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Practical application of cloud computing in the educator sector

Over the years, the announcement of KCSE national examination results has been met with jubilation and despair for those affected. Cancellation of exam results due to irregularities has dogged this exercise over the years.

The question I kept asking myself is, ‘how can we use technology effectively to enforce controls, anticipate irregularities and detect them way before results are announced?’ 

Whereas cloud computing appears to be a fairly new concept in Kenya, it dates back to as early as the 60s when John McCarthy, an American Computer Scientist, presupposed that computing would someday be organised as a public utility like electricity or water. 
Almost 50 years later, we have seen significant steps being taken to make this thought a reality. I am persuaded that time has come for the government to invest more in technology to transform the education sector in order to provide this basic right to all Kenyans as enshrined in the new constitution.

This can be achieved by leveraging on cloud computing in the following domains:

  1. Teaching and Learning: - Hosted content that is available to all schools through e-learning would enhance the teaching experience by ensuring students get to cover their coursework within the term at their own convenience. In turn, more time is created for students to participate in other extra curricula activities while minimising the need for extra tuition and coaching during school holidays.
  2. Student Administration: - A national database of all students registered in public schools would help in management of student progression to the next class especially where students transfer from one school to another. This gives the schools a 360o view of the student by picking vital academic insight from the school they are coming from. This would also help in addressing students with special needs where teachers are transferred to new schools and they need to understand their students pretty well.
  3. Examinations: - The registration and administration of national examinations can be made easier by availability of a national register for eligible students to self register having been pre-qualified through a workflow process. Hosted telepresence for real time electronic surveillance during the actual examinations would give invigilators a view of the candidates thereby minimising walk time and having actual footage evidence of any suspected cheating. 
  4. Teaching staff management:- A national database of all teachers and their postings would help in management of deployment of teachers and of teacher-student ratio. Useful insight into teacher-specific course performance would help detect and determine remedial measures for low score subjects while recognising and rewarding high score subjects to encourage high performance for both teachers and students. Collaboration between teachers through social media would enrich the learning processes like Science congress.
  5. Student Selection:- The month of January is usually a hectic time for secondary school head teachers in selection of KCPE students to join high school. This process delays learning. Through a hosted selection system that has relevant rules built in it e.g quotas-based allocations, selection process can be significantly optimised. Head teachers would all log-in and do their selections by connecting directly to the national examination register which already would have records of schools selected by the candidates and perform auto-matching of such schools with the performance of the students and automatically select where there is a match.

The starting point should be the development of a single view of the student framework which can be through the building a student management system on the cloud accessible by all schools. With the rollout of the fibre optic cable and the continual adoption of ICT in schools, this is would be a quick win for the government to modernise the learning experience and minimise costs of administration.

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