department before I left for SU but I soon found out that I did not have any idea about interactive whiteboards or online teaching,” said Mugo, who teaches courses on educating children with disabilities. Discovering and knowing how to integrate technology in teaching and learning at Kenyatta University was a challenge because of the limited training in new technologies. Courses there lacked the visually engaging qualities of multimedia and interactivity of online tools.
After completing his Certificate of Advanced Study course in Teaching and Curriculum at Syracuse University, Mugo improved his English, learned to research using the Internet and developed course preparation materials. The HED partnership allowed him to conduct part of his doctoral studies at SU while still enrolled at KU. “Due to this exposure, I have now started helping other KU faculty members in integrating techniques in teaching and synchronizing information with assistive technology,” he said.
This partnership is changing how teacher education faculty members at Kenyatta University instruct their students. In total, 40 faculty members have participated in professional development workshops to gain new skills for the improvement of courses and teaching methodologies. They have learned how to support their students through the use of technologies, such as Moodle, an e-learning platform; Internet resources, multimedia case studies, simulations; strategies for supporting all learners and managing large classes.
In addition, 11 lecturers spent two months at Syracuse University observing classes, learning more about how to integrate technology into classrooms, and participating and presenting at a conference in the United States. Faculty members now discuss methods to increase interactivity, even with the current configuration of large classes, as well as how to help all students through the integration of technology.
“I have never applied integration of technology in teaching and have never used simulations before this training,” said Michael Waititu, a faculty member at Kenyatta University who teaches physics education courses and also spent a year at Syracuse University in the certificate program. “I was able to gain new knowledge in research methods and technology and was able to develop and defend my Ph.D. proposal successfully,” he added. Waititu is collecting data for his dissertation study on gender equity in Kenyan secondary physics teaching. “I am particularly excited to use video clips from multimedia case studies filmed in Kenyan secondary classrooms in the methods course I teach to prepare physics teachers,” Waititu said.