- 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
I was appointed in 2018 by the Maseno University Chief Executive to be a Learner Support Assistant (LSA) for School of Arts and Social Sciences’ (SASS) programs for e-Campus online learners. This appointment came as a surprise to me since though I was competent in using computers I was not aware of anything dealing with e-learning and even the so called Learning Management System (LMS). As customary, I was taken through simple orientation focusing on my assignment by the e-campus technical team on issues regarding online support to the learners and facilitators. It was a very hectic assignment to me but I did not throw in the towel. I had to persevere. During this time of engagement, I started supporting learners for postgraduate courses for my school and other assigned undergraduate programs from other schools using the e-campus as a platform for teaching and learning. By the beginning of the year 2019, I was appointed to a more senior position as School of Arts and Social Sciences program coordinator for both face to face at Kisumu Campus and also online learning at the e-Campus respectively. This appointment meant an increased demand on workload and be fully able to navigate the LMS. This engagement meant that I had to be glued all the time to the e-campus website in order to understand the demands of e-learners.
Beginning of the year 2020 during the onset of the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic, the university teaching and learning was therefore thrown into a technical confusion. Face to face programs had to be cancelled and students sent to their parents and guardians. In this regard, University managements all over the world, Maseno included, had to device ways of embracing online learning and teaching that was partially taking place. In the case of Maseno University, the slim e-campus technical team was really overworked in trying to train all the university lecturers on designing courses and navigating the LMS. This was really a hard task. Being a school program coordinator, I was expected too to take a key role in supporting the technical team in the trainings of the lecturers. It became a big challenge to me since I only had basic skills on design and navigation of the LMS. However, as the technical team and I were struggling with in-house trainings, I received a surprise call from one of the PEDAL facilitators who was also one of our cherished professors in the school membership. She became very instrumental in encouraging me and others regarding online teaching and learning and good trainings by PEDAL. I could not wait for that opportunity to come-by. When others and I were recruited for training, a good number of lecturers from our school got the opportunity and successfully completed training. This thorough training was an eye opener to me and the rest of the lecturers. As this training was going on, the university management also ensured that internal trainings of lecturers by the e-campus technical team were also going on. The internal trainings by technical team included the lecturers, Chairs of departments and Deans of various schools. However, this lasted just for sometime before majority of lecturers reverted to face to face teaching while others had a totally changed mind set of teaching fully online or blended. Students too had mixed reactions; others supporting the move while others were completely negative about it. The superb knowledge and skills gained from PEDAL trainings informed my inclusion into the PEDAL facilitation team.
Both the internal Maseno University and the PEDAL trainings had a great impact on my online pedagogical journey. By the end of the training, I was therefore able to learn more and more about online engagements and even induct other colleagues who wanted some quick orientation. I was able to convert our exams from Microsoft word to notepad and XML, and thereafter insert them into the LMS. I also learned through PEDAL a direct way of setting exams of various kinds: essays, short answers, multiple-choice questions among others in the LMS. I was also able to use the examination proctoring tool known as Lock-Down-Browser (LDB) for exam invigilation. The other key skills learned from PEDAL trainings were: advanced course design in the LMS; online course facilitation and assessment; increased use of Zoom, Google-meet, Canvas; using gnomio.com for free LMS sites; establishing e-portfolio; using Google classroom; Scormhero.com for an interactive power-point presentation; gender inclusion into the course design; and approaches of online facilitation like case studies and flipped classroom that I know enjoy in my teaching.
The PEDAL training was marvelous. In fact, the PEDAL team comprised many experienced scholars who were ready to impart pedagogical skills to the trainees. Many of the trainees from Maseno University still remember the roles they played in modeling their pedagogical journey. The PEDAL technical team was equally up-to the task. Whoever, plans to have a similar project should always ensure that the facilitation team has a mixture of persons from diverse disciplines and experiences, and also people who are really committed to accomplish the tasks in good time. There is also need to persuade University managements to give support and encouragements to the dons while on training and making a follow-up on the implementation of knowledge and skills learnt. If possible, students also need proper orientation on how to navigate the LMS in various individual universities.
I was happy with the way Revised Blooms taxonomy that is used in shaping up course expected learning outcomes was concisely and precisely simplified. I really enjoyed using these steps whereby objectives whether of the whole course unit or the topic must always move from low to higher order skills. It has become my eye-opener since majority of my learners are now very creative thus transferring the learned skills. This was really fantastic. The other aha moment was the inclusion of gender issues into my courses. This is an element I had never thought of but now I always ensure that whenever I give examples in whichever form in the course or in class, gender inclusivity is always taken into consideration. I am also able to conduct online classes properly and with a lot of ease by using Google-meet, Zoom, Canvas, and even Big Blue Button (BBB) among others without the support of the e-campus technical team. I am able to conduct online assessment, e-workshops, sharing documents during online presentations, using WeTransfer app for sending large zoom recorded downloads and also e-conferences/webinars with a lot of ease among other skills.
Because of PEDAL training I have been able to craft my own e-portfolio (see link: https://sites.google/view/okal2020onlinetraining/home . Google Scholar site:https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0,5&q=benard+odoyo+okal&oq=be. I have also been able to design various online courses in Kiswahili language in the Maseno University e-Campus LMS: Language Acquisition 1; Instrumental Linguistics; Oral Literature I; Kiswahili Poetry; Onomastics in Kiswahili; Discourse Analysis in Kiswahili; & Translation and Interpretation. The PEDAL knowledge and skills gained from trainings and facilitations have contributed to my inclusion into the digital pedagogy team that will be tasked with the responsibility of designing online short courses for media department. The Department of Communication and Media of Maseno University in collaboration with the Media Council of Kenya is already crafting a memorandum of understanding to collaborate in training short courses lasting for between 8-12 weeks on: climate change, child rights protection, media sustainability, and media production among others.
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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