Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, education facilities across the globe have been forced to temporarily close for the safety of their staff and students. In Kenya, over 15 million students are expected to be learning from home.During a pandemic that has caused significant educational disruptions, there is also a threat that the educational gaps between regions and countries will be further widened, and the digital divide aggravated.With an extended period of school closures due to COVID-19 outbreak, countries are trying to ensure continuity of learning through alternate means. As governments, along with development and humanitarian partners, engage majorly in the process of developing E-LEARNING (digital, video, and audio content) for learners who are out of school, support also needs to be provided to children who don’t have access to the internet or the necessary devices for accessing this content more so in marginalized communities like West-Pokot County. In order to bridge this gap, Self-Instructional Print-Based Material, which supplements the textbook, needs to be provided to children so as to ensure that the Education Sector’s response to COVID-19 remains inclusive.
What it does
Self-instructional print-based material, which supplements the textbook, needs to be provided to children so as to ensure that the Education Sector’s response to COVID-19 remains inclusive.
In classroom based teaching, the teacher is the central resource for learners. Understanding the diversity in the classroom, the teacher packages and repackages content for students who may be at different learning levels and have different learning styles so that learning occurs. The textbook aids the teacher in this effort.
In the absence of a teacher, traditional textbooks alone may fail to ensure active learning among children as such books often focus on explanation of facts, concepts, and theories. What is required in such situations is self-instructional material that not only provides information but also:
- defines what is to be learnt
- gives examples
- sets learning tasks
- answers learners questions
- allows learners to do self assessment
- gives study advice
The type of self instructional material developed for learners depends on the availability of textbooks and the kind of resources in it. In the absence of a textbook, the self-instructional material has to be exhaustive as it has to include content that explains the concepts. However if the textbook already is available with the student, the self-instructional material needs to focus only on resources that are absent and provide a viable self-study plan for the learner. Resources that may be absent in the textbook could include study tips, examples, self-assessment, summaries, etc., all of which enhances active learning and engagement with the students. If the textbook includes most of the above mentioned components, the self-instructional material can be minimal and may focus on the self-study plan for the learner.
A typical unit in self-instructional material has the following structure:
- Title of the Learning Unit
- List of contents
- Learning Outcomes
- Resources needed for this unit (This section might be repeated several times depending on the number of topics/sub topics; set time limits for each activity) i. Topic Heading/Sub-heading ii. Read (pages/topics from the textbook) iii. Read (new, supplemental text, written by you) iv. Do (activity written by you; with answer grid for the learner ) v. Do (self assessment written by you; with answer grid for the learner) vi. Read (feedback written by you) 6.Do (Tutor marked assessments written by you with marking criteria, time limits and date of submission)
- Summary/Key points
The focus can be on activities, examples, and self-assessment, and must be accompanied by feedback and explanations on the common mistakes committed by learners while attempting activities and questions.
How I built it
I have a son (Papa Prince Paul) who was supposed to join school but due to Covid-19 Pandemic and closure of schools, I took the initiative to home-school him. So I developed flow-charts, diagrams, maps on manila papers and I also bought readily available printed materials to help him in learning together with his cousin (Emmanuel Kimei). I transferred contents from Youtube, internet and text books into the manila paper so that they can easily comprehend and understand the context. After seeing the success of the Self- Instructional Print Based Materials and home-made materials in my household, I started mass production to my neighboring community.
Challenges I ran into
Once the self-instructional material were ready for mass distribution in my community and for field trials of the self-instructional material (amidst social distancing) I experienced challenges like lack of transport money. Self-instructional material should not only have space for writing the answers to self assessment questions, but also space to answer feedback related questions (“Were the questions too easy/difficult?”; “Was the set time limit adequate for you?”; “Did you find the observation task too difficult?”). Because of the spacing I had to use a lot of manila papers and mark pens which is costly. Another challenge I experienced was lack of human resource (volunteers) and workshop to work in since the space in my room was limited. No-tech, print-based responses will try to ensure that learning goes on in resource deprived areas. However, its effectiveness strongly depends on the ability of learners to actually read the self-instructional material. This is not a given, even among upper primary students, as more than half of the world’s children are expected to finish school without being able to read more so in marginalized communities as well as arid and semi-arid areas. The inability in the past to ensure that they learn to read even while in school greatly impacts the current efforts to ensure that they can read to learn through these self-instructional materials while out of school.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
One of the major accomplishment that am proud of is that the Self Instructional Print Based Materials has helped to remove barriers to education, and allow students to study what they want, when they want and where they want. Last but not least, homemade and printed self instructional materials serves the need where there is no internet access and limited teachers and instructors more so in the arid and semi-arid areas as well as marginalized areas.
What I learned
Most students are very comfortable using print based materials (publication, document, or record including, but not limited to, the following: newspapers, magazines, books, photographs, drawings, prerecorded magnetic audio tape.) to learn. Instructional materials constitute alternative channels of communication, which a teacher or a guardian can use to convey more vividly instructional information to learners. I have learnt that Self Instructional Print Based materials are relevant to the needs and characteristics of the learner and timely as they have to reflect what is happening currently in the community and are attention-grabber as the materials catch the eyes of the students.
What's next for ALTERNATIVE MEANS TO E LEARNING
So there is extra burden on us now to mitigate the impact of illiteracy through the use of illustrations (e.g. concept maps, flowcharts, diagrams, etc.) and so there is need to reach out to those communities that cannot access e-learning.