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Khanyisela College develops the WhatsApp Learning Platform to facilitate remote learning

Traditional learning institution reinvents itself in the face of lockdown challenges

Khanyisela College's WhatsApp Learning Platform uses much less data than virtual interactions such as Zoom.
Khanyisela College's WhatsApp Learning Platform uses much less data than virtual interactions such as Zoom.
Image: Supplied/Khanyisela College

Khanyisela College, a private further education and training (FET) college in Newton Park, Port Elizabeth, which has been around for more than a dozen years, has felt the brunt of the lockdown and vastly diminished sales.

“We were well on our way with ‘20Plenty’ by March, having exceeded our targets for the first quarter, and strong strategies for the second quarter,” says Tanya Kisten, Khanyisela College MD.

“The six weeks of closure was tough for us as a small business that relies entirely on fees paid by our clients, receiving no subsidy from the government. We had to go back to the drawing board as soon as lockdown happened, and find ways of keeping in contact with our learners.”

After some out-of-the-box thinking by senior management, the WhatsApp Learning Platform (WAL) was born the week after lockdown began. 

“The platform easily lends itself to learning,” says Roger Peters, Khanyisela College chief executive facilitator. “There are several apps available for download, such as Adobe and Camscanner, which allow learners to complete written assignments, scan or PDF them and send back to the facilitator via WhatsApp.”

“The facilitator can also send links to websites, documents and YouTube videos allowing the learner access to information that they can read or watch again — an added bonus that won’t happen in the class,” says Peters. 

It also uses much less data than virtual interactions such as Zoom or Google meetings.

While Khanyisela College has always been a traditional learning institution, priding itself on its warm hospitality and people engagement, the time had come to examine other platforms.  

“It was a steep learning curve,” says Shanaaz Adriaan, marketing co-ordinator for Khanyisela College and the person responsible for getting the platform started on the website during lockdown.

“I am not a materials or website design expert but I did what was needed at the time. I’m glad now because, while I had my work cut out for me deep into the night many times, it’s really interesting and has opened a whole new avenue of skills for me.”

Just this week, the college received approval from the services sector education and training authority (Seta) to conduct online learning, so it’s ready to widen its scope and bring learning to your home or office, at your own pace.

One of the first programmes adapted was the health and safety programme for Covid-19. It covers the essentials of protecting yourself and those around you as well as exposure to the workplace requirements as per the health department. For R500 for a half-day workshop, the course is affordable and available to everyone.

This course will soon be available online so that the highest standards for safety can be observed. It’s also available virtually via Zoom or Google Meetings.

For more information, call (+27) 41-364-0224 or e-mail info@khanyisela.co.za.

Visit the new and improved website at www.khanyisela.co.za and follow its Facebook page.

This article was paid for by Khanyisela College.

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