How USIU utilizes ICT and technology to flexibly deliver learning to students

By Siddhartha Chudasama

The United States International University – Africa (USIU-A) fraternity is well on its way to making considerable strides in ensuring a more collaborative and technologically inclined campus. USIU aims to be the premier academic institution in Africa, boasting a student population drawn from over 73 nationalities, 1,400 alumni and a financial aid budget of Kshs 80 million.

A much more technologically proficient campus is definitely one of the most sought after goals, with over 24 programs and 26 global partners, it would undoubtedly raise the bar to the roof, whilst creating endless opportunities in the process.

(TOP: Professor Valarie Palapala Adema, Dean of School of Science and Technology, UISIU-A, during the launch of the AppFactory at the institution. Photo: USIU-A’s Twitter page).

To enable a conducive learning environment, the university has ensured that each and every class comes equipped with a sturdy HP projector. This enables lecturers to have a much more controlled learning environment, which would help ensure a very interactive learning session. The projectors are used to display any learning material which the lecturer wants to put across. In case the content being viewed on the projector has any sound, then there are well positioned speakers in the corners of the classrooms, the windows in the class rooms are also noise cancelling, so as not to cause any interference or disturbance.

The entire technological database that has been wired for every class seeks to ensure the best learning experience. Whatever is then broadcasted during the class, is uploaded onto an academic site that facilitates easier communication between lecturers and students, this site is called BlackBoard. BlackBoard enables the student to see announcements from the school administration, the calendar, tasks to be accomplished for the student to reach their maximum potential, grades, directory to various lecturers, course materials and measuring of goal performance. Additionally, the student is also able notes and assignments once the lecturer has uploaded them on their side. It is a seemingly brilliant site that aides communication between lecturers and students with the use of some smart technology.

Recently, the USIU campus grew even bigger, with the addition of the Freida Brown Student Centre. The on – campus ICT department got to work ensuring that the entire building has WiFi connection and that every nook and cranny within the school can go online, even when they are around the swimming pool area. ICT labs are prevalent within the campus, several APT majors are required to carry out computer only assignments and tasks, and with the rise of the Journalism sector within the school, the ICT department obliged to set up a content creation room, ready with Apple Mac’s and any other fantastic gizmo’s tech lovers would be excited about. The lab comes with high-end, top of the range video and editing software, that enables students to produce high quality work.

Apart from the ICT labs with the fancy gizmos, the school also provides fully furnished editing suites for the print media majors, to go about their content editing and creation tasks in peace. The editing suites come equipped with macs and content creation software, that would help in creating magazine or newspaper layout, guiding the student on ways to generate content to fill up, and customize the text boxed and the entire publication in general.

Furthermore, the USIU fraternity went ahead and created an online interface for the students, known as CX. This site works hand in hand with BlackBoard. It allows the student to access specialized student mail, degree information, course registration and schedule guides amongst many other features. There are also interactive guides that help the student access ICT resources while off campus, and on how to set up devices to pair with the various printers in school, to print with the campus WiFi. The CX is a more flexible site than BlackBoard because it allows the student access to library services, and very valuable features such as chatting with course advisors.

The library, the most grand building of them all, the crown jewel of the campus, boasts one of the biggest computer labs in the school. Wherever and whenever the students need to get research and vital assignments done, there are computers not too far away.

All in all, USIU is following the path to a fully functioning technological campus, with a strong prowess in ICT.

(Siddhartha Chudasama is a second year student at USIU-A, taking an undergraduate degree in Print Media).

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