DEVELOPING DISTANCE LEARNING IN AFRICAN UNIVERSITIES BY PROFESSOR

DEVELOPING DISTANCE LEARNING IN AFRICAN UNIVERSITIES BY PROFESSOR

DEVELOPING DISTANCE LEARNING IN AFRICAN UNIVERSITIES BY PROFESSOR DELE BRAIMOH UNESCO CHAIR OF ODL UNISA, SOUTH AFRICA PAPER PRESENTED AT THE BRIEFING AND WORKSHOP FOR NIGERIAN AND UKOU STAFF, ORGANIZED BY ESTEEM AND THE INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT OFFICE ON EFFECTIVE DISTANCE LEARNING IN THE 21ST CENTURY, 12 13 NOVEMBER, 2012, HILTON MILTON KEYNES HOTEL, KENTS HILL PARK, MILTON KEYNES, UK. Presentation Outline 1. General Understanding and postulations about Distance

Learning 2. The role of Higher Education Institutions in Africa 3. Factors responsible for reshaping Higher Education landscape in many African countries 4. Need for Distance Learning in African Tertiary Institutions 5. Problems associated with ODL Practice in Africa 6. Factors which impact on the provision of sustainable Distance Education in Africa 7. Suggestions for the way forward in improving the quality of Distance Learning in Africa 8. Challenging Questions for debate General Understanding And Postulations About Distance Learning

Time and Distance are no longer a barrier. Barrier of access to learning is removed. Flexibility of learning provision Communication system has been made easy between student and institution, student and courseware, student and student including student and academics. Learning is student centered Provision of learner support is essential.

3 Concept Of Open Learning Should Include: Openness in terms of entry qualifications and credit banking Openness to diversity of people Openness to places without geographic limitation Openness in terms of pedagogic methods Openness in terms of programme choices (Cafetaria approach to course selection) Openness in terms of ideas sharing 4

The Role Of Higher Education Institutions In Africa Think tank for the governments Principal reservoir for the supply of skilled human resources Rational institutions with the skills, equipment and the mandate to generate new knowledge through research Producers of national political officials, public administrators, business managers, secondary and high school teachers and civic leaders Centres of excellence as catalysts of development and of generating innovative ideas through teaching, research and publication including community service. 5

Factors Responsible For Reshaping Higher Education Landscape In Many African Countries Shrinking national resource allocation Technology, globalization and internationalization Survival strategy Economies of scale Changes in organizational culture

6 Need For Distance Learning In African Tertiary Institutions Demand push for tertiary education Flexibility of operation Work integrated Learning (WIL) possibility Application of Technology as an extension of man in a pedagogical process Changes in learners profile Response to government policies Commodification of Education and Commercialization drive

7 Problems Associated With ODL Practice In Africa Majority of scholars came into ODL Institutions by default without any prior ODL training or knowledge Many Staff members and students are still technophobic about the use of ICT Limited Computer bandwidth still restricts accessibility Level of poverty among learners makes it difficult for many of them to own personal modern technological equipment Learners still value very much the use of printed materials

over ICT utilization 8 Problems Associated With ODL Practice In Africa (contd) The public myopic view of ODL Institutions and their products, especially with regard to quality. The epileptic power supply in most African countries, makes ICT use ineffective. Majority of the ODL learners reside in the rural villages where they are bereft of the paraphernalia of modern life. Inadequate learner support facilities Poor information dissemination and coordination Lack of political will at all levels of government regarding policy issues, funding

and recognition of ODL programmes Limited distance tertiary institutions in Africa with reputation for quality practice, programmes and products 9 Factors Which Impact On The Provision Of Sustainable Distance Education In Africa National Context & Institutional approach Staff/Faculty with appropriate ODL knowledge/abilities Appropriate blended pedagogy and delivery mode Range of Programmes with value added Effective Learner Support Quality Assurance and enhancement of Systems

10 Experience Of Institutional ODL Practice In Africa Experience from the following African Universities: Nigeria South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe

Experience of UNISA with the model of student journey from the pre-application enquiry stage to post graduation stage. The use of MyUnisa for regular engagement with student on the web. 11 Suggestions For The Way Forward In Improving The Quality Of Distance Learning In Africa Regular on-the-job staff training in all facets of ODL is a necessity to enhance quality. Organise a deliberate professional development programme in ODL for all the rank and file of ODL academics leading to the award of a diploma certificate, for them to become professionally trained ODL experts. Adopt appropriate technology through the blended learning mode

based on the learners profile 12 Suggestions For The Way Forward In Improving The Quality Of Distance Learning In Africa (contd) ODL centres must deliberately engage in commissioned research on tracer studies of their graduates Form ODL partnership and collaboration with other ODL Institutions globally, as a learning curve to benchmark our ODL practice. Ensure that multi-purpose community centres are functional by installing the IT infrastructure for the use of students Recognise and provide more support to ODL institutions as this is the way to fast-track the building of the much needed skill base necessary for the

countrys economic growth The Governments of Africa should find a lasting solution to the problem of electricity supply if there must be any boost in both economic and educational ventures in Africa 13 Suggestions For The Way Forward In Improving The Quality Of Distance Learning In Africa (contd) The necessity to conduct planned research on students profile as a useful weapon of planning for effective ODL operation. There should be strategic and appropriate use of technology based on learners context specific We must realize that Technology cannot solve all the ills in education as it is a Weapon of Mass Instruction not a magic wand as pedagogy

drives technology. Consideration should be given to students unhindered access to and affordability of technological application for content delivery Adopt robust and effective learner support structures to obliterate learners isolation which often leads to drop-out 14 Suggestions For The Way Forward In Improving The Quality Of Distance Learning In Africa (contd) ODL should not be considered primarily from the commercialization premise as a money making industrial machinery but as a process of achieving the EFAs philosophy of UNESCO. Be mindful of the impact of workload of lecturers on the institutional quality of service to the students

Be concerned about the issue of access without success including the throughput rate. The principle of partnership and institutional collaboration should be thoughtfully considered in order to share resources so as to reduce cost, improve and maintain quality and not necessarily reinvent the wheels, so to say. 15 Challenging Questions For Debate Is Distance Education actually more cost effective? Who pays for the learning cost in DE? DE Institutions? The Government? Or the Students? How credible are the DE Institutions Certificates and their products in the world of work in Africa?

How is human resource development in ODL being addressed in order to improve quality? What is the role of Government in supporting ODL Institutions in widening educational accessibility through adequate funding and national policy formulation? 16 Challenging Questions For Debate (contd). To what extent are the DE programmes meeting the socioeconomic needs of African societies? Is there any deliberate study regarding the issue of graduateness in Distance Learning? What about the issues of intellectual property ownership, infringement of copyright laws and cheating in ODL? What are the necessary and deliberate mechanisms to be put in

place to assure quality and change the myopic views of the public regarding the ODL offerings in tertiary institutions in Africa? How effective and readily acceptable is the OER innovation in ODL practice among the DL Institutions? 17 Contact: [email protected] 18

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