Addressing Identified Challenges Through Online Distance Learning (ODL) and Technology Enhanced Learning (TEH)

How can online distance learning (ODL) and technology enhanced learning help to alleviate some of the challenges you have identified? (Please refer to the thread ‘The discussion thus far - summary of week one’). Please remember to retain a focus on employability.

You might find the case studies in part two of this publication4b (pages 59-169) useful to further stimulate your thinking.)

Please note that identified challenges such as those to do with time management, infrastructure and resourcing requirements will be picked up in weeks three and four - they have not been forgotten :slight_smile:

Regarding financial constraints that stand on the way of many people and absence of entrepreneurial content in curriculum, ODL comes to the rescue in several ways.
First, costs of journeying to and from campus several times annually until graduation, of subsistence on campus and of buying publications and meeting other incidentals far exceed those of a computer/mobile device and Internet connection needed for ODL.
Second, course-relevant online OERs available at no other cost than that of Internet connection are more than any student can contain.
Third, Many DL providers who charge fees (especially in developed countries) are in the habit of offering registration fee waivers and further scholarships to learners who need them (without restrictions) unlike campus-based traditional institutions.
Fourth, ODL and TEL (technology-enhanced learning) tend toward independence of learners, which helps learners acquire problem-solving and other job-relevant skills, and by using technology in the process, learners also acquire technology skills that are the need of jobs of today and the future. All these increase job-readiness and employability.

A story of the online courses of University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business and their African students illustrates all these well. The institution offers to these Africans (who are at over 7,600 miles distance) courses in business strategy, design thinking, project management and growth strategies, etc. Most of the students receive scholarships to do their courses, and many of them who had completed courses have found employment and success in various fields. One started her own cosmetics company and another started a consulting business, based on design-thinking and business strategies learned. Some others have become leaders at companies around Africa. These are impressive outcomes of entrepreneurial curriculum.

Thanks for this great post Chris. In the light of what you have written It would also be useful to learn from colleagues about access to reliable internet provision - internet costs & internet stability. How is it in Nigeria Chris?

In Nigeria, so many persons rely on mobile data connectivity on phones, complemented by commercial cybercafes most of whom also run on mobile data). Over 80% of my participation in this forum is by that (the remaining is via Wi-Fi when I’m on campus). Wi-Fi isn’t common outside campuses and big hotels, and V-SAT connectivity, which powered cybercafes in the past, is being overlooked as obsolete. Though much improvement is needed in terms of stability and cost, mobile connectivity has improved so much from what it was a few years back. Competition among telcos is propelling all this. At the moment, N1000 (a thousand Naira, about three US Dollars) gets 1.5-1.8 GB of data for 30 days validity, which is 150-180 MB for a hundred Naira (29 cents). Five years ago, a hundred Naira got only 30MB. In the scramble for patronage, the telcos additionally flash bonuses, and one can get up to 2 GB for the N1000.

As one who’s often online, I can testify that so much can be done with this if you’re not downloading videos. So many Nigerians are always on social media and instant messengers. The situation is such that what I think makes people unable to take online courses or use other online resources as they ought to is bad attitude to online course specifically and to using technology in education generally, which is one result of lack of awareness of the benefits, and inadequate digital skills.

Most employers, including government ministries and agencies, discriminate against qualifications from online programs.

Just as Barry @b.d_souza said, I also like to know what the situation is in other countries. Could you please come in @oitiretset, Uditha @udithaw, @esampallyc9, Ulrick @ulrick.sutherland, Kwame @boatengk572, Neerja @neerjasood, Chinthaka @cnaleen, @lgoitsemang, Muideen @muhydeenahmed9.

I too agree organizations discriminate online and distance education mode of education. In our country in some cases especially professional and technical courses students have to go to court for justice so that their degree is considered for employment, higher education or promotion.

Thank you both for your comments and thanks to Chris for raising this important matter. So, If “most employers, including government ministries and agencies discriminate against qualifications from online programs”, then within the context of employability, what can COL (as an intergovernmental organisation of the Commonwealth) do to help change this?

  • Who needs to be involved if ODL is to be further legitimised - employers, seats of learning, NGOs, alumni etc? And what roles might these groups play?

COL has the mandate to promote the use of open learning and distance education knowledge, resources and technologies.

just to add the data costs for South Africa in comparison - Pre paid data bundles cost R29 for 100MB - R100 for 500 MB and R700 for 20GB - at R14 to the US $ you will see that the SA rates are extremely high

The discrimination is not against all programmes. Chartered Accountancy, Cost Accountancy, Company Secretaryship courses of India are taught using the print medium (for delivering instructions). Yet the pass outs are in high demand unlike the pass outs of ODL institutions of India . This could be perhaps because of well functioning study centers , robust practical component and field level experience that has rigour, and strict monitoring , and also course content, which satisfies the need of employers.

Good information, Sutapa. How do they get the print modules; is it through post office? Can we say that online programs would need study centers with face-to-face practicals and examinations in order to be approved or recognized?

Many thanks Sutapa (and Chris) for highlighting certain criteria which could lead towards the successful recognition / approval of ODL programmes. Hopefully others (like me) will add to the list below :slight_smile:

  • Well functioning study centres offering… (Sutapa, please clarify)

  • Robust (face to face) practical components which could be delivered / part delivered in the workplace

  • Field level experience

  • Relevant content which is responsive to employer needs

  • Examinable components which could for example take the form of a closed book exam, an open book exam or an end of module assessment

  • Evidence of rigour and strict monitoring

Yes. through postal service. Face to face component helps but there are chances of it not being managed well . There are instances of this component being turned into a second channel of transmitting information (the first being the printed material). I have experienced that monitoring learning whether in online or face to face and interacting with learners help.

Study centers are often staffed by those who are part time employees of the ODL institution. My experience says that instead of outsourcing the task of delivering the programme, to these centers, regular interaction, monitoring and especially maintaining a reasonable teacher- learner ratio could help. I also feel that learners’ attendance in academic activities organised at study centers should be compulsory.

Thank you very much for the clarification and additional information :slight_smile:

I have followed a ODL and in my place this course considered one of the best and tough as they properly guide and student have to involve in lot of self-studies and researches to got through those examinations. in my case i selected it as it was more challenging and gave me vast knowledge.