THE EPICA PILOT IN MASENO UNIVERSITY, KENYA
Maseno University chose to implement the Pilot in five courses of the following schools: Business and Economics, Education, Computing and Informatics, Mathematics, and Arts and Social Sciences. Maseno´s selection ensured a variation of schools and courses to be represented in the pilot.
The pilot was integrated into all these courses in order not to give the students the impression of having additional work.
Regarding the students, Maseno University previewed to have 150 students taking part in the pilot, 30 per course; however, during the Orientation Day, more than 150 students showed their interest in the project, participated in the Orientation Day and signed the consent form.
After Covid19, the final number of students who submitted evidence was 98. 6 teachers were involved in the process and Maseno University managed to engage with 10 employers who were able to appraise the students’ evidences and endorse them with a written commendation.
The common agreed skills were piloted by Maseno University: Creative Thinking, Problem-Solving, Communication and Interpersonal skills. In addition, the Teamwork skill was added to be showcased and assessed throughout the pilot.
Due to Covid19, several students who were learning face to face and moved to online, did not have access to the learning management system of the university so they could not follow the procedure initially set at local level. To cope with the situation, the Maseno team agreed to update this procedure and allow students to log in from the ePortfolio platform directly, thus avoiding additional training sessions for using the management system.
Fortunately for Maseno University, all teachers had the necessary digital skills due to their involvement in the online platform but not all the students, especially those who were taking face-to-face classes, were familiar with the e-campus and had these skills. To facilitate this process, a step by step guide to surf the platform was created by the Maseno team and worked perfectly with all students.
Students also had a series of remote follow-up meetings weekly with lecturers to discuss their progress. Teachers were mainly working every evening for two hours and on Saturdays to support students especially during their first activity which needed a lot of dedication to familiarise students with the type of tasks required in the ePortfolio. Meetings and calls between students and teachers were taking place through Whatsapp.
The pilot in Maseno University led to highly successful experiences that are described below with some testimonies from participants in the pilot who wanted to share their EPICA experience.
Before I knew about EPICA from my lecturer Madam Caroline, I had no research skills. Experience with EPICA gave me a chance to find out the skills that I needed in school such as creative thinking and problem-solving skills. My participation in the EPICA project has been of great impact to me and I am very grateful. It is through this project that I have gained not only technical skills such as writing and editing skills but I've also learned on how to express myself thus improving my self-esteem and as well as gaining more confidence that will help during my class presentation.
Reflection on work saved in EPICA ePortfolio will help me build my personal and academic identities even as I complete complex projects and reflect on my capabilities and progress. It will also help me be focused on developing self-assessment abilities in which I can judge the quality of work using the same criteria experts use. Even after school, I`ll be able to have the skills required for office work especially the ICT part, which is where today's world is. It has been a great experience indeed.
Everlyne Mwita, Student at Maseno University
Caroline Oloo, Teacher at Maseno University
Mercy Mareba, Student at Maseno University