By Fidelis Nthenge
In a world constantly evolving with technological advancements, the integration of technology in classrooms has become an essential aspect of today’s education.
In Kenya, this transformation took a significant leap forward when the previous government promised free laptops to all pupils joining primary school every year. Though the delivery of laptops did not quite materialize on the scale previously promised, it ignited a wave of digital infrastructure improvements that revolutionized the learning process from kindergarten to university.
Kenya’s journey towards educational technology has been both promising and challenging, reflecting the global shift towards embracing digital solutions. Kenya’s effort made strides in enhancing the country’s digital infrastructure, fostering a conducive environment for the integration of technology in education. The improved digital infrastructure brought the internet to places where its access was non-existent before. This enabled better access to information and knowledge for students and educators alike. This, in turn, facilitated the adoption of digital tools and resources in classrooms, fostering a more dynamic and engaging learning experience for students.
One of the most significant developments in this digital transformation has been the incorporation of virtual classrooms. Remote learning became a reality, allowing students to attend classes, collaborate with peers, and access educational materials without physical limitations.
The pandemic only accelerated this trend, making digital education a necessity rather than a mere choice.The same was true for the IB. In 2022, the IB launched a flexible, accessible and inclusive online Diploma Programme (DP) pilot to explore new pathways to better understand the needs of students who may not be able to attend traditional brick-and-mortar education.
Technology’s growth and diversification has been inspiring. Artificial Intelligence (AI) stands at the forefront of this revolution, altering the landscape of education in unprecedented ways, and the IB was the first to embrace it.The IB believes that AI technology will become part of our everyday lives – like spell checkers, translation software and calculators. We, therefore, need to adapt and transform our educational programmes and assessment practices so that students can use these new AI tools ethically and effectively.Allowing its use within school’s principles of academy integrity will empower Kenyan students and teachers with valuable learning experiences while upholding ethical academic standards.
With technological advancements, students can delve into vast knowledge through digital libraries online, explore complex topics and develop critical thinking skills. These advancements have transcended traditional learning methods, provided personalized guidance and enabled students to become not just knowledge consumers but creators as well.
IB progressively celebrates an ongoing commitment to innovative education and takes great care in ensuring the assessment is purposely designed to reflect the flexible curriculum framework in the programmes offered, suiting the wide variety of school contexts globally.In 2016,IB launched the MYP eAssessment, a multi-award-winning assessment that encourages teachers to meaningfully integrate digital technology in the learning, teaching and assessment practices, and for students, it helps them to build digital literacy and measures their ability to transfer their learning and deeper conceptual understanding, offering practitioners valuable insights into how students learn and think.
The integration of technology into classrooms needs to go beyond mere digitalization. To date, it has nurtured a generation of critical thinkers, risk-takers, and compassionate individuals. The digital era demands adaptability and creativity, qualities that students now cultivate through their interactions with technology.
As the world faces unprecedented challenges, the future requires individuals capable of empathy and compassion. The incorporation of technology has made it possible for students to connect with global communities, understand diverse perspectives, and develop a strong sense of empathy. This will shape them into responsible global citizens ready to tackle the world’s most pressing issues.
The digital revolution in Kenyan classrooms is a testament to the transformative power of technology in education. However, we must remember that technology is a tool, not a replacement for effective teaching and genuine human connections. Educators and policymakers must strike a balance between traditional methods and technological integration, ensuring that technology enhances, rather than undermines, the learning experience.
To unleash the full potential of technology in education, continuous investment in digital infrastructure, teacher training, and the development of locally relevant digital content is crucial.
IB’s continuous curriculum evaluation and adaptation ensures that students and teachers will benefit from up-to-date best-practice learning and curriculum that develops future-fit knowledge and attributes that are relevant to today’s generation and context. Also, it equips educators with the necessary resources to enhance their professional development as well as provide students with the best education possible.
The progress made in integrating technology in Kenyan classrooms should be applauded. However, this should be done while acknowledging the challenges that might lie ahead. Let us envision an education system that fosters creativity, critical thinking, and empathy among students, empowering them to become trailblazers in an increasingly digital and interconnected world.
The future of education in Kenya as embedded in the Social Pillar in Kenya’s Vision 2030, aims at creating a comprehensive, equitable and just society based on democratic ideals and it is under this pillar that education and training are expected to be the principal catalyst towards the realization of Vision 2030.
Therefore, by embracing technology mindfully and fostering a continuous curriculum evaluation and adaptation, we get a step closer to equipping students with the skills they need to thrive in the digital age and their future ahead. This will help nurture a generation of leaders who will contribute positively to the global community.
Fidelis Nthenge is the Director of Curriculum Development, International Baccalaureate