Volume I September 2007

Distance Education Association of Southern Africa and Southern African Development Community Centre for Distance Education
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International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

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Volume 1

DEASA-SADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning
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Distance Education Association of Southern Africa and Southern African Development Community Centre for Distance Education International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

September 2007

Editor in
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Chief

Professor Robert Chimedza, Zimbabwe Open University

Mr. Antonio Franque, Ministry of Education, Mozambique Mr. T. Thutoetsile, Southern Africa Development Community Centre for Distance Education

Botswana College of Open and Distance Learning Dr. T. Khat, Dean Faculty of Education, National University of Lesotho Mr. V. Muyatwa, Director Department of Distance Education, Zambia Dr. M. Delvaline, Assistant Registrar Centre for Open Learning Namibia Mr. T. Thutoetsile, Director SADC CDE Ms L. Kolosoa, Lecturer Lesotho College of Education Mr. G. Mazibuko, Principal Emlalatini, Swaziland

Editorial Board
The DEASA Research and Publications Com mittee constitutes the Editorial Board of the journal Dr. 0. S. Tau, Chairperson DEASA Research Committee, University of Botswana Prof. R. M. Chimedza, Zimbabwe Open University Dr. D.H. Mohapi, University of Lesotho Dr. Mutangira, University of Swaziland Mrs. E. Nonyongo, University of South Africa

Editorial Advisory Board
The DEASA Executive Committee constitutes the advisory board of the journal. Professor D. L. Mosoma, DEASA Chairman, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Vice Principal, Learner Support and Students Affairs University of South Africa

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Dr. P. Kurasha, DEASA Deputy Chairperson and Vice Mr. V. Muyatwa, Chancellor, Zimbabwe Directorate of Open and Open University Distance Education, Dr. D. R. Tau, Zambia. Executive Director,

Mr. Amadeu, Ministry of Education, Mozambique Professor L. Molamu, Registrar University of South Africa

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Preface
Professor David Mosoma DEASA Chairperson and Thulaganyo Thutoetsile Director, SADC-CDE Page 1

Reviewers of Current Articles
Page 2

Editorial
By Professor Robert Chimedza Editor-in-Chief Page 3

Learning Support Managing in a Severely Inclusion of Students with Visual Underdeveloped Context as Impairment in Open and Distance Experienced by Distance Learners Education: Godson Gateha challenges for Page 19 learners
Auxilia M. Badza and David D. Chakuchichi Page7

Lecturing Versus Collaborative Learning Methods: an analysis of learning preferences among mid-level management students at the University of Namibia
Trudie Frindt and Louise Mostert Page 30

Inter-Institutional Collaboration In Distance Education: Is it worthwhile?
Dr. Regina K. Masalela Page 44

Managing a Regional Centre in an Open and Distance Learning Institution
Dr. Ndaba J. Ncube Page 61

Facilitating Interaction During Face-to-Face Tutorials in Open Distance Learning: Insights from the Socratic Method
Stanslaus Modesto Tichapondwa Page 74

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Quality Assurance Teaching and Quality Control Management Strategies in the and Accounting Zimbabwe Open Through Open University And Distance Grace T. Mukeredzi & Learning Materials: TsitG.Ndamba The case of the g Lesotho College of Education
Lineo Clementina Kolosoa Page 99

About the Southern Africa Development Community Centre for Distance Education (SADC-CDE)
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Thuaganyo ThutoetsHe Page 111

DEASA-SADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

Contributors
Page 118

Notes to Contributors Page 117

PREFACE

The publication of this maiden journal of the Southern African De velopment Community Centre for Distance Education (SADC ODE) and the Distance Education Associa tion of Southern Africa (DEASA) is a triumph for Open and Distance Learning (CDL) in SADC member states. It represents an at tainment of one of the milestones that the re gion set itself in 2005 when the SADC ODE was established by SADC Ministers of Ed ucation and The Com monwealth of Learning (CCL) with a broad mandate of building CDL capacity through the promotion of re search and publication in the region.
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The publication of this journal is a tribute to the collaborative spirit

that prevails in SADC among CDL institu tions, Ministries of Education, DEASA, The Commonwealth of Learning (CCL) and the SADO Secretariat. CDL institutions, and Ministries of Education in SADC sponsored their employees to at tend the Research and Publication work shops conducted by SADC ODE which were held in 2006 in Lusaka and Windhoek. We therefore wish to applaud the political leadership and the management of min istries of education and CDL institutions for their commitment to increasing access, equity and quality of education in SADC through the use of CDL. We also wish to thank the DEASA Re search and Publication Committee members,

in particular Profes sor Robert Chimedza for the arduous task of editing the articles in this journal. We further wish to thank all the peer reviewers who dedicated their time to ensuring that the jour nal is a professional publication with stan dards comparable to the best in the world. Lastly we wish to pay special tribute to the authors whose works are published in this journal. SADO and in deed Africa needs self less scholars who can contribute knowledge in the globalised world. We look forward to the publication of volume II of this journal featuring articles from practitio ners in Southern Afri can in particular and the rest of the world.

Professor bavid Mosoma DEASA Chairperson

itoetsile 4 Thulag,Tl Directfr, SADC-CDE

DEASA-SADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

REVIEWERS OF CURRENT ARTICLES:

The Editorial Board wishes to acknowledge with gratitude the following for reviewing the articles in this volume: Professor Rungano Zvobgo, Midlands State Univesity Professor Robert Chimedza, Zimbabwe Open University Professor Bonifas Chivore, University of Zimbabwe Dr. Sukati, University of Swaziland

Dr. 0. Tau, Univesity of Botswana Dr. D. Tau, Botswana College of Open and Distance Learning Dr Mohapi, University of Lesotho Dr. S. Chakanyuka, Zimbabwe Open University Dr. M. N. Rukuni, Zimbabwe Open University Dr. Njini, Zimbabwe Open University

Dr. Maedza, Zimbabwe Open University Dr. Glorify Mavundukure, Zimbabwe Open University Dr. Gwarinda, Zimbabwe Open University Mr. Thutoetsile, Southern African Development Community Centre of Distance Education
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DEASA-SADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

EDITORIAL
by Professor Robert Chimedza Editor-in-Chief

SADC The DEASA CDE International Journal on Open and Distance Learning is the official journal of the Distance Education Association of South ern Africa and the Southern African De velopment Community Centre for Distance Education. In this maid en issue of the annual publication we feature eight articles and the profile of the SADC CDE. The journal pub lishes articles mainly on distance education but also on related is sues from basic to uni versity education. This makes the readership wide and very accom modating for the varied member institutions of DEASA and the inter national community. It is a peer reviewed jour nal that accepts aca demic papers based on research, concept and position papers, critiques, reports on best practices of dis tance education, book reviews and so on.
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appreciate the work done by the two or ganisations to launch this journal. It demon strates a smart stra tegic partnership that directly benefits dis tance education at grassroots level. The introduction of the journal is an impor tant milestone in the development of Open and Distance Learning practices in the region. Not only will distance education practitioners have a platform where to share ideas and learn from each other, but also this becomes a hub of knowledge on which future learning theories on distance education could be derived. I also wish to express my deep-seated grati tude and congratula tions to the writers and reviewers whose ar ticles are in this issue. They are the pioneer publishers of this jour nal and together we begin to write the story and history of this jour nal. It is not everyday that new journals are

launched and therefore it is something special to publish in a maid en issue of a journal more-so after a rigor ous anonymous review process that eliminated many others. A colleague of mine once asked me a bar rage of questions on education. distance He wanted to know what distance educa tion was all about, how different it was from correspondence edu cation, the differences between distance edu cation, open learning, distance open learning, distance education and open learning and so on. Articles that feature in this journal should provide answers to such questions not only in terms of defin ing and setting param eters for these areas but also in providing ontologies, theories, praxis, best practices, research work, reports and situation analy ses that answer these and other unanswered questions in distance open learning.
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In this maiden issue, I wish to commend and

DEASA-SADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

In the current issue Badza and Chakuchi chi discuss a study they carried out to es tablish the nature and adequacy of inclusion of students with visual impairment in the Zim babwe Open University (ZOU). Using the case study design, their results show that the ZOU unsystematically made ad hoc arrange ments to accommo date the instructional needs of students with visual impairment. They recommend that institutions of distance education should es sentially have policies on learner support for service delivery to stu dents with disabilities. Gatsha discusses a study he undertook to find out how distance education learners in the school equivalent courses in a severely underdeveloped con text experienced the learning support ser vice of the Botswana College of Open and Distance Learning (GO CODOL) Kang Region al Centre. The findings of his study showed that the regional cen tre was able to pro vide adequate support timeously to learners in the community study centres while those in
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remote areas received delayed support es pecially in assignment feedback. He recom mends that learning support for remote stu dents be strengthened and strategies be put in place to motivate part-time tutors to be more enterprising in their delivery of learner support. Frindt and Mostert in their article explore the concept collaborative learning and the as sumption that students in Namibia have a ten dency towards surface learning as opposed to deeper understanding of issues embedded in collaborative learning. To examine this as sumption, they used an adapted questionnaire on the Approaches to Study Skills Inventory for Students to exam ine the motivational and deep learning impact of a lecturing teaching method ver sus collaborative learn er activities in a certifi cate programme at the University of Namibia (UNAM). The results of their study suggest that the students showed strong beliefs and preference for deep learning approaches in addition to surface learning approaches. They concluded that

learning outcomes for UNAM mid-level management students could be enhanced by employing deep learn ing approaches to teaching and learning. Masalela gives a con cept paper on interinstitutional collabora tion. She discusses in ter-institutional collab orative activities, types of inter-institutional col laboration, the essen tial considerations for inter-institutional col laboration and potential benefits and complexi ties as well as their im plications. She argues that inter-institutional collaboration provides an environment to en liven and enrich the learning process not only in distance educa tion settings but also in conventional prac tices. She observes that these collaborative partnerships are impor tant where resources are shrinking, given the demand for wider use of sophisticated tech nology, limited faculty (teacher), and limited time and instructional resources. She con cludes that developing environments particu larly in the sub-Saha ran Africa region could benefit a lot from these kinds of partnerships She urges institutions

DEA5A-5ADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

to relinquish the tradi tion of competition and join hands to build a better global society. Ncube draws from his experience as a Re gional Director in an CDL institution, as well as literature on expe riences in other CDL institutions to discuss how to manage a re gional centre in an CDL setting. The issues that he addressed in his pa per include locating a regional centre, student registration, financial management, human resource issues, and provision of library ser vices, among others. He also raises chal lenges that are faced in managing a regional center. The challenges discussed include lack of resources, stereo types towards open and distance learning, the dilemma of decen tralization versus cen tralization in decisionmaking, as well as the distance of the learners from the centre. The article concluded with a discussion on strate gies that could be used to improve the efficien cy in the management of a regional center. The strategies recom mended include the supply of resources, training of personnel, decentraliza further

tion, and heavy invest ment in technology. Tichapondwa discuss es an experimental ac tion research that he carried out with eight tutors of a communica tion course to examine the significance of the Socratic method dur ing learner-tutor inter action, and to establish how best questions can be used to achieve learning goals. Results showed that tutors whose awareness had been raised to use the method, questioning interrogatives used more effectively than their counterparts, the control group. This led to the conclusion that enhance conscious ment of knowledge about the Socratic method leads to ef fective negotiation of learning. He then rec ommended that tutors in CDL be guided in the use of questioning strategies during tutori als for better interaction and effective learning by learners. Mukeredzi and Ndaba in their article present a study they carried out on strategies em ployed by the Zimba bwe Cpen University to assure and control quality. The major find ings they discuss are

that, highly qualified, experienced and com mitted personnel were appointed as tutors and tutorials were of a high standard, assignments by regarded were learners as demanding and adequate, mark ing was viewed as thoroughly and profes sionally done, while examination question items were assessed as of good quality. The marking of examina tions was centralized to facilitate modera tion and external as sessment. They also discussed areas that addressing needed such as the need to in crease human and ma terial resources, staff training and effective communication. Kolosoa in her article discusses a study that she carried out to in vestigate the quality and readability of the Management and Ac counting modules at the Lesotho College of Education (LCE) from a learner’s perspective in terms of the easi ness, clarity of con cepts, illustrations and pictures, and the time spent studying the ma terials. The findings re vealed that the majority of teacher-learners at LCE found Manage ment and Accounting
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iearning materials dif ficult and it took them longer to complete when compared with those of other cours es. The study recom mended that the pres ent Management and Accounting learning materials be reviewed

and that more time for fact-to-face tutorials be included. It is the intention of this journal to feature one or two profiles of the DEASA member in stitutions in each pub lication. In this issue

Thutoetsile gave the profile of the Southern African Development Community Centre for Distance Education. Professor Robert Chimedza Editor-in-Chief

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DEASA-SADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

MANAGING INCLUSION OF STUDENTS WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENT IN OPEN AND DISTANCE EDUCATION: Challenges for Learners.
Auxillia M. Badza & David D. Chakuchichi Zimbabwe Open University Abstract The study sought to es tablish the nature and adequacy of inclusion of students with visual impairment in the Zim babwe Open Universi ty (ZOU). The impetus of the study came from Moore’s Transactional theory of open and dis tance learning (ODL) that which states preparation of instruc tional materials, using the universal design principles, enhances access and full inclu sion of students with disability. The study utilised case study, a research qualitative design to establish the adequacy of ZOU’s service provision to students with visual im pairment (VI). In-depth interviews were carried out on students with VI and part time tutors. Data was subjected to verbal analysis to come up with systemic challenges to service provision to students with VI in ODL. pro grammes. The results indicated that ZOU unsystematically made ad hoc arrangements to accommodate the instructional, needs of students with VI. The study recommends that ZOU should essentially evolve a policy to guide service delivery to stu dents with disabilities. Introduction One of the constitu tive aspects of Open and Distance Learn ing (CDL) is essentially access to instruction and learning material by all students includ ing those with disabili ties. Issues of access and equity in open and distance educa tion are critical in jus tifying the openness of distance education and the inclusion of students with disabili ties (Sherry, 1996). It therefore suffices to say that the hallmark of distance education lies in the separation, in both time and space, between the learner and the instructor and the ‘volitional control of learning’ by the stu dent (Jonassen cited in Sherry 1996). In order to facilitate learning by distance education stu dents, the material to be learnt should of neces sity be interactive and user friendly. Learner support in this respect invaluable becomes as it ensures the inter activity of instructional with the materials cognitive dispositions of the students. In structional models and materials in CDL are expected to make the students interact with the learning material in order to construct new knowledge. Horton, cited in Sherry (1996), posits that the interac tive theoretical basis of CDL comprise of two basic aspects which directly impact situ ated cognition. These two are the student’s context (environment, current situation, other sensory input) and the mind (associations, memory, reasoning, abstractions). Follow ing on the theoretical development of situ ated cognition in the design of ODL, instruc tional materials should enhance access for all. However according

DEASA-SADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

to Burgstahler (2002), the issues of access focus on the separa tion of student and in structor and rarely in clude consideration of needs of students with disabilities. In order to establish the chal lenges for learner sup port for students with visual impairment (VI), it is imperative to inter rogate the concept of inclusion, its pedagogi cal implications for the learner in the context of a universal design in CDL. Background Current trends in spe cial education are mov ing away from prescrip tive labels and catego ries, however, there still remains a plethora of specialised terms used to define aspects of VI by different profession als. Visual Impairment is defined as loss of vi sion for an individual to complete tasks without specialised adaptation, (Mason, McCall, Arte, McLindell and Stone, 1997). In otherwords, the loss of vision im pedes learning unless modifications are made to teaching and learn ing methods, the envi ronment and learning materials. The degree of impairment varies from low vision to to tal loss of sight (blind).
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The low vision catego ry includes those with remaining or residual vision. According to Webster and Roe, (1998) people who fall into the category of ‘blind’ depend on tac tile, auditory and other sensory input other than sight, as means of learning and require special ised equipment. In addition to peda gogical concerns, is sues related to school environment are of importance to the in clusion of individuals with VI. There are still ongoing arguments on whether to adapt the environment to suit the individual with VI or to make the person with disability fit his! her environment. The reason behind adapt ing the environment for the individual is to ensure that the educa tion system prepares the individual with VI for an independent role in the wider society. In order to achieve this functional level, limited adaptation to the learn ing environment should be made to enable the individual with VI to function independently and safely in the wider environment. Despite the merits of this argu ment, a careful audit of the learning environ-

ment needs to be con sidered to eliminate or minimise dangers to in dividuals with VI. Such adaptations should ul timately enhance the inclusion disposition of the individual with VI. A clear understand ing of the concept of inclusion is essential to enhance the suc cessful and meaning ful process of inclu sion of student with VI in CDL. It is important to note that there is a continuous evolvement on the definitions as re flections on practice is advancing taking cog nisance of the range of contexts and cultures in which inclusion is taking place. Inclusion therefore reflects the reality in each national system and thus can be determined by the history, culture and politics of the sys tem, (Dyson & Millard, 2000). Dyson and Mil lard’s position makes it difficult to have a con sensus or unified defi nition of the concept of inclusion. Burgstahlers (2002) asserts that the de signs of many distance education programmes inadvertently erects barriers for students with disabilities. While visual impairment im

DEASA-5ADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

pacts negatively on the access and inclu sion of students with VI in CDL, planning for access during course development stage instead of creating ad hoc accommodation strategies on enrol ment of students with impairments is proac tive. Steps should be taken to ensure that a wide range of abili ties and disabilities are considered following the universal design principles. One of the universal design prin ciples is recognition of the ideal that access to education is one of the basic human rights (Harrison 2001). Therefore accommo dation of learners with special educational needs is essentially ensuring that access to high quality instruction is provided to all. Uni versal design princi ples ensure cognitive, affective and systemic learner support in CDL which reinforces student’s confidence, self-esteem and prog ress, (Tait, 2003). The preparation of instruc tional materials, using universal design prin ciples in the context of Moore’s theory on CDL which states that the space between the learner and the instructors should be

mediated by transac tional materials, would enhance access and inclusion of students with disabilities. Institutional policies that are crafted on principles of universal design and education for all (EFA) would inherently serve the interests of disadvan taged groups such as the people with VI. The implied national policy of inclusion embraced in EFA has seen stu dents with VI enrolled in the Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU). The researchers are lec turers at the ZOU and they encountered some students with visual impairment who reg istered dissatisfaction with the learner sup port they were getting prompting the follow ing pertinent question; ‘How adequately is ZOU managing inclu sion of students with VI in open and distance learning?’ Therefore the research attempts to ensure that the fol lowing specific ques tions are addressed, • What learner sup port is ZOU pro viding to students with VI and how adequate is it? • What are the experiences and perceptions of

students with VI included in ZOU academic pro gram mes? What are the chal lenges of learner support for inclu sion of students with VI at ZOU? Purpose The study sought to establish the nature and conditions of inclu sion of students with vi sual impairment in the Zimbabwe Open Uni versity. The impetus of the study came from Moore’s theory that in CDL “the space be tween the learner and the structure of teach ing must be mediated by dialogue offering the learner the opportunity to be an active partici pant” (Tait 2003:4).
Methodology

The study used the case study approach, a qualitative research design, to establish the adequacy of ZOU’s provision of CDL to students with VI. The case study was found to be more appropri ate in order to have an in-depth study of the challenges of manag ing students with VI in CDL. The case study approach allowed the researchers to study
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DEASA-SADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

how the students view their situational ac cess to learning materials. The design further enabled the researchers to come to an understanding of the experiences from the perspective of the learners. The respondents iden tified for in depth inter views were purpose fully selected in such away that they would reflect a diversity of backgrounds and a variety of personal di mensions. The respon dents were all ZOU students who were vi sually impaired, that is, they were either with low vision or legally blind and a group of 8 part time tutors who had taught students with VI. For the pur poses of this study age and gender were not considered essential. The sample of the study was a total of eight (8) students made up of five (5) males and three (3) females in the Post Graduate Diploma in Education, Bachelor of Arts in English and Communication Stud ies, Masters of Busi ness Administration and Bachelor of Sci ence in Special Edu cation programmes and a group of 8 tutors
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selected for in depth interviews. Six of the eight students were technically blind that is they could not process print information while the remainder were partially sighted, that is they could process print information especially benefiting from en larged print. The inter views which were done in five days took one to two hours per par ticipant. All interviews were unstructured but guided by an interview schedule. The direc tion of the interview depended on each in dividual student’s ex periences. Therefore as data were collected the research focus was refined as new ques tions emerged from the interview. Specific questions emerged in the context of the stu dent’s views. Triangulation of data was employed by contrasting students information with that of key informants in cluding part time tu tors, regional directors, programme co-ordina tors and librarians as well as that collected from focused groups in order to enhance validity of data. All in terviewees were audio taped to supplement the written interview

notes. The audio taped information was used to clarify and enhance the written notes during data analysis. In addi tion, document content analysis of the ZOU student handbook and tutors handbook was carried out to establish the impact of policy on service delivery to peo ple with VI. Analysis In qualitative research design, data collection and analysis are close ly related such that data analysis was in this case, inductive and ongoing throughout the study (Bogdan & Biklen 1984; Taylor and Bogdan, 1984 and Guba & Lincoln, 1985). Audio taped interviews were examined, transcribed and compared with the field notes to identify insights, themes and concepts. Although the analysis was an on going process during the study, there was a final stage intensive analysis that involved sorting data into cat egories and sub-cat egories to refine and identify frequently oc curring themes. Verifi cation of interpretative accuracy of analysis of data was done through presentation of prelimi nary findings to peers who have worked and

DEA5A-SADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

interacted with some of the subjects. This pro cess gave new insights and strengthened the position of some of the findings. Findings and Discussion The findings of the study were very elabo rate as most of the par ticipants in this catego ry articulated their ex periences and expec tations very effectively. The documents’ con tent analysis revealed that ZOU did not have a coherent institutional policy for service de livery and or learner support to people with VI and other disadvan tages. The results as shown in some of the participant’s excerpts indicated some salient exclusionary practices that do not enhance inclusion and or uni versal design in ODL. The findings were laid down under the fol lowing three themes, knowledge and per ception of CDL, stu dent experiences and pedagogical concerns, and attitudinal chal lenges. Knowledge and perceptions of ODL Most students seemed to have a good knowl

edge of CDL as a practice of learning for all or learning from home with flexible ar rangements and time management. Other students appreciate it as it affords students an opportunity to learn while continuing with their vocation. The par ticipants’ perception of CDL was that it was a good practice that gave people with VI an opportunity to learn. Others said that CDL was, A bit limiting, help does not come there and then. And others said that; not much difficulties but a few problems with areas chosen e.g. calculations where one may need help. These perceptions of CDL indicate that most of the students with VI found it quite accept able and helpful to them despite some problems relating to the need for specific help at par ticular times. However some students with VI seem to suggest that it is not their right to be enrolled but a charity that ZOU is extending to them as indicated by the statements below. .1 have since commended ZQU for allowing students

with VI to do their studies with ZOU. However others had a different view as indi cated in the following statement; Not everyone is blessed like myself.. may be I could have been told I can’t be enrolled. Such perceptions as indicated in the state ments above are incon sistent with the spirit of inclusion that is based on rights and provision of equal opportunities in an education for all (EFA) perspective. Inclusive education, in the context of the Salamanca Statement and Framework of Ac tion (1994), should therefore meet the educational needs of all learners within com mon yet fluid contexts and activities. Inclusion should not be seen as just an ideal state but rather an unending set of dynamic processes to adequately accom modate every learner’s needs (Booth, 1996: Sapon —Shevin, 1992 in Engelbrecht, Green, Naicker and Engelbre cht, 2004). Students experiences and pedagogical concerns
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DEASA-SADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

Participants had a va riety of experiences ranging from CDL be ing an empowering and challenging oppor tunity to exclusionary practices that needed corrective measures in pedagogical aspects. Some students be lieved that they had positive experiences as they ‘enjoyed new knowledge’ and com peted with sighted students. One student said that; The co-ordinator felt that I would not be able to impress the enroller although there were some who had done BAECS (Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Communication Studies). As post grad..., they underrated my potential and thought the VI students could only manage first degrees. Another student when asked whether his learning needs were met by ZOU, he re sponded: Not exactly! I had to run around to survive. I had no braille material so I had to look for someone to read,
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find a group. It was difficult to get information. The experiences of these two participants, while showing a posi tive attitude, indicated the possibility of ex clusionary pedagogi cal practices in the CDL as practiced by ZOU. These practices
were evident in the

challenge though I passed... it was difficult. Presentation is not appropriate for VI. There is need for simplification of some concepts. Experience of limited braille material made me accustomed to being read to. Audio cassettes would be a palatable move. / had to attend tutorials because / had problems with print modules. I wouldn’t mind braille for reading but its bulky tapes are user friendly. Tutors observations were that materi als such as modules should be transcribed into braille or recorded on audiotapes. Also tutors pointed out that materials in compatible media enhanced par ticipation of students with VI. Judging from the ex pressions in the ex cerpts above, the par ticipants preferred au dio taped modules as braille materials were scarce and bulky and print modules always required an assistant who would determine the pace and time of study. Furthermore,

nature of learning ma terials provided. The main learning materi als were a module for each course. The mod ules that were in print presented the following challenges; Not always easy to get someone to read. Your study time has to be determthed by someone who reads for you hence my performance might have been affected. It was difficult because I could not access materials in print. It meant I was always late. Working with an assistant is always very difficult especially at night. Keeping her awake was a challenge Diagrams were difficult for the assistant to interpret for me Courses like computers and statistics were a

DEASA-SADc CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

indications are that no adaptations or modifi cations were made to the curriculum to suit the needs of visually impaired in courses such as statistics and computers that are known to pose great challenges to such in dividuals. Thus, Lomo fosky & Mvambi (2004) assert an inclusive curriculum has to be adapted to meet the needs of learner rather than have learners fit the curriculum. The study observed that ZOU’s service delivery to students with dis ability was inadequate because the instruc tional materials in the form of print modules were not user friendly to most learners with visual impairment. This assertion was echoed by tutors who empha sized that service to students with VI was inadequate and that there was no special treatment for them. Also the document analysis revealed the same, that apart from a few clauses speci fying some examina tion arrangements for students with disabil ity, there was nothing specific and deliberate about ZOU’s service to students with VI and other disadvantages.

Participants had mixed experiences during tutorials presented by subject experts. Oth ers had positive experi ences as they had their presence felt while oth ers found tutors oblivi ous of their presence and thus were not ac commodated. Some of the participants ex pressed the following negative aspects; Tutors didn’t accommodate the VI students because they continued to write on chalkboards and use the overheads (projector) without making reference to the presence of VI students. Tutors did not realise needs...also need auditory and group methods Tutors... not aware of my presence and were not accommodating. Tutors observed that students with VI require contact teaching, that is, a one to one instruc tional basis. However, the tutors confirmed that the students with VI were treated as other students during tutorials sessions. The participants’ concern was that the tutors did not have adequate

knowledge on how to communicate, service and accommodate students with visual impairment. Lomof sky & Mvambi (2004) pinpoint that teachers are central to success ful inclusion. Teachers need to be sensitive to individual needs and characteristics of all learners in order to effectively support in clusion. In this regard instruction inherently requires differential teaching based on the characteristics and needs of the learning population. The main point of con tention was access to learning material in a media that was com patible with the learning needs of learners with VI. Asked to comment about how the par ticipants utilised library facilities the students experiences were as narrated below; Going to the library.... There were no materials it was difficult using the assistant who is not well versed in getting information. she also is not knowledgeable about my area of study. There was no distinction between
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me and other students. I could not get anything to borrow from the library due to media. Books (print) are not an appropriate media The library does not have suitable material for those with low vision and blind. There is need for a policy to specify our needs. The experiences of participants in access ing library information indicate some over sight on the real needs of students with VI as no braille nor large print materials were available. In addition the library staff were not inducted nor sen sitised in serving learn ers with VI. This situ ation is not consistent with Harrison (2006:2) who says “Accommo dation of learners with special needs is part of the process of ensuring high quality educational experiences are availa ble to every individual.” The participants sug gested that students with visual impairment require audiocassettes and braille material to access instructional materials. Yet another area of concern for the par14

ticipants was the assis tance given to students with VI during the ex amination process. Some participants reported limited sup port in the provision of Braille machines and for others there were no examinations in enlarged print. Other participants expressed concern that there was no distinction be tween them and other learners implying that no special arrange ments were made for them, as some re quired enlarged print of font size 16. Some participants expected special arrangements where there would be given a room to use a braille machine with out making noise for other students. Quite a number of participants suggested that they re quired 25% extra time in completing examina tions as expressed in these statements; I request for more time especially with calculations 15 minutes per hour... such extra time. lnvigilators may not even be aware of use of technology or Braille when you need help. Students with VI.. we are usually forgotten. The study observed

that students with vi sual impairment re quire special exami nations arrangements to accommodate their needs. ZOU unsystem atically made ad-hoc arrangements to ac commodate the needs of students with visual impairment during ex aminations. However the ZOU’s student handbook had a sec tion describing service that should be afforded students with various disabilities during ex aminations. Despite the information contained in the student hand book about special examination arrange ments for students with disability no definitive policy was in place for a comprehensive regu lation on mandatory services for students with disabilities. Communication prob lems were probed to establish how ef fective the university was interacting with students with VI. The participants with low vision indicated that communication by the university through let ters and newspapers was adequate while those who are blind re ported that it was a big challenge as notices in newspapers and notice boards were not ac

DEASA-SADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

cessible to them. Blind students preferred brailled communica tion and or telephone messages. One par ticipant reported the following as depicting communication with the university: It was like chasing a wild cat... .grossly inadequate! Interaction between student and the re spective tutors showed some students ap preciating the use of telephones while oth ers reported that tu tors were not ready for them such that they wrote on the chalk board without pro nouncing what they were writing. Also the participants showed differences in the ex periences of interac tion with sighted stu dents within their tuto rial groups. While oth ers believed that they were accepted others had this to say; Students with experience in special education are aware don’t have problems of stigma but others at first don’t understand. Some even ask why you are among them. Usually they get annoyed with the noise of the Braille machine.

The assumption is that they accepted me but sometimes patronised me to the extent of offering to write notes for me. At first they would kind of look down upon you but once they realised your potential they even can pick us (by car) the problem is of awareness From these narratives, it is clear that partici pants express some degree of exclusionary practices such as pa tronisation and keep ing of a distance by sighted students. It is also important to note that the participants acknowledge that other sighted students lack awareness. Participants were given the opportunity to site any other chal lenges they encoun tered in the course of their studies with ZOU. A few of them indicat ed having challenges subjects involving sta tistics as some of the formulae were difficult to manage. The chal lenge was not with the level of difficulty but with manageability of the formula signs and signals. In other words, given the ap propriate computer

packages and media, there would be no problem for students with VI to do any cal culations. Another challenge was excessive expenses since the student with VI had to pay for the audio recording of the module or pay the reader/assistant. It was therefore obvi ous that the student with VI bore extra ex penses than other stu dents. For these stu dents it would appear as if they are being penalised for having the disability. The participants were allowed to say what they believed were challenges for ZOU in serving learners with VI. The following two challenges were reported, that ZOU should provide appro priate learning materi al and that the materi al should be simplified in some concepts as indicated in the follow ing statement; When programmes were designed in ZQU, they did not have VI students in mind to the extent that examinations were not even in Braille no structure for braille.
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The experiences of participants show a disparity between their expectations and the service they received. The service was inad equate and to a large extent inappropriate. The participants did not feel a sense of belong ingness to ZOU pro grammes rather they view themselves as an appendage to the rest of the student popula tion. Some students did not feel that it was their right to enrol in ZOU programmes. These students remained grateful for ZOU’s ‘be nevolence’ in admit ting them. Students in this frame of thinking cannot be expected to demand adequate and equitable service com mensurate with their needs and characteris tics. It is important that the concept of inclu sion is discussed and implemented even in tertiary education. On the whole, students experiences brought out some exclusionary practices in the way ZOU assisted learners with VI. Attitudinal Challenges Observations by tutors indicated that there ex isted problems relating to negative attitudes
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by both the tutors as well as learners with VI. Tutors not trained in special education found it difficult to cope with the instructional needs of learners with VI. This position was evidenced by the fol lowing comment from one of the tutors, My tutorials were moving smoothly until she (female student with VI) came. The statement could imply that negative attitudes from tutors emanate from lack of knowledge and aware ness of the needs of students with VI. In ad dition tutors observed that administrative staff would close their offices at the sight of a student with VI to avoid the lengthy verbal in teractions associated with such students. Such a situation is not at all conducive to the needs of learners with VI hence it requires ur gent redress in order to give such learners the support they deserve. Tutors suggest that both the administrative staff with negative be haviours as well as the students with VI should be availed counselling to enhance accommo dation and genuine ac ceptance.

Recommendations According to the in formation given by re gional administrators in the interviews, ZOU did not have an institu tional policy, to assist people with visual im pairment and or other disadvantages. It is therefore recommend ed that ZOU should formulate a policy which will include pa rameters for ensuring adequate learner sup port for students with VI and for those with other challenges. As established in the study, some tutors ex hibited a lack of knowl edge in facilitating the instructional and welfare needs of stu dents with VI. There is therefore need to equip staff who interface with these students with skills to adequately provide equitable ser vice and support for the meaningful inclusion of the learners. Also, as the students with VI suggested, it is recommended that ZOU should have a de partment to service with disabilities in an CDL context. The depart ment would ensure the provision of adequate learner support in terms of material and other pedagogical concerns.

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Conclusion Issues of access and equity are fundamental to ODL in its service of students with disability. As indicated by Sherry (1996), instructional designers and curricu lum developers seem to give precedence to technological advance ment in instructional materials development at the expense of focus ing on the underlying issues of learner char-

acteristics and needs. The effect of accom modating learner char acteristics and needs in instructional materi als production impacts positively situated cog nition within the con structivist paradigm in which the learner inter acts with materials and constructs new knowl edge thereof. The new department of learner support for people with disadvantages could

be staffed with quali fied staff and equipped with relevant resources to assist with transcrip tion from braille to print and use of voice synthesisers for use by learners with VI in order to embrace and enhance inclusion in the institution through appropriate and ad equate service delivery modalities.

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References Bogdan, R.C. & Bikien, S.G. (1984) Qualitative Research for Education. An in troduction to Theory and Methods, Boston, Allyn and Bacon. Burgstahler, S. (2002) Real Connections: Making Distance Learning Accessible to Everyone. Disabilities, Opportunities, Inter working, and Technol ogy (DO-IT) Dysan, A. & Millard, A. (200) Schools and special Needs: Issues of Innovation and In clusion. London, Paul Chapman Engelbrecht, P. Green, L. Naicker, S. and Engelbrecht, L. (2004) Inclusive Education in South Africa.Pretoria. Van Schaik Publishers Guba, E. G. & Lincoln, Y. S. (1985) Fourth Generation Evaluation. Newbury Park, Sage Harrison, L. (2006) Ac cessible Web- Based Distance Education: Principles and Best Practices. Adaptive Technology Resource Centre. University of

Toronto, Toronto. Lomofsky, L. Rob erts, R. & Mvambi, N. (2004) The inclusive Classroom in Engel brecht, Green, Naicker and Engelbrecht) In clusive Education in South Africa. Pretoria, Van Schaik Publishers Mason, H., McCall, S., Arte, C., McLindell, M. & Stone J. (1997) Visual Impairment: Access to Education for Children and Young People. London, Da vid Fulton Publishers
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Tait, A. (2003) Re flections on Students Support in Open and Distance Learning. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. ISSN:1 492-3831 Taylor, S.J. & Bogdan, R. (1984) Introduction to Qualitative Re search Methods. The Search for Meanings. New York, Wiley. UNESCO (2002) Open and distance learn ing: trends, policy and strategy Consider ations. Webster, A. & Roe, J. (1998) Children with Visual Impairments. Social interaction, Lan guage and learning. London, Routledge. Zimbabwe Open University (2002) Handbook on Admis sion, Registration and Assessment. Harare, Zimbabwe Open Uni versity.

Sherry, L. (1996) Issues in Distance Learning. International Journal of Educational Telecommunications, 1 (40, 337-365. Swartz, L. M. (2004) Advanced Accessibility Features for Inclusive Distance Education. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. ISSN: 1492-383 1. Sookrajh, R., Gopal, N. & Maharaj, B. (2005) Interogating inclusionary and ex clusionary practices: Learners of war and flight. Perspectives in Education,23 (1) 1-14

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LEARNING SUPPORT IN A SEVERELY UNDERDEVELOPED CONTEXT AS EXPERIENCED BY DISTANCE LEARNERS
Godson Gatsha Botswana Cofege of Open and Distance Learning Abstract The study was under taken to find out how distance learners who pursued school equiv alent courses in a se verely underdeveloped context and were ex amination candidates in 2005, experienced the learning support services provided by Botswana College of Open and Distance Learning (BOCODOL) Kang Regional Office. Data was collected us ing direct administra tion of a questionnaire to 109 participants and semi-struc through tured interviews with five participants. Nar ratives with personal voice and individual were thick quotes used for analysis. The findings of the study indicated that effec tive learning support was rendered by the regional office in all the seven-community study centres. How ever remote learners experienced delayed assignment feedback. Learning support strat egies for remote learn ers should be strengthened and part-time tutors should be moti vated to be more en terprising in their deliv ery of learning support in community study centres in order to en hance throughput. Introduction Learning support is considered important in enhancing through put in open and dis tance learning, and yet, it seems to be complex and least understood in many open and dis tance learning practic es. For instance most Open and Distance Learning institutions in Southern African have in place learning sup port facilities but these differ from institution to institution probably be cause of how learning support is conceptu alised. In this article, lit erature on conceptions of learning support and experiences of distance learners has been reviewed in or der to have an in-depth understanding of how distance learners in a severely underdevel oped context perceive and experience learn ing support provided by one Southern Afri can distance learning provider, the Botswana College of Open and Learning Distance (BOCODOL). The study aimed at un derstanding how dis tance learners pursu ing school equivalent courses in a severely underdeveloped con text experienced learn ing support provided by BOCODOL through the Kang Regional Of fice. It was guided by the question: How have distance learners from a severely underde veloped context study ing school equivalent courses experienced learning support? The focus of the study was on distance learners’ of conceptualization learning support and three key areas of learning support the region delivers to its learners namely, study materials, face-to-face tutorials and assign ment feedback. The study also focused on reasons for dropping
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out since it was as sumed at the beginfling of the study that learners might be drop ping out as result of the inadequate learning support that the region provided. Kang region is gener ally underdeveloped and economically dis advantaged. Services such as electricity, roads, telecommuni cation systems, radio and television services are not yet developed and the settlements or villages have no pub lic libraries, no public transport and postal services are far away, slow or unavailable in some settlements. The learners pursued their studies in a context where unemployment is very high, rainfall is low and unreliable, and so are underground water sources and this has affected their farm ing activities. Tradition ally inhabitants of this region are nomadic and these tendencies are still there in some of them. They relied on hunting as their main economy but new wild life management laws do not allow for this. Hence the participants studied in a severely underdeveloped and economically disad vantaged context.
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Review of literature The literature on learn ing support has a few success stories and is full of discourses that tell stories of isola tion, alienation, frustra tion, delayed feedback and fear of technology (LaPadula, 2003; Dza kiria, 2005). The role of culture in learning also appears in the literature as a chal lenge (Venter, 2003). Despite these chal lenges, the literature that defines and ex plains the role of learn ing support is available (Dzakiria, 2005; Tait, 1995; Gibson, 1998; Tait, 2000; McLough lin, 2002; Moore, 2003; Yorke, 2004; Scheer and Lockee, 2003; Thorpe, 2002; Chute et al, 1999). One success story on learning support is the online survey research carried out by LaPadu Ia. The study involved sixty-three women and twenty-nine men and was meant to deter mine how satisfied the students were with the online student services and also to find out what types of services they wanted in the fu ture. The results were that a majority of the online students were satisfied with the on-

line student services they were received (LaPadula, 2003). An other study by Wheeler (2002) carried out with a sample of thirty re spondents explored the nature of psycho logical distance in dis tance learning. It iden tified some important students issues that revealed that distance learners who studied with the aim of merely reproducing knowl edge through surface approaches required a greater need for di rection, whereas those who practice a deeper meaning centred ap proach required less direction support from their tutors. The results also showed that re mote students expect ed a great deal more social an practical sup port from their instruc tors than their local peers probably due to the psychological dis tance they perceived, however they expected less in terms of aca demic support which indicated that they per ceived less need due to their independent learner status. Research findings by Venter (2003) shed light on the role of cul ture and coping with isolation in Europe and Asia. Venter stud-

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ies appear to indicate that the extent to which learning is student-cen tred or teacher-centred is subject to cultural variation. He argues that particular cultures exhibit learning prefer ences more suited to distance learning than other cultures. In the Asia Pacific sample his findings were that, structure, timetabling and reassurance for individuals to assess their own progress seemed to be signifi cant whilst in the Eu ropean sample, the appeared emphasis to be on knowing that they are cared for, that people are there to support their particular needs and knowing that others are in the same boat and can be contacted for informal support. Both groups of learners wanted aca demic guidance, feed back and reassurance that they were on the right track. Few would dispute that this is a crucial part of any suc cessful learning experi ence. It would be ben eficial for educators to take into consideration the cultural values and past experience of the learners in the design and implementation of learning support (Ven ter 2003).

The Malaysian expe rience in open and distance learning by Dzakiria (2005) is one empirical study that reflects a discourse of isolation, frustra tion and alienation as demonstrated by the students’ voices. The study focused on the role of learning support in distance learning at the Universiti Utara Malaysia. The strength of this study lies in its approach qualitative that effectively used the interview as a pri mary instrument sup plemented by students’ journals and photo graphs. The Malaysian context was made up of a complex mix of cultures, languages and rural factors and as such has similarities with the context of this study. The findings of that study suggest that the infrequent face-toface meetings between distance teachers and distance learners, and learners’ dependen cy on their teachers, caused frustrations and sometimes impeded the learning process. Some distance learn ers were found to be unable to cope with distance learning ex pectations and found new ways of learning and the sets of expec tations that go with it

too great and in such circumstances, some distance learners ex pected distance teach ers to play an important role in helping them come to terms with the new ways of learn ing. The voices in the study are desperate for attention and need a human face to provide immediate response to their problems and to guide their learning. The main challenge for Open and Distance Learning providers is to ensure that a robust learner support system exists to help them make a paradigm shift from traditional learn ing to distance learning so as to avoid learn ers expecting teachercentred delivery mode in distance education. Another striking find ing revealed in Dza kiria (2005) is how a orientation cultural may inhibit learning. Malaysian learners are reported to be more re served and sometimes participants passive in classroom discus sions and as such they sometimes felt at a loss when clear instructions were not given for work or assignments and hence experiments, were tempted to blame their distance teachers for a lack of knowledge
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or commitment as re vealed in some of the students’ discourse. The findings and con clusions by Dzakiria (2005) lead one to ask questions: Is there a convergence of expec tations and interpreta tion of learning sup port between distance learners and distance educators? How can learning support strive towards a better dis tance learning experi ence? These questions are closely related to how learning support is conceptualised. Sherry (1996) made a review of aspects of learning support and observed that the dis tance education sys tem involved a high de gree of interactivity be tween teacher and stu dent, even in rural and isolated communities separated by perhaps thousands of miles. On the other hand various authors (Tait, 1995; Gibson, 1998; Tait, 2000; McLough lin, 2002; Moore, 2003) advance a common explanation of learn ing support that it is, a support system aimed at enhancing and im proving learning and covers a wide range of skills that transpire from the initial enrol ment, the teaching and
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learning programme of the course and contin ues until the results are published. While no exhaustive, universal model exists for which student support servic es should be available to distance learners, several authors (e.g., Yorke, 2004; Scheer and Lockee, 2003; Moore, 2003; Thorpe, 2002; McLoughlin, 2002; Tait, 1995; Chute et. al, 1999) concur on the most important components of learner support services that can be offered to dis tance learners. These include, for example, orientation of students to distance learning, course registration, lan guage support, access to library resources, academic advising, tu toring individually and in groups, feedback on assessment and prog ress, counseling and careers guidance. Given the above com mon explanation and components of learn ing support, this study chose to use three func tions of learning sup port proposed by Tait (2004) as its conceptual framework. In using the three functions to give meaning to the findings of this study, reference is made to Dzakiria’s (2005) view of the role

of learning support that of producing distance learners who are able to progress through their programmes of learning successfully and are able to be in dependent learners who have good learn ing skills and strategies and are able to interact effectively with tutors, learning materials and other distance learners at any time. The three functions of learning support Tait proposed focus on the cognitive, affective and systemic aspects of learning. In this case, cognitive re fers to supporting and developing learning through the mediation of the standard and uni form elements of course materials and learning resources for individual learners, whilst affec tive refers to providing an environment that supports learners, cre ates commitment, and enhances self-esteem. Systemic on the other hand refers to estab lishing administrative processes and informa tion management sys tems that are effective, transparent and overall friendly (Tait, 2004). Research design and methodology There are different re search orientations that

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focus on how knowl edge is developed. The two common forms of educational research orientations are the positivist paradigm and the interpretivist para digm. The positivist research emphasizes objectivity and the in terpretivist research fo cuses on subjectivity or multiple realities. Given my research question that was con cerned with the par ticipants’ experiences of learning support, this study could not be situated in the positiv ist paradigm but within the interpretive para digm. The interpretive research is concerned with in-depth under standing as experi enced by research par ticipants in their natural setting. A case study methodol ogy has been adopted in this study. I chose a case study because of my interest in obtain ing an in-depth under standing of learning support as experienced by distance learners in a severely under developed context in order to inform prac tice. A case study is an accepted research strategy particularly as I was motivated by wanting to give a voice

to my research partici pants. It is an empiri cal inquiry that investi gates a contemporary phenomenon within a real life context using multiple sources. Data was collected through a qualitative survey tool (question naire) and a semi-struc tured interview. Due to time constraints only five participants were selected purposively for interviews. These participants were se lected on the basis of their location in order to strike a balance as the contexts of the re gion vary with one be ing semi-arid and the other being a desert. They were also select ed on the fact that they had been active learn ers for more than two years in distance learn ing. Two came from re mote settlements in the desert where a satellite learning centre has been operating for five years and three came from a village in a semi arid area where a com munity study centre has been operating for more than six years. Both the questionnaire and the semi-struc tured interview tools solicited participants to respond to items that required their concep

tualization of learning support, experience in using the study mate rial, face to face tutori als, assignment feed back, regional office support and why some learners were still drop ping out despite the provision of learning support. For each of the above, participants were asked to share their experiences, per ceptions and to sug gest improvements. The questionnaire was administered in Octo ber/November 2005 to all the 109 students who were examina candidates in tion the school equivalent courses in Kang Re gion of BOCODOL. limitations of The include this study the use of only two tools of which one was administered to only five participants. However, the detailed responses given by participants do offer an in-depth understanding of their learning experi ences in their context, hence the study does not seek any general izations but compara bility to similar contexts may be made. All the 109 partici pants, 71 females and 38 males, volunteered freely to complete the
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questionnaires. The had all been enrolled for the school equiva lent courses for at least a year and had just completed writ ing their English final examination. Their ages ranged from 17 to 40 years. Seventysix of the participants had a distance learn ing experience of one year with BOCODOL and 33 had three years experience of distance learning with BOCODOL. Twentyeight of the participants were Junior Certificate (JC) candidates whilst 81 were Botswana General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) candidates. Findings The findings of the study indicated that what was perceived and experienced by both JC and BGCSE distance learners on the learning support provided by the region al office were similar. There were equally no differences in terms of experiences between males and females but responses differed on the basis of location and distance from the community study cen tres. The findings are presented below ac cording to the themes that guided this study.
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Conceptualization of learning support Participants’ descrip tion of learning sup port included encour agement that learners get from their tutors or distance education advisors and informa tion needed in order to succeed. They indicat ed that they received learning support in the form of motivation, tutorials, solutions to social problems, meet ings and encourage ment. For example one said, “Learning support means being given the much needed in formation to succeed in learning. I am happy with the support because normally after our meeting I get motivated and also happy which is good for a learner as someone cannot excel in their studies if not happy and motivated.” Study materials Study materials were considered by most participants (99%) to be user friendly. They described the materials as: good, okay, easy, simple, understand able, fine, very good, reliable, impressing, and perfect. However

participants indicated that they needed more assignments for each unit and suggested that at least two as signments rather than one should be included for learners to do. They also observed that there were a number of errors in some study materials and pointed out that corrections should be made on study materials with errors speedily and the corrected version given to learners well on time before final ex amination commences. BGCSE Maths unit 3 was given as an ex ample of study material with errors. Face-to-face tutorials
Participants described

the tutorials as; active, good, okay, well con ducted, very informa tive, excellent, and very helpful. Some of the notable quotes are the following: “Tutorials are good because tutors encourage us and they even give us extra work” “They were generally good even though the tutors sometimes absented themselves from the lessons” “The tutorials are

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very helpful indeed, what matters is time. I think one hour 30 minutes per lesson is fair enough” “Tutors are active and conduct tutorials in a good way” However, there were other participants whose experiences were not as good and made the following re sponses: “Some of them (tutors) are too lazy and do not turn up for lessons every time” “No good, tutors are not responsible enough, others teach low grade stuff for Junior School” The above comments were from partici pants who came from the same community study center and could be specific to that centre. Other aspects noted by participants were that during tu torials, tutors asked questions, taught dif ficult topics, spent time helping learners in some difficult areas. However they also in dicated that, time for tutorials was rather short, some tutors

spent tutorial time dis cussing and marking assignments, in some instances if there are no questions they were asked to read BOCODOL materials, some tutors came 15 minutes late for tuto rials, some learners came for tutorials just to play because they come unprepared, some learners laughed at others and said an noying words/remarks during tutorials. Some of the quotes by par ticipants were: “Some come late especially English” “Only my HSB tutor has a very poor delivery and did not turn up for some lessons.” Assignment feedback The majority of partici pants (90%) claimed to have submitted almost all the assign ments in the courses they were enrolled in. They were happy about the marked as signments particularly tutor comments and the turn around time particularly those from the Community Study Centres (CSCs). The following comments by two respondents sum up most partici pants experiences;

“My tutor writes all the comments so I learn from it. The comments are fine because she writes what I should do or should not do, she gives me advice”. “Finished all the assignments on time i.e. before coming to sit for examination. My tutors were fair and commented on where to improve.” However there were a very few remarks on delayed assignment feedback in CSCs. Delayed assignment feedback was regis tered by respondents mainly from satellite learning centres that are in remote settlements. Regional Office support The responses indi cated that a majority (99%) of participants were satisfied with the support they got from the Regional Office. They had this to say; “The way everything is handled and how it motivated me especially on trying to gain my goal.” “Truly, they encourage us and give us workshops
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that help us and they continuously check centres.” “I am satisfied because they provide study materials that are good and there are tutors for help. They provide enough materials for one to study on her own.” “Information is provided and they gave respect and cooperation, satisfied because of the confident staff that encourages.” However a few re sponses from par ticipants without study centres indicated that they were not satisfied with the Regional Of fice support because they were never vis ted. This is what one participant said, “They never visit, they don’t know where we study. They should visit learn ers to see problem for not handing assign ment.” Another issue that emerged in most responses was that the Regional Office should provide food during ex aminations as learners come from far away and stay for more than ten days or so at the examination centre.

Learners dropping out of the courses The responses from the participants indi cated varied reasons for dropping out of the courses. The following were the reasons for dropping out pointed out by participants; “Because of lack of teacher’ “They are not serious or interested in their studies”. “Because they are not forced and they are aIone’ ‘They are poor at learning and others have social problems” ‘They say they want to be taught just like at a secondary school” “Lack of funds to pay their examination fee” “Lack of commitment to their work”. “Boredom, they engage in other social activities”. “They are lazy, they should be told that this school is learner-centred and not teachercentred.” In order to minimize learners dropping out, participants suggested that the Regional Of fice staff should be proactive in identifying risky learners and mo

tivating them. This is what some participants said: “Motivate them, talk to them, and give them support they lack’ “Teach them how to have selfmotivation”. “Give them food when writing examinations’ “Provide hostels at the study centres’ “Advise them on the importance of education because it is their future’ “Call them for workshops where they can be encouraged’
Discussion

The conceptualization of learning support in distance education as expressed by par ticipants is within the framework proposed by Taft, (2004). Par ticipants’s experience and view of learning support is that it aims at enhancing and rn proving their learning in order to succeed and this is in line with what most authors have said about the role of learning support in distance education (Dzakiria, 2005; Tait, 1995; Gibson, 1998; Tait, 2000; McLough in, 2002; Moore, 2003; Yorke, 2004; Scheer

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and Lockee, Thorpe, 2002).

2003;

The issue of errors in the study materials as identified by par ticipants is a cause of concern. Distance education material can be very frustrating if it has errors. Fail ure to correct errors timeously or to allow learners to proceed to write the final exams without errors having been corrected might be very damaging to the distance education provider besides being unfair to learners. experiences The shared by participants the who attended weekly face-to-face tu torials conducted at the seven strategic Com munity Study Centres and that shared by remote learners who face-to-face attend weekend tutorials oc demon casionally, strates best practice and is in line with uni versal learner support services that exist (Yorke, 2004, Scheer and Lockee, 2003, Moore, 2003, Thorpe, McLoughlin, 2002, 2002). The need for more face-to-face tu torials expressed by remote learners is typical and resembles that of other remote

learners as in Wheeler (2002) studies, where remote learners ex pected a great deal more from their tutors than non-remote learn ers, because of the psychological distance they experienced. Par ticipants’ experiences of the tutorial sessions demonstrate that the tutorials are the most sought after support. Participants recog commendable nized efforts by the majority of tutors. Positive tuto rial delivery enhances confidence, learner retention, persistence and high completion rates. The few bad ap ples of tutors identified by participants need to be talked to, re-skilled and if no changes occur their services should be terminated as their presence continued could contribute to at trition and dropping out of learners. The responses on as signment submission indicate claims by most participants that they had submitted their as signments but the indi vidual progress charts for 2005 candidates in dicate otherwise. There could be a possibility that some assignment scores were not cap tured or the manual re trieval process was not

user friendly as such some scores were not retrieved. Another pos sibility could be that some learners could have claimed to have submitted when they had not. Neverthe less, more vigilance in retrieving scores is ex pected of any distance education provider if guidance and coun seling are to be done However effectively. it would appear that most learners were happy with the assign ment feedback. The comments provided by their tutors were en couraging, gave guid ance and reassurance that they were on the right track. This experi ence was similar to one experienced by learn ers in Venter’s (2003) studies of coping with isolation in distance learning in Europe and Asia. Regional Office remote learner support ser vices appear to be in adequate as indicated by responses from the participants. It would seem that not all re mote learners were reached physically or constantly contacted through tutorial letters. The need for maintain ing a high degree of interactivity between the distance education
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provider and the re mote learner has been emphasized by Sherry, (1996). However the attempts of reaching learners through week end tutorials in rural and isolated communi ties are commendable. The issue of drop ping out calls for the Regional Office to identify vulnerable in dividuals as early as at time of enrolment and through guidance and counseling estab lish rapport that will enable each learner to seek help whenever necessary. Any learn er who drops out of a course or programme has cost implication. The dropping out is sue also challenges the Regional Office’s pre-enrolment coun selling effectiveness, hence a reflection during operational planning for the next academic period needs to be done and strategies for effective pre-enrolment counsel ling adopted to avoid a situation like that experienced by Malay sian learners whose voices were desperate for attention, for the human face to provide guidance for their learn ing (Dzakiria, 2005).

Given the participants’ sentiments on their ex periences; • The readability and content quality of B000DOL study material should be maintained and enhanced where necessary by en suring that errors are eliminated. • The Regional Of fice should con stantly support tutors by visits, letters and meet ings focusing on learning support issues. • Learning support strategies for re mote learners in satellite centres and informal study centres should be strengthened by the regional office. • Part-time tutors should be moti vated by regional staff so that they are more enterpris ing in their delivery of learning support in community study centres, • Increased involve ment of political stakeholders to engage relevant authorities to es tablish the neces

sary infrastructure that can promote effective distance education in the area Further research into the experi ences of dropouts and their reasons for dropping out should be carried out. Conclusions
Learner Support Ser vices at BOCODOL Kang Region satisfy most learners. The ma jority of learners have access to face-to-face tutorials and tutors. Assignment feedback as part of learning sup port is a critical tool in distance education and learners gain a lot from positive com ments made by the tu tors. Turn around time of assignments is be ing adhered to at BO CODOL Kang region’s Community Study Cen tres, however in satel lite centres delayed feedback has been experienced by learn ers. However, general support of learners is commendable. Work shops and visits by regional staff seem to sustain the confidence of learners.

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References Chute, A. G., Thomp son, M. M. & H Han cock, B. W. (1999) The McGraw-Hill Handbook of Distance Learning, New York, McGraw-Hill. Dzakiria, H. (2005) The Role of Learning Support in Open & Distance Learning: Learners’ experiences and perspectives, Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, vol.6 (2) 1-14 Gibson, CC. (1990) Learners and Learn ing: a discussion of selected research in Moore, M. G. Contemporary Issues in American Distance Education, Oxford, Pergamon Press, pp.121-35. LaPadula, M. (2003). A Comprehensive Look at Online Student Support Services for Distance Learners, The American Journal of Distance Education, vol. 17(2) 119-128. McLoughlin, C. (2002). Learner Support in Distance and Net-

worked Learning Environments: Ten Di mensions for Success ful Design, Distance Education, vol. 23(2).
Moore. M.G. (2003) Learner support Edi torial. The American Journal of Distance Education, 17(3) 141143. Scheer, S. B. and Lockee, (2003). Addressing the Wellness Needs of Online Distance Learners, Open Learn ing, vol.18 (2) 176196. Sherry, L. (1996) Issues in Distance Learning. International Journal of Educational Telecommunications, 1(4), PP.337-365. Tait, A. (1995) Student in Open and Distance Learning, in Open and Distance Learning Today, Studies in Dis tance Education, by Lockwood, F. London, Routledge. Tait, A. (2000) Plan ning Student Support for Open and Distance Teaching, Open Learn ing, 15(3), pp.287-299

Tait, J. (2004). The tutor/facilitator role in student retention, Open Learning, vol. 19(1) 97-1 09. Thorpe M. (2002) Re thinking Learner Sup port: the challenge of collaborative online learning. Open Learn ing, vol.17 no.2 Venter, K. (2003) Coping with Isolation: the role of culture in adult distance learners’ use of surrogates, Open Learning, vol.18(3), 1-17. Wheeler, S. (2002). Student Perceptions of Learning Support in Distance Education, The Quartely Review of Distance Education, vol. 3(4) 41 9-429. Yorke, M. (2004) Rete tion, persistence and success in on-campus higher education, and their enhancement in open and distance learning, Open Learn ing, vol. 19(1), 19-32.

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LECTURING VERSUS COLLABORATIVE LEARNING METHODS: An Analysis of Learning Preferences Among Mid-Level Management Students at the University of Namibia
Dr Trudie Frindt & Dr Louise Mostert Abstract The concept of collab orative learning (CL), the grouping and pair ing of students for the purpose of achieving an academic goal has become a well-es tablished educational method and research ers such as Johnson & Johnson (1990) and Astin (1993) strongly favour it as one of the most effective meth ods to be employed by educators. Proponents of collaborative learn ing claim that the ac tive exchange of ideas within small groups not only elicits partici pation from possible shy students but also enhances a deeper understanding as op posed to memorising of transmitted knowl edge. There has been an assumption that, due to rote learning and authorative teach ing style in schools, students in Namibia have a tendency to wards surface learning in schools and higher education. To exam ine this assumption, an adapted questionnaire
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University of Namibia Background This study had its ori gin in 2005, when the University of Namibia took in students for a certificate course in mid-level management who did not have the necessary admission requirements to enter into higher education. A group of students, most of whom were supervisors, were en rolled for a six-month certificate course in mid-level management. Students attended a 35-hours week-block of face-to-face instruction per module. This study focused on the teach ing methods employed during the first and second module of the certificate programme. The lecturer of the first module applied collab orative learning meth ods, while the second module was mainly presented via the lec turing method sup ported by power point presentations. During the first intake the researchers no ticed that the percep tion was that students’

on the Approaches to Study Skills Inventory for Students was used to examine the motiva tional and deep learn ing impact of a lectur ing teaching method versus collaborative learner activities in a certificate programme at the University of Na mibia (UNAM). There were limitations in the procedures of the study and difficulties in interpreting the results. However, the results suggest that the stu dents showed strong beliefs and preference for deep learning ap proaches in addition to surface learning ap proaches. It was con cluded that learning outcomes for UNAM mid-level management students could be en hanced by employ ing deep learning ap proaches to teaching and learning. Key words Collaborative learning, rote learning, surface learning approach, deep learning ap proach, interactivity.

DEASA-SADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

behaviour changed when taught by differ ent lecturers. For ex ample, students were very excited and enthu siastic when they were taught by lecturer A, who preferred to teach them through collabor ative learning methods in comparison with lec turer B, who preferred a teacher centred approach. However, when the researchers compared the test re sults of the two mod ules, it was clear that the students performed better in lecturer B’s classes, which seemed paradoxical since the researchers expected that students would perform better under conditions where they had enjoyed the class es and participated more actively. The present study was prompted by assump tions that mid-level management certifi cate students’ prior experiences in educa tion predispose them towards surface learn ing approaches, which might result in UNAM certificate students having preferences for teaching that are con sistent with a surface learning approach. This assumption was examined in this study. A questionnaire was

used to elicit responses from students. In addi tion to this, test results were used to compare the result of the first two modules of the cer tificate course. It was expected that students prefer a teaching style that is consistent with a surface approach. The research was based on a conviction that teach ing and learning should begin with the individu al student, including an understanding of their beliefs and preferenc es about teaching and learning. It also drew on the notion that stu dents’ understanding of how they perceive learning would have a significant influence on their approaches to learning. In order to provide a background to the par ticular research ques tions and the methodol ogy used, the first sec tion of the conceptual framework contains a brief review of research and theory about sur face and deep learning approaches. Conceptual framework Surface and deep approaches to learning Research into student learning has roots in

several areas of psy including chology, cognitive psychology, behaviourism, and hu Traditional manism. learning behavioural theories are teacher centred and focus on eliciting a desired re sponse from the stu dent. These theories also stress the need to specify goals and set behavioural learn ing outcomes (Biggs, 1996; Tennant, 1997; Biggs, 1999; Ramsden, 1987; Ramsden, 1992; Entwistle, 1998; Debus, Gordon & 2002). Research sug gests that learning out comes for students are linked to a specific type of learning approach Säljö, (Marion & 1997; Biggs, 1999). A prominent example of these uses a distinc tion between surface and deep learning ap proaches. The origin of this distinction can be found in the early work of Marion and Säljä in Sweden (Marion & Sâljö, 1976; Säljö, 1979). They gave stu dents a text to read, and told them they would be asked ques tions afterwards. Stu dents responded in two different ways. The first group learned in an ticipation of the ques tions, concentrating on the facts and details
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that might be asked. They ‘skated along the surface of the text’, as Marion and Säljö put it, using a surface ap proach to learning. The second group, on the other hand, set out to understand the mean ing of what the author was trying to say. They went below the surface of the text to interpret that meaning, using a deep approach. They saw the big picture and how the facts and de tails made the author’s case (Biggs 1999:12). The conceptual mod el distinguishing the surface versus deep learning approaches has been developed and clarified in re cent years (Ramsden, 1992; Entwisstle, 1997; Biggs, 1999; McLean, 2001; Gordon & De bus, 2002; Warbur ton, 2003). From this literature, a surface approach arises from an intention to get the task out of the way with minimum trouble, while appearing to meet re quirements. Low cog nitive level activities are used, when high er—level activities are required to do the task properly. As applied to academic learn ing, examples include rote learning selected content instead of un
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derstanding it, listing points instead of ad dressing an argument, quoting secondary references as if they were primary ones. These elements are reasonably consistent with what has been described as the tradi tional view of effective learning, namely that it involves “the passive transfer of objective knowledge from teach er to student with the teacher firmly in control of the students’ learn ing and assessment testing the student’s retention of knowl edge” (Boyle, Duffy & Dunleavy, 2003:268). Gibbs (1994) states that to encourage a surface approach to learning, all we need to do is provide: • a heavy workload; • high class contact hours; • excessive amounts of course material; • lack of opportunity for in-depth study; • lack of choice over subject and study methods; • a threatening and anxiety-provoking assessment sys tem. Collaborative learn ing, on the other hand fosters a higher level of performance by

students (Bligh, 1972; Johnson & Johnson, 1990). Students’ criti cal thinking skills in crease and their reten tion of information and interest in the subject matter improves (Kulik & Kulik, 1979). When students work in pairs one is listening while the other is discuss ing the question un der investigation. Both are developing valu able problem solving skills by formulating their ideas, discussing them, receiving im mediate feedback and responding to ques tions and comments by their partner, which will result in a deeper ap proach to learning. The deep approach arises from a felt need to engage the task ap propriately and mean ingfully, so that the student tries to use the most appropriate cog nitive activities for han dling it. Biggs (1 999:16) is of the opinion that when students feel this “need-to-know, they try to focus on un derlying meaning: on main ideas, themes, principles or success ful applications”. This requires a sound foun dation of relevant prior knowledge so students who wish to know more will naturally try to learn

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the details, as well as making sure they un derstand what they have learnt. The deep approach is based on the use of analytic skills such as crossreferencing, imagina tive reconstruction and independent thinking (Warburton, 2003). When using the deep approach in handling tasks students develop positive feelings and learning therefore be comes a pleasure. This description suggests that to achieve deep learning the student is active in the process, that the learning is largely self-regulated and that it is consistent with constructivist prin ciples (Duffy & Jonas sen, 1992). Only when students formulate their own constructs and so lutions are they truly thinking critically. Col laborative techniques create a constructivist approach when stu dents become actively involved in defining questions in their own language and working out answers together instead of reproducing material presented by the teacher or the text book. One reason there has been attention to the surface versus deep learning distinction

is that theory and re search suggests that learning outcomes for students are linked to higher quality learn ing outcomes, such as better conceptual knowledge, develop ment of problem-solv ing skills, and greater mastery of content. Biggs (1994) states that to encourage deep learning, students need to recognise the need to know and that teaching requires ac tive involvement of the student in the learning process. Most students in Higher Education are however rarely asked to focus on the pro cess of learning (Gibbs 1994). Students focus on the outcomes of their learning, which is reinforced by the pre dominance of end of module assessment, and the increasing im portance of transpar ency in quality, stan dards, and reporting of outcome measures in Higher Education. Students’ experience of teaching conducive to surface learning. Since learning takes place through existing knowledge and experi ences, students’ prior learning experiences are presumed to be

important factors in the beliefs and expecta tions they bring to the class (Ramsden, 1992; Biggs, 1999; Entwistle, McCune & Hounsell, 2002;). Therefore, it is important to consider the prior experiences of UNAM mid-level management students. The Namibian Govern ment has categorically stated that the country should move towards a knowledge-based so ciety and has thus also expressed the need for the Educational Sys tem to put measures in place to ensure the development of critical thinking, problem-solv ing and life-long learn ing (Government of the Republic of Namibia: Office of the President, 2004). This clearly reflects the need for deep learning. How ever, recent analyses have characterised Na mibia’s education and training system as a very weak tool for sup porting the realisation of these goals (Ministry of Education, 2006). Commentators of the Namibian education processes have also noted that throughout the school system there is an emphasis on rote learning, memorising, and examinations that require the retention of answers to fixed ques
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tions. (Harlech-Jones, 2007; Clegg, 2007). This captures some of the main prior edu cational experience of students who attend UNAM. These types of education processes have been identified as those most likely to contribute to surface learning approaches (Ramsden, 1992). An other factor that reflects on the UNAM mid-level management students’ possible orientation to surface learning is Ramsden’s (1997) argument that if previ ous knowledge is lim ited, then students are more likely to adopt a surface approach. This comment could apply to the UNAM mid-level management students because the instruc tion is in their second language. They find it difficult to verbalise their understanding of the prescribed text and therefore they re sort to memorising the work. Furthermore, if students have had previous success with a surface approach, and this appears to be the case for this group of students (because they were successful in a school system that emphasised the sur face approach), they are more likely to fol low it.
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Finally, deep and sur face approaches to learning describe the way students relate to a teaching/learning environment. They are not fixed characteris tics of students. Some people speak of stu dents’ approaches to learning as if they were learning styles that ap ply whatever the task or the teaching (Schmeck 1988). At the other extreme, Marton and Sãljö (1976) speak of approaches as entirely determined by context, as if students walk into a learning situation without any preference for their way of going about learning. Stu dents have preferences for certain approaches, but their preferences are often not met.
Purpose of the study

of the ASSIST ques tionnaire have sepa rate items pertaining to a surface learning approach and a deep learning approach. For the purposes of this study, a triangulation of quantitative and quali tative methods was employed. Results of the design are outlined as indicated below: Data collection: • Participant as ob server: • The role we ad opted in this study was that of partici pant-as-observer, since the Depart ment of Continuing Education was responsible for the co-ordination of the course. This situation provided several advan tages in terms of the researchers’ understanding and interpretation of the research results. • Personal inter views with the lecturers who were responsible for the first two modules of the course. • Questionnaires were given to stu dents at the end of the second mod ule. The purpose of the questionnaire was to examine

The present research had two main goals. The first was to exam ine the students’ per ception about learning, and the second was to examine the students’ teaching preferences. Both of these goals were pursued using subscales from the Ap proaches and Study Skills Inventory for Stu dents (ASSIST) ques tionnaire (Entwistle, 1997; Tait & Entwistle, 1996). The subscales

DEASA-5ADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

the students’ per ception of learning and the students’ teaching prefer ences.
Data Processing:

The research design followed a qualitative approach where de scriptive statistics were applied
The sample

The sample consid ered in this study con sisted of 20 students who enrolled for the certificate in Mid-level management at the University of Namibia. The group was divided equally among men and women, with an age distribution of 20 years of age for the youngest and the old est person at 45 years of age. The language of instruction was Eng lish and this was a sec ond language for all students.
The instrument

5 sections. Section A set out to establish the profile of the students and biographic details including age and gen der. Section B looked at students’ academic profile including high est admission points and highest grades obtained in English for admittance to the cer tificate course. Section C asked students to indicate their job pro file. A four—point scale from “very close to my beliefs” to “very differ ent to my beliefs” was used for section D on Beliefs about how stu dents perceived learn ing. For section E, on Teaching Preferences a four-point scale from “I definitely like” to “I definitely dislike” was used. The original scale included a mid point rating when the student was “unsure”. In order to encourage the present students to indicate a preference, the category of unsure was not used. As mentioned earlier, two subscales from the ASSIST question naire formed part of the questionnaire to exam ine UNAM’s mid-level management students’ beliefs and preferenc es. The first subscale was section E “What is learning?” and the sec

ond subscale was sec tion D “Preferences for different types of teach ing”. The items in these two subscales were discussed with several academic staff mem bers with extensive experience of UNAM students in order to as sess the meaning and relevance of the items. As a result of the dis cussions a number of changes and addi tions were made to the questionnaire. An item was added to section E that read, “being able to explain information to someone else in a meaningful way”. Since the focus of this study was on collaborative versus lecturing meth od, it was felt that sec tion D “Preferences for different types of teach ing” should include a broader spectrum of items to choose from. (All items marked with an asterisk (*) were added to the question naire: see Table 1 and Table 2).
Procedure

The study was done by means of personal interviews with the two lecturers responsible forthefirsttwo modules of the course as well as through questionnaires that were administered at the end of the sec ond module. The ques tionnaire consisted of

questionnaires The were introduced to stu dents in class. The pur pose of the question naires was explained in terms of the research ers’ wish to learn more about the beliefs and preferences of stu dents as a step to un
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derstanding students and improving their earning. No mention was made of the ques tionnaires covering surface or deep learn ing. Students were informed that there were no right or wrong answers and that their responses were not part of any course as sessment. They were told that while they were encouraged to complete the question naires, it was a volun tary activity. All 20 of the students complet ed the questionnaires. Students were also given an explanation of each of the items and how to use the rating scales. This included a discussion of key words, such as assign ments, readings, ideas, course material and facts. Furthermore, both lecturers were informed about the re search while detailed discussions took place regarding their teach ing styles. The lecturer respon sible for collaborative

learning informed the students what he ex pected from them and what their academic task and assignments were for the course of the week. Next, the collaborative learning structure was explained and students were told to form five groups with four students per group. An instruction sheet that pointed out the key elements of the collaborative process was distributed. As part of the instructions, students were encour aged to discuss “why” they thought as they did regarding solutions to the problems. They were also instructed to listen carefully to com ments of each member of the group and be willing to reconsider their own judgments and opinions. As expe rience reveals, group decision-making can easily be dominated by the loudest voice or by the student who talks the longest. Therefore, it was insisted that every group member must be given an op

portunity to contribute his or her ideas. After that the group would arrive at a solution that would then be shared with the entire class for their input. The second lecturer made use of the lec turing method by us ing power point pre sentations as well as occasional flipchart il lustrations. At the end of each day he would give a summary of the important aspects that were covered during the lecture. He would also extend an invita tion to students to con tact him at any time should they have prob lems with their assign ments. Data analysis The “Beliefs about learning” section in the questionnaire con tained three items con sistent with a surface learning approach and four items consistent with a deep learning approach. These two sets of items are set out in Table 1.

Table 1. Percentage responses to each item in the Beliefs about learning. (Students were asked to rate how close each of the items is to their beliefs)
Surface learning beliefs Learning means
1. making sure you remember things well.

Not so close
1
=

Rather close
6
=

Very close
7
=

Different to belief
6
=

5%

30%

35%

30%

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2. 3.

building up knowledge by obtaining facts and information. being able to use the information you have obtained

1 6

=

5% 30%

17 14

=

85%

2

=

10%

=

=

70%

Deep learning beliefs Learning means 4. 5. 6. 7 developing as a person understanding new ideas and information for yourself seeing things in a different and more meaningful way. being able to explain information to someone else in a mean ingful way.
*

1

= 50/s

2 2 2

=

1 0% 1 0% 10%

8

=

40%

9 10 12 10

=

45% 50% 60% 50%

=

6 =30% 6 9 30% 45%

=

=

=

=

1

=

5%

=

=

Section E, the “Teaching Preferences” section contained seven items indicat ing a preference for teaching that encourages surface learning and ten items indicating a preference for teaching that encourages deep learning. These two sets are given in Table 2. In the actual questionnaires completed by stu dents, no mention was made of surface or deep learning. Table 2: Percentage responses to each item in the Teaching Preferences section. (Students were asked to rate how much they liked or disliked each type of
teaching)

Surface learning preferences
.

Definitely liked 8 17 40% 85%

Like to some extent 9 3
=

Dislike to some extent

Definitely dislike 3 15%

1. 2.

Lecturers who tell us exactly what to write down in our notes. Lecturers who provide me with a proper guideline on how to prepare for tests or exams.
*

=

45% 15%

=

=

=

3.

Courses in which it is made very clear just what I have to read and study. Lecturers who provide me with examples of previous exam questions. Readings, which give me definite facts and information that can easily be learned.

9

= 450/s

10 50%

1

=

5%

4.

12

=

60%

8

=

40%

5.

20 = 100%

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Surface learning preferences

Definitely liked 9
=

Like to some extent

Dislike Definitely to some dislike extent 11
=

6

Tests and examination papers which do not need any analytical skills.
*

45%

55%

7.

Lecturers who make use of power point presentations to support their lecturing.

*

9

=

45%

9

=

45%

2

=

10%

Deep learning preferences 8. 9 Lecturers who ask questions in class. Lecturers who make you think even if you do not score the highest in their subject. Lecturers who make you work in small groups, and then ask someone in the group to report back to the whole class. Lecturers who encourage you to participate in debates in the class. 12. *Lecturers who encourage group work. 13. Lecturers who encourage us to think for ourselves and show us how they think. 14. *Lecturers who explain to us why they want us to learn a spe cific topic or item. 15. Assignments or exams, which allow me to show that I have thought about the course mate rial myself. 16. Courses in which we are expected to find new reading and ideas for ourselves. 17. Reading, which challenge me and provide explanations that go beyond the class.
* * * *

18 = 90% 14 70%

2 4

=

10% 20% 1
=

=

=

5%

1

=

5%

18

=

90°/o

2

=

10%

17

=

85%

2

=

1 O°/

1

=

5%

16 17

=

80% 85%

3 2

=

15% 10%

1=5% 1 5%

=

=

=

16

=

80%

4

=

20%

2

=

10%

6

=

30%

12

=

60%

10

=

50%

2

=

20%

8

=

40%

10

=

50%

5

=

25%

4

=

20%

1

=

5%

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DEASA-SADC CDE International Journal ot Open and Distance Learning

Results

The questionnaire re suits are given in terms of the percentages of student’s responses to each item. The results for “Beiiefs about Learn ing” are given in Tabie 1 and the resuits for “Teaching Preferences” are given in Tabie 2 Because of the small sample size, the resuits are treated descriptively and are used to indicate possibie trends rather than statistically signifi cant findings. From Table 1 it can be seen that the students generally supported each of the items as being consistent with learning. This could suggest that they saw learning consisting of a number of separate elements. When fo cusing on the highest rating, that the item is “very close” to their beliefs, it can be seen that most support was for the item on learning being about obtaining facts and information. This is in the surfacelearning group. At the same time, the item that received the low est support for being “very close” to their be liefs, ‘making sure you remember things well”, was also in the group pertaining to surface learning. It can be seen

that almost all students rated the three items about surface learning as either “very close” or “quite close” to their beliefs. From Table 2 it can be seen that the respons es suggest some varia tion among the items in the strength of student preferences. If the high est rating of “definitely like” is the focus, it can be seen students had a particularly strong pref erence for readings that provided clear facts and information that can be easily learned. They also seemed to have a strong preference for lecturers who encour age them to think for themselves, as well as teaching styles where there is a tendency towards collaborative learning that encour ages them to find new ideas for themselves. These latter two items were in the group sup porting deep learning while the former one (the strongest prefer ence) was in the group surface supporting learning. When attention is di rected in Table 2 to items where there was an apparently lower rat ing of “definitely like”, it can be seen that only 2 (10%) students defi

nitely like exams or assignments that in cludes analytical skills. In fact, there were 12 (60%) of the students who rated this item as being disliked to some degree. 8 (40%) of the students also indicated that they dislike cours es in which they are expected to find new ideas. It is evident from the results that a small number of students showed a dislike for each of the items found under deep learning approaches. Finally, there was no strong overall evidence that students preferred teaching that encour aged surface learn ing more than they teaching preferred that encourages deep learning. The average percentage rating of “definitely like” for the four items in the sur face learning group was 67,5%, with the percentage average rating of “definitely like” for the ten items in the deep learning category group being 69,0%. The fact that the high est preference was for one item in the surface category and lowest preference was for an item in the deep cate gory is probably impor tant here.
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This set of results sug gests that a large pro portion of this sample of UNAM mid-level management students held beliefs and pref erences that included support for deep learn ing. When the results were summarised and discussed in class, there was strong ac knowledgement from many students of the importance of deep learning. The question naire results and sub sequent class discus sion provided support for teaching and learn ing strategies that pro mote deep learning. Discussion and conclusion The present research was undertaken with the assumption ex plained above that students who enrolled for the mid-level man agement certificate course at UNAM would have preconceptions of learning that em phasised surface ele ments, and they would have preferences for teaching strategies that used surface learning. The pressures and difficulties of learning in a second language were also expected to be a factor orienting students mainly to a surface learning ap proach. It could there40

fore be argued that collaborative learning, where students are ex pected to converse with peers, is a more desir able teaching method for these students who typically come from dif ferent academic and socio-economic back grounds. The questionnaire re sults for both beliefs and preferences re vealed that while there was evidence of a ten dency towards surface learning among the students, the evidence was just as sound for an orientation to deep learning. Overall, therefore, the question naire results showed a complex view of learn ing and a set of prefer ences that included a strong component of deep learning for most, but not all, students. The results suggest that these students, of whom most are em ployed as supervisors, viewed learning as con taining both knowledge acquisition (surface) and as a meaningful change at a personal level (deep). To draw further conclusions from the questionnaire findings, it is helpful to consider some of the results in detail. The results on Be-

liefs about learning showed that there was reasonable support for each of the seven items and therefore that students’ overall beliefs about learning included both surface and deep elements. In a well-researched literature review on student learning, Rus sell (2004) compared his research results on beliefs about learning with those from inter national literature. Rus sell found that much of the research on stu dent views about learn ing used interviews, where students had to articulate and explain their view of learning. Much of Russell’s re search suggests that when interviewed, few students articulate a personal view of learn ing that could be de scribed as deep. The research of Marton et al. (1 993:299) is an ex ample. Their research was on Open Univer sity students in Britain doing a course on So cial Science Founda tions, which required students to question aspects of themselves and society. This should prompt higherlevel conceptions of learning; nevertheless, the researchers report ed that deep learning views were not typical

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of the students. In fact they concluded, “it is an important result to show that such a con ception can actually be found”. The results of McLean (2001) on South African medical students also showed that deep learning views were limited. In this case they occurred mainly for students who were performing above average (Russell, 2004). The students in the present study appeared to compre hend and complete the questionnaire with little difficulty. The class dis cussion showed that the concepts of sur face and deep learning were meaningful to the students. This supports arguments that there are common elements to conceptions of learn ing across cultures. There is conflicting evi dence about the use of surface and deep approaches by tertiary students. Some of this evidence suggests greater use of deep than surface approach es (e.g., Zeegers, 2001; Diseth & Mar tinsen, 2002; Gordon & Debus, 2002). How ever, often this greater use is linked to par ticular conditions. For

example, the students might have been ex posed to constructivist kinds of teaching (Gor don & Debus, 2002), or be students who are older and more ma ture (Zeegers, 2001). Science students are more likely to use a surface approach than Arts students (Biggs, 1987). There are other findings suggesting that a deep approach develops over the course of the degree (Ramsden, 1992; Gor don & Debus, 2002). The present data can only be treated as tentative and explor atory. This was a small sample of students and the validity of the ques tionnaire has not been established for UNAM students. Therefore, it is difficult to have full confidence in interpre tations of the student Further responses. research is needed to validate this and other instruments on student beliefs about learning and their teaching pref erences. The first goal of the present research was to examine student be liefs about learning. A major implication from this study would be to

determine the actual approach to learning that students use. The beliefs and prefer ences responses of the present students showed clear evidence for use of the deep approach by UNAM mid-level management students. It needs to be recognized, however, that whether students use this approach and obtain these kinds of outcomes, it is linked not only to student’ preconceptions and expectations, it is also very closely linked to the teaching and learn ing environment pro vided by the course and the lecturer. As noted earlier, some kinds of teaching and learning environments encourage a surface approach and other environments encour age a deep approach. Through participant observation, it became clear that the UNAM mid-level management population student appears to hold pre conceptions of learn ing that are consistent with a deep approach. students Whether actually use this ap proach will depend largely on the course material as well as the lecturer’s input.

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References

Astin, A. (1993). What Matters in College: Four Critical Years re visited. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass. Biggs, J.B. (1987). Student approaches to learning and studying. Melbourne: ACER. Biggs, J.B. (1988). Ap proaches to learning and essay writing. In R.R. Schmeck (Ed.), Learning strategies and learning styles (pp. 185-226). New York: Plenum Biggs, J.B. (1996). Enhancing teaching through constructive alignment. Higher Education, 32, (pp. 347-364). Biggs, J.B. (1999). Teaching for qual ity learning at univer sity: What the student does. Buckingham: Open University Press. (pp. 11-17). Bligh, D.A. (1972). What’s the use of lec tures. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin. Cooper, C. (1992). Coming of age. Coop erative Learning. Vol ume 12 no 2 (pp. 3-5). Diseth, A., & Martin sen, 0. (2003). Ap
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proaches to learning, cognitive style, and motives as predictors of academic achieve ment. Educational Psychology, 23, (pp. 195 —207). Duffy, T.M., & Jona ssen, D.H. (Eds) (1992). Constructivism and the technology: A conversation. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. Entwistle, N.J. (1995). Frameworks for un derstanding as experi enced in essay writing and in preparing for examinations. Edu cational Psychologist, 3O,(pp.47—54). Entwistle, N.J. (1997). The Approaches and Study Skills Inventory (ASSIST). Edinburgh: Centre for Research on Learning and In struction, University of Edinburgh. Entwistle, N.J. (1998). Approaches to learn ing and forms of un derstanding. In B. Dart & G. Boulton-Lewis (Eds), Teaching and learning in higher edu cation (pp. 72-1 01). Camberwell, Victoria: ACER. Entwistle, N.J., Mc Cune, V., & Hounsell, J. (2002) Approaches to studying and per-

ceptions of university teaching-learning en vironments: Concepts, measures and prelimi nary findings. Higher and Community Edu cation, School of Edu cation, University of Edinburgh. Retrieved 18 May 2007, from the World Wide Web: www.zu.ac.ae/1 the Gibbs, G. (1994). Improving Student Learning: Theory and Practice. Oxford: Ox ford Centre for Staff Development. Government of the Republic of Namibia: Office of the President. (2004). Namibia Vision 2030. Policy frame work for long-term national development (main document). Windhoek, Office of the President. Gordon, C., & Debus, R. (2002). Developing deep learning ap proaches and personal teaching efficacy with in a preserve teacher education context. British Journal of Edu cational Psychology, 72, (pp. 483-511). Harlech-Jones, B. (2007). The Namib ian. Friday, January 19, 2007. Windhoek, Namibia.

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Johnson, D.W. & Johnson, R.T. (1990). Learning Together and Alone: Cooperative, Competitive and Indi vidualistic Learning. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Kulik, J.A. & Kulik, CL., (1979). College Teaching. in Peterson and Walber (Eds.) Research in Teaching: Concepts, finding and implication. Berkeley, CA: McCutcheon Pub lishing. Marton, F., & SäljO, R. (1976). On qualitative differences in Learn ing. Outcomes as a function of the learn er’s conception of the task. British Journal of Educational Psychol ogy, 46, (pp. 115-127). Marton, F., & Säljö, R. (1997). Approaches to learning. In F. Mar ton, D. Hounsell, & N. Entwistle. The experi ence of learning: Im plications for teaching and studying in higher education (2 ed., pp. 39-58). Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press. McLean, M. (2001). Can we relate con ceptions of learning

to student academic achievement? Teach ing in Higher Educa tion, 6, 399-413. Re trieved 18 May 2007, from the World Wide Web: www.zu.ac. ae/1 the Ministry of Education: Namibia Qualifications Authority. (2006). Draft national professional standards for teachers. Windhoek. Ramsden, P. (1987). Improving teaching and learning in higher education: The case for the relational per spective. Studies in Higher Education. Ramsden, P. (1992). Learn ing to teach in higher education. Lon don: Routledge. Russell, A. (2004). Zayed University students’ Teaching and learning beliefs and preferences: An analysis based on the surface versus deep learning approach. Learning and teaching in higher education: Gulf perspectives. Vol ume 1. Retrieved from 18 May 2007, from the World Wide Web: www.zu.ac.ae/1 the

Schmeck, R. (ed.) (1988). Learning Strategies and Learn ing Styles. New York: Plenum. Tait, H., & Entwistle, N.J. (1996). Identify ing students at risk through ineffective study strategies. Studies in Higher Education, 31, (pp. 99 —118). Tennant, M (1997). Psychology and Adult Learning (2 ed.) New York: London: Routledge. Warburton, K. (2003). Deep learning and education for sustainability. International Journal of Sustainabili (yin Higher Education, 4, (pp. 44-56). Zeegers, P. (2001). Approaches to learn ing in science: A lon gitudinal study. British Journal of Education Psychology, 2, 115132. Retrieved 18 May 2007, from the World Wide Web:www.zu.ac. ae/1 the

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INTER-INSTITUTIONAL COLLABORATION IN DISTANCE EDUCATION: IS IT WORTHWHILE?
Dr. Regina K. Masalela University of Botswana

Abstract A variety of forces such as economic, social, technological, econom ical and educational have impelled distance education universi ties and institutions to engage in a degree of interdependence that earlier might have been considered neither de sirable nor possible. These have been well documented and vari ously interpreted. The demands from govern ments, students and institutional organiza tion administrations to improve access to ed ucational opportunities and provide more com prehensive services to students have prompt ed distance education institutions to venture into collaboration. This paper explores various examples of types of inter-institutional col laboration found within the distance education context. The paper de scribes the four differ ent dimensions of col laborative activities; it also discusses the es sential considerations for collaboration. The
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benefits and complexi ties of inter-institutional collaboration are dis cussed and implica tions drawn from the discussion. Introduction In this rapidly changing educational environ ment, colleges and uni versities try to expand their markets, find new students or consumers for their products and develop new products geared to the needs of those new consum ers. Partnerships are emerging as an efficient and effective means to achieve those objec tives (Chute & Gulliver, 1996). However, re search in the area of collaboration suggests that there is a variety of risks associated with these types of activities (Karis, 1989; Moran, 1990; Smith, 2000). The concept of col laboration in distance education brings with it implications for change in institutions. These include revisions in structure, policy, ac creditation standards, communications and

skills (Thuch & Mur phy, 1994). Bringing different organizational cultures, styles and a plethora of schol ars together requires good mechanisms for communication, nego tiation of relationships and decision making to serve the project purpose well (Chute & Gulliver, 1996). In recent years large and medium-sized companies, institutions and organizations have been at the forefront of forming partnerships, co-operations and col laborative ventures. Berquist & Meuel (1995) observe that: Confronted with growing pressure to do more with less, responding to the quickening pace of change, and taking advantage of new opportunities in foreign markets, business people have looked at their often tired, lumbering hierarchies with fresh, critical eyes..And they

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have adopted...or invented.., a plethora of new partnership based. structures: cross-licensing agreements, strategic alliances, hollow partnerships, virtual partnerships, vertical integrated partnerships, and consortia (p. 5-6).
. .

This partnership phe nomenon encompass es a myriad of forms. However, they seem to follow similar patterns in how they come to gether, define their re lationships, and man age their transitions. Defining collaboration The term collaboration is used in many ways and has a variety of meanings to different people. For the pur pose of this paper, the author adopted Neil’s (1981) definition. Neil as cited by Moran and Mugridge (1 993,1) de fines collaboration as “an active working part nership by some kind of institutional commit ment.” The definition is fairly broad and is indicative of coopera tion in a wide range of activities. Collaboration is often undertaken voluntarily, though in recent times a number of new collaborative

ventures have been initiated in response to incentives from govern ments. Collaborative efforts are short-term by design, involving specifically identified tasks to be completed in a set timeframe and within tight budgetary limits (Smith, 2000). Some are long-term agreements involving the creation of new organizational entities, major changes in exist ing operational agree ments, independent fi nancial status, and the expectations that major gains will be achieved under the entity’s management. These long-term agreements involve mutually ben eficial and well-defined relationships, jointly developed structures, commitment to mutu ally agreed goals and the notion of shared responsibility. It is important to note that the types and func tions of the collabora tion links are context bound. This implies that collaborative re lationships differ for each unique situation depending on the con text, policies and or ganizational structures of each organization involved, It is increas ingly recognized that in this rapidly changing

information society, no single institution can by itself, in isolation, cater for the changing educa tional, training and pro fessional needs of its target student popula tion. Collaboration and networking to provide education is becoming imperative if distance educators want to cut costs in education, enhance the outreach of the institution, and make available a vari ety of courses without constraints of time and space. Inter-institutional ar rangements are vari ous and widespread across all sectors of so ciety. These joint ven tures include marketing agreements, research and development partnerships and sup ply-chain agreements that are increasing in both the private and public sectors, spurred on by globalization of marketplaces. This has fostered alliances, joint ventures and part nerships’ between lo cal organizations and those in other coun tries around the world. Public and community sector collaboration is also increasing with major organizations responsible for the provision of education, health and community
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development services (Huxham, 1996).
Inter-institutional collaborative activities

Sen (http://www.india. edu/ignouconf/papers/ paeOOl .htm) summariz es four dimensions that define collaborative ac tivities. He writes that, one of the dimensions is to outline the areas in distance education that can benefit from collaboration. Thus, inter-institutional co operative activity may embrace the following areas: • Design and de velopment of new materials and pro grams and sharing of the existing ones • Creation of diversi fied delivery mech anisms (student services) so as to widen access to in dividual learner as well as to reach out to more learners • Establishment of credit transfer ar rangements and mutual recognition of credit • Evaluation of stu dents’ learning • Staff training and development • Research • Utilization of physi cal resources as
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laboratory and tele communications networks • Creation of new management struc tures, both within and among institu tions. • Aseconddimen sion can be de fined in terms of the number of in stitutions involved and the mutual ity of interaction among them (Ibid). At the low risk end of collaborative activities are unilat eral arrangements, such as consultan cy projects wherein there is, by and large, a straight forward transfer of knowledge, skills or materials from individuals in one institution to those in another. Projects in staff training and devel opment would, for example, fall in this category. There is hardly any inter weaving of institu tional cultures in this arrangement. Bilateral arrangements are among the more complex and involve a mutual give and take between the partner in stitutions. An example of such arrangement

is when two institutions agree to teach/offer the courses of the other in their own institutions or when two institutions pool in their academic resources for program design and develop ment. Multilateral col laborative projects are high-risk ventures, though those have high potential of benefiting the various institutions involved. The success of bilateral and mul tilateral collaborative projects will depend on the extent to which the various issues aris ing out of interweaving of institutional cultures have been resolved. The third dimension of collaborative activ ity seeks to place it on the global—local con tinuum. The purpose is to globally resource knowledge and ex pertise and to apply it locally for rapid socio economic development of the country. In this situation, collaborative networking is viewed as a continuum where at one end an institu tion creates global and international networks and on the other sets up local and area spe cific networks. The fourth dimension of collaboration is in the context of the na

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ture of the participating institutions. Thus col laborative activity may involve • Distance education institutions and the conventional uni versities systems; • Distance education institutions and the non-governmental organizations (who can actually and effectively take the programs to the masses) and edu cational institutions • Distance education institutions and the industries. While the industry is a major beneficiary of the education sector (in that its survival depends on the continuous supply of educated personnel from the educational institutions), it does not contribute to the generation of an educated force (Ibid). Organizations world wide are collaborating in order to address their specific corporate, economic and educa tional objectives and to tackle situations where working independently is not sufficient to meet desired outcomes. These characteristics distinguish them from

other types of relation ships that, while often termed “collaboration” are actually, no more than formal (or in some at informal) case tempts at cooperation between organizations, or the coordination of resources where du plication of services already exists (Smith, 2000). Types of Interinstitutional Collaboration Cooperative activities across national bound aries take a number of different forms. Many of these, such as the email school-based projects do not in volve actual courses, and various other re search level interac tions amongst peer groups. At a glance, these collaborations may be by groups of primary or secondary schools; school/univer sity partnerships; col laborations in distance program education development; partner ships between univer sities and industry and others. Mason (1994) categorized roughly these course-based inter-institutional activi ties into the following types: Franchise types: in which one partner designs, develops,

examines and makes awards, while the other pro vides students and support mecha nisms. • Marketplace types: in which one insti tution purchases course materials from the other, adapts and de livers them and examines learn ers and awards credits. • Collaborative types: in which several institutions jointly design and develop courses that they use in their respective institutions inde pendently of each other. • Technology-based type: in which stu dents from other countries access the host institu tions via electronic communication (possibly enhanced by print materials, occasional videoconferences or even face-to-face meetings). are Though there some clear distinctions between these types, in practice there are many overlaps. Col laboration does not guarantee equality be47

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tween the partners and their cultures, and can involve the dominance of one or two partners. The benefits and dif ficulties of these kinds of collaborations will be discussed later on in this paper. Franchise Type This is an off-campus model that represents an institution that teach es only at a distance and does not maintain a traditional campus site. These institutions have their own policies and they award their own degrees (Reddy, 1988). The establish ment of each institution is fundamentally based on the peculiar condi tions of its own coun try. In other words, each institution has its own national charac teristics (Reddy, 1988). Among institutions of this group, the United Kingdom Open Univer sity (UKOU) in Eastern Europe is the leader. It offers a number of its Open Business School (OBS) courses to stu dents in various East ern European coun tries. Distance teaching of the sort pioneered by the Open University was considered to be an appropriate means for reaching large numbers of students in Eastern Europe and
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Russia (Fames and Woodley, 1993). As the main purpose of the program is that Eastern Europeans have ac cess to western man agement procedures, the situation is inevita bly one of a dominant culture transferring its view of the world to a culture that seeks to emulate, at least its economic advantages. Many other countries around the world (e.g. Canada, China, Costa Rica, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Ja pan, Pakistan, Spain, Sri Lanka, Thailand, The Netherlands, and Venezuela) have fol lowed the UKOU ap proach by adapting it to their own situations. Marketplace Type The Open Learn ing Institute of Hong Kong has developed the ‘marketplace type’ buying course materi als from all over the world to meet some of its curricular needs. Due to great value placed on educational qualifications in Hong Kong, for employment, promotion and possible emigration, Hong Kong boasts a great number of overseas educa tional programs (Ngok and Lam, 1993). The producer of the ma terials is no more that

of a supplier, while the Open Learning Institute (OLI) takes complete responsibility for cur riculum, delivery and assessment. However, Dhanarajan and Tim mers (1992) have ana lyzed a whole range of difficulties faced by institutions purchasing materials on the open market. They argue that: • Courses need a detailed listing of aims, major topics and headings, ad ditional readings or other media. • Poorly structured courses are much more costly to adapt. • Digitized versions of the original material are much more desirable for purchasing in the “market type.” Open Learning Insti tute also experiences the difficulty of Eng lish since it is the sec ond language in Hong Kong. Therefore spe cial attention must be paid to the readability of adapted courseware and to the reading skills of their expected stu dents (Ibid). Dixon and Blin (1992) support the above observation by sharing their own ex periences and argue

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that, in preparing the software for non-na tive English speakers, they needed to trans late English into as simple prose as pos sible. They used very short sentences and avoided complicated constructions as well as using small words rather than big words. They also tried to strip the material from all slang and explained abbreviations, provided online glossary to give simple explanations of key terms. Their expe rience confirmed that the process was quite complex in that they had to be careful not to lose the sense of the material (lbid). One thing Dixon and Bling learned from their experiences was that humor is difficult to handle in cross-cul tural courses although they allege that it pro vides interest and mo tivation for learners. On the contrary, they warn that non-native speakers could easily misunderstand humor. Adapting courses that contain significant nonprint material depends largely on the avail ability of equipment such as computers and video recorders among the student population. While distance educa

tars are quite keen to develop multi-media course materials, they are often not saleable abroad. Although the “marketplace type” situation has many dif ficulties, especially cul tural ones, the benefits for both producers and purchasers are real; financial savings on course development is great, and the sense of sharing resources rather than continually recreating the same material is substantial.
The Collaborative Type

A consortium of agri cultural universities! faculties consisting of the Universiti Putra, Malaysia; Kaesartsa University, Thailand; the University of the Phillipines at Loa Ba nos, with University of British Columbia (UBC) and the Univer sity of Queensland, Australia, as associate partners, was estab lished, to promote joint course development and collaboration and exchange of students and faculties (Bates, 1997). The UBC and Universiti Putra Malay sia (U PM) have entered into an agreement for the development and delivery of a distance education program, whereby UPM provides

programs on tropical agriculture and UBC programs on temperate agriculture. Students at UPM take UBC pro grams either face-toface or in distance, and UPM programs at a dis tance. In some cases, an individual course is jointly developed; in others, one institution takes responsibility for a course delivered into the other. Through this arrangement set up, UBC assists UPM to strengthen its distance education unit’s capac ity in the use of technol ogy for course delivery (Ibid). In October 1992, a se ries of interactive tele vision broadcasts for language learning in Europe was launched. These broadcasts were part of the Multime dia Teleschool Project (MTS), funded by the European Community DELTA Research pro gram. The MTS project addresses the current market for realistic dis tance learning system, focused on an optima mix of telecommunica tions-based learning and tutoring (Mason, 1994). The project has sixteen partners from five European coun tries and has the sup port of major European enterprises. The prime
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contractor is Berlitz In ternational, the largest private language train ing institution world wide. It developed a range of foreign lan guage distance learn ing courses. A comput erconferencing system links the participants in their European branch es with each other and with the experts in the television studio. All participants receive their study letters and assignments from Ber litz Distance Learning Center in Eschborn, Germany via the com puter conferencing. The system enables the participants to commu nicate with their fellow students through out Europe, allowing them to work in groups to complete study-based tasks (Mason, 1994). This project is collabor ative on a large scale, as the group includes the course providers, software developers, television program de signers and broadcast ers, as well as the com panies seeking training for their employees. The Technology Type Many examples of col laboration exist where technology is the prima ry objective for the col laborating institutions. One example is the
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International University Consortium (IUC) that began in 1980 as a consortium of colleges and universities to pro duce media-assisted courses at the upper division level (McGill & Johnstone, 1994). IUC has about 40 members in the United States, Canada, Europe, and the Pacific Rim and coordinate among its members the produc tion of video, print, and audio courses (Ibid). Essential Considerations for Collaboration Critical conditions for effective collabora tion are contextual, although some gener alizations are possible. There are essential considerations for col laboration advocated for by literature. The literature raises some of the issues relating to collaboration in a con text of organizations being primarily profitmotivated and wishing to gain more power or an improved competi tive advantage in the market place by enter ing such agreements. This context is however not transferable to cas es of educational col laboration where (until recently) the impera tive to collaborate has

been primarily aimed at improving the qual ity for student learning, providing improved ac cess to broader ranges of resources or under taking research and development activities (Smith, 2000). Generalizations may be drawn from dif ferent studies about conditions necessary for effective inter-insti tutional collaboration (Moran, 1990; Maehl, 2000; Donaldson & Kosoll, 1999; Gatliff & Wendel, 1998). Essen tial considerations for collaboration are inde pendent of each other. They overlap; therefore the author will discuss them interchangeably. The most pervasive and critical element is trust among partners. Trust implies building and sustaining strong relationships amongst the staff of the col laborating organiza tions and establishing partnerships by getting to know each other, spending time together and working on events or the project together. Moran & Mugridge (1993) stated that: Sustained rela tionships based on personal trust and shared values cannot be overes timated as factors

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in successful col laboration. The pres ence of one or more champions in each institution, willing to listen to and trust their counterparts, is a near-universal fea ture of collaborative ventures in distance education (p. 154155). This trust has to oper ate at several levelsamong faculty devel oping and teaching the courses, among administrators servic ing the students and courses, and senior of ficers representing the university in broader political and education al forums. It also has to operate effectively between these levels and within each univer sity as well as between partners. Himmelman (1996) observes that: such values and practices include those pro viding for mutual recognition and for the establishment of respect, trust and power which is defined and shared by all those joined in common efforts. Such values and practices are often the basis for a shared vision among those revitalizing communities;

maintained by recognizing that people seeking assistance should fully share power and make vital contributions to community problems solving and; characterized by shared responsibility for common goals, a willingness to be held accountable, and commitments to democratic practices (p. 20). This interpersonal in gredient is central to all stages of success ful partnership. Peo ple and organizations forming a partnership confront a difficult problem: they need to work with someone they trust. Trust is so critical because part nerships are more inti mate than virtually any form of organization. Partners must rely on each other completely (Berquist, Betwee & Muel, 1995). Achieve ment and maintenance of confidence among all these groups, and in the collaborative pro cess itself, are critical. It is very important for those involved to note that a collabora tive effort is a cultural transformation and hence, conflict will

emerge. Conflict there fore should be seen as a normal outcome of cooperation, which not only is a means to test but also helps the parties to forge even stronger bonds. Karis (1989) argues that: collaborators should be assured that conflict over ideas, over substantive matters, can be a positive development in the collaborative process. They must recall that the sometimes messy working out of various and opposing viewpoints is part and parcel of the collaborative process (p. 121).
• . .

He further suggests that “by relying exclu sively on cooperation! consensus, collab orative groups restrict their invention process when what might be better employed is fuller debate” (p. 121). The task of maintaining open, forthright com munication is a critical one because, as more than one program di rector noted, partner ship between higher education and the cor porate world involves nothing less than the interaction between different, two very
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sometimes conflicting cultures. These cultur al differences manifest themselves in different ways within different program structures, institutions, and or ganization, but some common elements are apparent (Chute & Gulliver, 1996). One cultural difference that is evident in most partnerships concerns time, the expectation of how long it takes to plan and implement a new venture. Higher education, with a com plex academic deci sion-making structure and history of little or no pressure to com pete until recent years, often moves with what industry considers gla cial slowness. Industry and organized labor, on the other hand, ap pear to educators to expect not only instant program development, but instant program result as well (Chute & Gulliver, 1996). There fore, it is crucial for col laborating institutions to be able to accom modate different insti tutional culture (Moran & Mugridge, 1993). The relative flexibility of many distance edu cation units to respond to employer needs and meet organization deadline quickly and to
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deliver programs and services to a number of locations simulta neously, gives them a real advantage over conventional educa tion in the competition for external partners. “Partnerships provide flexibility. Their struc tures and agreements can readily be changed to meet shifting needs and conditions” (Ber quist, Betwee & Muel, 1995; p. 18). Distance education programs that build their course develop ment capacities in a manner that makes ad aptation of existing el ements to new educa tion and training needs possible in a short time frame are the most attractive to employ ers and organizations. Conversely, higher education entities that have difficulty mov ing quickly, such as some large university systems, may find that the window of oppor tunity for participation in distance education ventures with industry closes before they are ready to act. The cultural differ ences between higher education and the cor porate/labor commu nity can also be seen in the expectations

around the funding and what it buys. Corpo rate training personnel, conditioned by long ex perience of purchasing programs and services from “vendors” bring to higher education a broad and sometimes demanding interpreta tion of what they can expect in return for paying the full cost of a program. If expecta tions of training con tent are laid out clearly in advance, agreement on the “customized” curriculum can gener ally be reached. The level and extent of stu dent support services can sometimes be less clearly understood, but expectations can be brought into align ment with careful as sessment of employee needs and orientation of students and cor porate management to the nature and de mands of distance learning. More difficult to antici pate and clarify are is sues such as confiden tiality of student records versus the expectation of the employer or union of access to re cords of their students’ academic status. Even the schedule on which tuition is paid can be an issue, notes Penn State’s McGrath as cit ed by Chute & Gulliver

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(1996). He notes that universities are accus tomed to requiring tu ition payments before a student can register, while companies are accustomed to paying for services after the fact. Benefits and complexities of inter-institutional collaboration Benefits of inter-insti tutional collaboration in distance education includes but are not limited to cost shar ing, team teaching, bureau overcoming cratic obstacles dupli cation of efforts and more efficient use of resources, increased access to information, information, sharing accepting each others’ credits and sharing the cost of technology and response to turbulent conditions when orga nizations acting inde pendently in diverse di rections, create unan ticipated consequenc es for themselves and others (Gray, 1996). Fundamental changes and patterns of knowl edge creation and dis curricu semination, lum development and delivery methods are challenging distance education institutions to support and enrich the scholarly pursuits

by forming collabora tion efforts. Radical changes in information and communication are having profound effects on the way ordinary people learn about and interact with the world. Advances in free ex change of ideas serve as a positive force for change. democratic Knowledge increases so fast and becomes outdated so quickly that the instructor can no longer be the ex pert on everything. In creasingly, faculty and institutions are viewing collaboration as a real istic means of continu ing to provide service to growing numbers of students, who make the greater and more varied demands of the institutions they attend (Moran & Mugridge, 1993). The need for inter-in stitutional collaboration in distance education is further strengthened by international efforts to promote a literate society. It is therefore imperative to recognize and underscore the importance of setting objectives higher than individual gain in order to provide for societal gains (Cole, Fortes & Klinger, 1996). Evi dently, the integrative nature of technology

and its use in distance education is pulling people around the globe into unexpected forms of collaboration. Collaborative ventures are proving to be cost effective in their use of human and material resources, both within institutions and across regional, national, or international systems. As a result, institutions are forming coopera tion to offer programs, information sharing and to accept each other’s credit. A good example is the case of Australia Inter- Univer sity Women’s Studies Major, a joint venture between Deakin, Mur doch and Queensland University. The Univer sity of Botswana (UB), through the Distance Education Department has collaboration with the University of South Africa. The UB buys modules from UNISA for the Bachelor of Business program of fered through distance mode. The benefits of col laboration in distance education can be con siderable to learners, faculty and to institu Partnerships, tions. merges, consortiums, of one kind or another, may have to be consid
53

DEASA-SADC COE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

ered for many reasons, but more notably, for educational, econom ic, social, and political advantages. Haughey and Fenwick (1996) claim that “of the vari ous possible models of collaboration, con sortia appear to be the preferred form of interinstitutional partners chosen to implement distance education” 58). Deriving forces (p. associated to consor tia preference include mutual support when advocating for funds, information sharing among teachers, joint purchasing power, content development and professional de velopment. Bureaucratic obstacles for learners moving from one educational institution to another can be smoothed out by agreements to share information, jointly offer programs, and accept one another’s credit. Duplication of efforts and more efficient use of resources especially in public systems can be achieved by deci sions to cooperate in offering programs. Where it would be im possible for a single institution, large-scale efforts extending over broader geographi cal areas, sometimes
54

for highly mobile populations, could be achieved by groups of institutions working to gether (Maehl, 2000; Donaldson & Kozoll, 1999; Moran, 1990). Gatlif and Wendel (1998) echo the same sentiments that: Institutional administration and regulatory boards have espoused the benefits of inter-institutional collaboration in response to the concerns of reducing duplication, maximizing the use of limited human and financial resources, and increasing enrollments in under-enrolled courses (p.27). Technology as an in tegral part of distance education and some distance education in structional materials could be so expensive for different institu tions especially in the developing countries, particularly Africa that inter-institutional col laboration serves as an alternative to make them affordable. Avail ability and compatibility of delivery systems be tween institutions could be very expensive thus; cost sharing is identi fied as an inauguration

of Nairobi-Kenya as the African Virtual Univer stiy Headquarters, the director of World Bank Human Development, Ramphele Maphele, noted that African countries lack a strong and reliable telecom munication network. She stated that one of the weaknesses of the African continent is that she does not have continent-wide network, adding that the African Virtual Uni versity (AUV) technol ogy is supposed to offer African countries opportunities to share knowledge (Panafrican News Agency, 18 July 2000). Cooperative course development can help build a critical mass of scholars otherwise geographically scat tered in relatively small institutions. Team members benefit from the experience of working with peers, as instruction is improved capitalizing on the re spective strengths of each member and by developing new knowl edge and skills (Gatliff & Wendel, 1998). By combining efforts, fac ulty from different in stitutions can expand course offerings and provide those courses to a greater number of

DEASA-SADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

students, thus becom ing less dependent upon the limitations of registra on-campus tions. The students also enjoy the benefits as seen in expanding course offerings and the expertise of team teachers. In Botswana, inter-in stitutional collaboration is evident at a small scale between differ ent educational insti tutions. The Distance Program Education (DEP) was designed in collaboration with Ministry of Health and Institutes of Health Sci ences (HIS) to improve primary health services through upgrading En rolled Nurses to Reg istered Nurses (Bility & Odharo, 1995). Other institutions and agen cies involved in this project were Ministry of Education (MoE); University of Botswana (Center for Continuing Education) and De partment of Nursing; and Kellog Founda tion, United States of America. The Ministry of Health (M0H) was the principal agency responsible for overall financing, administra tion and management of all program activities. The University of Bo tswana was to accredit the distance education

programs. The Center for Continuing Educa tion of the University of Botswana provided technical and profes sional assistance for training and production of educational mate rials. The Ministry of Education (MoE) pro vided technical support for program develop ment, and evaluation. The Distance Educa tion Resource Center (DERC), located at the Institute of Health Sci ences was equipped with video, models, maps, overhead pro audiovisual jectors, materials and many more. Another exam ple is the collaboration between the Ministry of Education and the University of Botswana through Distance Edu cation Unit to upgrade primary school teach ers with certificate to a diploma level. Some examples include the collaboration of Nurs ing Department of the University of Botswa na; the National Health Institute (NHI) formal education collaborates with the University of Botswana to offer ex tension education. Six colleges are affiliated to the University for the authenticity of their certificates. The newly Botswana opened College of Open and

Learning Distance (BOCODOL) collabo rates with the Ministry of Education to offer high school educa tion through distance mode. Botswana Open and Distance Learning Association (BODOLA) was formed to promote collaboration among institutions in the coun try. The National Asso ciation of Distance Ed ucation of South Africa (NADUSA) is also pro moting collaborative ef forts among institutions in South Africa. Potential problems of collaboration In their effort to em bark on collaborative projects, adult educa tors and administrators should consider collab oration as a turbulent experience that could be chaotic if partners do not respect individuals, groups or institutional Collabora integrity. tive efforts face many risks. These include fi nancial risks, credibility risks and political risks. There are also relation ship risks that come in a form of threats to fair dealing that includes issues of equity, trust, lack of communication and reciprocity. On the other hand, Hillman & Colker (1987) as cited by Gatliff & Wendel
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(1998) stated that, member institutions should review cam pus policy and regula tions as they relate to such basic issues as full-time equivalent re quirements, semester and class schedules, budget and tuition. Literature constantly reinforces the view that, collaboration in the true sense is diffi cult—it is difficult to se lect appropriate stake holders who share the same vision; to balance the power relationship between stake holders which often becomes the focus of attention; negotiate the organiza tional and operational structures and proce dures to be adopted by the new entity; and es tablish lines of commu nication and build trust between staff from dif ferent organizations (Smith, 2000). Moran & Mugridge (1993) concur with Smith that, inter-institutional col laboration is extremely difficult and usually very complicated to undertake. While collaboration in team teaching provides benefits to institution, faculty may view par ticipation differently. The increase of per sonal teaching load of
56

faculty members pre paring distance educa tion courses may de motivate them. If team teaching is added, the amount of time spent working with one or more instructors add significantly to prepa ration time. Learning to work with technol ogy and selecting an appropriate delivery system to produce a seamless interface increases the time commitment (Austin & Baldwin, 1992). Where there is no established policy taskforce to de fine the applicability of distance teaching to wards promotion and tenure, then the idea of team teaching would be far-fetched. In a nutshell, team teach ing in inter-institutional collaboration in dis tance education could be a dream that may never come true if the faculty members are not supported to deter mine their willingness to be involved (Olcott, 1992). Although inter-insti tutional teaming has appealing factors that afford faculty with di verse backgrounds and environments to come together and be creative, it is a dynamic process that involves a lot of negotiation,

building effective com munication networks, identifying and build ing community and establishing leadership (National Network for Collaboration 1995 as cited by Gatliff & Wen del, 1998) all of which enhance professional growth. Planning plays a significant role and it is critical when contem plating collaboration. Avarietyof issues come into play that need se rious attention before collaboration can take place to deal with dif ferences. Donaldson & Kozoll (1999) stated that, by virtues of col laborators coming from several organizations, differences abound in collaboration. These are manifested in the variety of values, phi losophies, working norms, and interests which representatives and their organizations bring to collaborative efforts. Some inhibitors to inter-institutional collaboration that Mo ran (1990) noted in cluded the tradition of institutional autonomy particularly in certifi cation and standards that result in a lack of trust for teaching and standards elsewhere. The initial incompat ibility of organizational structures and admin

DEASA-SADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

istrative processes is another. Other com plexities include geo political isolation of uni versities, and failures of implementation due to insufficient funds, lack of clear vision, real commitment and ineffective handling of technical and human Copyright problems. and royalty restrictions can also hamper effec tive collaboration (The Commonwealth Secre tariat, 1985 as cited by Moran, 1990). Implications The advancement of communication new technologies calls for new reforms in higher education. New skills and resources to de liver education are Institutions needed. of higher education can no longer afford to stand alone. Interinstitutional collabora tion relationships are crucial for colleges and universities to be able to extend their markets, find new students and develop new products geared to the needs of these consumers. Inter-institutional col laborations have a lot of benefits and they add value for the stu dents, faculty and for the institutions which form them. However, institutions involved in

collaborations these should be aware of their complexities as well. Creating or en abling such inter-insti tutional relationships is very challenging. Collaboration entails adapting principles to specific contexts and situations. Having to think differently and work with individuals outside of our organi zations pose a number of risks that we seldom experience in our own organizations. These may include changes to new policy, struc ture, communication and skills. Traditional modes of institutional operation, competi especially tion and institutional autonomy must be abandoned to allow collaboration to oc cur (Thach & Murphy, 1994). Those who are engaged in distance education need to ap preciate each other’s knowledge and skills and exercise some flexibility without as suming that either side is superior in any ways. Inter-institutional collaboration requires those concerned to reflect on their actions and learn from their experiences. The case inter-institutional of collaboration between

Glasgow Caledonian (GCAL) University and Queen Margaret University College in the United Kingdom serves as an example of this reflection. Reilly & Gulliver, 1992 (as cit ed by Thach & Murphy, 1994) suggest that, policies dealing with credit transfer, resi dency requirements, credit equivalency, and other issues often must be written. A combination of per sistence among the players and strong positive leadership is required to sustain the collaborative project. Bringing different or ganizational cultures, styles and diverse scholars together re quires good mecha nisms for communi cation, negotiation of relationships and de cision making to serve the project purpose well. It is evident from some case studies that by creating a one-stop center for students and instructors, or different countries that central ized distance educa tion structures eventu ally can move into the world virtual structures, where even a physical location is no longer necessary, for instance African Virtual Univer sity. Inter-institutional
57

DEASA-SADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

collaboration requires working together in the spirit of collegiality, by respecting diversity of opinions and capital izing on each other’s strengths and diverse cultural geographic backgrounds. Conclusion This paper discussed inter-institutional col laborative activities, types of inter-institu tional collaboration, the essential consid erations for inter-insti tutional collaboration and potential benefits and complexities as well as their implica tions. Inter-institutional collaboration provides an environment to en liven and enrich the learning process not only in distance educa tion settings but also in conventional practices. These collaborative partnerships are impor tant where: resources are shrinking, given the demand for wider use of sophisticated technology, limited fac ulty (teacher), time and

instructional resources. Developing environ ments particularly in the Sub-Saharan Afri ca region could benefit a lot from these kinds of partnerships Institu tions have to relinquish the tradition of compe tition and join hands to build a better global so ciety. In his speech at the Learning Together: Collaboration in Open Learning Conference, the President and Chief Operating Officer of The Commonwealth of Learning, Professor Gajaraj Dhanarajan (1998) said: It is unlikely that in a learner-centered, flexible, technologydriven system of education where the student can be located on the globe, institutions can operate on their own and be immune to pressures and influences from their governments and, more importantly, clients. (htty://www. col. org/speeches/ curtin98.html).

It is a challenge to all of those who work in the field of distance edu cation to broaden their perspectives and strive for the implementation of best practices. Col laboration is not just an economic strategy (this is not really about mon ey). The most impor tant and enduring rea sons for a collaborative approach are the many positive benefits, which will be experienced by those involved: the faculty, students and staff of the university. Inter-institutional col laboration and faculty teaming hold positive consequences for both teaching and learning. The search for solu tions to the challenges facing collaboration requires input from many fields of knowl edge and professional groups. A structure is required where coop eration among collabo rating partners would produce tangible ben efits to both faculty and students.

58

DEA5A-SADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

istrative processes is another. Other com plexities include geo political isolation of uni versities, and failures of implementation due to insufficient funds, lack of clear vision, real commitment and ineffective handling of technical and human Copyright problems. and royalty restrictions can also hamper effec tive collaboration (The Commonwealth Secre tariat, 1985 as cited by Moran, 1990). Implications The advancement of communication new technologies calls for new reforms in higher education. New skills and resources to de liver education are Institutions needed. of higher education can no longer afford to stand alone. Interinstitutional collabora tion relationships are crucial for colleges and universities to be able to extend their markets, find new students and develop new products geared to the needs of these consumers. Inter-institutional col laborations have a lot of benefits and they add value for the stu dents, faculty and for the institutions which form them. However, institutions involved in

collaborations these should be aware of their complexities as well. Creating or en abling such inter-insti tutional relationships is very challenging. Collaboration entails adapting principles to specific contexts and situations. Having to think differently and work with individuals outside of our organi zations pose a number of risks that we seldom experience in our own organizations. These may include changes to new policy, struc ture, communication and skills. Traditional modes of institutional operation, competi especially tion and institutional autonomy must be abandoned to allow collaboration to oc cur (Thach & Murphy, 1994). Those who are engaged in distance education need to ap preciate each other’s knowledge and skills and exercise some flexibility without as suming that either side is superior in any ways. Inter-institutional collaboration requires those concerned to reflect on their actions and learn from their experiences. The case inter-institutional of collaboration between

Glasgow Caledonian (GCAL) University and Queen Margaret University College in the United Kingdom serves as an example of this reflection. Reilly & Gulliver, 1992 (as cit ed by Thach & Murphy, 1994) suggest that, policies dealing with credit transfer, resi dency requirements, credit equivalency, and other issues often must be written. A combination of per sistence among the players and strong positive leadership is required to sustain the collaborative project. Bringing different or ganizational cultures, styles and diverse scholars together re quires good mecha nisms for communi cation, negotiation of relationships and de cision making to serve the project purpose well. It is evident from some case studies that by creating a one-stop center for students and instructors, or different countries that central ized distance educa tion structures eventu ally can move into the world virtual structures, where even a physical location is no longer necessary, for instance African Virtual Univer sity. Inter-institutional
57

DEASA-SADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

collaboration requires working together in the spirit of collegiality, by respecting diversity of opinions and capital izing on each other’s strengths and diverse cultural geographic backgrounds. Conclusion This paper discussed inter-institutional col laborative activities, types of inter-institu tional collaboration, the essential consid erations for inter-insti tutional collaboration and potential benefits and complexities as well as their implica tions. Inter-institutional collaboration provides an environment to en liven and enrich the learning process not only in distance educa tion settings but also in conventional practices. These collaborative partnerships are impor tant where: resources are shrinking, given the demand for wider use of sophisticated technology, limited fac ulty (teacher), time and

instructional resources. Developing environ ments particularly in the Sub-Saharan Afri ca region could benefit a lot from these kinds of partnerships Institu tions have to relinquish the tradition of compe tition and join hands to build a better global so ciety. In his speech at the Learning Together: Collaboration in Open Learning Conference, the President and Chief Operating Officer of The Commonwealth of Learning, Professor Gajaraj Dhanarajan (1998) said: It is unlikely that in a learner-centered, flexible, technologydriven system of education where the student can be located on the globe, institutions can operate on their own and be immune to pressures and influences from their governments and, more importantly, clients. (htty://www. col. org/speeches/ curtin98.html).

It is a challenge to all of those who work in the field of distance edu cation to broaden their perspectives and strive for the implementation of best practices. Col laboration is not just an economic strategy (this is not really about mon ey). The most impor tant and enduring rea sons for a collaborative approach are the many positive benefits, which will be experienced by those involved: the faculty, students and staff of the university. Inter-institutional col laboration and faculty teaming hold positive consequences for both teaching and learning. The search for solu tions to the challenges facing collaboration requires input from many fields of knowl edge and professional groups. A structure is required where coop eration among collabo rating partners would produce tangible ben efits to both faculty and students.

58

DEA5A-SADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

References

Anderson, T., & Nel son C. (1989). Col laboration in distance education: Ontario’s Contact North. In R. Sweet (ed.) Post-Secondary Distance Education in Canada, Alberta: Athabasca University! Canadian Society for studies in Education. Austin, A. E., & Bal dwin, R.G. (1992). Faculty collaboration: Enhancing the qual ity of scholarship and teaching. ERIC Docu ment Reproduction. Bates, A. W. (1997). Technology, distance education and national th development. In 18 ICDE Conference Workshop on Distance Education and Nation al Development Study of Distance Education and The World Bank 29-31 May Penn State University. Berquist, W., Betwee, J., Meuel, D. (1995). Building strategies relationships: How to extend your organiza tion’s reach through partnerships, alli ances, and joint ven tures. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Bility, M. K., & Odharo, J. (1995). Improving

primary health care and nursing services through distance edu cation in Botswana. In David Steward (Ed.) One World Many Voic es: Quality in Open and Distance Learn ing, 220-223. Chute A. G., & Gulliver, M. K. (1996). Distance education and partnerships: Tools for the future. Lucent Technologies in Distance Learning (CEDL). Retrieved March 12, 2001 from http:!!lucent.com/cedl! distedoart.htm
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tion of self-instruc tional materials. Open Learning, 7(1)3-11. Donaldson, J., & Kozoll, C. E. (1999). Collaborative program planning principles, practices and strate gies. (Florida: Kieger Publishing Company) Research Consor tia. Harper and Row Publishers, Inc. Cam bridge, MA, 1986. Dixon, M., & Blin, F. (1992). Issues of in structional design for CAL: problems and solutions. In Cern, S. & Whiting, J (Eds.) Learning Technology in the European Com munities. Proceedings of the DELTA Confer ence on Research & Development. The Hague 18-19 October Dordretcht, Kluwer Academic Publishers. Gatliff, B., & Wendel, C. F. (1998). Inter-in stitutional collaboration and team teaching. The American Journal of Distance Education 12(1)26-37. Gray, B. (1989). Col laborating: Finding common ground for multiparty problems. Jossey-Bass. San Francisco. Grugeon (Eds.). Open
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Cole, A. R., Fortes, J., & Klinger, A. (1998). International collabora tion in computer sci ence and engineering. Dhanarajan, G. (1998). International and inter-institutional collaboration in dis tance education. A paper presented at a Conference on Learn ing Together; Collabo ration in Open Learn ing, 20-22 April. The John Curtin Interna tional Institute. Perth, Western Australia. Retrieved March 12, 2001 from http:!!www. col.org!speeches!cu tin98.htm Dhanarajan, G., & Timmers, S. (1992). Transfer and adapta

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Learning in the Main stream. Harlow Essex: Longman Group Lim ited, 297-308. Haughey, M., & Fen wick. (1996). Issues in forming school district consortia to provide distance education: Lessons from Alberta. Journal of Distance Education 11(1). 5781. Hillman, S. J., & Colk er, A. K. (1987). The collaborative design in advancing the school! college interface. Eric Document Reproduc tion Service. ED 284 496. Himmelman, T. A. (1996). On the theory and practice of trans formational collabora tion: From social ser vice to social justice. In Chris Huxman (Ed.) Creating Collabora tive Advantage. Sage Publication. London. p. 19-43. Huxham, C. (Ed.) (1996). Creating col laboration advantage. Sage Publications. London. Karis, B. (1989). Con flict in collaboration: A Burkean perspective. Rhetoric Review 8 (1) 112-126.
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Maehl, H. W. (2000). Lifelong learning at its best. San Francisco. Jossey-Bass. Mason, R. (1994). Distance education across national bor ders. In Mary Thorpe & David Gruegeon (Eds.) Open Learning in the Main stream. Harlow Essex: Longman Group Lim ited. 297-308. McGill, M. A., John stone, M. 5. (1994). Distance education: An opportunity for cooperation and re source sharing. In Barry Willis (Ed.). Distance Education Strategies and Tools. 265-275 Moran, L., & Mugridge, I. (1993). Collaboration in distance education: A systems view. Bel mont. CA Wadsworth. Mason, R. (1994). Distance education across national bor ders. In Mary Thorpe & David Neil, M. W. (1981). Research study on international collabora tion between institu tions of distance learn ing. Milton Keynes. Open University.

Ngok, L., & Lam, A. (1993). Overseas edu cational programs in Hong Kong: Competi tion or consortia. Open Learning.8 (2):12-17. Reddy, D. R. (1998). Open Universities: the new temples of learn ing in Reddy G. R. (Ed.). The Power and Potential of Collabora tive Learning Partner ships. San Francisco. Jossey-Bass. Smith, A. (2000). Col laboration between educational institu tions: Can various individual successes translate into a broad range of sustained partnerships Thach, L., & Murphy, K. (1994). Collabora tion in distance edu cation: From local to International Perspec tives. The American Journal of Distance Education 8 (3):5-21.
http:Hwww.col.org/ speeches!curtin98. html retrieved on 10 March 2000.

http:/Jwww.india. edu!ignouconf!papers/ paeOOl .htm retrieved on 10 March 2000.

DEASA-SADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

MANAGING A REGIONAL CENTRE IN AN OPEN AND DISTANCE LEARNING INSTITUTION
Dr. NdabaJ. Ncube Zimbabwe Open University

Abstract Open and distance learning (CDL) is a relatively new mode of availing educational op portunities to a wider population, and it has ushered in the need to manage institutions in a decentralised format. This development calls for focus on the centres that give direct service to the learners, hence this article is an explo ration of the role of a regional centre in man aging key services in an CDL institution. In keep ing with the ideals and principles of accessibil ity, cost-effectiveness and convenience to learners it is imperative that CDL institutions set up and manage prop erly decentralized cen tres, which become the call-face for learners since the institutions serve learners who are spread through out the country and even be yond national boundar ies. The article draws from the experience of the author as a Region al Director in an CDL in stitution, as well as liter ature on experiences in

other CDL institutions, and education manage ment. The issues that are addressed include locating a regional cen tre; student registration; financial management, human resource is sues, and provision of library services, among Challenges others. faced in managing a regional centre are also explored. The chal lenges include lack of resources, stereotypes towards open and dis tance learning, the di lemma of decentraliza tion and centralization in decision-making, as well as the distance of the learners from the centre. The article winds off with a discus sion of strategies that can be adopted to im prove the effectiveness of the management of a regional centre. Among the strategies to deal with the challenges are supply of resources, training of personnel, further decentraliza tion, and heavy invest ment in technology. It is hoped that sharing these experiences with other CDL practitioners,

in particular, and others involved in the delivery of education will en hance efficiency and effectiveness in educa tional provision and pro voke further dialogue on implementation of CDL programmes. Introduction The emergence of open and distance institutions learning has been a result of governments’ desire to increase access to university and tertiary education by the com munities (Mmari 1999; ZOU Act 1999). This deliberate act to excite entry into university programmes by people who would normally be preoccupied with work commitments, or have no access to university education results in very large enrolments in ODL universities. For instance in 1977, 124 000 distance edu cation learners were enrolled at UNISA; 81 000 at Technikon South Africa; and in 2006 over 21 000 were enrolled at the Zimba bwe Open University
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(Dodds; Nyongolo & Glennie 1999; Kurasha 2006). In essence then the CDL universities become mega universi ties, which are charac terized by centralized senior management structures reminiscent of conventional univer sities. However CDL universities have their learners dispersed. To enhance student sup port, and in keeping with the principles and ideals of making CDL education accessible, cost- effective and convenient to learn ers, CDL universities usually set up regional centers as the callface for the students. The management of these centres deter mines significantly the success or failure of CDL programmes. The number of regional centres depends on the student population and availability of re sources. For instance the Open University of Tanzania had twentyone regions in 1999, and ZCU has ten re gions in 2006 (Mmari 1999; ZCU 2001). The Open University, UK, has for instance a net work of 260 regional study centres staffed with tutors, counsel ors, administrators and containing a wide va riety of educational fa
62

cilities (Bangkok: 1990: 7-20). Harry, John and Keegan (1993: 67) say, “...these are uni versities of a nation or a state, not of a city like Oxford or Bolo gna. Frequently they are universities on tens or hundreds of sites spread throughout the nation.” The regional centres are the deliv ery points of services that learners require. The regional centre carries out specific functions that ought to satisfy customer needs and ensure studies are carried out efficiently. The quality of service and education availed to learners in an CDL institution, depend on how well a regional centre is managed, since in terms of op erationalisation of pro grammes the regional centre represents the institution. Various issues are involved in the man agement of a regional centre, starting with its location. It has to be within easy access to the learners. The region requires specific human and financial resources to drive the processes, and these must be managed in a way that ensures quality service delivery. Other services

that the regional centre offers include student registration; library ser vices; communication; tutorial services; as signment administration and examinations man agement. The regional centre also serves as a marketing unit for the university. The objectives of this article are: • To explore the role of a regional centre in the provision of services in an CDL institution • To explore how ac tivities in a regional centre can be man aged to ensure that service delivery to learners is of high quality • To highlight chal lenges in manag ing a regional centre in an CDL institution • To recommend some strategies that can be ad opted to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of a regional centre in an CDL institution. The role of a regional centre Locating a regional centre The primary consid eration in locating a

DEASA-SADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

regional centre is that the majority of learners have relatively easy ac cess to it. Access is not only measured in terms of distance, but also in terms of road net works, transport con nectivity, accessibility of buildings, availabil ity of ancillary services such as photocopy ing and telephone fa cilities in the vicinity and, Harry, John and Keegan (1999) argue that a regional study centre must provide easy access to full time workers, the disabled, imprisoned, and hos pitalized, together with those tied to the home. For the regional centre to effectively service this diverse population, its location must be properly planned. The planner needs to take full audit of the profile of the potential and cur rent learners and do an informed mapping. The choice of the location of a regional centre is a conscious, rigorous and process, data-driven which also involves the ability to accurately ex trapolate future growth in student numbers and services to be offered, for the centre must re main accessible now, and in future. Citing a regional centre can borrow concepts from school mapping (IIEP

1989). An improperly located regional cen tre is likely to lead to frustration of learners and workers, and this may result in failure to realize the goals of the institution.

Student registration
Regional centres regis ter learners, as it is not possible for learners to converge at headquar ters for registration. For new learners this pro cess begins with the processing of applica tions. Learners obtain application forms from the regional centre where initial selection is done, and ratified at the headquarters. Once learners have been ac cepted they register at the regional centre where they are handed their tutorial packages, and given orientation into the institution. Learners can only be registered upon pay ment of the requisite fees. Thus the regional centre also manages institutional finances. The registration pro cess yields learner sta tistics that are relayed to headquarters and aggregated with other regional centres to come up with a nation al enrolment. If admis sions, fees-collection and registration are

faulty in the regional centres, the institution as a whole will have in accurate data. This in turn will lead to faulty planning of resources, compromises which the quality of service to the learners. Data in an institution helps in the use of statisti cal process control in the management of resources, human and physical (Greenwood & Grant 1994: 107). The same view is shared by Beagley (1999: 7) who says inconsistent enrolments can pres ent difficulties in the management of learn ing activities. The registration pro cess is the first contact between the institution and the learner and the experience the learner is subjected to may de termine whether or not the learner will main tain a sustained rela tionship with the insti tution. A positive expe rience will most proba bly lead to a continued relationship whereas a negative experience will most likely lead the learner to drop out. Thus to ensure student retention the regional centre must adopt a strategy to understand, manage anticipate, and personalize the needs of the learners
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(Miller 2005: 1). A re gional centre that fails to retain the learners it registers defeats the goals of enhancing ac cess to education, and wastes resources. Human resources The most important resource in a regional centre are human resources. Person nel, which fall under the management of a Director, comprise cleaners, clerks, library assistants, administra tion officers, full- time academics as well as part—time academ ics, Of these, in most cases, the single-larg est group are part-time tutors. Gatiss (1996) argues that quality is about people and not things. So to ensure that learners are ex posed to the highest level of quality service, efforts must be made to engage in human re source planning “...to ensure the right num bers of the right kinds of people are available at the right time and in the right places to translate organization al plans into reality,” Smith (1997: 6). Thus the regional centre is involved in the recruit ment, induction and welfare of staff at vari ous levels, and also ensures continuous
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professional develop ment of all academic staff through research, conferences, staff de velopment and further ance of academic and professional qualifica tions to meet new chal lenges. Induction for all levels of staff is critical, a view supported by Doidge; Hardwick and Wilkinson (1998:10) when they say induc tion, .is no more or less than a function of good management and should be seen as an integral and important duty of all those who have staff reporting to them.” To enhance the quality of service delivery the staff must be continually trained as posited by Creech (1 994:90-91) that training of people ex tensively and at every level plays a vital role in transforming an or ganization.
“. .

a desire to add value to the learners. McCallion (1998:91) argues that for an educational in stitution to function ef fectively systems and procedures for manag ing finances must be put in place. It is imper ative, therefore, that financial transactions and deployment of re sources in the regional centre are based on prescribed, accept able and transparent practices. The regional centre is a cost centre of the institution, and its function is to moni tor and control costs (McCallion, 1998:93). There is need there fore to have financial expertise in the region al centre. The regional centre relies on a number of service providers for its livelihood such as suppliers, owners of rented buildings, and part-time academics. It is imperative that these parties are paid timeously if they are to continue rendering good service, and the onus to ensure this rests with the regional centre. Apart from paying suppliers the regional centre is also responsible for receiv ing amounts payable to the institution in the locality. These may

Financial management The regional centre has a responsibility of managing budgets and resources allocated to it by the institution. The guiding principle is that all expenditure should be in support of learning. The way money is spent ought to convince the learner and the public that ex penditure is guided by

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include student fees, fines, donations and payment for services. The guiding principle is that all money should be accounted for and remitted accordingly. Library services A very important re source in any learning situation is the library. With the assistance of headquarters, the re gional centre sets up, maintains and man ages a library. The first step is to secure appro priate space. In spite of the proliferation of electronic data sourc es many learners still cannot access them, so the physical library still plays a very impor tant role in the support of open and distance learners. Mills and Tait (1999: 74) cite studies carried out in Austra lia, North America and the United Kingdom which showed a heavy weighting towards open and distance learn ers using libraries by making personal visits to the library. The re gional centre receives stock from headquar ters and processes it, then loans out to learn ers. Good care should be taken of the stock so that it has a longer life span and utility. There must be equitable and efficient distribution of

reading materials, as well as maintenance of accurate records of the resources.

made to tackle these problems and improve services.
Mmari (1 999:118) further says through regional and study centres decisions of council, senate and faculty boards reach even the lowest levels of the institution. This provides an opportunity for timeous solution of problems. Hence the regional centre plays a key role in facilitating effective communication within the institution. Such communication is important as alluded to by Sallis (1996: 46) who says communication is important in quality management in education. Tutorial services The regional centre is also responsible for distributing instruc tional materials and organizing tutorial services for learners. This involves securing venues, timetabling tutorials and supervis ing tutorials to ensure quality service delivery. According to Mills and Tait (1999:73) tutorials are one area of conver gence between open and distance education
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Communication
The regional centre also acts as a com munication centre between the institu tion and the learners. Through the regional centre issues are com municated to learners from headquarters, and to headquarters from learners. This helps to avoid informa tion-crowding at the headquarters as some of the issues can be dealt with at the region al centre level. Alluding to the role the regional centre plays in com munication at the Open University of Tanzania, Mmari (1999:117) ob serves that: Every quarter, the directors of regional centers meet at the Head Office to compare notes and thrash out student problems of a policy or practical nature. Problems con fronting them and students include the delivery of study materials, return of marked scripts, receipts of fees paid into bank accounts, and postponement of studies. Every effort has been

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and conventional edu cation and: One of the longest-standing elite traditions in UK education at university level has been the small-group and individual tutorial work developed over many centuries at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. The ‘Oxbridge’ system of lectures and practical work provided by the university combined with tutorial support or supervisions arranged by the individual colleges is a well-tried and tested approach which ensures that individual students are supported, their strengths and weaknesses noted and appropriate action taken. The notion of smallgroup student support and teaching is the aspect that casts a dif ference between cor respondence and open and distance learning, and a regional centre facilitates this competi tive edge of the deliv ery mode. Harry, John and Keegan (1999) posit that one form of interaction in an open
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and distance learn ing setup is learnerinstructor interaction, and this can be f a cilitated through orga nized tutorials. Thus, the regional centre plans for, and ensures that the tutorials are executed to the best benefit of the learner. Race (2005) acknowl edges the value of tu torials when he posits that open learners can be supported through, tutoring, training open learning tutors, mentor ing learners and giving tutor feedback to learn ers. Race (2005:120) proceeds to say: while it is possible to package information and knowledge in a wide variety of media, and to design into open learning all the processes whereby learning should be successful, in practice it is now well recognized that human beings remain an indispensable factor for guaranteeing the success of open learning. Therefore apart from scheduling tutorials the regional centre must continually train tutors and supervise them to effect maximum bene fit from the tutorial ses sions. Trained tutors

can motivate learners, advise them on how to approach their studies and diagnose learning problems. Calder and McCollum (1998: 70) say faceto-face tutorial support is one of the most ef fective ways of learner support. They quote an open learner saying of tutors, “The tutors are very important, after a certain level you get stuck, the tutors are there for you when you get stuck, you could not manage without the tutors.” Given that the core business of a university is teaching, it can be argued that provision of tutorial services is probably the most important role of a regional centre. Assignment administration For both continuous assessment and as a teaching strategy, learn ers write tutor-marked assignments. The as signments are prepared at headquarters and sent to the regional cen tre from where they are distributed to individual learners. The regional centre collects and re cords all assignments from learners, passes them on to markers, and keeps records of what has been distrib

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uted. Within an agreed time frame (14 days for ZOU) the markers return the assignments to the regional centre. Before assignments are collected back by the learners, Programme sample Coordinators and moderate them to ensure that marking is thorough, educative communicative. and This aspect is very important as the qual ity of learning of open and distance learners is partly influenced by the quality of feedback on written assignments. Race (2005: 120) says, “The most critical side of supporting open learners is giving feed back on their marked work.” The same view, is held by Mills and Tait 74) when (1999: 73 they say: Teaching by commenting constructively on students’ scripts became a key skill in the distance tutor’s repertoire. Much staff-development activity in QDL currently revolves around the skills and pedagogy of teaching by commenting in writing on a student’s work and entering into a dialogue using this medium.

tre plays a key role in ensuring that learners benefit from marked assignments.

Examinations management
Learner studies cul minate in formal ex aminations which when passed, lead to certifi cation, and examina tions are managed by the regional centre. This involves safe custody of examination papers, before and after writ ing, procuring exami nation stationary/mate rials; securing venues and hiring invigilators and ensuring that the letter and spirit of the examination rules are at play. If the university is to claim quality ser vice to its customers, the examinations must be managed properly. CoIlby (2003:3) and Natarajan (1993:11) ar gue that one quality in dicator of an education system is the credibility of its examination and certification processes. For a regional centre to execute this task efficiently it has to be empowered in terms of requisite skills, values, and attitudes among the staff.

ket the institution. I he regional centre pro vides for the physical presence and visibility of the institution in the local community. The regional centre sells the institution in the lo cality by means of open days, taking part in ex hibitions, spearheading research and hosting conferences. The re gional centre also initi ates linkages with the corporate world, politi cians, as well as civic leaders. In all this, the thrust is to identify the academic needs of the community and steer the institution towards continually satisfying these needs and es tablishing a permanent productive relationship with the community. In its marketing role the regional centre thus seeks to create customers; keep cus tomers, and make the profitable customers for the organization Mug (Murombedzi, wagwa & Chivandikwa 2001 :8).

Challenges in managing a regional centre
Several challenges ex ist in the management of a regional centre. Some of the problems emanate from within the institution, while others have their on67

Marketing
Another role of the re gional centre is to mar-

Thus, the regional cen

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yiii, uussue isie Insti tution. Issues like hy perinflation, and high unemployment levels manifest themselves through a number of observable indicators at the regional centre level. There are also issues linked to the management of the institution and avail ability of resources to be considered.

government Induced destabilization of uni versities, many issues are emerging relat ing to the future role of distance education and its efficient opera tion in a client focused market, where needs may have to be met with diminishing re sources. Modern technology that would enhance the quality of education delivery in a regional centre is usually out of reach in terms of cost for most institutions, or may not even be avail able on the market. In such cases, distance learning is supported through traditional and often not-so-effective means. This also ham pers the undertaking of meaningful research. In the libraries there could be problems of limited loan periods, lack of stock, etc. (Mills & Tait 1999). Even where technology is available the challenge of how to foster the ef fective use of electronic media for teaching and learning is prevalent in developing countries, and Calvert (1999:2) argues that, “Many staff and students are new to the educational use of e-mail, bulletin boards, and computer conferencing.”

Resources
In a developing coun try, a regional centre is inevitably faced with shortage of various resources. First, finan cial resources allocat ed to the regional cen tre often fall far below expectations, a fact alluded to by Bolton (2000) when he says these units are often expected to deliver un der scarce resources and meagre budgets. In some cases region al centres have en rolments higher than conventional universi ties, yet what they get in terms of a budget may be equivalent to a departmental budget in a conventional uni versity. The issue of inadequate resources, is aptly summed by Meacham (1999: 11) when he argues: In a period of rapid so cial and technological change coupled with
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The human resources also present a chal lenge in managing a regional centre, es pecially academics. The use of part-time academics means that the regional centre’s academic life depends on borrowed manpow er. These academ ics can only be avail able for the regional centre’s activities if their full-time employ ers release them, or if no other part-time employer offers them a better package at the same time. It not properly managed this could result in some part time tutors often missing scheduled tutorials. Most of the part-time academics come from convention al universities where they enjoy “academic freedom” in terms of what to teach, how to mark and even know ing what will come in the examination. In an open and distance institution such ac tivities are designed centrally and the tutor must implement what is designed, almost in a straightjacket fash ion, and this leads to conflict which may derail the teaching programme. Also be cause these lecturers are on short-term con tract, should anything

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go wrong it is not easy to hold them account able for their failures. Most academics runfling CDL programmes are products of con ventional universities both as students and lecturers and the ten dency is to employ conventional delivery strategies in an CDL set up and controlling for this is not easy. Menon (1999:36) ex plains this dilemma while when he says, it has been reasonably possible to maintain quality in instructional inputs, it is difficult to ensure that quality is maintained in contact sessions and practical classes”.
“.

The centralization/ decentralization dilemma A regional centre is a decentralized unit of headquarters, and it is debatable if the former enjoys any meaningful autonomy and flexibil ity to address learner needs in peculiar cir cumstances. Because of the need to often re fer to headquarters, so lution of problems may take time, and this may frustrate the learners. Where headquarters deliver less than what has been promised, learners may exert a lot of pressure on the re gional centre. Academ ic staff has to live with a dual reporting struc ture and this can create confusion and conflict. Some officers at head quarters may want to control the regional centre even if they are not conversant with what goes on there. This view is supported by Bolton (2000:2) who says, “In a rational de sire for control and or derliness, central offi cers have wished .the units to be either orga nizationally weak, so that they depend upon central services..
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Stereotypes In a location where a regional centre neigh bours a conventional university, feelings that the conventional univer sity offers better qual ity education abound. These feelings, mainly emanating from the fact that CDL is a rela tively new and little un derstood phenomenon (Mmari 1999), may drive away potential learners and staff. Even academ part-time ics from conventional universities may bring these attitudes into the learners, which may af fect their zeal to learn.

gional centre regularly it is difficult to keep up to date learner au dits. Learner attrition only becomes visible when assignments are not submitted or when learners fail to turn up for examinations. At times, at this juncture, the learner may have long dropped out and it will be too late to bring him/her back. Failure to keep accurate student statistics may lead to under-planning for re sources and services. The challenge to be tackled is how to ensure that there is maximum enrolment and minimal dropouts, as dropouts constitute a waste of (Mntangi resources 1999:72; Moyo & Mum bengegwi 1995: 68). Fees payment Some learners may default on their fees payment, thus suffo cating financial inflows into the institution. Be cause student state ments are generated at headquarters it may be difficult at times to ver ify at regional level the fees payment status of a learner. Failure to collect fees due causes a strain on available re sources, as these will be stretched to cater even for students who have not paid.
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Student audit Because learners do not report to the re

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space Due to financial con straints, a regional centre may operate from rented premises, and move on when the lease lapses. This gives the centre a no madic character, with learners “chasing” it from site to site. Even if the regional centre does not move, learner and staff numbers may soon outgrow the rent ed premises forcing the institution to look for ad ditional premises hence “scattering the region” around town. Even in the few cases where property was acquired when CDL universities were introduced learn er and staff growth has far outstripped the capacity to expand the premises. Thus the re gional centre finds itself crowded in inadequate premises or “scattered around,” or both. This leads to loss of identity of the institution. Distance Even though the thrust of a regional centre is to reduce the distance between the institu tion and the learner in some cases, especially in rural areas, distance between the learners is a serious barrier to effective CDL. This is worsened by lack of reli
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able transport and other communication net works, and tends to cut off the learner from the regional centre. The re sult is that learners miss key deadlines, miss tutorials, miss exami nations and ultimately may dropout of the sys tem resulting in a waste of scarce resources. In some cases some learners take longer than planned to com plete their study pro grammes, thus increas ing the wastage ratio (Moyo & Mubengegwi 1995: 690). Studies by Gatawa (1998: 21) and Dorsey, etal(1991: 23) confirm that distance travelled by learners to educational institutions disrupts learning ac tivities. The same view, is held by Anderson, Marcus and Thomas (1 999:28) who say, “Supporting learners in remote areas of Guyana presents a significant challenge to IDCE’s education system.” The way forward If CDL is to continue to have the desired im pact CDL institutions need to empower their regional centres. Some options are highlighted below. To boost the resource base for the regional centre, it is necessary

to increase learner en rolment so as to reduce unit costs and realize economies of scale of offering programmes. Cost effectiveness analysis should be the guiding principle in ex penditure options (Huls mann 1999). Fixed and variable costs should be clearly isolated with the express intention of suppressing the later. Extensive training of full-time and part-time academics in CDL de livery modes will im prove the delivery of service. An improved service delivery reduc es learner complaints. The institution itself can mount CDL instruction programmes and en sure that all regional academics are prop erly qualified for the job they do, rather than rely on the assump tion that any academic can deliver in an CDL setup. Anderson, Mar cus Thomas (199:28) argue that, “Oversee ing the tutorial system and generally providing learner support servic es are activities depen dent on the deployment of competent and high ly motivated staff, as well as good commu nication.” Reasonable staff retention schemes should be put in place to motivate staff, and

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curb staff-turnover, which disrupts the in structional programme and leads to costs of recruiting and inducting new staff. In the wake of dwindling govern ment funding the insti tution needs to engage in income generation, and plough back some of the proceeds to staff retention. According to Mmari cooperation (1999) with existing education al institutions, industry, private and public li braries makes it pos sible to offer uncom promised service even with scarce resources and limited budgets. The regional centres can share into the use of existing cooperators’ facilities at reduced costs, or even at no cost at all, depending on the negotiating apti tude of staff managing the regional centre. Massive investment in modern technol ogy such as internet and teleconferencing facilities may improve access to tutorial ser vices, and reduce the inefficiencies and in adequacies associated with the use of a large number of ill-trained tu tors. This may initially call for an enormous capital outlay, but in

the long run a lot of money that would go into wages would be saved, and some ef realized. ficiency Chacon (1999) argues that investment in ap propriate technologies is the way to go and yields good returns in the long run, while Chandiram (1999:32) explains how Indira Gandhi Open Univer sity has successfully used multimedia ap proach to reach out to its learner population. To deal with the issue of distances between learners and regional centres, the CDL in stitutions may further decentralize to district and study centres. However in so doing, care must be taken to restructure the insti tutions’ hierarchy to avoid ending up with too tall structures that delay and distort com munication. In addition mobile teams can be used to provide tuto rial support for learn ers (Anderson, Marcus & Thomas 2001:28). Learners can also be issued with a guide book at registration that helps to induct them to open and distance learning, so that they can tackle some of the challenges they meet on their own, a strategy

that has worked for the Open University of Sri Lanka (Weerasinghe 1999: 57). This would help bring the univer sity service to learners’ doorsteps (ZOU:1 999). Learners in distant lo cations can be trained in setting up and sus taining study groups (Lippiart 2001: 81). The regional centre must provide support for the study groups to keep them focused. In conclusion, it must be acknowledged that open and distance learning, holds hope for economic and so cial development for many nations. Ding (1999:179) says, “Due to its features of open ness, economy of scale and flexibility, open and distance learning has made a special and contribu significant tion to Chinese higher education, and more broadly to socio-eco nomic development.” This can be true of any country, but only if the regional centre, which is the point of deliv ery for the institution’s programmes is appro priately empowered to deliver in quality style.

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References Anderson L, Marcus F & Thomas E. 1999. University of Guyana Institute of Distance and Continuing Edu cation: Planning and management of open and distance learning. Vancouver: The Com monwealth of Learning & Asian Development Bank. BeagleyM. 1999. Open Access Col lege: Planning and management of open and distance learning. Vancouver: The Com monwealth of Learning & Asian Development Bank. Bolton A. 2000. Man aging the academic unit. Buckingham Open University Press. Brandon E. 1999. The University of the West Indies: Higher educa tion through open and distance learning Vol. 1: 125-1 35 Calder J. & McCollum A. 1998. Open and flexible learning in vocational educational training. London: Ko gan Page. CalvertJ. 1999. Dea kin University: Plan ning and management
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of open and distance learning. Vancouver: The Commonwealth of Learning & Asian De velopment Bank. Chacon F.1999. Dis tance education in Latin America: growth and maturity: Higher education through open and distance learning Vol. 1:137149. Chandiram J. 1999. Indira Gandhi Open University- Electronic Media Production Centre: Planning and management of open and distance learning. Vancouver: The Com monwealth of Learning & Asian Development Bank. Colby, C. 2003. School examinations and ME Special assessment arrangements. http:// www.youngactionon line.com
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Doods T, Nonyongo E & Glennie J. 1999. Cooperation competi tion or dominance: a challenge in Southern Africa: Higher educa tion through open and distance learning Vol. 1:95-109. Dorsey BJ, Matshazi M & NyaguraL. 1991. A review of education and training in Zim babwe. Harare: CIDA & Zimbabwe govern ment. Gatawa BSM. 1998. Quality-quantity dilem ma in education: The Zimbabwe experience. Harare: College Press. Gatiss GF 1996. Total quality management. New York: Cassel. Greenwood M. S. 1994. Total qual ity management for schools. London: Cas sel. Harry K, John M & Keegan D (ed). 1993. Distance education: New perspectives. London: Hulsmann T. 1999. The costs of distance education: Higher edu cation through open and distance learning Vol. 1: 72-84. IIEP 1989. Internal

Ding X. 1999. Dis tance education in China: Higher educa tion through open and distance learning Vol. 1:176-189. Doidge J, Hardwick B & Wilkinson J. 1998. Developing support and allied staff in High er Education. London: Kogan Page

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efficiency of the edu cation system. Paris: IIEP. Routledge Kurasha P. 2006. Zim babwe Open Univer sity 1St quarter strate gic plan review report (unpublished) Lippiatt D. 1999. Uni versity of Linolshire and Humberside: Planning and man agement of open and distance learning. Vancouver: The Com monwealth of Learning & Asian Development Bank. McCallion P. 1998. The competent school manager. London: The stationery office Meacham D. 1999. Open Learning Insti tute-Charles Stun Uni versity: Planning and management of open and distance learning. Vancouver: The Com monwealth of Learning & Asian Development Bank. Menon MB. 1999. National Open School: The school that made a difference: Planning and management of

open and distance learning. Vancouver: The Commonwealth of Learning & Asian De velopment Bank. Miller I. 2005. What exactly is CRM?. http:llwww.custom erservicemanager.com Mills R. & Tait A. The convergence of dis tance and convention al education. London: Routledge Mmari G. 1999. The Open University of Tanzania: Higher edu cation through open and distance learning Vol 1: 110-121 Mntangi MJ. 1999. South Africa Extension Unit: Planning and management of open and distance learning. Vancouver: The Com monwealth of Learning & Asian Development Bank. Moyo G & Mubengeg wi S. 1995. Educa tional planning and development. Harare: The University College of Distance Educa tion-University of Zim babwe.

Murombedzi CJ, Mug wagwa A & Chivan dikwaJN. 2001. Mar keting management. Harare: Zimbabwe Open University. Natarajan S. 1993. In troduction to econom ics of education. New Dehli: Sterling. Race P. 2005. 500 tips for open and on ilne learning. London: Routledge Falmer Sallis E 1996. Total quality management in education. London: Kogan Page. Smit E 1997. Strate gic human resource management. Pretoria: Kagiso Weerasinghe B. 1999. Open university of Sri Lanka: Planning and management of open and distance learning. Vancouver: The Com monwealth of Learning & Asian Development Bank. ZOU. 1999. The Zim babwe Open Univer sity Act. Harare: Gov ernment of Zimbabwe.

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FACILITATING INTERACTION DURING FACE-TO-FACE TUTORIALS IN OPEN DISTANCE LEARNING: Insights from the Socratic Method
Stanslaus Modesto Tichapondwa Botswana College of Open and Distance Learning (B000DOL) Abstract The article focuses on classroom interaction with emphasis on the questioning method. The purpose is to ex amine the significance of the method during learner-tutor interac tion, and to establish how best questions can be used to achieve learning goals. Find ings, based on a com munication course, are discussed. Eight tu tors were identified to conduct tutorials, and each one worked with 25 learners. After a general induction, four tutors (experimental group) were briefed on questioning strategies, and the remainder served as the control group. Interaction for both groups was taperecorded before and after the briefing. Re sults showed that tu tors whose awareness had been raised, used interrogatives more effectively than their counterparts. This led to the conclusion that conscious enhance ment of knowledge about the Socratic
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method leads to ef fective negotiation of learning. One of the recommendations was that tutors should be guided in the use of questioning strategies for better interaction. Introduction Questioning is an ac knowledged didactic method at the disposal of the tutor. Many dif ferent acts during tu torials are realised by questions, and Sinclair and Brazil (1982:60) suggest that questions are the chief means of eliciting learner re sponses. Elkind and Sweet (2004) regard questioning as a so cialisation process that leads to the negotiation of mutual expectations. The syntactic structure of questions is interrog ative, aimed at stimu lating purposeful inter action to achieve ped agogic goals. Socrates was well known for his use of questions to educate. That is why the questioning strat egy has come to be known as the Socratic method. Distance edu

cation has introduced face-to-face tutorials to complement written modules, which are the primary medium of communication. The use of questions is not at all new, however, the effectiveness with which it is used has not been established for a fact. It was against this background that the present investiga tion was carried out as a revisit to the Socratic method if only to es tablish ways in which questions are used to promote learning. What has remained questionable is the ef fectiveness of ques tions in terms of achiev ing learning goals. Effectiveness refers to the influence a ques tion has in achieving learning goals. Basi cally, in the context of tutorials, questions are a pre-condition for oral interaction. They are used for a whole range of purposes including the tutor’s need to es tablish whether learn ers completed their assignments, and to

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find out why they come late for tutorials. Tutors tend to use questions mainly for administra tive purposes. What did not come out clear ly from my observation was the use of the So cratic method to nego tiate learning. Without exception, this tendency was noticed in tutorials for the CDL courses offered by the Zimbabwe Open Univer sity (ZOU) and the Bo tswana College of Open and Distance Learning (BOCODOL). Premised on that, the stimulus for research was a stronglyfelt pedagogic intuition arising from experience generally, but made concrete in the course of field trips to commu nity study centres. The research context BOCODOL originated a course for police of ficers known as Eng lish for Professional Purposes (EPP). The six-month programme was aimed at develop ing work related com munication skills and competencies in core policing areas such as statement writing. Tu tors holding a degree qualification in English were identified to han dle tutorials during the pilot stage.

In the context for in vestigation I narrowed down the areas for ne gotiation to negotiation of meaning and negoti ation of form, which are central to a communi cation course. Learner output, as conceptu alised in this study, refers to the extent to which learners, stimu lated to participate by the tutor, contribute meaningfully to the communicative events in a given tutorial using discourse. extended By extended discourse I mean learner re sponses that go be yond single words or phrases, but involve the generation of sen tences in language that is original but relevant to the topic. To guide my investigation, three questions research were formulated thus: 1. What type of questions do tu tors currently ask, that is after induc tion, to negotiate learning? What interaction 2. changes occur in the oral exchang es between tutors and learners after tutor awareness of the significance of questions (in the negotiation of learning) is raised? 3. Do learners un

der tutors, whose awareness has been raised, ne gotiate learning better? Questions and the negotiation of learning In line with the EPP objectives, course and Tichapondwa Trennepohl (2001:48) observe that tutors should ask the right kind of questions to en able learners to answer Inter appropriately. rogatives are normally categorised according to their levels of diffi culty, or the complexity of verbal responses ex pected from learners. In a typical communi cation course such as EPP, negotiation of form and meaning are in separable. In the words of Prabhu (1988:1) lan guage is seen as “con sisting primarily of an ability to conform auto matically to grammatical noms, and communica tion as a matter of un derstanding, arriving at, or conveying meaning”. Thus in the present article, focus is on the way questions are used to promote inter action through compe tent use of grammati cal features to share mutual understanding
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in the course of mean ing-focused activity. Tutor awareness was raised by exposing them to theories about the Socratic method. Researchers on class room interaction (e.g. Barnes et al, 1971; Lyster and Ranta, 1997) were influenced by the evolution of descriptive linguistics concerned with pro cedures followed to stimulate classroom dialogue. Working with British elementary Li classrooms, Sinclair and Coulthard (1975), Coulthard (1977), and Sinclair and Brazil (1982), have evolved an approach that, among other issues, examines the role of questions in promot ing learning and class room interaction. Their sociolinguistic slant is partly the result of influence from ethno graphic investigations into the structure of in teraction (e.g. Hymes. 1972). Ethnographers are concerned with the qualitative, processoriented investigation of interaction, and their question is: What are the functions of ques tions and other dis course features in the classroom where it is claimed that learning takes place? Work76

ing with pupils in their first year of secondary school in Zimbabwe, Tichapndwa (2000) dwells on the contextu al significance of ques tions. Questions, like other linguistic features, can be quantified and in terpreted. That is why in the approach, ana lysts are concerned with interactional con ventions, features of discourse, and the educational functions of discourse when the teacher stands in front of a class. Applied Linguists, Mal amah-Thomas (1987) and Van Lier (1988) shed more light on the educational value of questions and argue that teaching styles and learning strategies, as linguistic preoc cupations, depend on metalinguistic aware ness. Value judgement about the significance of questions in nego tiation of learning (Van den Branden, 1997), and in the guided con struction of knowledge (Mercer, 1995) will therefore be made. Sinclair and Coulthard (1975) proposed that a lesson can be analysed as having a number of ranks: lesson, transac

tion, exchange, move, and act. Each consti tutes the elements of the rank above, ac cording to rank-specific structural rules. In their approach, a transac tion is essentially an episode of talk on a particular theme, and it usually consists of a number of exchanges. A common example of an exchange is a ques tion followed by an an swer, followed by an acknowledgement of that answer. Tutors and learners take part in exchanges for much of the time they will be talking. An exchange often con sists of three moves: Initiation (1) Re sponse (R) Feedback (F): [1] T Takesure, what is a plot? (I) L: The events in a novel (A) T Good. (F)
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In what follows I exam ine questions as tutor input and the respons es to such questions as learner output.

Question Categories
When the tutor inter venes, by giving input, what does the student do with her slot in terms of a fitting contri

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bution relative to form and meaning? Van Lier (1988:105) says, “because of the turntaking rules, partici pants are restricted in their power and initia tive to change and in fluence the discourse.” This means, it is the way turns are allocated which constrains or lib erates initiative. Hence, there are ways of ask ing questions which ac count for more effective discourse at both the input and output levels. By contrasting the two examples given below, it is evident that the second interrogative is less constraining than the first. [2] a. Water evaporates when it is heated, isn’t it? b. Why does water evaporate? Van Lier (1988) exam ines how and when ini tiative is possible, and how it can be identified. Initiative is the willing ness, by an individual, to originate language that is more personal and influential on sub sequent interaction for a given topic. Initiative can be explained by identifying moves used in the process of turn taking. In a given inter-

action, we are able to describe and evaluate the effect of linguistic units evident in the ex pression of initiative. The learner initiates discourse when he/she originates information through language re lated to the topic under discussion, and often in answer to a ques tion. For purposes of description, Van Lier (1988:109) introduces the concepts of ‘pro spective’ and ‘retro spective’ classification of speech acts. In: [3] T: Why does water evaporate? S: because of the heat from the sun, The teacher’s move is said to be prospec tive because it looks forward to, limits the next speakership and influences the content. On the other hand, the student’s response is said to be retrospective because it is linked to the preceding turn, and could exhibit varying degrees of influence from preceding turns. In addition, Van Lier introduces the idea of topic control and man agement as a manifes tation of initiative. This is reflected in features such as student’s use of discourse to: con-

tribute new information, interaction, maintain and disputing a propo sition of a prior turn, what we call counterinforms. To interpret data from lesson transcripts, ana lytical categories were used. These were ac cording to the way tu tors asked questions and how learners an swered. Some catego ries account for more discourse effective than others. We start with categories attrib uted to teachers. The first question cat egory suggested by Sinclair and Coulthard (1975) is the polar in terrogative or the yes! no question, which elicits a response that is either positive or negative, using a sin gle word. The second category is the ‘question tag’, which is linguistically structured to signal that agreement would be the more congruent response as in this ex ample. [4] T: The adjective formed from circle is circular, isn’t it? The tutor makes an assertion, and then questions it. Thus, the
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learner is invited to give the proposition ur gent support. The third question category is the dis play question (Love, 1991:203). It is posed with an answer in mind and it is also known as a test question. A clear example is: [5J T: Which are the math causes of soil erosion? Here, although an op portunity is created for the learner to respond in more words than was the case in the two previous categories, the potential answer is limited to the regur gitation of discourse initiated by the tutor earlier. The foregoing three categories are considered to be less effective. The fourth category is termed ‘referential question’, and its ob jective, according to Sinclair and Coulthard (1975), is the elicitation of informative content, for example: [6] T: Why do you think there are more accidents in your town at Christmas, than any other month in the year?
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Here, the learner is re quired to communicate in his own language. Informative content re fers to information nec essary for discussing a topic. In this question, the tutor cannot pre dict the precise nature of the information and the discourse used to convey it. Love (1991:102) adds that a referential ques tion is “reinforced by longer pauses than any other type of ques tion”. A pause, though non-verbal, is observ able and its pedagogic function is to allow stu dents to reflect on al ternative language out put fit to express con ceptualisation of ideas. This means a pause, following a referential question, encourages students to plan their discourse output. Some learner dis course will be more communicative while others will be less so, and communica tive discourse implies initiative as one of its characteristic features as illustrated below. a. Intormatives Three types, accord ing to Sinclair and Coulthard (1975: 45), are identifiable. The first one involves an answer to a display question.

[7] T: Which countries border Malawi? S: Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania. The learner fulfils the tutor’s predicting move, a display question in this case, by produc ing a reply in which discourse is used to regurgitate rather than negotiate content. The second one is the minimal response in which pupils give single words or use vocalisa tions (e.g. uhu,ormhh). The third one involves use of a wide range of constructions, which are neither predictable nor constrained in re sponse to referential questions. b. Clarifications Clarification refers to extended discourse produced by the learn er in response to the tutor’s questions re quiring the learner to supply further informa tion thereby clarifying content. Cullen (1998) regards clarifications as discourse that is experiential. Thus, the learner who is encour aged to clarify content is likely to produce more effective dis course in terms of both

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quality and quantity based on personal ex perience. The discourse exem plifies two principles put forward by Tarone (1980) and Cohen (1997), namely, the student’s application of learning strategies us ing teacher input to de velop linguistic knowl edge, and the student’s attempt to use lan guage more efficiently (production strategies). Van den Branden’s (1997) view on clari fications is that when the interlocutor gives non-comprehension signals, students may come to question their language output and choose consciously more communicative discourse. Thus, clari fications stand as evi dence of more effective use of language in the negotiation of learning.

(1993) has referred to such moves as diver gent views expressed in discourse that is neither predictable nor constrained. When a student initiates a par contribution, ticular requesting further infor mation, or disputing a proposition, this shows active participation and initiative, and occurs when the tutor or peer asks questions. Method The study used a pre test post-test experi mental research design with a control group. The Pilot Stage for the EPP course com prised 8 tutors, each handling 25 learners in four regions in Bo tswana. The part-time tutors were qualified teachers of English serving in colleges of education. They held a degree in English as the minimum academic Learn qualification. ers were drawn from the Botswana Police Service, and their mini mum academic qualifi cation was two years of secondary schooling. All the 8 tutors under went induction in prep aration for tutoring, and were, in addition, given a tutor’s guide to help them teach three mod ules over a period of six months.

c. Counter-informs
are Counter-informs moves retrospective originated by the learn er to express a different position. For example, when one interactant initiates a move he or she expects a response move). (prospective In reply (retrospective move), the addressee gives an answer that is contradictory. Burbules

Four tutors participat ed in the study as the group that received special intervention (the experimental group) while the other four were the control group. Each tutor was audio taped four times (twice before and twice af ter intervention for the group experimental and at the same time for the control group without any interven tion). Those four (the experimental group), who were randomly sampled received ad ditional intervention on the issue of question ing techniques. Three sessions one-hour were spent sharing principles of question ing, and raising exam ples from experience for application during subsequent tutorials. A whole range of question types was discussed with specific distinc tion made of the more from the less effective ones. This awareness raising was linked to the impact such teach ers would make on police officers under their tutorship. Taperecording tutorials af ter intervention would establish whether any intervention changes Similarly, occurred. learner responses un der teachers in the con trol and experimental
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groups were analysed and results compared, to establish how effec tively they negotiated learning. That way, the second and third re search questions were addressed. The study took six months. Data collected from sixteen tutorials were transcribed and interpreted in accor dance with analytical categories determined for the purpose as dis cussed above. Pre-test and post-test results were then compared. Results The first two extracts capture interaction before intervention. For ease of reference, the following notation is used. T= tutor; L= learner silence by learners; in structional pause. Extract 1 This extract is from a tutorial by one of the tutors who were going to receive guidance on best ways to use ques tions. T: Name the different types of report you have read about from the module... Anybody? Yes... Sir L: Occasional
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Report T: Is that all? List some more... Ls: T: Have you forgotten? Heh...? Routine Report is one of them...and Investigative Report. Isn’t it? Right. Now... which are the three main parts of a report? Ls: T: I will give you a clue. The first one begins with the letter ‘I’. Yes... L: Introduction T: Correct. and the next one? Yes... L:Body T:Body...yes and the last one is... L: Conclusion T:Good. What about the document you write and circulate within the organisation. What is it called? Anyone... L:Letter T: What kind of letter? It has a special name... starts with letter
. .

and prepare for the assignment. The first elicit is the recall type requesting display of knowledge. The learner responds accordingly through a short informative. The request to list more examples, also a recall elicit, results in silence as learners avoid giv ing answers. The tutor goes on to ask the off task question: “Have you forgotten?” to which no response is forthcoming. To save face, he answers his own question show ing there is little topic development. This is followed by yet another display question about report types. Realising there is no response, he gives a clue, and hesitantly one learner responds minimally by giving one word. Guessing the answers expected by the tutor, learners simply give one -word answers (minimal responses). Talk is monopolised by the tutor, and there is little negotiation of learning. Extract 2 This extract is from a tu torial by a tutor who did not receive guidance on the principles about the Socratic method (control group).

L: Memo T: Yes.. memo or memorandum in full. Now read the section in your modules that deals with Reports and other means of communication,

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T: What name is given to the person who gives you information when you are investigating a crime? Does anyone know? Yes... L: Witness T: There is a special word for it. What is it?... Informant. Isn’t it? Ls: (in chorus) Ye e-es T: Then an informant who comes on her own to give information is called a...what?A what? Ls: T: Easy. She is called a voluntary informant. Together say voluntary informant. Ls: (in chorus) Voluntary informant T: At times you find it difficult to trust an informant. However, there are informants you can trust. What term do we use for such informants? The word has to do with trust. L: Trustworthy T: Not exactly. There is that special word. What is it? Your problem is that

you don’t read in preparation for tutorials. I said what is the word? Ls: T: The word is ‘reliable’ witness. When a person is reliable that means you can trust him. The extract has all the features identified in Extract 1, except the focus on word mean ings: “There is a special word for it. What is it?” Again this reflects pre conceived responses elicited through display questions. The lack of initiative by learners is shown in a number of ways, including si lences. When the tutor answers her own ques tions, she requests choral answers, a less effective way of topic development. Extract 3 and Extract 4 reflect use of the Socratic method in tu torials recorded during post intervention. L: T:

Ls: T.

L: T:

interviewer. What do you call a person who is interviewed? Applicant Applicant? No... of course. The person is called an interviewee. Together say interviewee... (in chorus) interviewee-e-e Right. There are different types of interview What name is given to an interview where a person wants employment? Work interview No. It’s called a job interview. Now... there are two more. An intervention interview and an informative interview. Which of these two is aimed at persuading the interviewee to see things the way the interviewer sees them?

Extract 3
T. Let’s see what you know about interviews. A person who interviews somebody is called an

Ls: T: Think... Think... Can’t you just choose? OK... the correct answer is intervention interview In your module...
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______

L: T:

there are four types of questions asked in an interview Which are these? Short questions Short questions? I don’t know that. Leading questions... specific questions... What else?

tions are asked and how learners respond. Some difference was, however, noted in Ex tract 4 from the tutor who taught Extract 1. Extract 4
/ asked you to read the section on Meetings. How many of you have read? Ls: (raise their hands) T: Good. Who are the key players in a meeting? Yes... Li: You need a chairperson.. a secretary... ummm L2: Don’t forget participants... otherwise there is no meeting without participants. T: What do you mean? Can you explain? L2: If there are no people who will attend?... The chairman and the secretary... only two of them? L3: That’s why you need a quorum. T: A quorum... That’s a new word. What does it mean?
.

T:

Ls:.

This is from a tutorial by the same tutor for Extract 2 (belonging to the control group). Clearly, her pre-oc cupation with what learners know places her subsequent inter rogatives in the display category, and she pro vides answers to most of her questions. When learners volunteer their limited informatives, they get discouraging remarks for incorrect answers. This results in silence as an indica tion of unwillingness to participate. Comparing the two extracts by the same tutor, the way she performs in the post intervention phase is similar to the way she asks questions be fore intervention takes place. Clearly, there fore, there is no signifi cant change that takes place in the way ques
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people so that the discussion becomes meaningful. L4: Also can you make resolutions when there are few participants? / don’t think so. L5: Resolutions are arguments... right? T: There is a question. What are, What are resolutions? L6: I think they are agreements. T: Agreements? Any different view? Yes... Li: Decisions made when people finish talking about something. T: Fine. They are decisions which the secretary will minute. L7: I don’t think only resolutions are minuted. Suggestions and views by participants can also be minuted.

L2: There should be enough

The conversation be gins with an admin istrative question to verify prior reading, and moves on with a display question that requires information about key players in a meeting. Li gives two predictable answers, then L2 self selects and

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gives as third player: participants. Through a referential question, the tutor asks L2 to explain. The answer is not predictable, and L2’s clarification, given in extended discourse, leads to mutual under standing (negotiation of meaning). Without waiting for the tutor to allow her to speak, L3 takes the initiative by giving further clarifica tion, thus facilitating topic development. con teacher The sciously draws atten tion of learners to the new register ‘quorum’ and seeks its eluci dation. 12 provides a wide ranging informa tive that brings a clear meaning of the word, thus negotiation of form and meaning are fused together. After that L4 takes initiative by ask ing a question, which introduces the concept of ‘resolutions’. In ac tual fact the question is a counter inform which, nevertheless, accounts for discourse progress. When L5 self selects, he expresses a prob lem with the meaning of the word ‘resolu tions’. At that point the tutor redirects the con versation by request ing learners to clarify the term.

When L6 volunteers a response, the tutor does not rush to ac cept the answer lest that closes the smooth flow of discourse. He asks for alternative meaning, which Li is able to furnish. The tutor’s rejoinder serves to acknowledge that the contributions made are compatible with the topic. Unexpect edly, L7 introduces a new position about the substance of min utes. In this counter in form, more meaning is added to the dialogue, showing learner auton omy in the negotiation of form and meaning in extended discourse. Discussion A number of conclu sions can be drawn from the two pre-in tervention extracts. A clear pattern of asking emerges questions characterised by tutors asking display ques tions (most of the time) constraining whose effect can be noted in the minimal responses, and lack of initiative by learners (Love, 1991). The key finding is that there is a lack of initia tive by learners in pre intervention exchang es. This is a direct re sult of the type of ques tions asked, and these are mainly display, tag

and polar questions, which lead to very limit ed negotiation of learn ing (Coulthard, 1977). This finding addresses the question to do with the types of questions asked by tutors before guidance about prin ciples of the Socratic method is given. Results from Extract 4 compared to Extract 3 lead to one major con clusion, namely, that tutors who receive the benefit of principles about questioning strat egies assist learners to negotiate learning more consciously and more effectively com pared to those tutors who are not exposed to principles of question ing strategies. Distribu tion of speakership is more conscious as evi denced in the prospec tive and retrospective discourse. The second conclusion is that in the hands of some body aware of the sig nificance of questions, display questions can be used as a basis for negotiation of learning, notwithstanding their limited effectiveness, a view subscribed to by Van Lier (1988). Thirdly, where open ended questions e.g. “What do you mean?” are asked, learner re sponses are unpredict
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able, and learners use language that is origi nal. Fourthly, the use of instructional pauses allows learners to think and retrieve the appro priate language to for mulate a response. Fi nally, we conclude that referential questions liberate learners to take the initiative to ad vance their own views without waiting for the tutor to allocate turns. Evidence of initiative is shown through self-se lection; providing infor mation in more person alised and extended discourse; readiness to clarify points; and pro viding different percep tions to the topic under discussion. On account of these findings, therefore, it could be said that after exposure to ways of us ing the Socratic meth od, tutors from the ex perimental group show a significant change in the manner they ask questions. The change is attributable to the intervention more than to any other influence since counterparts in the control group do not show evidence of any change. Similarly, learners under tutors from the experimental group respond to ques tions in a creative fash ion, and show evidence
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of improved ability to negotiate learning, an attribute that is absent from those under tu torship in the control group. Recommendations To begin with, the research population and the scope of the study are quite lim ited. Further, EPP, the course studied by learners and on which the investigation was conducted is new in Botswana. Also, much as the findings can be considered to be inter nally valid, that is, they are a function of the in tervention, one is hesi tant to make generali sations. What I should make clear though is that the research was not designed as an experiment to prove the Socratic Method empirically, but was rather a classroom action research for developing that meth odology and gaining some insight of it. I am therefore, comfortable with the assumption that any innovation has relevance beyond the specific situation it is associated with, hence my recommendations presuppose the find ings would apply in the real distance education circumstances where questions are used to

conduct tutorials.

face-to-face

My key recommenda tion is that distance ed ucation organisations with face-to-face tu ition as a component of course delivery should actively promote meth odologies that empha sise more purposeful. talk. The conclusion from pre-intervention interaction, showing that tutors ask less ef fective questions, sug gests that something ought to be done. This is because learners under such influence do not show any ini tiative. It is, therefore, recommended that tutors of different sub jects be given system atic induction about the pedagogic benefits as sociated with question ing strategies. The second recom mendation is that courses in teacher education should in dude components about ways of making classroom talk more productive. Among such components should be the Socratic method. The common practice by distance learning providers is to hire qualified teachers, serving in conventional schools, as part-time tutors. The assump

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tion is that somebody who is already quali fied to teach will have a sound command of teaching methodolo gies. However, as the study proved, qualified (part-time teachers tutors) showed a defi ciency in the way they ask questions. Finally, it is recom mended that education including authorities the Ministry of Educa tion in Botswana or ganise workshops and seminars to sensitise already serving teach ers about teacherlearner interaction as an applied linguistic phenomenon that can be enhanced through appropriate use of the Socratic method. was ample There evidence from the in vestigation that more questions effective stimulate more effec tive discourse that is of pedagogic value. Thus it is logical to revisit

the didactic methodol ogy under discussion to enhance cognitive development even in conventional schools.

Synthesis
In sociocultural terms, people talk for a va riety of reasons, and these include sharing of knowledge and ex perience. In pedagogic contexts, where tutor and tutees constitute a speech community, the sharing of knowledge takes a systematic slant during which one interlocutor is vested with the responsibility of directing speakership towards attain ment of cognitive goals. The chief means of do ing that is the Socratic method that leads to interaction and nego tiation of learning. Tutors who are suc cessful in their respon sibilities distinguish the less from the more ef

fective ways of asking questions. As dem onstrated, the more effective ones have a positive influence on the discourse output of learners. Similarly, tu tors can inhibit learning by using interrogatives that have a constraining effect. The language of learning is both persuasive and deci sive in all tutoring and learning. In that case, in distance education face-to-face tutorials, the case for revisiting the Socratic method cannot be overem phasised. Therefore, questions that foster negotiation of learn ing, based on linguistic awareness, bring rela tions between thinking and languaging into fo cus. In their wake, we get learner discourse that is expressive of creativ imagination, ity, and argumentation as topics are pursued, developed and person alised.

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References

Barnes, D., Britton, J.,Rosen, H. and the London Association for the teaching of Eng lish. 1971. Language, the learner and the school. London: Pen guin. Burbules, N. 1993. Dialogue in teaching: Theory and practice. New York:Teacher’s College press, Colum bia University Coulthard, M.1 977. An introduction to dis course analysis. Lon don: Longman Cullen, R. 1998. “Teacher talk and the classroom context”. ELT Journal Vol. 52 / 3 Elkind, D.H. and Sweet, F. “How to do character education” in Today’s School. Sept.! Oct2004 Flanders, N. 1970. Analysing teaching behaviour. Reading (Mass): Addison-Wes ley Hymes, D. 1972. “On communicative

competence”. In J.B. and J. Holmes (eds.). Sociolinguistics. Ham mondsworth: Penguin Love, K. 1991. “Towards a further analysis of teacher talk”. In Pretorius, E.J. Discourse analysis for Applied Linguistics. Pretoria: UNISA Lyster, R. and Ranta, E. 1997. “Corrective feedback and learner uptake: negotiation of form in communicative classrooms.” Studies in second language acquisition, Vol.19. 37-6 1 Malamah-Thomas, A. 1987. Classroom inter action. New York: Ox ford University Press. Mercer, N. 1995. The Guided Construction of Knowledge: talk among teachers and learners. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters Ltd. Prabhu, N.S. 1987. Second language ped agogy. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Sinclair, J.M. and Coulthard, R.M. 1975. Towards an analysis of discourse: the Eng lish used by teachers and pupils. London Oxford University Press Sinclair, J.M. and Bra zil, D. 1982. Teacher Talk. London: Oxford University Press Tichapondwa, SM. 2000. Interactive Com munication and the teaching-learning pro cess. Gweru: Mambo Press Tichapondwa, S.M. and Trennepohl, B. 2001. Communication skills and statement writing. Gaborone: Botswana College of Open and Distance Learning Van den Branden, K. 1997. “Effects of ne gotiation on language learner’s outpuf’. Lan guage Learning, Vol. 47. no. 4 589-635 Van Lier, L. 1988. The classroom and the learner. London: Longman

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QUALITY ASSURANCE AND QUALITY CONTROL STRATEGIES IN THE ZIMBABWE OPEN UNIVERSITY
Grace T. Mukeredzi Zimbabwe Open University & Tsitsi G. Ndamba Great Zimbabwe University
— —

Abstract

The paper is based on a research conducted to determine quality assurance and qual ity control strategies in the Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU). The focus was on tutoring, assignments, exami nations, staff devel opment, external as sessment, resources tutor student and evaluation. Qualitative research design and analysis was used. Questionnaires extract ed data from forty-eight (48) students, thirtyfour (34) lecturers and eight (8) regional di rectors. Results show that great strides were being made to assure quality despite chal lenges in the provision of human, material, physical and financial resources. In tutoring, highly qualified, expe rienced and committed personnel were ap pointed and tutorials were effective. Item writing of examination questions involved tu tors nationwide and ex amination marking was centralized to facilitate

efficient moderation. Regional workshops, seminars and meetings were crucial for prepar ing and updating staff on efficient service delivery. Student tu tor evaluation through comprehensive instru ments emerged as an effective way of en hancing tutor perfor mance. The research that recommended ZOU increases the existing human, mate rial and infrastructure resources and mount more workshops for academic staff at Na tional, Regional, Fac ulty and Departmental levels to promote and ensure quality at all levels.
Introduction

and effect their own quality agendas be fore others set them. It is clear that quality assurance and quality control are important and central tools for ef fective management. External quality control mechanisms are not effective for internal im provement purposes. It is therefore crucial that educational institutions build their own quality assurance and quality control strategies fo cused on own on-going development and guid ed by own values and judgement as well as professional account ability (Nixon 1995). In 2006 the Zimbabwe Open University had an approximate total enrolment of twentyone thousand (21 000) students. Ten Regional Centres have been es tablished in an effort to decentralize operations as a quality assurance and quality control measure (UNESCO, 1990). The Regional Centres offer infor mation and advice to
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Quality assurance and quality control are vi tal for effective man agement. Most quality strate management gies combine both elements to ensure improve continued ment. Freeman (1994) observes that if institu tions wish to maximise control of their opera tions, they have to set

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the public, mainly ap plicants and students by telephone, written correspondence and face-to-face meetings. Staff at the Regional Centres provide ad vice on courses and also coordinate and manage programmes. The model of open and distance education followed by the Zim babwe Open Univer sity, where there is the central administrative office and a number of regional offices, is ad opted from the Open University, UK, (ZOU Strategic Plan 2000 —2003). Addressing the issue of quality assurance, the Zimbabwe Open Uni versity, in its Strategic Plan (2000 2003:5) states that:

vis-à-vis set objec tives; • continuous evalu ation of all ZOU programmes; • evaluating services provided by ZOU; and • maintaining high quality standards in the delivery of all programmes. The strategies outlined above are evidence of commitment by ZOU in its attempt to pro vide quality services. Against this back ground, the objective of the study was to de termine the strategies employed by ZOU in assuring and control ling quality in its ser vices. Guided by this objective, the research sought to answer the question, What quality assurance and qual ity control strategies have been put in place by ZOU to assure and control quality in open and distance learn ing?’ Statement of the problem The Zimbabwe Open University is the only open and distance learning dedicated in stitution in the coun try. However, in recent years, the institution has had to compete

for clients with con ventional universities that are coming up with continuing education programmes that are taught using distance education modes. It is critical therefore, for ZOU to put in place quality assurance and quality control strate gies in order to main tain existing clients and attract new ones. Literature review Quality refers to the degree of excellence or conformity of servic es or products with the requirements or char acteristics of set stan dards. Hoyle (1995) views quality as a con formity to specifications regardless of whether or not the specifica tions satisfy clients. Stoner, Freeman and Gilbert (2003) refer to quality as focusing on the production of in creasingly better prod ucts and services. Quality control refers to the operational tech niques and activities employed to fulfill re quirements for quality (Hoyle 1995). In other words, any activities employed to improve, control, manage or assure quality may be some form of quality control activity. Quality control is therefore a

There is need to de velop quality assur ance mechanisms that will ensure consistent delivery of products and services to staff, students and industry such as: • continuous evalu ation; • administrative procedures that are followed and continuously evalu ated; • self evaluation, peer evaluation, student evaluation
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process of maintaining standards and not cre ating them. According to Hoyle, these stan dards are maintained through processes of selection, measure ment and correction of activities so that all the products and services which emerge meet the standards. Quality con trol is often regarded as a post event activity, a means of determin ing whether quality has been achieved and tak ing corrective action. In the Zimbabwe Open University, quality con trol would be referring to those processes, activities or procedures put in place to deter mine whether accept able services are being delivered to clients with a view to taking correc tive action. Preedy, Glatter and Levacic (1997) note that quality control is concerned with check ing outcomes after processes have oc curred in order to identify problems and weaknesses. Doherty (1994) views qual ity control as based on ‘feedback’, which is a way of assessing infor mation from staff, stu dents and employers so that errors can be corrected. In learning institutions like ZOU

for instance, moni toring and review of learning materials, pro grammes and courses, external assessment, assignments and ex aminations and annual reviews are some qual ity control activities that the institution would use (Lusunzi, 1998 and Ambedkar, 1991). Quality assurance, on the other hand, is concerned with ‘feed foward’ as opposed to feedback, namely with the design process and systems so that potential problems are anticipated and pre vented from happen ing (Doherty, 1994). This entails planning a programme, which includes its objec tives, content, staffing, resources, teaching methods and expected outcomes to ensure that students achieve course objectives (Dhanarajan, 1997). Stoner, Freeman and Gilbert (2003) go on to say quality assurance implies doing things right during the first attempt instead of cor recting any errors later. In ZOU, quality assur ance would therefore refer to those planned and systematic activi ties critical to provide clients with adequate confidence that the

university will fulfill re quirements for qual ity. Quality assurance measures are critical for any institution be cause managers and clients cannot oversee all the operations for themselves.
Research design

A qualitative research design was used to col lect and analyse data. Descriptives were used to present the findings. Information was sought from students in twelve different programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate levels in two regions of the Zim babwe Open Universi ty (Masvingo and Mid lands), namely, Post Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE), Bachelor of Education (B. Ed), Master of Edu cation (M Ed), Bach elor of Arts in English and Communication (BA ECS), BSc Agri cultural Management, BSc Nursing Science, BSc Geography, Mas ter of Business Ad (MBA), ministration Com Bachelor of merce (Bcom), BSc Psychology (BScPSY), BSc Special Educa tion (SPED) and BSc Counseling. Informa tion was also obtained from tutors engaged in different programmes. All the ten Regional Di89

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rectors were targeted as respondents in this study. Data collection The sample was drawn through stratified and purposive procedures. The questionnaires were distributed to tu tors and students dur ing weekend tutorials on 2 and 3 as well as 9 and 10 November 2001. The question naires were admin istered to forty-eight students, four from each of the twelve programmes attend ing weekend schools over the two weekends as stated above and also to thirty-eight tu tors of the same pro grammes. Ten other questionnaires were mailed one each to the ten Regional Directors in the institution and of these, eight were re turned. All questionnaires had open-ended ques tions which addressed quality assurance and control of the follow ing aspects: tutoring, assignments, exami nations, staff devel opment, student tutor evaluation, resources, weaknesses and pos sible solutions. The questionnaire for Re gional Directors had five additional aspects
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namely: external as sessment, decentral ization, regional direc tors’ expectations of the university, quality assurance measures taken before launching new programmes and lessons learnt from for mer programmes. Findings and discussion Most of the answers given by Regional Di rectors, tutors and stu dents were similar and as a result they were discussed together. Tutoring When asked to give their assessment of the quality of tutoring in ZOU, both students and tutors felt that the university employs highly qualified and experienced person nel. This could be at tributed to a rigorous selection exercise un dertaken by the institu tion before appointing part-time and full-time teaching staff. The Open University (OU) (UK) (2000) points out that university teach ing staff are required to have a degree or its equivalent qualifica tion and experience. The ZOU goes further to appoint staff with a minimum qualification of a Masters Degree

and at least three (3) years experience in all its programmes, except in critical areas where people with good hon ours degrees are ap pointed as teaching assistants. Tutors were found to be committed to their work and al ways availing them selves and adequately prepared for those face to face sessions. A very high standard of tutoring was confirmed by students. Tutoring was also viewed as timeously done, fo cused and conducted in a positive and en couraging manner. Face-to-face contact time was seen as ade quate by both staff and students. According to Dhanarajan (1997), teacher learner contact is crucial for good edu cational practice. Such occasions are good for motivating learn ers and overcoming learner problems. They also enable learners to measure their own value systems about their studies and their future. Students ben efit more through ac tive learning as ap posed to memorizing and reproducing facts and answers. Talking, listening, observing, discussing, writing and relating own experienc

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es and applying them in the context of their lessons are all part of the active learning process. Face-to-face tutorials facilitate peer interaction which as sists thinking and un derstanding. Learning can improve through team effort than solo performances. Respondents felt that tutorials were regularly scheduled and time tables and semester diaries were carefully Paced developed. learning is crucial for students. What this implies in teaching is a clear understanding of appropriate pacing and learning through tutorials. Tutors in this study applauded stan dardization meetings which were taken to be informative and meant to iron out and stan dardize operations as these meetings were held before the start of each semester. Team teaching was viewed as an effective strategy of ensuring quality. Tu torial groups were seen as appropriately sized and close supervision of tutorials was viewed as critical for quality.
Assignments

respondents were of the opinion that involv ing tutors nationwide in the setting of as signment questions to build a bank of ques tions was good prac tice. This is echoed by Ambedkar (1991) in Satyanarayana and (1992) Sesharatuan who highlights that it is desirable to have an assignments question bank to reduce delays in the preparation of every assignments semester. In the ZOU, these question banks are evolved at regional and/or national cen ters. Assignments were viewed as extensive in breath and intensive in depth. They were also regarded as being of good quality, very de manding and adequate in number to cover all aspects of the course. In-class assignments were seen as a very good development that ensured authenticity of results. Regional Co ordinators noted that in-class assignments were vital as they guarded against copy ing and plagiarism. These assignments were viewed as de manding application of experiences. One respondent said: Assignments are not calling for

regurgitation of facts, they call on students to draw on their school/teaching experiences. That makes students produce work that is original and reflecting their lived experiences. Students also con firmed that assignment questions were given in advance and spac ing of assignments was adequate to enable research. thorough This is supported by Lusunzi (1998) who says that as far as possible, assignment questions should be sent to students along with the first batch of course materials. Respondents were happy with the prac tice of giving uniform assignments for each course nationwide. Preparation of de tailed marking guides at national level were viewed as ensuring control of expected answers throughout the country. This is confirmed by Ambed kar (1991) who points out that assignments intended for marking should be accompa nied by tutor guides or notes to assist the tutors in assessing the assignments. Marking
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Asked about their views on the nature and qual ity of the assignments,

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was regarded as pro fessionally, objectively and thoroughly done as evidenced by tutoring comments which made students feel that they were being assisted (Open University UK, 2000). Comments on scripts are expected to be constructive, rigor ous, clear and carefully fashioned to empower learners to improve their performance. Tutors said they were given adequate mark ing time and modera tion of marked assign ments was effected where possible. They also noted that strict as signment records were maintained. Ambedkar (1991) points out that programme coordina tors should be deeply involved in ensuring proper assessment of assignments. They should take samples of marked assign ments for moderation and providing feed back to tutor markers. Monitoring assignment marking has two major purposes both critical to aspects of quality assurance by facilitat ing identification of variations in the mark ing practice and staff developing tutor mark ers. Yates (1998) adds that tutors should mark assignments, provide
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adequate feedback and return marked as signments within the stipulated time. Pro gramme coordinators should insist on tutor markers to observe time schedules for re turning evaluated as signments. Students in this study observed that in some isolated cases, however, some tutors returned marked assignments late. Examinations Internal examiners from regional centres are nominated by Regional Directors through pro gramme coordinators and appointed by the university. It emerged from both staff and Regional Directors that writing examina tion items involved all programme tutors nationwide through development of item banks. Results further indicate that examina tions questions were of good quality, balanced and well focused and challenging to test students’ abilities and knowledge. The ques tions were said to be demanding application of theory and reflection on one’s experiences at the workplace, thereby making students read widely, understand and prepare for examina tions. Reid and Robert-

shaw (1991) in Lusunzi (1998) give one of the attributes of quality in distance education as an assessment and examination system which measures ac curately the extent to which knowledge has been acquired by the students. Revision sessions with tutors were regarded as very beneficial as they enhanced prepa ration through past ex amination and speci men papers for new programmes. The CU UK (2000) emphasizes the need for specimen papers, which enable students to be familiar with the appearance and structure of the ex amination papers. Adequate security measures were always in place before and af ter examinations were written. Administration and conduct of exami nations were seen as procedural and smooth, and examinations were written in conducive environments with close invigilation and monitoring to guard against any form of cheating. As observed by Regional Directors, all those quality control activities are facilitated by decentralization of operations which has

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been adopted by the Zimbabwe Open Uni versity. The study found that nationally centralized marking was regard ed as a very effec tive quality assurance and control measure through coordination and standardization of marking guides as well as supervision and moderation of marked scripts by team lead ers. Centralised mark ing is also supported by CU UK (2000) who points out that mark ing is done by course tutors centrally under the supervision of a marking coordinator. Centralized marking is viewed as important as it offers an oppor tunity for all markers to attend and partici pate in the coordina tion exercise where a sample of scripts is considered and mark ing standards are set. The marking scheme is also discussed and modified as necessary. In the Zimbabwe Open University, markers are drawn from both the re gional and the national centers. Findings indicated that marking of examina tions was done at ap propriate venues by tutors selected nation-

ally. Moderation by external assessors was also viewed as another critical quality assurance and control measure which ZOU should consider to do systematically for all programmes. Regional Directors recommend ed the involvement of external assessors in examinations regularly Iro all programmes as vital for ensuring and promoting quality. The CU UK (2000) goes further to say external assessment ensures maintenance of appro priate academic stan dards through scruti nizing coursework and examination scripts. Staff development Staff development through regular re gional and national workshops and semi nars was viewed by both staff and students as a critical strategy for quality assurance and control. However, tutor respondents felt that these workshops and seminars were not adequate. Free man, (1994) in Lusunzi (1998) points out that tutors need current information related to programme adminis tration, learner charac teristics and progress, tutor competence and feedback from stu

performance dents’ provided by supervi sors at workplaces. Orientation workshops for new tutors and stu dents were regarded as appropriate since these were held be fore launching new programmes to expose them to university, fac ulty, departmental and programme expecta tions. The practice is supported by CU UK (2000) who point out that although new staff may have wide expe rience and expertise in teaching and adult learning, they still re quire orientation to be able to appreciate open learning. Regional Di rectors indicated that the university makes available funds for such workshops for all regions. Regional staff meetings held at least twice a month and de partmental regional meetings at the start and end of the semes ter were also viewed as a useful quality assur ance and control tool. The Regional Direc tors also pointed out that strategic planning is crucial before the launch of a programme to ensure smooth and effective delivery of op erations when the pro gramme is eventually launched.
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Tutor and Regional Director respondents indicated that staff de velopment was also ef fected through univer sity-sponsored contact and observation visits to other universities locally, in the region and at times interna tionally. Participation in academic conferences, meetings and work shops within and out side Zimbabwe spon sored by the university were regarded as vital for quality assurance. It also emerged that the university was en couraging and spon soring staff to improve themselves academi cally and profession ally through postgradu ate programmes which it sponsored for most cases. This is sup ported by the CU UK (2000) who indicated that they encouraged tutors to attend cours es, conferences and seminars hosted by other institutions. The study also noted that members of staff within ZOU could register for university courses free of charge. Student tutor evaluation The study found out that student tutor eval uations were done reg ularly both at regional and national levels
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and this was seen as a very effective quality assurance and control measure. The exercise was seen as vital for enabling tutors to get to know their strengths and weaknesses there by facilitating reflec tion, introspection and remediation. It was felt that such evaluation is conducive to effective learning and tutoring and encourages tutors to come prepared for tutorials. Both tutors and students were involved in course evaluation as well to en able them to articulate their concerns. Fox, (2001) points out that evaluation needs to be built into the everyday structure in distance education thinking and planning of curricu lum development and teaching approaches. Fox goes on to say: If we are reflective in our work, then evaluation will be an integral part of our programme because it enables us to become more focused and informed practitioners. (P4) Evaluation instru ments were seen as very comprehensive, detailed and objective to facilitate expression

of staff and student’s honest opinions. A further observation by Fox (2001) is that evaluation instruments should be designed in such a manner that they provide diagnostic feedback useful for im proving teaching and measuring teaching ef fectiveness. Staff also indicated that the performance ap praisal exercise con ducted on full time staff quarterly and monthly progress reports sub mitted to the national centre were also criti cal tools for effective quality assurance and control. The practice of performance appraisal is also supported by CU UK (2000) who con sider it to be an integral part of career develop ment as it involves re views of performance against set outcomes for the previous year and setting out objec tives for the coming year. The appraiser and appraisee together identify training needs to determine the most appropriate means of development at the workplace or through formal training. Resources Respondents viewed the university as hav ing made great strides

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in securing bigger and better regional of fice accommodation in most of the ten re gional centers to facili tate the smooth flow of operations. Delivering education to students off the central campus needs infrastructure that is supportive of the teaching and learning environment. UNESCO (1990) confirms that many distance-teach ing institutions con sider a comprehensive system of decentraliza tion of operations as a vital component of the delivery of services. Appointment of fulltime staff in regions was regarded as criti cal for effective and efficient programme management and co ordination of part-time staff. This is supported by CU UK (2000) who emphasise that the quality of teaching is dependent upon effec tive functioning through management and co ordination of a range of tasks. Libraries at the regional centers, were criticized of thin stocks, but were considered as having recent and relevant texts. Respondents felt that the establishment of resource centres in the ZOU regional dis

tricts was a welcome development although these needed to be ad equately equipped with necessary resources especially books. With reference to CU UK Kirk (1979) observed district centres as vital for establishing a focus and presence of the university in rural and isolated communities thereby providing a lo cal contact for enrolled students. Although the model of Open and Distance Learn ing followed by ZOU is adopted from Open University UK, it may not be easy to match the standards in terms of human and material resources as Zimba bwe is still a develop ing country. The team approach to materials production was viewed as excel lent for the production of quality modules and other learning materi als. Both student and tutor respondents viewed ZOU modules as of good quality and most of them were in place before the launch of new programmes. Team members bring with them knowledge and expertise gained from being involved in teaching on the ground. The outstand ing quality of course

materials is achieved through contributions of all team members (CU UK 2000). Throughout development and pro duction, the team mon itors, discusses and revises draft course material subjecting it to collective criticism and development.
Weaknesses

Respondents noted that ZOU was grow ing at a fast pace. Re spondents cited limited resources as a seri ous weakness which presented a big mis match with the size of the enrolment. Lack of computer facilities for students, and a limited number of this resource for staff emerged as a major weakness. Delays in the process ing and releasing of ex amination results and an inadequate commu nication system were regarded as other ma jor weaknesses. Re gional Directors also pointed out that servic es are over-stretched, with officers in place overworked and this tended to compromise quality. Strategic plan ning and procurement of resources are criti cal to quality achieve ment of objectives. When major changes are put in place and
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resources reduced, established quality as surance processes can appear to be at risk, or improvements may be achieved at a slower pace than staff and students would prefer (CU UK 2000). Communication be tween central and re gional centers with tu tors and students was viewed as unsatisfacto ry yet it is a high priority to ensure that the most current information is passed on. Dhanara jan (1997) emphasizes the need for increased and flexible access to information to enable isolated learners usu ally preoccupied with other demands of living to obtain information on both academic and administrative matters. Dhanarajan goes on to point out that good quality practice rec ognizes the need for students to be well in formed about courses available to them. Conclusions The objective of the study was to determine strategies employed by ZOU to assure and control quality. It was evident that the Zimba bwe Open University has put in place mea sures to assure and control quality in its
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service delivery. Major findings were that in tutoring, highly quali fied, experienced and committed personnel were appointed and tutorials were of a high standard. Assignments were regarded as de manding and adequate in number and marking was thoroughly and professionally done. Item writing for exami nations was viewed as of good quality. Mark ing of examinations was centralized to fa cilitate moderation and external assessment. Regional workshops, seminars and meetings were seen as crucial for preparing and updating staff on efficient ser vice delivery. Howev er, most respondents felt that these were not sufficient. Evaluation of tutors by students through comprehen sive instruments was cited as an effective way of enhancing per formance. Material resources especially computers and were viewed as inadequate and not matching the rate at which the uni versity is growing. Lack of effective, adequate and timeous commu nication with both stu dents and staff was also highlighted as a weakness that needed attention.

Recommendations Basing on the findings and conclusions from this study, it is recom mended that: More manpower should be recruited in the examination section at both re gional and national levels for speedy processing and publishing of ex amination results. • More full-time staff should be recruited at regional level to enhance efficient and effective ser vice delivery. • More funds should be made available to the Zimbabwe Open University to enable this new institution to in crease its limited resources. • The establishment of district centers in all the ten regions of the Zimbabwe Open University should be expe dited. These will need to be ad equately equipped with appropriate resources. • An appropriate and effective com munication system needs to be put in place to enhance accessibility of information by stu dents from national

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and regional centers timeously. • More workshops should be mounted for both part-

time and full time academic staff at national, regional, faculty and depart mental levels in

order to promote and ensure quality at all levels.

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References Ambedkar, B. R. (1992) in Satyana rayana and Sesharat nam, C. (1992) Student Assignments for Sub mission in Distance Education. Kaakatiya Journal of Education. 1 (2): 33-45 Danarajan, G. (1977) Globalisation, Com petitiveness and Open and Distance Educa tion: Reflections on Quality Assurance. Paper presented at the Asian Association of Open Universities, 1 l Annual Conference on Quality Assurance in Open and Distance Learning in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Doherty, G. D. (1994) Developing Quality Systems in Education. London: Routledge. Fox, R. (2001) Evalu ating at a Distance: Making a Difference in Distance Education. Perth: Curtin University. Freeman, R. (1994) Quality Assurance in Secondary Education. Quality Assurance in Education 2 (1): 21-25.

Kirk, L. (1979) in UNESCO (1990) What is a Study Centre? The Range of Possible Functions. Handbook on The Organisation and Management of Distance Education Study Centres. Bang kok: UNESCO. Lusunzi, I. S. (1998) The Tutor and Quality Assurance in Distance Education. Paper presented at the Cer tificate in Adult Educa tion Tutors’ Workshop held at the Oasis Mo tel in Gaborone Nixon, J. (1995) Pre edy, M, Glatter, R. and Levacic’ (1997) Edu cational Management Strategy, Quality and Resources. Burking ham: Open University Press. Open University UK (2000) Quality and Standards in the Open University. London: Open University Press. Preedy, M., Glatter, R. and Levacic’ (1997) Educational Manage ment Strategy, Quality and Resources. Burk ingham: Open Univer sity Press.

Reid, C. N. and Rob ertshaw, M. (1991) In Lusunzi, I. 5. (1998) The Tutor and Quality Assurance in Distance Education. Paper presented at the Cer tificate in Adult Educa tion Tutors’ Workshop held at the Oasis Mo tel in Gaborone. Stoner, J. A. F., Free man, R. E. and Gilbert (Jr) D. A. (2003) Man agement. New Dehli: Prentice Hall. UNESCO, (1990) What is a Study Cen tre” The Range of Possible Functions in Handbook on The Organisation and Management of Dis tance Education Study Centres. Bangkok: UNESCO, 1990, pp. 7-20, 30. ZOU (2000-2003) Zimbabwe Open Uni versity Strategic Plan (2000-2003) Harare: ZOU.

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TEACHING MANAGEMENT AND ACCOUNTING THROUGH OPEN AND DISTANCE LEARNING MATERIALS: The case of the Lesotho College of Education
Lineo Clementina Kolosoa Abstract This study was aimed at investigating the quality and readability of the Management and Ac counting modules at the Lesotho College of Education (LCE). The study explored the learners’ perspec tive on the learning materials’ quality and readability in terms of the easiness, clarity of concepts, illustrations and pictures, and the time spent studying the materials. A compre hensive sample of 150 fourth year Distance Teacher Education Pro gramme (DTEP) learn ers from the lowlands districts of Maseru and Berea were studied. The data were col lected through the use of the questionnaire and group discussions with the respondents. The findings reveal that the majority of teacherlearners found Manage ment and Accounting learning materials diffi cult and were identified as taking longer to com plete than others. The study recommends the review of the present Lesotho College of Education ing because learners learning materials and are different and differ mechanisms to allow in how they learn. For more fact-to-face and some students read counseling services to ing may not be a good be built in the learner way to learn, as differ support system. ent learners learn best with different media Introduction other than print. Media In distance learning improves the learner’s learners and instruc control of learning, dia tors are separated geo logue, independence, graphically almost all acces interactivity, the times. For this rea sibility and individu son and many others alization. Media can the process of learn be used to facilitate ing has to be medi learning in many ways: ated to facilitate effec whether for creating tive learning (Sauve, stimulus, attracting at 1994). Course media tention, guiding the tion is an alternative learning, making an media through which illustration, providing the teaching-at- a- dis feedback, and enhanc tance is presented. A ing retention and trans wide variety of media fer of learned informa can be used in learning tion (Sauve, 1994). such as print materials, Even though print re lectures, conferences, mains prime medium tutors, videos, pictures, for distance educa sound and computers tion, the course may (Bork and Gunnars be mediated through dotti, 2001). Course the radio and televi increases mediation sion broadcast, audio the amount and the and video cassettes level of interaction that are more appropri between learner and ate for the provision of learning materials, and greater interactivity in in some instances pro the teaching and learn vides more opportunity ing process (Bork and for human interaction. Gunnarsdotti, 2001). Media improves learn—

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Lesotho College of Education (LCE) intro duced a new Distance Teacher Education Programme (DTEP) in January 2002 with the aim of upgrading the qualifications of the unqualified and under qualified serving pri mary school teachers. Learning is achieved through guided selfstudy of the specially written course materi als, and supplemented by face-to-face interac tion with the tutors. In December 2002, 442 learner-teachers were studied in order to so licit baseline informa tion on the learner at titudes and opinions on the programme. The findings revealed that 16% of the learn ers found study ma terials easy, 33% of them were undecided to say whether they found materials easy or difficult, while 51 % of the learners found the learning materials quite difficult (Jones, 2003). In the same study, 48% of the learners showed that Manage ment and Accounting 1 (CMS 106) course took longest of the 13 mod ules to complete and do the assignments. This was followed by Home Economics 1
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(HEC 104) with 46%, Science (SCI 109) 43%, and Mathematics (MAT 108) 40%. The study does not capture why the learners have these feelings about the study materials. However, it appears in distance education that learners have such feelings on study ma terials if they are more challenging and more difficult to read and un derstand than others. There could be other reasons why CMS 106 seems to be more de manding than other courses, this study therefore was intended to investigate the qual ity and readability of the learning materials with special reference to Management and Accounting study mod ules at LCE. Open and distance learning materials A definition of learn ing materials for Open and Distance Learning (ODL) as merely read ing texts is increasingly becoming inaccurate. CDL materials are ma terials put together in such a way that users can learn from them satisfactorily with less help from a teacher (Rowntree, 1990). As Rowntree (1994) has pointed out, ODL ma terials are a package;

almost anything that stores information can be a part of this pack age. This package can be a single workbook, a videotape or audiotape with a study guide. It may be a computer disc or a practical kit togeth er with back-up notes. This package has an important role to play in CDL. What makes the CDL materials dif ferent and important from the resources that teachers and trainers use in ordinary class room teaching is that the package will have been designed with a specific purpose in mind they are aimed at achieving learners’ specific objectives with specific competences for distance learners (Sparkes, 1993; Rown tree, 1994).
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Melton (2002) places the effectiveness of the CDL study materials on the extend to which design strategies have been incorporated in them. To design effec tive distance learning materials, it is of para mount importance to understand how learn ing takes place and the factors that influence the learning process. According to Melton, strategies to be em ployed in the design of the study materials

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are, firstly, they should be structured in a logi cal manner. The logical framework here refers to the learners’ ability to recognise the rela tionships between con cepts and not feel too entangled in a maze of learning concepts at any point in the learn ing process. Learners should be made aware of the learning goals and when such goals should be achieved. Secondly, the ODL study materials should be designed in such a way that they make use of a multimedia approach to facilitate learning. One appro priate medium or a combination of media should be used with the intention of enabling learners to use all their senses for maximum teaching and learning. Thirdly, the study ma terial should include enough activities and projects to encourage deep rather than sur face learning in learn ers (Melton, 2002). Hol mberg (1960) in Jarvis (1995) suggests that ODL materials should be “conversational and almost two-way” with comments that invite dialogue through the medium of the learn er’s assignments and the tutors’ comments.

In support to Melton (2002), Carr et al., (2002) outline the fea tures of high quality distance education ma terials, that the subject matter must be correct, inclusive of all elements and at “the right level of academic demand.” In developing ODL ma terials more attention should be given to the pedagogical aspects of distance learning how teaching and learning takes place in distance learning.Well-designed self-instructional ma terials are developed differently in style and structure from other texts such as lecture notes and journal ar ticles in that they must clearly state aims and objectives, and include a wide range of access devices such as course guides, advance or ganizers, self-assess ment tests, clear and headings consistent and sub headings, summaries, glossaries and many other strate gies that make individ ual learning possible (Carr et al., (2002). Isman et al., (2004) on the other hand identify 12 general principles to be incorporated in the design of distance education materials as highlighted in Moore and Kearsely (1996) as; 1- good structure,
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2- clear objectives, 3small units, 4-planned participation, 5-com pleteness, 6- repeti tion, 7- synthesis, 8stimulation, 9- variety, 10- open-ended, 11feedback, and 12-con tinuous evaluation. According to Gough (1980) in Timmers (1990), the character istics of an effective education distance system should include, inter alia, the use of specialized education al techniques in devel oping learning experi ences, writing self-in materials structional and designing suitable strategies teaching that make learning ad equately available to learners. The system should produce learn ing materials published in pedagogically sound and attractive format using various appropri ate media. The orga nization must have an efficient course deliv ery system in its widest sense, including the development of an ef fective support system to meet the needs of learners at a distance pre-enrolment both post-enrolment and (Timmers, 1990). Research questions Specifically the study
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addressed the follow ing questions: • What are learn ers perceptions of the quality and readability of the Management and Accounting study materials? • How useful do the learners find words, illustrations and activities used in the study materi als to their learning of the subject? Objectives of the study The purpose of the study was to investi gate the quality and readability of the Man agement and Account ing study materials at the Lesotho College of Education. The specific objectives of the study were as follows: • To explore learner attitudes and opin ions on the learn ing materials qual ity and readability in terms of easi ness of interaction, helpfulness of in formation, practical activities and gen eral presentation of information. • To examine the na ture of the subject, especially the ac counting part of the reading materials, in relation to the
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theories and prac tices in distance learning. • To recommend possible interven tion mechanisms that could be built in the design of the Management and Accounting learning materials to improve on the learners ability to study the materi als. Research methodology Research design In this study both quan titative and qualitative methods were used. Quantitative research approach was em ployed to test data ac curately in order to get results that assisted to explain and predict the quality and readability of Management and Accounting study ma terials, whereas quali tative research method helped in producing insightful knowledge on how the Manage ment and Accounting study materials can be improved for effective learning. Population and sample The population of the study was 1742 DTEP teacher-learners at

the Lesotho College of Education. The sample consisted of all the 150 fourth year DTEP learners in the Low lands region of Maseru. This region is made of two districts of Maseru and Berea, which con sist of six clusters. The sample was distributed in these clusters as fol lows: Maseru Central (29 learners or 20%), Morija and Mantsebo (28 learners or 19%), St Michaels and Ra mabanta (26 learners or 17%), Semonkong (20 learners or 13%), Teyateyaneng and Sefikeng (27 learners or 18%) and Bela-bela and Mapoteng (20 learners or 13%). Even though Maseru and Berea are termed low land districts, the sites of Mapoteng, Sefikeng and Ramabanta lie in the foothills region while Semonkong is a highland site. A survey approach was employed for this study and compre hensive sampling was viewed as appropri ate in the selection of the sample. All the 4th year teacher- learners of the Maseru region (150) were engaged in the study. The re spondents seemed to be knowledgeable and informative in

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terms of experience, background and geo graphic location to give a broader view of the problem investigated. The sampling method benefited the research in that the sample was manageable and yet diverse enough that there was variation in the data collected a recommended by Mc Millan and Schumach er (2001). Data collection instruments Multimethod strategies were used to collect data in this study. Dif ferent data collection techniques were used in this study to allow the researcher to compare different sources, situ ations and methods to see whether the same pattern keeps on re curring (McMillan and Schumacher, 2001). Out of the 150 subjects studied 110 filled the questionnaire. A selfadministered ques tionnaire was used to enlist information from learners. The question naire consisted of 20 items. A questionnaire was chosen for this study because it is the quickest and relatively economical means of collecting factual infor mation by asking the same questions to all

subjects. The question naire was also used to obtain information that could not be easily ob served such as when opinions, beliefs and perceptions are desired and to enlist data from informants that could not be interviewed personally because of distance or time con straints (Charles, 1995, Remenyi et at., 1995). The questionnaire was field tested using LCE staff and twenty year 2 and 3 DTEP learners from Morija and Mant sebo cluster to ensure its validity and reliabil ity. The responses on the field test assisted the researcher to clarify the questions, and re fine the final question nai re. Group discussions Group discussions were conducted in all the six clusters. Group discussions were used in this study as an al ternative to in-depth interviews that could not be practical for the researcher to engage in. The researcher became the facilitator of discussions, rather than interviewer (Tice hurst and Veal, 2000). Module readability In order to measure the module readabil

ity, Gunning Fog Index and Complexity Quo tient were conducted on four Management and Accounting study Rowntree materials. (1990 and 1994) de scribe fog index and complexity quotient as measures that judge the “fogginess” or “the readability of a piece of writing”. The readabil ity tests usually predict how difficult the learn ers are likely to find the study material (Hodg son, 1993). For the material to be readable its fog index should not exceed 12, while com plexity quotient should not exceed 3. Para graphs were selected at random from mod ules 1,2,3 and 4 and Gunning Fog index was calculated. Com plexity Quotient was calculated from Mod ule 1, unit 10 page 162; Module 2, unit 9 page 140; Module 3, unit 10 page 157 and Module 4 unit 10 page 134. Data analysis In analyzing data in this research study, refer ence was made to the objectives of the study and research ques tions. Data collected through the calcula tions of Gunning Fog Index and Complexity Quotient on the Man agement and Account103

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ing modules 1 to 4 were analyzed mathemati cally through the use of one-way chi-square (X2) to test the overall readability. While qual itative data from group discussions were di vided into themes. The frequencies of each theme found were tab ulated, quantified and expressed into per centages.

Findings
The study revealed that the majority of DTEP learners were married (74%), females (76%), aged between 26 and

45 years (91%) and had one or two children (54%). Most of them did not have any teaching qualification before they joined DTEP but were teaching with Cam bridge Overseas Cer tificate (COSC) (75%). They were employed on permanent contracts (72%) with the teach ing experience rang ing from 4 to 10 years (70%). They lived at least 10 km away from the study centres. They studied at home (75%) and needed more than 2 hours of study per week (91%). It took

them 1 to 5 hours of travel to work per week (72%). Learners were asked to indicate the modules that took them lon gest to complete and answer assignments. The top five modules that took students longest to study and complete assignments were Management and Accounting (63%), So cial and Development Studies (54%), Mathe matics (46%), Science (30%) and Education (25%) respectively.

Table 1: Learners’ views of the management and accounting study materials Views Frequencies (n=11O) Percentage

Modules Easy Difficult Difficult words used in modules Concepts presented poorly Concepts presented clearly Illustrations and pictures useful Illustrations and pictures not useful
Assignments

44 66 81 8 102 98 12

40 60 74 10 90 89 11

Clear and simple Complicated and not clear Words used to describe assignments simple Time spent studying
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34 76 29

41 69 26

DEASA-SADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

Views

Frequencies (n=11O)

Percentage

Less time is taken to study the material Much time is taken to study the material

11 99

10 90

Table 1 above shows that learners found the Management and Accounting course materials (modules) difficult (60%) even though most learners felt that concepts were presented clearly (90%). The majority of the learners found assignments complicated and not clear (69%). They also felt that the words used to describe activities in the modules were difficult (74%). Learners found pictures and illustrations used in the study materials useful in understanding the materials (89%). Even though they found concepts clearly presented in the modules (90%), it took many of them more time to read the materials and do activities (90%). Table 2: Views of learners on how the ability to learn from the management and
accounting modules should be improved Themes Simplify modules and indicate glossary No. 37 % 34

More examples Hire and train more qualified subject tutors
More time for revision / workshops /tutorials / practical activities Supplement modules with radio! audio taped lessons Distribute modules and assignments on time

27 33
68 22 25

25 30
62 20 23

Table 2 shows the views of the learners on how the modules could be im proved. In order to improve on their ability to study the modules, most learn ers felt that they needed more time for revision, workshops and practical activities (62%), while others wanted modules simplified (34%) and more qualified and trained tutors hired (30%).
Table 3: Gunning Fog Index calculated on management and accounting study materials Materials Fog Index observed 25.20 20.60 Index expected 12 12 (0

E)

(0

2 E)

(0

2 E)

E

CMS 106 CMS 208

13.20 8.60

174.24 73.96

14.52 6.16
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DEASA-SADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

CMS 308 CMS 408

12.12 12.32

12

Chi squareX 2
1’ > U.Ub,

J

L0.32

[

0.12

0.01 0.10

0.08 0.01 20.77

aT

=

,

UrIU( ai x= IbiD

Table 4: Complexity quotient calculated on management and accounting study materials Materials CMS 106 CMS 208 CMS 308 CMS 408 Chi square
P >0.05, df
= =

Quotient Observed 4.8 7 6.17 12.32

Quotient Expected 3 3 3 3

(0

E)

(0

2 E)

(Q.EIT E 1.08 5.33 3.35 28.96 38.71

1.8 4 3.17 9.32

3.24 16 10.05 86.86

2 X
2, Critical X 2
=

7.815

Tables 3 and 4 show calculations of oneway chi-square (X ) 2 goodness-of-fit test on the Gunning Fog index scores and the Complexity Quotient scores respectively as calculated on study materials. The X ob 2 served is 20.77 for Fog index scores and 2 X observed is 38.71 for complexity quotient scores. Since both X 2
observed exceeds

concluded that the ma terials took longest for the learners to study and respond to the as signments because the writers used complicat ed and long words. Findings from group discussions According to the learn ers who participated in the discussion groups, they spent more time than is usual reading the Management and Accounting study ma terials in order to be able to do their assign ments. They felt this was because the study materials were not very clear and some times posttest activi ties were not relevant to the assignments

2 X critical (7.815) for both measures, the scores show the con fidence level of 95% and strongly support the opinions of the re spondents interviews that Management and Accounting study ma terials were difficult. It could therefore be
106

asked. Some learn ers believed that some subject tutors did not seem to know enough subject matter to as sist in answering the assignments. The fol lowing were the views of the learners on how the Management and Accounting modules could be improved: Modules should be distributed dur ing the on campus session and to everybody at the same time. No sites should be given preferential treatment on the timing and distribu tion of modules. Modules were dif ficult and should be simplified.

DEASA-SADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

• Audiotapes, radio programmes or videotapes should supplement mod ules so that learn ers could listen to them at own times to clarify what the tutors taught. • Modules should be checked before distribution to cor rect grammar and spelling, check missing pages, uni formity of ink and font on the printing. • Moderation of tutor-marked as signments was important since there was a lack of uniformity from different sites and tutors. Uniformity in the marking of as signments could be maintained if there were similar mark ing guides for dif ferent sites. Tutors should discuss the assignments and marking guides together to ensure common under standing before grading. Discussion As indicated earlier, the main purpose of this study was to inves tigate the quality and the readability of the Management and Ac counting study materi

als at the Lesotho Col lege of Education. The study revealed that 74% of the learners were married females with the responsibility of at least two children. Before enrolling on the programme, 75% of the learners had no teach ing qualification other than Cambridge Over seas School Certificate (COSC). Due to lack of infrastructural resourc es, learners travelled at least 10km from home to schools which were used as study centres henceu few (25%) used them while many (75%) preferred to study at home. The majority of them (91 %) studied for less than 2 hours per week. According to the study, 60% of the learners found CMS study ma terials difficult and as signments complicated and not clear (90%). Ninety per cent of the learners took more time to study the mate rials and do the assign ments. After 4 years in the programme, learn ers still ranked CMS modules, as the mate rials that took longest to study (Jones, 2003). The readability tests calculated on the ma terials confirmed that the materials were diffi cult with long and corn-

plicated words. On all pages of the modules studied, Fog Index ob served is higher than the expected index of 12, while the Complex ity quotient observed is higher than the ex pected quotient of 3. The overall chi-square (X2) observed 20.77 and 38.71 respectively (cf. Table 3 and 4). It could be concluded therefore that learners found learning materi als difficult as a result they were unable to recognize the relation ship between concepts and practice and as such their learning objectives were not achieved. In order to meet the quality crite ria of ODL materials, they should incorpo rate multimedia ap proach, as suggested by the 20% of the re spondents (cf. Table 2). Respondents insist that Management and Accounting modules should be simplified and glossary should be included. Inferred in the findings of this study were the critical features that are brought about by the nature of the subject and the principles that determine the teach ing and learning of ac counting. According to Wild (2000) in learning
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accounting one studies a lot of principles, con cepts, procedures and analysis. Wild explains accounting as a practi cal subject that requires many illustrations and examples to clarify complex concepts. Bisschoft et al. (1992) perceive accounting as a “systematic sub ject, subject to strict discipline.” Research indicates that students learn accounting better when they are actively involved in the learning through concentrated drill and practice; the learning of the subject is stimulated when a learner is provided with a variety of ma terials, media and in structional techniques. Because accounting is a procedural subject, learning is facilitated through modeling and verbalization of the procedures followed by immediate provision of feedback (Bisschoff et al., 1992). Due to the nature of the subject, Bisschoff et al., (1992) recom mend teaching meth ods that provide more exemplification and practice to stimulate interest and initiative. They recommend such teaching methods as a combination of demon stration and explana
108

tion demonstration to illustrate procedures and systems, while facts and concepts can be taught through expository methods such as explanation. Demonstration com bined with explanation allow learners to see application of correct procedures and hear the information needed to guide their study and application. They discourage teach ing methods such as textbook and lecture methods as they do not cater for learners’ individual differences and do not engage learners actively in their learning. The im plication here is that DCL materials should be prepared bearing in mind these learning principles. They must accommodate the fea tures of step-by-step demonstration method to avoid giving learn ers the knowledge that is often disconnected from the features that make it understand able and meaningful. If study materials are the collection of les sons, fl planning for a lesson the facilita tor should always ask the question, for what learning objectives and for which learners and under what learning conditions should any
-

method be employed or which combination of instructional tech niques. In agreement with Bisschoff et al., (1992) and Melton (2002) the respondents (cf.Table 2) recommended that more examples should be included in the mod ules, more revision les sons, workshops and tutorials were needed to provide them with enough practice to enhance learning. They felt that modules should be supplement ed with radio and or audio taped lessons, which implied that there should be a con nection between the figures in the modules in terms of what they see and explanations of the concepts to allow real life application and understandability. In support Melton (2002) believes that for DCL study materials to pro vide effective learning, they must be designed in such a way that they make use of a multi media approach. The step-by-step demon stration of what actu ally takes place could be provided by the in clusion of the glossary that 34% of the learn ers believe could make the Management and Accounting modules

DEASA-SADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

easier. Table 1 supports the importance of illustrations and pictures in the learning of the subject as 89% of the learners found illustrations and pictures useful in their learning, Recommendations Taking into considerations the findings of the study, it is recommended that LCE: Engages in con tinuous review of the learning materials so that their quality and readability can be assured and to make them easier to

study. Specifically simplify materials by the inclusion of glossary, more examples and illustrations. Incorporate quality control measures during the production of self-instructional materials. The particular advantage of self-instructional materials is that they enable learners to choose their own time and place of study. Integrate other learning technologies such as video cassettes, audio-

cassette tapes and radio programmes to provide demon strations and illus trations to supplement practically oriented Management and Accounting study materials. Built in more learner support mecha nisms that provide more face-to-face and counseling services, more time for tutorials and revision ses sions. Increase on the capacity of the part-time subject tutors.

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109

References

Bisschoff, T. C. (1994). Teaching Commercial Subjects. Johannesburg: Oiko spaisago Publishers Bork, A. and Gunnars dotti, S. (eds). (2001). Tutorial Distance Learning: Rebuilding Our Educational Sys tem. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publisher Carr, R., Fung, Y. and Chan, S. K. (2002). Distance Education for Teacher Educa tion: Hong Kong Ex perience. Journal of In-service Education, 28(1) Charles, C. M. (1995). Introduction to Educa tional Research. (2nd Edn.). Toronto: Longman Publishers Hodgson, B. (1993). Key terms and issues in Open and Distance Learning. London: Bid dies Ltd. Isman, A. Altinay, Z. and Altinay, F. (2004). Roles of the Students and Teachers in Dis tance Education. Turk ish Online Journal of Distance Education. 5(4) Jarvis, P. (1995). Adult & Continuinq
110

Education: Theory and Practice. (2nd Edn). London and New York: Routledge. Jones, R. V. (2003). Distance Teacher Education Proqramme: Baseline Study. Mas eru: Lesotho College of Education. McMillan, J. H. and Schumacher, S. (2001). Research in Education: A Concep tual Introduction. (5th Edn.). USA: Longman Inc. Melton, R. F. (2002). Planning and Develop ing Open and Distance Learning: A Quality Assurance Approach. London & New York: Routledge/Falmer Remenyi, D., Wil liams, B., Money, A. and Swartz, E. (1998). Doing a Research in Business and Man agement: An Introduc tion to Process and Method. London: Sage Publications Rowntree, D. (1990). Teaching Through Self-Instruction: How to Develop Open Learning Materials. London: Kogan Page Rowntree, D. (1994). Preparing Materials for Open, Distance and

Flexible Learning: An Action Guide to Teach ers and Trainers. Lon don: Kogan Page Ltd Sauve, L. Media and Distance Education: Course Description. In Harry, K., Keegan, D. and John, M. (eds). (1994). Distance Edu cation: New Perspec tive. London: Routledge Sparkes, J. J. Match ing Teaching Methods to Educational Aims in Distance Education. In Keegan, D. (Ed.). (1993). Theoretical Principles of Distance Education. London: Routledge Ticehurst, G.W. and Veal, A.J. (2000). Business Research Methods: A Manage rial Approach. Austra lia: Pearson Education (Pty) Ltd Timmers, S. (1990). The Training Needs in the Use of Media for Distance Educa tion. Singapore: Asian Mass Communication Research and Infor mation Centre (AMIC) Wild, J. J. (2000). Financial Accounting: Information For Deci sions. USA: Irwin Mc Graw-Hill Co.

DEASA-SADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

ABOUT THE SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY Centre for Distance Education (SADC-CDE)
-

I Thutoetsile, Southern African Development Community Centre for Distance Education
-

The Southern Afri can Development Community Centre for Distance Educa tion was created by the Southern Africa Development Com munity (SADC) Minis ters for Education and the Commonwealth of Learning (CCL) in 2005 to undertake and promote training and development in Open Distance Learn ing (CDL), engage in and support systemic research activities in CDL, provide qual ity distance education and increase the provi sion of quality distance education in Southern Africa. The specific ob jectives of the Centre are to; identify and meet the education and training needs of different profes sional groups with in Southern Africa
-

• build and maintain a resource base on CDL with upto-date information regarding training materials, pro grammes, courses and related ma terials, research documents, local experts and con sultants in specific areas • develop training strategies and provide training for different target groups within min istries of education, institutions and agencies in South ern Africa • develop plans and strategies for sys temic research and disseminate the relevant informa tion and findings through journals, newsletters and other available means

• engage in and col laborate with other institutions within the region and in ternationally in staff development, train ing and systemic research activities in open and dis tance learning; • actively seek op portunities for working in CDL projects and con sultancies with a view to generating revenue for the sustainability of the Centre; • serve as a centre of expertise in CDL for Southern Africa SADC CDE has un dertaken several activi ties since its establish ment. Find below a table that summarises the activities undertak en from 2005 to date;

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111

SADC

CDE UNDERTAKEN PROJECTS (Since June 2005 to Date) TARGET GROUP
ODL institutions in SADC Member States

PROJECTS UNDERTAKEN
Situational Assessment

DATE
July—December 2005 March & May 2006

NO. of
PAX 27 institutions 8 institutions

IMPACT
The Centre is well known. Collabora tion within the coun tries and outside has improved. ODL Associations —formed e.g. Ma lawi. Consultative meeting in Zambia aimed at forming an ODL association in the country UNISA met with ISPU, a Mozambi can institution, with a view to arrange for ISPU to offer UNISA courses to Mozambicans in Portuguese.

2

Facilitation of Collaboration on Material Development (Sharing)

ISPU and UNISA

3

1 SADC

CDE Advisory Board Meeting

SADC CDE Advisory Board

December 2005

Botswana, COL, Lesotho, Zambia Swaziland, SADC Secretariat 6 out of eleven participants Continued up to the end. Botswana, CCL, Lesotho, Zambia, Swaziland, SADC Secretariat

The legitimacy of the Centre was underscored as its recognition started from the meeting

4

Policy Development On line Course

2 participants each from Lesotho, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe & 1 from Botswana

January to May 2006

An ODL Policy is being developed in Lesotho and there is a draft policy in Zambia

5

SADC CDE Advisory Board Emergency Meeting

SADC CDE Advisory Board

25 January 2006

Acceptance of the Centre as a SADC organ in March by the SADC Ministers of Higher Education

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DEASA-SADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

PROJECTS UNDERTAKEN 6 Copyright Workshop (Kampala, Uganda)

TARGET GROUP BOCODOL, NAMCOL, UNISA, OUT & DODE

DATE November 2005

NO. of PAX 4 participants (sent to Kampala)

IMPACT The four are now trainers in IP and copyright, e.g. they resourced in the Centre’s IP and Copyright workshop in Pretoria. They have also produced draft copyright poli cies in the different institutions. The Draft IP report produced, is being used by Distance Education Asso ciation of Southern Africa to inform its operations e.g. sharing of Library materials From the 2 workshops, 15 articles have been pro duced. These are being reviewed and about ten will be published in a journal. The Centre is now a coordinating body for the open school ing consortium As a result of the 2 workshops The Cen tre has been identi fied as the training arm of DEASA

7

Copyright Workshop in Pretoria, RSA (UNISA)

All member states except Angola & DRC (Language)

27 February to 3 March 2006

16 (Only Malawi, Mauritius & Swaziland failed)

8

Research and Publication Capacity Building Workshop #1 in Lusaka, Zambia Hosting Open Schooling Consortium Research and Publication Capacity Building Workshop #2 in Windhoek, Namibia Drafting of technical specification for the Fi nance in CDL course

Materials developers, learner support personnel, management and finance officials

15 19 May 2006

22 from; Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe 21

9

All member states —institutions with open schooling Materials Developers, Learner support personnel, management and finance officials

4—5 July 2006

10

September 2006

20 from; Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Zambia,

11

n/a

October 2006

n/a

n/a

DEASA-SADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

113

PROJECTS UNDERTAKEN
12 Invitation for bids to design and develop the Finance in ODL course Formation of critical partnerships registration of AA2KAT a pan African organisation aimed at pro moting open source and relaxed copy right laws that will enable the growth of the public domain

TARGET GROUP
All DEASA member institutions

DATE
December
30th 2006

NO. of
PAX 12 ODL institu tions n/a

IMPACT

13

Library personnel, ODL practitioners, researchers, lawyers, governments, publishers

January 2007

n/a

SADC-CDE is hosting and coordinating the business of AA2KAT

14

First Interim Board Meeting

Interim Board of Trustees

1 March 2007

10

Some draft project proposals have been drawn, e.g. a conference is cur rently being planned for October 2007 by AA2KAT and SARUA Strategic decisions have been taken that will further advance the impact of SADC CDE SADC CDE servic ing SADC Secre tariat professional ODL needs
— —

15

3 SADC-CDE Advisory Board Meeting

DEASA, Lesotho. Swaziland, Botswana, UNESCO, Zambia, SADC Secretariat, COL, and SADC-CDE SADC Secretariat and member states

9 March 2007

10

16

Drafting of an MoO with SADC Secretariat

June 2007

SADC CDE Board members, SADC —CDE Seniors officials, SADC Senior Officials, SADC Education Ministers
— -

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DEASA-SADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

PROJECTS UNDERTAKEN 17 Supporting in country Zambia Initiative Consultative workshop on the revival or formation of the Zambia National ODL Association
-

TARGET GROUP All stakeholders in ODL; Universities, colleges of education, elecommunications Authority, Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Education

DATE 2-3 April 2007

NO. of PAJ( 30

IMPACT Inter institu tional collaboration started. working towards a wider national consultative workshop where a national ODL association will be formed and its first committee elected Participants acquired materials development skills which they are using to develop quality learning materials which will in turn help learners to study and pass their examination in greater numbers. This has the potential to decrease drop out rates and increase through put rates of ODL institutions. Lesotho is on course towards the development of a policy framework that will guide ODL practice in the country to improve access to quality education which will improve the liveli hoods of many who would otherwise be left out of the educa tion system

18

Conducting ODL materials development workshop for Malawi

DOMASI, Malawi College of Distance Education, Mzuzu university and Mmistry of Education

18—22 June 2007

19

Conducting an ODL Policy Development workshop

Ministry of Education, Lesotho Distance Teaching Centre, National University of Lesotho and Institute for Extra Mural Studies

25—30 June 2007

DEASA-SADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

115

PROJECTS UNDERTAKEN 20 SADC ODE secured 40 Masters degrees scholarships tenable at Indira Ghandi Open Univer sity (IGNOU) for capacity building in SADC ODL institutions

TARGET GROUP Malawi 0DL institution(s), Zambian ODL institution(s), Lesotho ODL institution and BOCODOL in Botswana

DATE The courses commence in January 2008

NO. ot PAX 40 people

IMPACT The impact will be measured after the beneficiaries complete the programme.

21

Joint development and submission of funding proposals for the Open Schooling Consortium with Mindset Livelihoods

The Government of Finland, Hewlett Foundation, Ford Foundation, Canadian Interna tional Development Agency (CIDA), UBS Optimus Foundation, Aga Khan Foundation, Open Society Initia tive for Southern Africa (OSISA), W.K. Kellogg Foun dation, Gary Player Foundation, US Africa Development Fund, Bill and Me lida Gates Founda tion, South African Development Fund, The shuttleworth Foundation

From 2006 2007

n/a
-

No impact yet as no project has been undertaken to date.

SADC CDE in collaboration with DEASA is working on developing some criteria that would be used to define best practice in various aspects of ODL in the context of Southern Africa. Such criteria would be circulated widely in SADC ODL institutions with a view to improve the quality of ODL provision in SADC member states.

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DEASA$ADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning
-

NOTES TO CONTRIBUTORS

The DEASA-SADC CDE International Journal of Distance Education is an annual refereed journal of DEASA mem ber institutions. It main ly publishes articles on distance education and also accepts papers in other related areas as well as book reviews. Manuscripts will be seen anonymously by two referees. Manuscript submission Manuscripts should be submitted in elec tronic form in MS Word to the Editor-in-Chief (chimedza @ ecoweb. co.zw or chimedza@ zou.ac.zw) copied to the Director SADC CDE (tthuthoetsile@ bocodol. ac.bw). Where this is not possible contribu tors can send three cop ies of their hard copy manuscripts by courier mail to Professor Rob ert Chimedza, Zimba bwe Open University, 1h 7 Floor Stanley House, Jason Moyo Avenue, P.O. Box MP 1119, Harare, Zimbabwe.

Format: Manuscripts should ide ally be between 3000 and 7000 words includ ing the list of references. The first page should contain the title and the details of the author/s thus name, affiliation, address, e-mail, phone number and fax num ber. The second page is the abstract page. It should have the title of the manuscript at the top followed by an abstract of between 100 and 200 words maximum. This is a sum mary of the manuscript and should cover the objectives, main points, methodology, findings and conclusions as ap propriate to the paper. The third page, which is the first page of the man uscript, should have the title at the top follow by the abstract and then the main contents of the paper. The title should be in bold and the man uscript should be typed in Times New Roman in size 12 font and all pages should be num bered. Details about the author/s should not ap pear on this page.

References: The journal makes use of the American Psy chology Association (APA) Manual writing th style 5 Edition or as updated. Proofs: Authors shall normally receive edited proofs before publication to confirm and approve the final version of their manuscript with editori al input. However, this step may be omitted in case of delays in the processes. Copyright: It is a condition of pub lication in this journal that authors vest copy right in the Distance Education Association of Southern Africa and the Southern Africa Centre for Distance Education. However authors are free to use their material else where after the publi cation without seeking permission from the journal provided they acknowledge the copy right holder as the first publisher.
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DEASA-SADC CDE International Journal of Open and Distance Learning

CONTRIBUTORS

Auxilia Badza is a Senior Lecturer and Chairperson in the Department of Special Education at the Zim babwe Open Univer sity. David Chakuchichi is Senior Lecturer, Direc tor and Assistant to the Pro Vice Chancellor Academic at the Zim babwe Open Trudie Frindt is Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of Continuing Education at the University of Na mibia. Louise Mostert is a Lecturer at the Univer sity of Namibia Godson Gatsha is the Regional Manager of the Kang Region of the Botswana College

of Open and Distance Learning Regina Kegopotswe Masalela is an instruc tional designer and Programmes Coordi nator in the Department of Distance Education Center for Continuing Education at the Uni versity of Botswana. She coordinates the design, development and evaluation of dis tance learning pro grams in Education
-

Open Learning. Grace T. Mukeredzi is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Educa tion and Regional Pro gramme Coordinator of Education in Masvingo Region of the Zimba bwe Open University Tsitsi G. Ndamba is Lecturer at Great Zim babwe University Lineo Kolosoa is Lec turer of Management and Accounting in the Distance Teacher Education Programme at Lesotho College of Education. Thulaganyo Thutoet sue is Director of the Southern Africa De velopment Community Centre for Distance Education

Ndaba J. Ncube is Se nior Lecturer and Re gional Director of the Bulawayo Region of the Zimbabwe Open University Stanslaus Modesto Tichapondwa is Head of Department, School of Business Studies, Botswana College of

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