E-learning has been around for atleast 2 decades though not many knew about it. Even those who knew were hesitant to embrace it as they saw no need and therefore maintained the status quo of the traditional 4 walled class. But the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the need for remote teaching and learning and inevitably, almost everyone has jumped onto the bandwagon – if not, you or your kids would be left out.
Understandably, with e-learning comes the high cost of maintenance. A seamless e-learning experience needs a good gadget, stable internet and cheap data. For most people, I inclusive, buying a GB of data for use once in a while is fine, but not on a daily basis. With schools closed almost indefinitely, remote teaching and learning is still with us and so the need to buy data.
For the part of gadgets, one needs a relatively good phone, with a 4G connection and comfortably wide screen. It’s with these gadgets that you would easily view what a teacher shared on a screen. Meanwhile, as a teacher, conducting a virtual class needs a laptop or desktop with an uninterrupted connection through a good router or Mi-Fi.
How I zeroed on MTN WakaNet
Mid this year (2021), it became more evident that schools would remain closed a little longer. While top schools had put in place strategies to engage learners remotely, most schools were left behind due to barriers to affordability of the technologies, expertise of teachers and data needed. A helping hand was needed and that’s how Edify Uganda an NGO in 11 countries came in.
Edify Uganda approached the ICT Teachers Association of Uganda (To which I belong) and they proposed a project to train teachers from various schools on how to conduct and manage virtual classes. This was a precursor to a project where Edify intended to roll out a massive e-learning project for learners in over 200 less privileged schools in Uganda. In fact, Edify Uganda promised that the project would go on for learners until schools were completely open. This meant a long term engagement.
Together with a team of facilitators, we quickly sat down and came up with a curriculum for the teachers. The teachers were to be trained in the use of technologies like Zoom, Google Meet, Google Classroom, YouTube and content creation technologies like Bandicam, PowerPoint, Handbrake, Flashback recorder and more. This was to prepare them to ably create content for remote classes and online archiving.
Conducting all this remotely required a good device, stable internet and ………. cheap internet. After trying out several options, I found the MTN WakaNet device and bundles the ideal solution. Remote teaching has several challenges but going off during a live session is a teacher’s worst nightmare. The MTN WakaNet router with its attractive bundles was the right choice. But what influenced my decision to switch to MTN WakaNet?
6 Reasons why MTN WakaNet is the best for remote teaching and learning
A router with a battery
If you live in an area where the power supply is intermittent, you are likely to miss an online lesson at some time. In Nabbingo where I stay, power can go off like 5 times a day and its been like this for over 2 years. A router with a battery is a handy option.
The MTN WakaNet router has a battery that will help you stay online until power comes back. Previously, when power went off, I would quickly call our coordinator Mr. Mukalele to stand in for me. My lessons with the Edify Online classes were always interrupted until I landed on this router with a battery – a first of it’s kind in Uganda. With my 8 hour battery laptop and a battery powered router, I can now conduct my online trainings, attend zoom sessions and hold virtual meetings all day without the risk of blacking out.
Easy data management
If you have used a router before, you know how inconveniencing it is to check on data usage. The MTN WakaNet router solves this. All you have to do is go to your browser’s address bar, enter the device IP (The default is 192.168.1.1), login and you will get see how much data you have used.
If you are a parent, this comes in handy when you need to monitor how much data your children are using in a day. You can then know average daily use thereby giving you a hint of how much you need to buy in a particular period say a month. Abnormal or overuse use in a single day can easily be detected and remedies put in place before you run out of data. The picture below shows you how much I had used out of the 35 GB I had on my MTN WakaNet line.
Reliably Fast Internet
If you are a student, it’s understandable if you dropped out of an online class due to unstable internet. As a teacher, it is different. There is no excuse when students can’t hear you properly due to a poor connection. Since I started using the WakaNet router, I rarely get complaints from students and my lessons go on uninterrupted. With a 4G/LTE connection, I was always assured of stable internet throughout my sessions whether on PC or mobile.
Cheap data rates
A standard GB in Uganda costs around UGX 5,000 which is not affordable for the average Ugandan especially if you are to use internet throughout the month. This calls for a cheap and yet reliable solution. With the MTN WakaNet bundles, you will get a GB at UGX 1,800 and most surprisingly with no time limit. A full list of MTN WakaNet bundles is in the picture below.
Child/User access control
While parents leave for work, children are left alone at home on their own. Like most children while online, the temptation to use the internet for mischievous activities is high. There are a lot of distractions online that could divert a child’s attention. When there is no guardian at home to watch over them, they may end up using up the data for other things other than the intended purpose of studying.
The MTN WakaNet router gives you the option to control when your child can (Or cannot) access internet. This saves you from misuse of your data and thereby helping students stick to the intended purpose. You have the options to either block access to some devices from accessing internet or allow devices to access internet only at certain times.
This comes in handy when you need to control internet access like blocking access to internet at night or allowing access only when there are online lessons or only in the presence of a guardian. The picture below shows how I blocked access to internet on Sundays from 07:00 am to 02:00 pm and off all night from 09:00 pm up to 06:00 am.
This is very helpful when parents need to have some control on how their children use the internet while they are away or asleep.
Up to 64 users
some parents prefer that their children study in a controlled environment. At my internet cafe in Nabbingo, I get learners who come to attend their virtual lessons using our reliable connection. Because we don’t have many computers, these students come with their devices. This means you will need a router that can allow as many users to connect to a single device.
The MTN WakaNet has two SSIDs with each connecting up to 32 users. This means you can have up to 64 users connected to a reliable connection with no fear of power outages.
Ability to use LAN & Wi-Fi
Another thing I loved about the MTN WakaNet router was that it allowed me to connect both through a network cable and Wi-Fi. The router connects up to 4 wired devices yet still giving me the ability to connect to the laptop which I use for e-learning. These options are a perfect plus for me who runs an internet cafe, virtual lessons on my laptop and and guest devices.
Where to get a WakaNet Router
Currently, you can only get this magical device from all major MTN service centers around Uganda. I got mine from the service center at Mukwano Mall on Kyaggwe Rd (ewa Kisekka) in Kampala. If you are in Kampala, MTN has other service centers on Kampala Rd, Lugogo Forest Mall, Crested Towers, Shoprite, Acacia Mall and Bugolobi Village Mall.
Entebbe has 2 service centers, one at Victoria Mall and another at Entebbe Airport Arrivals Lounge while you’ll find one in Nyendo Masaka.
Those in Jinja may visit the MTN service center on Lubas Rd while those in Mbale have to go to Republic Street. There are service centers in Gulu, Lira, Arua, Masindi, Moroto, Mbarara and Fort Portal. All you need is your national ID and within 10 minutes you’ll be done.
How to load WakaNet bundles
- Go to the MyMTN app, select Buy then MTN WakaNet MAX, and choose your preferred data package or dial *177# and follow the steps to select your preferred package.
- You can top up with MTN MoMo on the MyMTN app or at an MTN Service Centre near you
- There is no limit to the number of MTN WakaNet MAX data packages you can top up.
- To check your MTN WakaNet MAX package status, go to the MyMTN app, select Buy then MTN WakaNet MAX, and enter your MTN WakaNet MAX number.
Stephen Dumba is the coordinator of the ICT Teachers’ Association of Uganda for Central region and team lead of the ITAU EdTech project. Besides teaching ICT, he repairs computers and designs websites. Steve is a speaker and facilitator at tech events and ICT workshops for students, teachers and school leaders. He is a Director at E-zone School of Computing, E-zone Web Services and a consultant on education technology.
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