When the government announced the resumption of learning in schools early this year, many institutions faced the challenge of attaining social distance in classrooms as it was directed by the Ministry of Health.
A school in Murang’a with a population of about 1,200 faced a bigger challenge in attaining the required social distance.
The administration of Njiiri Boys School was forced to establish more classrooms to attain social distance.
The school’s principal Chomba Kamau noted that they were forced to put up 11 more classrooms so as to decongest the already existing ones.
With more classrooms, the challenge remained to get more teaching staff to cater to the extra classrooms.
“Initially we had 36 classrooms but after the government’s directive, we were forced to increase the number to 47. This demanded more teachers which we could not get from the Teachers Service Commission,” he added.
Kamau saying that “with a big number of students, the School Board of Management was to employ at least 24 teachers but this was a very expensive exercise.”
The principal added that after long deliberations, the school’s administration opted to adopt a new technology where a teacher can teach several classes at once.
The new digital platform, Kamau observed, would facilitate the proper learning of the students as well as minimize face-to-face teaching.
The institution was forced to part with Sh2.3 million to purchase and set up a virtual learning system.
Kamau observed that the new mode of teaching, despite helping to contain the spread of covid-19, has also made teaching easier as well as adding value to education.
“It has made learning easier and more fun as the teachers are able to use visual illustrations and video clips and this helps the students to capture and understand the context being taught,” he elucidated.
The principal further noted that although the use of the digital platform was an intervention measure taken during the pandemic, they will continue using it urging other schools to embrace it.
A teacher in charge of ICT at the institution Mr. Stephen Njoroge said they outsourced an android application known as (truconf) which is server-based. The application allows a teacher to engage all the 13 classes in a particular lesson.
TrueConf is a Russian company that produces software-based video conferencing and unified communications products. The company’s applications are designed for usage in conference or meeting rooms, at workplaces, and on mobile devices.
TrueConf’s software architecture is based on Scalable Video Coding (SVC). During a multipoint video conference, each conference participant receives an individual set of video streams adjusted in accordance with bandwidth, network connection, and endpoint capabilities.
As opposed to SVC technology, traditional video conferencing based on multipoint control units (MCUs) performs transcoding server-side, which is not scalable thus unsuitable for large deployments. SVC-based architecture is considered to have a competitive advantage as it significantly lowers infrastructure costs and easily adapts to any necessary device.
TrueConf allows is available on all devices and offers unlimited 4K video meetings with up to 1000 participants, screen sharing, group messaging, and video recording.
At Njiiri Boys School, Njoroge explains that a teacher is required to have a laptop connected to an external microphone and a camera so that the students can be able to see and hear him.
On the other end, the classrooms are fitted with smart TVs, a microphone, and a camera for easier interactions with the teacher.
The teacher is then required to feed content into the laptop and when the learning session kicks off, it will display on the screens in the classrooms.
“We have created an internal network for the gadgets and thus we don’t require the internet to run the lessons,” he said.
Njoroge says the concept is a modified version of the ‘zoom’ application which was being used by teachers to conduct lessons when the students were at home.
“We are looking forward to having our customized program specifically for this school which we can be using at all times but this would require more expertise and funds and I appeal to the government to chip in,” he added.