“I have a smartphone. We use chatting apps like Whatsapp to share stuff among ourselves, we use PDF readers to read content. What more can you do to make a difference?” asked one of the students in the audience.
On the morning of 17th September 2014, the sun shined bright at Taita Taveta Technical University, when students and teachers gathered to be a part of a discussion on the pedagogy change. The aim of the discussion was to give students the power to take control of their learning throughout the course.
About 400 people consisting of students and teachers carefully listened to the Deputy Principal, Academics, when he spoke about the pedagogy change, making students the centre of education rather than the teachers. The Deputy Principal, Academics and Director, Information Technology started the discussion. They later introduced Tushar Vohra, one of the founders of mElimu, to answer questions that the students and teachers had about the use of tablets in college education, following a presentation.
Tushar answered, “mElimu gives a unified platform to every student in each course. It has messaging functionality through discussion forums, which is more structured. If students wish to discuss about the lessons taught on a specific day, for a specific topic, it is easier to operate the chat functionality in a more structured form, with different discussion threads for each topic or lesson.”
Question: I am in the process of changing from being a regular student to a distant learner for one semester. How can you help me in this?
Answer: mElimu tablets prove utile for regular as well as distance learning students. It provides students with up-to-date course content, quizzes and even facilitates communication with the teachers.
To switch to distance learning for a particular semester, a student will need to get in touch with the registrar of the particular college and submit a request to switch to distance learning. The policies around this may differ from one college to another.
Question: What happens to the tablet and its contents when I move from one semester to another, and when I finally pass out of college?
Answer: The tablet is a property of the students and therefore remains with them when they move from one semester to another or complete college. They need to update the tablet for its content in each semester. The students can still access the course content; however, classes and interaction with the last semester will be unavailable.
A post on the meeting on the website of Taita Taveta University College:
Tushar also met a student from among the audience who had a somewhat similar idea to mElimu. He had suggested a similar idea to the college and was very enthusiastic to join the team.
With the overwhelming response from the audience that included some questions from the teachers also, it could be well implied that it is not just the students, but teachers are also looking for ways to make higher education more effective and systematic.