AMIU and SMOWL, overcoming technological barriers in Africa

Amref International University (AMIU) has long been a beacon of excellence in health sciences education across Africa.  With a rich...
7 June 2024

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AMIU and SMOWL, overcoming technological barriers in Africa

Amref International University (AMIU) has long been a beacon of excellence in health sciences education across Africa. 

With a rich history spanning over 40 years under its predecessor, Amref International Training Centre (AITC), AMIU has consistently nurtured leaders and shaped the future of public health practice. 

This success story delves into how AMIU has leveraged SMOWL, a proctoring tool, to enhance the integrity and accessibility of its examinations, especially in technologically constrained environments.

AMIU, shaping the future of public health in Africa

Amref International University (AMIU) is an accredited institution of higher learning focused on training in health sciences. Fully owned by Amref Health Africa, AMIU is founded on their experience and intellect, which has over 65 years of quality and innovative public and community health interventions, training, and education. 

AMIU has nurtured leaders and shaped the future of public health practice in Africa for over four decades. The university offers a breadth of programs designed to meet the diverse needs of the health sector.

AMIU and SMOWL, overcoming technological barriers in Africa

The need for a reliable proctoring solution at AMIU

As AMIU expanded its reach and embraced online education, the need for a reliable and user-friendly proctoring solution became evident. Initially, the university employed Respondus Monitor and Lockdown Browser software for online examinations. 

However, students complained numerous times that these tools were intrusive and counterproductive. 

Their restrictive nature hindered students’ learning experience and academic performance.

Geoffrey Ng’ang’a, ICT Manager at AMIU, spearheaded the search for a better alternative. 

The goal was to find a proctoring tool that would maintain the integrity of examinations while being less intrusive and more accessible to students. This search led them to SMOWL, a platform known for its ease of installation and use.

Overcoming technological barriers

One of the significant challenges AMIU faces is its student population’s technological constraints.

Due to limited internet connectivity, a considerable portion of AMIU’s students operate on older computing devices and rely on 3G mobile internet services. 

Despite these constraints, SMOWL has proven to be a robust platform that functions seamlessly without compromising performance or accessibility.

Geoffrey Ng’ang’a highlights that SMOWL’s capability to operate effectively under these conditions “has been a game-changer”

The platform’s ability to work smoothly on older devices and low-bandwidth internet connections ensures that all students, regardless of their technological limitations, can participate in online examinations fairly and effectively. 

This inclusivity is crucial for AMIU, as it aligns with their mission to provide quality education to all, especially in underserved regions.

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Key features and benefits of SMOWL

Several features of SMOWL have been particularly valuable to AMIU. One of the most appreciated is computer monitoring, which allows examiners to see what is running on a student’s computer during an exam. This feature is instrumental in maintaining the credibility of exams, as it helps to detect and prevent any form of cheating or unauthorized activities.

Additionally, the less intrusive nature of SMOWL compared to previous tools has been a significant advantage. Students have reported a more comfortable and less stressful examination experience, which positively impacts their performance. The ease of onboarding with SMOWL is another benefit, making the transition smooth for both students and faculty.

Based on AMIU’s experience, Geoffrey Ng’ang’a offers valuable advice for future SMOWL users. He suggests “ensuring that all running apps are screenshot and made zoomable”. 

This practice can help in maintaining transparency and integrity during exams. It is a small but effective measure that can enhance the overall reliability of the proctoring process.

AMIU, shaping the future of public health in Africa

Impact and future prospects for AMIU and SMOWL

The implementation of SMOWL has brought about several positive changes at AMIU. The evaluation process has been simplified, saving time and resources. The user experience has improved significantly, with students finding the tool less invasive and more conducive to a fair testing environment.

Financially, SMOWL has also been beneficial. The cost savings from reduced logistical expenses associated with traditional examination setups have been notable. Furthermore, the ability to conduct credible exams even in remote areas with poor internet connectivity underscores the tool’s effectiveness and reliability.

Looking ahead, AMIU plans to expand its use of SMOWL as student enrollment grows. With the expectation of more students joining the university, there is a projected need for more than 2000 licenses in the near future. This expansion will enable AMIU to continue providing quality education and credible examinations to a larger student body.

“SMOWL demonstrates that proctoring for exams is possible in remote areas where internet is poor.”Geoffrey Ng’ang’a, ICT Manager at AMIU.


AMIU’s journey with SMOWL highlights the tool’s capability to provide a fair, reliable, and less intrusive examination environment. 

By addressing technological constraints and improving the overall exam experience, SMOWL has helped AMIU uphold its standards of excellence in health sciences education. This success story is a testament to the impact of choosing the right proctoring tool in fostering an equitable and efficient academic environment.

The integration of SMOWL into AMIU’s examination process has not only ensured the credibility of exams but also enhanced the inclusivity and accessibility of online education. 

The ability to conduct exams in remote areas with poor internet connectivity and on older devices without compromising performance is a significant achievement. 

This success underscores the importance of innovative solutions in overcoming educational challenges and ensuring that no student is left behind.

In conclusion, AMIU’s success story with SMOWL serves as an inspiration to other educational institutions facing similar challenges. 

The effective use of proctoring tools can transform the examination process, ensuring fairness, reliability, and inclusivity for all students, regardless of their technological constraints.

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