Category Archives: Social media

So this is Wathsup

I am looking forward to sleeping until 8 am on a Saturday morning after a long week and a number of early mornings, but I tend to forget that here you cannot plan much. This time there is something going on with my phone, it keeps beeping and beeping.

Screenshot_2015-09-19-10-09-23[1]It doesn't take me long to realise what is going on - The students using our Whatsup class groups to exchange views about the current Kenyan politics, and sharing concerns  about the ineffectiveness of many NGOs. Electronic versions of books are also shared (the very last of W.Easterly's books!) "here is the picture of the cover, I have the electronic version of the book, send me your email address if you would like me to send it to you", and so now we can include the book in the list of main textbooks for the course. I think I have just realised the potential of tools like Wathsup  as tools for education here. The student who started the discussion on Kenyan politics is a very polite, young man who hardly talks in class, he'd rather have other students speaking in public. (I now look forward to seeing him performing in our role-plays...)

Screenshot_2015-09-19-15-31-51[1]I have had early morning classes most days this week. Not found all the students in class, they are still 'coming', or still 'settling in'. The admin doesn't facilitate the process. Most in-campus accommodations are taken by the increasing number of first year students of which Maseno praises itself at the beginning of each academic year, although no new facilities have been built in the past few years, and students sometime have to stay in huts far from campus with no power or running water, and poor security. Sometime classes are not allocated a venue, simply because there are no venues available, and it is common that large classes of 200 students are given small rooms that can accommodate max 50 students.  Lecturers may come to class from week 5. And then, why coming to class if all you need to pass the exam are notes to cram, and you can get them from your classmate?

Screenshot_2015-09-19-10-10-59[1]I was harsh when I told to my students that coming to class on time shows commitment and respect to each others. I made serious jokes about many still being in vacation. But how can I blame any of them when I think of how this whole system (mal)functions.  This week I was proud of the students who came to class, and who were there before 7 am, and gratified by the interactions with a good number of them. I am flattered to be woken up on a Saturday morning by students chatting about the course, and will do my best to respond to them and address their comments, while motivating all the group to follow and contribute.