Written by Justus Maina, Dignitas Leadership Coach

The COVID-19 outbreak has caused one of the greatest disruptions to education witnessed in Kenya, and indeed the globe. In an attempt to prevent transmission of infection and to ensure the right to education for all learners, Dignitas quickly shifted from traditional in-person facilitation to digitally supported distance learning for our partner schools.

The switch to virtual training certainly could have penalized teachers who are not conversant or confident with more complex applications like Zoom, or those who did not have their own smart phones or computers, but a well thought out plan was put in place.  During our recent Leadership Academies, School Leaders met in their respective schools and were encouraged to use one phone to participate in each session. We knew this was possible since a survey had been done by our team a month earlier, and established that at least two teachers in every school had a smart phone, ensuring the teams would access the virtual workshops, together.

Despite having the Zoom sessions working very well, like any other technology, it has limitations. The facilitators could not see in real time how the school leaders were documenting what they were learning and especially in breakout rooms. This necessitated use of additional technology, such as WhatsApp. WhatsApp proved to be an excellent learning tool. Whats App allowed us to share training resources in a wide range of formats (PDFs, videos, text message, voice messages and more).  Workshop facilitators were able to share information and resources with school teams in real time, in a manner that complemented the Zoom training sessions. As school teams completed assignments, and group collaboration tasks, they shared the results in real time, and Dignitas Leadership Coaches were able to respond.  This provided a platform for formative assessment and immediate feedback to individuals and to school teams.

This proved that the creative use of technology has immense potential to support the learning process.  WhatsApp is a promising resource because of its low cost, simplicity, accessibility, efficiency and ease of use.  91% of workshop participants reported smooth learning, and said they felt fully supported by their Dignitas Leadership Coaches.

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