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Bridging the Digital Divide with Piazza

Mr. Samuel Nyiendo, Multimedia University of Kenya & Riara University

Mr. Samuel Nyiendo has over 30 years experience in computer-based training and courseware development. When he is not teaching, he is pursuing a PhD in Business Information Systems at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology. Nyiendo currently holds a Masters in Information Systems Technologies from the United States International University of Africa, Nairobi, Kenya.

In this Lecture, hosted from Nairobi, Nyiendo discusses how Piazza has helped remedy some of the challenges facing instructors and students in Kenya where obstacles caused by economic, social, political and technological barriers have created a vast Digital Divide in education between the developing world and industrialized nations. 

 

Looking for ways to improve student engagement, Nyiendo first discovered Piazza while watching another lecturer on YouTube. Created with accessibility as a priority, Piazza is a free platform for instructors and students and is available to use on any device. In cases where there may be a shortage of technological or financial resources, including computers, internet bandwidth, or budget cuts, Piazza can be used on mobile devices, allowing students to connect with their instructors and classmates without any major barriers.

 

Piazza’s accessibility allows Nyiendo to interact with his students outside class time, allowing students to engage with their coursework anywhere and anytime. With Piazza, Nyiendo is able to track a student’s ‘digital footprint’ and can therefore better address individual progress and needs. This is especially important in class environments where a gap in computer skills exists between groups of students. Since adopting Piazza, Nyiendo has received significant positive feedback from students and maintains high student enrollment and retention in his courses.

 

Nyiendo hopes his learnings on using Piazza to bridge the digital divide in Kenya can be applied across the African continent, and to other areas that struggle to make education accessible for all. Even in the developed world, many of the same challenges he faces are present: budget cuts to education initiatives, distance learners, and students who are disengaged in their classes because of social or economic reasons.

 

Nyiendo concludes his lecture with the idea to use Piazza as a forum to create a global community of teachers and learners to share best practices and methodologies for making education accessible for all.


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