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Varsities shift to online studies

By Jacqueline Mahugu | Jun 3rd 2020 | 2 min read

Universities have decided to go the online route, going so far as to conduct exams online, a feat previously unseen.

The University of Nairobi recently became the first public university to hold online exams, with 100 per cent attendance for their first class of 26 students, with more to follow this week.

UoN Vice Chancellor Stephen Kiama said that since it was not known when institutions will be allowed to re-open, the senate had made the decision to allow the university calendar to continue.

This would prevent a backlog in the academic calendar as the university is set to admit students in September, and others in January. Current students will also be able to complete their studies on time.

“When you don’t adapt to your environment you become extinct,” he said.

“It was important for senate to make that decision so that we have the scheduled activities for this year, including graduation, which could not happen without exams being done. Those who qualify will also be able to go and serve the nation.”

Prof Kiama’s installation as the VC had also been put on hold when the pandemic started, but is now also scheduled to be done online on June 5.

Private universities are also following suit.

KCA University also conducted a virtual orientation for new students addressed by Vice Chancellor Noah Midamba.

The university successfully administered exams remotely for over 7,000 students who registered for January to May classes.

John Orindi, UoN Director of Corporate Affairs, said keeping the academic calendar going remotely requires a strong ICT department and resources, which the university had invested in earlier.

“When we changed to the new normal, we found that we had a very robust ICT system, so we switched to teaching online. Some of those platforms were there before but people were not taking advantage of them,” he said.

The students are watched while doing the exams, timed and once they complete, submit them online immediately. Given the chance of cheating, the exams are set in a way that minimises the possibility.

“The purpose of the exams is not to test how they have memorised, but their capability and understanding. You could be referring but it is set in such a way that even if you refer it will not be able to help you,” Orindi said.

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