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Helping improve the Kenya Education Cloud with a SWOT analysis

"Male_students_computer" by Ericsson Images is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
“Male_students_computer” by Ericsson Images is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In early 2021, EdTech Hub partnered with the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development to support them to analyse the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the Kenya Education Cloud. This blog highlights what we learnt, and lessons that can inform the development of Virtual Learning Environments around the world. 

Governments all over the world responded to Covid-19 school closures by making educational resources available to allow students to engage in learning at home. Where possible, countries have used different mediums to share educational content, such as print, SMS, radio, television and online tools. And though many countries worked hard to make these resources available, they don’t always know if their efforts actually reach and help students. 

In Kenya, one of the mechanisms the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) has used to share content with students is the Kenya Education Cloud. The Kenya Education Cloud is a combination of platforms, working together to provide all students in Kenya with high-quality educational content anywhere and anytime. The Cloud was established before the Covid-19 crisis, but its ability to provide remote access became vital after schools closed.

However, over the last year the KICD saw that students have not been engaging with the platform as expected. The KICD asked the EdTech Hub to conduct a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis of the platform. The purpose of the SWOT analysis was to identify, keep and build on the strengths of the Kenya Education Cloud, recognise weaknesses, exploit opportunities and mitigate threats. 

How does Kenya Education Cloud work?

The KICD curates content by collaborating with commercial content providers, who upload their content to a CMS. This content is then reviewed and approved in the curation platform and placed in the student-facing platform: the Learning Management System. The Kenya Education Cloud is more than a platform: it is a system for curating content and has the ambition to be an integrated platform with mobile apps, an authoring system, a teacher platform and a school management system that covers many aspects of student life. The different components are shown below.

The KICD has planned eight different platforms under its Kenya Education Cloud
All existing and planned platforms that together comprise the Kenya Education Cloud

The Kenya Education Cloud  is designed to sustain itself by charging a fee from learners and a profit-sharing model with content providers. This would make it less dependent on funding. But in practice, the Kenya Education Cloud does not attract enough students and does not have enough content. 

The SWOT analysis looked at the Kenya Education Cloud from several perspectives and identified a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats matrix for each perspective. We have given one example per perspective.

From the perspective of “design and development”, one threat is the large number of platforms that are part of the KEC. These platforms are expensive to manage and develop.

The “usability, design, layout and features” has as one of its weaknesses errors in display and dead links. These errors may put students off who may not come back.

“Content organisation, content availability and performance” brings as an opportunity: the access to teachers that KICD has. Teachers are most familiar with how students study and can help with a logical organisation of the content.

One of the threats of “monitoring and data collection” is the lack of information. The KICD will not know if or how to change the platform without a good monitoring system.

From the perspective of “the value proposition and the e-commerce platform”, another strength is the KICD’s commitment to creating a sustainable platform. 

“The legal framework” gives the opportunity to be compliant with legal and privacy frameworks in the country or the region. Compliance may help give it a competitive advantage. 

The last perspective, “partnerships and collaboration” has as one strength the many partnerships that the KICD managed to establish. Through these partnerships, the KICD can use experience and technology it doesn’t have itself.

The SWOT analysis led to three main recommendations, which were based on a large number of observations and co-working sessions with the government.

1. Develop a long-term strategic plan

We suggested that the government reduce the number of platforms and focus on its strengths. A clear strength is the government’s authority on curriculum development, and content creation and approval in Kenya. This should be an overarching principle for a long-term plan. 

Creating platforms, on the other hand, is expensive, complex and carries a high risk of failure. Especially when existing platforms are available on the market, developing them in-house can only be justified after a thorough cost-benefit analysis.

2. Find other ways to add content

One consistent observation among all stakeholders is that the Kenya Education Cloud has too little content to be useful for learners. The commercial approach  — with the fee structure, profit-sharing agreement and a well-thought-out approval process  — does not yield enough content. Instead, the government can consider using open educational resources. 

Open educational resources are widely available and can be quickly added. Besides, it will be helpful to map exactly which content is needed in which subject and which grade  — for example through a skills taxonomy. Besides putting a number on the needed content, this will also allow targets to be set that be tracked. 

3. Drop the commercial approach

During the fee-paying period, the Kenya Education Cloud did not generate revenue. Even if the platform would bring in money, any fee is likely to be too expensive for those students most in need. Instead, if there is a cost to licensing content, the government should bear this cost. And again, open educational resources can considerably bring down the licensing costs.

Way forward

Now, the government is getting the Kenya Education Cloud ready for use after Covid-19. Commercial providers made content available for free on the platform during the pandemic, but will require a fee once things go back to normal. Students will go back to school and use the platform for supplementary content and information, instead of a replacement for school. This is an excellent moment for the government to take a step back, learn from its experiences, take time to redesign the platform, and continue to build a system that serves all students in the country.

The full SWOT analysis can be found in the EdTech Hub’s evidence library.

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