Despite having Dr. Bitange Ndemo, former PS; Ministry of Information & Communications as an advisor and mentor, Shakili.com, a peer-to-peer learning platform that aimed to connect educators to students and experts to professionals around their talents, careers, and interests never took off.
Founded by Nest Africa magician Muthuri Kinyamu, and friends Zack Kiuna and Nick Stewart, Shakili was coined from Share and Akili Swahili for knowledge as a knowledge sharing platform.
Kinyamu told TechMoran that Shakili woukd enable users to set up e-schools and create courses online and share knowledge and content with peers and their educators, researchers, motivation speakers like me and not-so-fanatic religious leaders.
On the eve of the Shakili’s launch he said the start-up expected to ease digital content sharing and networking among varsity students and educators.
“Through Shakili educators can create, upload and share digital content in various formats with students to make learning more fun and mobile and make learning possible beyond the school borders,” he said adding that it was a great idea as none of the local universities meet the recommended teacher-student ration.
We believed him until he took up another magician job at Growth Hub and became so vocal on Twitter forgetting to help lecturers connect virtually with their students-an intrusion students abhor to death.
“Our curriculum needs to be progressive to current needs of industry and marketplace. Shakili.com provides a chance for industry to also offer courses. Professionals are looking for ongoing learning and career development without necessarily incurring the costs of a traditional education. Shakili allows users to take up self-scheduled courses that allow flexible learning at their own pace.”, the team said.
Shakili’s primary target users were universities & colleges where lecturers or students create e-schools and courses to upload & share study content and aggregate already existing educational content from the web to the courses created.
Research Institutions, Corporate entities and NGO’s that want to share educative content in a social could also use it as well as speakers, coaches, tutors and consultants and bloggers and content creators.
Shakili’s value proposition was the magic of presence – with peers and teachers, the almost infinite access in the virtual world and the democratization of education by offering access to high quality content for students and giving experts a platform to share knowledge with interested learners.
The platform aimed at offering people the opportunity to expand knowledge & pursue their interests without dedicating fixed periods of time to fit in a university schedule like what Eneza Education is doing with Shupavu; but in a controlled environment.
With the potential to change lives by making the process of learning fun and mobile, Shakili never hit step one of their mission particularly because higher education in Kenya is limited to the physical contact and the lecturer determines the format of learning. Digital platforms are only used to send students notes and class assignments.
At the time of launch, the education sector was highly closed from one university to the other. Universities never shared knowledge even though they shared lecturers and tutors. Shakili was also never well marketed and might never have on boarded any university students or lecturers and even if it had; user on-boarding in institutions of higher learning for education is not an easy feat especially when the founders are not lecturers.
Adults, non-traditional learners or people that just need a little extra skill to advance in their careers had hardly heard of a browser leave alone an online learning platform.
Competition from platforms such as Blackboard among others have made entry into the virtual classroom industry not as easy as it appears.
Kinyamu, might have been overconfident about his venture with somehow strong connections then as the lead strategist at Social Edge Africa; a social media agency and as the troublemaker at SocialPRO social media clubs for universities which both doing so well.