Week 2 Summary

Hi Everyone,

Many thanks for your contributions. Discussion was somewhat limited last week so I am hoping things will pick up from today :slight_smile: If you have any ideas, please suggest ways we can stimulate the discussion further. You are of course warmly encouraged to post your own questions related to employability as well as responding to those already posted.

The role of ODL and Technology enhanced Learning (TEL) in alleviating challenges identified in week 1.

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.

Challenges associated with recognition of ODL in India.

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.”

Reliability and accessibility of internet provision.

In Nigeria, much of the internet is accessed through mobile data – phones and cyber cafes. 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.

Much improvement is needed in terms of stability although mobile connectivity has improved so much from what it was a few years back. Cost for internet is in decline due to market forces but again there is still much room for improvement.

The rate of Unemployment

“Unemployment is a major international concern as outlined by ILO. Each country has its unique challenges. In my country, the Seychelles, unemployment is fairly low, at around 3% but youth unemployment is another matter in itself because it is currently the highest in the country which is about 14%. Many attempts are being made to address the problem such as special employment schemes for young people and the construction of a technical school to train school leavers in meaningful occupations.”

Please continue to post your comments and ideas relating to week one and week 2

Thank you, Barry.

I have also observed the discouraging level of participation. It may be pointing to a few of those usual setbacks of online learning, such as Internet challenges and lack
of learner commitment, which may be a cause of the distrust employers have for online qualifications. I’m still wondering. Is it that someone still doesn’t find time within the 168 hours in a week? or that the topics / inputs aren’t motivating enough? or that Internet connection and cost are so difficult that within a week or a fortnight, one can’t find a good connection time or sacrifice a little money for what one values?

The whole online thing is really complex, as all these questions are compelling me to question our definition of self-paced in learning. Of a truth, people have high degree of variation in their circumstances. Accommodating all these circumstances (no matter how unimaginable they are) is critical for success in getting people to start and continue learning online and make the best of it.

Often, our ‘self-paced’ has a roof over it. For instance, many of the online courses I did were tagged self-paced but each ran from a start-date to an end-date, simply meaning that the learner’s pace had to fit within that time-frame. Each week had its own topics and activities. This indirectly said that a learner who started in Week 2 had Week 1 topics and activities as ‘excess credit load’. Is that really self-paced? I don’t think so. So, I strongly think that finding out what exactly are the challenges and preferences peculiar to an individual learner (NOT assumptions or generalizations) will help a lot in matching realistic challenges with realistic solutions. How best can we make such findings?

I’m still reflecting for an idea on how to stimulate our discussions here further. Because the issue raised is also a big issue in online courses and we’re talking about ODL and employability, I chose to look at it as it concerns the wider online learning. Please forgive me for going that way.

A really insightful reflection Chris - thank you. Picking up on a few points you raise I’ve bullet pointed my thoughts below. What do others think?

If employers distrust online qualifications, then perhaps we should be looking to overcome this challenge on different levels:

a. Development of fit-for-purpose curricula where employers are consulted / involved in the process.
b. Marketing initiatives which focus on communicating:

  • the benefits of ODL (for example cost advantages, accessibility based on low tariff / no tariff entry onto programmes, opportunities to self-pace study etc)
  • the systems and processes that underpins each programme of study to ensure quality
  • the quality of teaching and teaching materials
  • the demand for commitment and rigour

With respect to increasing participation / motivation to participate I do recognise that forums tend to appeal to those who demonstrate a preference towards a read write learning style. I wonder if levels of participation would increase if there was a button where one could record their contributions and upload as video or audio? Of course if access to reliable internet is an issue for some this wouldn’t help…