Presentation by Prof. Dele Braimoh

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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
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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.
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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
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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
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Shrinking national resource allocation
Technology, globalization and internationalization
Survival strategy
Economies of scale
Changes in organizational culture
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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
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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
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Problems Associated With ODL Practice In Africa (cont’d)
 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
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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
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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.
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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
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Suggestions For The Way Forward In Improving The
Quality Of Distance Learning In Africa (cont’d)
 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
country’s 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
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Suggestions For The Way Forward In Improving The
Quality Of Distance Learning In Africa (cont’d)
 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
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Suggestions For The Way Forward In Improving The
Quality Of Distance Learning In Africa (cont’d)
 ODL should not be considered primarily from the commercialization
premise as a money making industrial machinery but as a process of
achieving the EFA’s 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.
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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?
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Challenging Questions For Debate (cont’d).
 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?
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Contact:
[email protected]
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