- 6th Floor, I & M Building 2nd Ngong Avenue, Upper Hill
- +254 (0)20 2985000; +254 (0)729 111031 / +254 (0)731 000065
- Office Hrs: Today 9.00am to 6.00pm
Like the saying goes “every scholar is a product of his/her time.” I too came to realize that, for a long time, my teaching philosophy was influenced by the way I was taught. I was almost always the sage on the stage and my learners were the passive receivers of knowledge. For this reason, I had to prepare thoroughly to be at my best on “the stage.” Since I was taught with chalk board, I too was very comfortable with it, and I used to try as much as I could to emulate my teachers/professors I adored most. I must confess I always feared the new education technologies, since they were not very familiar, and I knew that my students were far better than me in that area. And, whereas my university had invested in some of these education technologies, I always avoided to use them, and this was helped by the fact that their use was not very obligatory. For long, I was working in my comfort zone. My students liked my efforts and I tried always to be a good teacher. But one thing always disturbed me: the performance of my students. My tireless efforts were not always reflected by the performance of my students in exams. They always tried to replicate what I taught in class, but they did not at all reach the levels I expected. And, as a teacher of ethics, I also found out that not all of my former students were behaving ethically. I was always frustrated, but I did not know what I had done wrong. As years passed, I realized that I had accumulated a lot of content knowledge but my students had not changed much from the previous ones. This continued to be the case until I underwent the PedaL workshops, which significantly transformed both my understanding of how students learn and the way I teach. PedaL provided the pedagogical change I needed.
My pedagogical journey with PedaL was preceded by my prior interactions with PASGR, during the design of the MRPP program a few years before. This made it easier for me to appreciate their life changing theory of change. Although my University was involved in the planning and designing of this project, I personally joined later as a participant. At a personal level, I underwent a dramatic transformation, and I will never look back. I must say, from the onset the project had incredibly life changing courses, although the mode of delivery went from good to best. I was deeply touched by the so many courses, but, given my work schedule, I could not ably consume and practice all. At the beginning I concentrated on some. The transformative pedagogies especially the use of technology in teaching and learning was a totally new area for me. The more I got a chance to attend the PedaL workshops, the more things became familiar and easier. This should put into consideration that I did not have a prior qualification in teaching. In this regard, I commend the project for always perfecting what they did along the way. This for me is dear, as a MEL person, because it shows the capacity of the project to learn from itself to have an even larger impact. The most notable change was to fill in the gap created by the Covid-19 pandemic. Without the PedaL support, our university could not have remained open during the local down caused by the pandemic.
There are many remarkable things which I learnt at a personal level along my PedaL journey. But, for the purpose of this piece I will only pick a few. In the first place, I will put the change of my teaching philosophy. PedaL helped me to discover my teaching philosophy and to change it. I discovered that for long I was giving my students a raw deal and for once I felt very guilty. The PedaL project, through its workshops, enabled me have a notable pedagogic change: from being the sage on the stage to being a guide on the side. The students and their learning substituted me at the centre of my teaching. I was able to use an approach that promotes more active participation of learners, collaborative learning, knowledge production and sharing, and innovative assessments. It is important to note the process through which this change happened. PedaL always gave us a chance to try out what we have learned during the process, especially through the favorite but also feared micro-teaching sessions. These gave a chance to share with colleagues but also created a quasi-live classroom environment. I was also equipped with the innovative teaching strategies which immediately changed the learning experiences of my students. In many of these, the students are now the protagonists of their learning. I use strategies such as the case method, flipped classroom, debates, group discussions, and the like, instead of the previous only lecture method.
The other remarkable pedagogical change in my Pedal journey is thus the embracement of educational technologies. In other words, contrary to my earlier fears, they made it look so simple and friendly. Although the pandemic might also have increased my earlier attention, the way PedaL organized the online teaching workshops never left my life the same again. Their pedagogical approach to online teaching was probably the best thing that happened to me during my Pedal journey. They made me look like an ICT person. I was then enabled to become a trainer of hundreds of others at my University, especially at the peak of the pandemic. I was introduced to many conventional learning platforms and tools, such as Moodle, Google classroom, Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Google meet, discussion forums, wikis, blogs, and others. I was excited to use breakout rooms, discussion forums, projects, collaborative wikis, reflective journals, chats, articles, e-portfolios, producing and storing digital documents, recording of classes to be viewed later, animation, performance, among others. The innovative assessments we were introduced to were also a turning point in my teaching journey. I am now able to use successfully collaborative wikis, online discussion forums, online debates, reflective journals, etc.
After this experience with educational technologies and learner centered approaches, and the transformative possibilities they give, I don’t want to return to traditional approaches I used before. I am aware also from our discussions that many of my students too don’t want to return to the traditional approaches.
My AHA moment was when I was able to design my own rubric. This changed the way I prepare my assignments for learning purposes and made it easy to mark big classes, especially doing this online.
The importance of the PedaL project is that it has equipped many academics, like me, on the continent which in turn is likely to have an effect on the teaching and learning of many people. This will provoke the change the African continent needs. Although we have generally been equipped pedagogically, PedaL has not enabled us on other important skills we need as academics such as running a project. Most activities were too centralized. HEIs need to be equipped with the same skills that have enabled such a successful project.
A4EA AAU advanced research design African universities agriculture Applied Quantitative Methods APSP ARD CABE call for applications cash transfers COVID-19 employment energy EOI Featured Governance higher education IDS IHDP INCLUDE Institute of Development Studies (IDS) LEAP Africa MMRC MRPP opportunity PAMOJA TRUST partnerships PASGR PDT pedagogy PedaL professional development and training professional training public policy Research research methods scholarships social protection Social sciences University of Ibadan University of Pretoria urban governance utafiti sera Youth employment
6th Floor, I & M Building
2nd Ngong Avenue, Upper Hill
P.O. Box 76418-00508
Tel: +254 (0)20 2985000;
+254 (0)729 111031 / +254 (0)731 000065