The purpose of this literature review is to winnow other studies related to the topic understudy. The issues viewed in this chapter include institutional organisation of distance education and learning experiences in dual mode institutions of higher learning in the world. The review of related literature was important as it enabled the researcher to ask relevant key questions during the in-depth semi-structured interviews and scrutiny of documents and place the findings and interviewee’s responses into context.
In order to bring about teaching, learning and learning support to distance students, effectual dual mode institutions have normally organised distance education through a distinct system or unit. Simango (2016, p. 52) explains that there are two designs of dual mode institutions which are ‘centralised’ and ‘decentralised’ systems. Decentralised dual mode model is devoted to faculties and schools and generally register declined activities than a centralised system except in profit oriented or probable major revenue generation for the faculty. The centralised dual mode uses a special unit with other related units within it while a decentralised dual mode attaches distance education to existing faculties or schools. According to Simango (2016) one of the implications of decentralising distance education in individual faculties is that both distance and traditional students are expected to use same resources including instructors. Contrary to the expectation, in some cases the faculties use instructors whose experiences and qualifications do not suit some of the courses they teach. The unit which is the base of distance education acts as a source of knowledge and practice of distance education and normally includes diverse specialists in instructional material design and development and students support service. Generally, the set distinct unit is administratively responsible for the welfare of distance education at an institution.
As discussed earlier, the systems strategy advocates breaking of diverse skills and specialisation into various subsystems with different functionalities forming the distance system. Setting a special unit for distance education and its coordinative efforts brings the subsystems together for effectual teaching, learning and learning support to possibly yield positive students’ learning experiences. Moore and Kersley (2011) argue that a distance education system can among other things comprise student support, material production and distribution, finance management, human resource, policy, and the monitoring and evaluation systems. The student support system as the heart of open and distance education ensures that the needs of student are satisfied from admission to course completion. The material sub-system consists of experts that develop, design, produce and distribute programmes to affect teaching, learning and learning support. The financial management subsystem prepares a dynamic and achievable budget by estimating revenues and expenses based on the institution’s goals and control its expenditure. The human resource consists of an important asset of the institution, people who make up the work culture of the institution. It is argued that distance education staff is heterogeneous as it seeks expertise from different personnel on both part-time and full–time conditions while the policy systems draw policies for all the other systems (see Minnaar, 2013; Moore ; Kearsley, 2011). It is argued that distance education operates on predetermined decisions from the macro (national) levels which “reflect the culture and mission of the organisation, its structure, its funding, and the views and experience of its faculty” (Moore ; Kearsley, 2012, p. 11) and later influenced and determined by institutional policy.
According to Minnaar (2013) the policies align all the units, strategies and processes and guide the goals. The monitoring and evaluation sub-system is responsible for evaluation of other sub-systems and or the whole distance education system. Effectiveness of learning materials for example; can be tried out to ex-students and experts at draft and final stages for feedback and error correction. Monitoring and evaluation includes the management information system which ensures proper flow of information in all the stages and sub-systems of the institution for realistic planning and inputs-outputs flow control. The management information systems ensure proper flow of information to reduce errors and wastage of resources. It promotes controlled admission to control costs and match procurement of raw materials with the production and distribution of learning materials and the provision of student support. However, it has been noted as a big challenge for legislatures and university senates to adopt policies that can facilitate education institutions’ change espousing “from a craft approach to a systems approach” (Moore & Kearsley, 2011, p. 13). According to Moore and Kearsley (2011), the change requires that administrators redistribute the human and capital resources into the whole system and that instructors be retrained to work as specialists within a system. The argument is that, the establishment of a special system with supporting distance education systems ensures effective institutional organisation that yield effective distance education and positive learning implications. Institutional organisation of distance education involves planning and organising the course and its content with diverse specialisations and division of labour to yield mass production of instructions. Chawinga and Zozie (2016) argue that distance education offers ample chance for diverse groups of people to diversely access education while also guiding on the unique nature of distance students. This organisation permits study flexibility and affordability thus, allowing students to study while working and taking care of families and course designers taking care of students regardless of their remoteness. Course production follows course design. Most institutions involve course teams such as writers, reviewers, editors, electronic media specialists and graphic designers in course design and instructional material development. The delivery of the curriculum through open and distance education systems requires pedagogical change in the way instructions are delivered and embraced by students. This brings substantial ways of students’ approach and interactions with instructional materials and peers.
Introducing distance education in an institution means great change requiring all the concerned to participate in the transformation process. For example; Moore and Kearsley (2011) cites diverse technologies, teaching and learning approaches and heterogeneous students in ODE as a departure from the traditional mode requiring change in running and institutional organisation. In open and distance education, planning is “a process of change” (Minnaar, 2013, p. 3) requiring implementors to adapt innovative teaching approaches which are dismilar to the traditional practices. Planning comprises strategies such as formulation of a strategic plan, policies, systems and challenges while also considering the impact challenges may bring to the institution. Moore and Kearsley (2011, p. 21) argue that, in a high-quality distance education system, after deciding what is to be taught and learnt, considerable expertise and time is devoted to analysing the educational messages to determine the ideal combination of media and technologies that would best deliver that content. The growth of distance education implies a transformation in institutional culture of training institutions leading to constant recognisable rise in the quality of distance education. Quality and accountability in distance education is a requirement as the courses delivered by mediated programmes are easily accessed and open to scrutiny by the general public to which the instructions are offered.
One of the key features to the ever-changing distance education is the provision of effectual learning support to distance students. This is a critical constituent of the distance system that accelerates students’ learning and drives their success through the study journey which is not without encounters.
Conceptualising distance education and lived experiences
This section of the thesis reviews some of the most common definitions of distance education and how these differ in the way they impact on distance education enactment and students’ learning experiences.
The discussion on distance teaching, learning and training conceptualises distance education and students’ lived experiences thereby clarifying the mist amongst the concepts while also uncovering the components of distance education. Distance teaching, learning, training and learning support are all part of distance education whose aim is to bring about learning.
Distance education definitions still remain elusive. Some define distance education as separation in time and locality while others look at technology use (Modesto & Gregoriose, 2016). It is evident that distance education and technologies are inseparable because in order to reach a student at a distance locale, one must use certain media or technologies. Keegan (1980) describes distance education as learning and method of instruction characterised by separation of the instructor and learner. However, within a distance education system, information and communication are exchanged using print or electronic communications media through different approaches and models (Keegan, 1980). Conversely Moore (1983) argues that distance in education is a social and psychological phenomenon and the distance between the instructor and learner in this case is determined by the dialogue between them. According to Moore and Kersley (2011) distance education is a system of constituent processes such as teaching, learning, communication, design and management operating through teaching and learning done at a distance.
There are debates about interaction of learners with learning materials as one type of interactivity in distance education; instructor-learner, and learner-learner. The interactivity is also necessary to create the optimal conditions of learning while offering the desirable level of transactional distance between the learner and the instructor. Hence, dynamic learning systems, which provide differential responses to individual learners, offer the condition in which emergent learning behaviours can manifest themselves while accommodating predetermined learning objectives. This shows that the novice student requires a high level of structure, and as their expertise increases, they would also become more self-reliant (Saba, 2012).
Distance learning versus distance education
The terms distance learning and distance education are used interchangeably to mean student interaction at a distance locale (Moore & Kearsley, 2011).The term distance according to Moore (2013), relates not only to time and space separation between the instructor and the student, but also the level of structure and interaction amid them. In this case, distance is defined in terms of instructive and not physical separation (Moore & Kearsley, 2011). This further denotes the psychological gap experienced by the students due to their separation from the physical instructor. Increased levels of the required interaction or dialogue mean a decrease in structure and distance (Moore, 1983) which (Grooms, 2015) considers as a signal that interaction is vital in distance learning. Further, Holmberg (2003) defines the interaction in distance learning not in terms of dialogue and structure as discussed, but dialogue regarded as conversation leading to active students’ participation. However, Moore and Kearsley (2011) argues that the best construct to encompass teaching and learning processes depicting the pedagogic and or andragogic teacher-student relationship at a distance, is distance education and not distance learning. This argument implies that processes of teaching and learning if effectively wedded make up education. This definition of education implies that distance education is the teaching and learning achieved while the instructor and the students are mostly separated in time and space.
Distance education is the education which therefore delivers instructions through technologies with students’ irregular or no physical visits to the physical schools/colleges (Kentnor, 2015). The commonly employed media being pre-planned and pre-arranged instructions pre-packaged in print, radio and television broadcasts, computers, telecommunications, and video, and audio cassettes (Chawinga & Zozie, 2016; Kentnor, 2015; Chinwe, 2009) yielding industrial education. Distance education institutions employ either single medium or multiple media (multimedia) to instructional delivery. The Open University of China, the Open University of United Kingdom and the University of South Africa are good examples of multimedia institutions. The Open University of China for example; uses the radio, audio-visual materials, television, and print as instructional and student support media (Open University of China, 2012). In such developed countries, distance education institutions employ advanced electronic media for course and support delivery. In some cases students even choose the suitable media, the place of study (work place, home or campus) and time to complete their studies (pace). Some developing countries, Mexico and India inclusive, manage to use satellite television to support students even at secondary school level (Gatsha, 2010). However, to such countries and some developed countries, print remains the primary medium of instruction denoting engagement of industrial education predominantly signaled in mass production of pre-planned and pre-packaged instructional materials.
Moore and Kearsley (2011, p. 12) explains that online learning and electronic learning (e-learning) are forms of distance education in which teaching and learning banks on the internet. According to Moore and Kearsley, distributed learning takes place anywhere and anytime as done in home study and asynchronous learning done at different times through the internet as other forms of distance education. Distance education embraces synchronous and asynchronous learning with synchronous and asynchronous technologies. Synchronous technologies as media that support all the students at the same time and or place for example; synchronously, the distance students supported at the same time and space by means of workshops, seminars and tutorials in study centres. Again, the students can further be synchronously supported in their remote locale while being guided by the timetable with facilitation from direct-broadcast satellite such as the web, audio, video, conferencing and internet radio. Mutual support to students can be achieved while students are far apart in different places but connected through television, video or audio with one way or two way communication, radio, and telephone. Asynchronous technologies like print, fax and electronic mail (e-mail), recordings of direct broadcasts as done in computer conferencing are used to support students at different times and places (Kentnor, 2015). As argued, students belonging to the same class can be supported individually or as a group thus, determining the distance and openness of the distance education provision (Danaher & Umar, 2010).
The teaching human resource in a distance education institution also known as instructors, facilitate instructional materials design, production and distribution through technology for mass students involving varying expertise. It is further argued that more flexible and interactive instructions in distance learning is obtained through different forms of e-learning like interactive radio instructions, interactive audio instructions, online virtual games, webinars, and or webcasts. Internet use and its support for texts, audio and video formats expedite technological progression in distance education (see Moore & Kearsley, 2011; Danaher & Umar, 2010; Siaciwena & Lubinda, 2008). Chawinga and Zozie (2016) and Msiska (2013), reports Malawi’s reliance on print or modules asynchronous technology for secondary and primary distance teacher training with 30 minutes per week radio synchronous administrative and academic communication to primary school teachers. The primary student teachers are communicated on teaching philosophies, strategies and assignments submission and feedback by the Malawi College of Distance Education’s Tikwere radio programmes aired on public radio stations (Malawi Governmnt, 2007). The concept distance teacher education therefore encompasses both teaching and learning practices.
As alluded to in De Houwer, Barnes-Holmes and Moors’ (2013) the functional definition of learning, ambiguities exist in the definitions of learning. For example, learning is regarded functionally “as changes in behaviour subsequent of experience or mechanically as changes in the organism emerging from experience” (De Houwer et al, 2013, p. 2). According to De Houwer et al. not all changes in behaviour sprout from experience for example; temporal changes in behaviour due to anxiety or inspiration cannot be part of the learning definition. The preferred definition attaches learning to an organisms’ contact with and inherent adaptation to the milieu. In traditional education, students rely on face-to-face contact with the teachers for learning to take place while in distance education learning entails students’ interaction with content, instructors and peers (Groom, 2015). It is possible, for example; to indulge in the process of teaching in the absence of learning. For instance, the instructor may produce none interactive or irrelevant instructional materials thereby hindering students’ contact with content and intended learning occurrence as is mostly expected in industrialised teaching. A distance learning institution that does not provide interactive instructions does not benefit the students. Similarly, institutions that solely depend on instructional materials produced and distributed based on the industrial processes as a sole source of student interactivity mostly yields incomplete educational experiences (Saba, 2012). This is due to lack of emphasis on real conversational presence between the student and the instructor and among students. Anderson, Lorne, Jon and Judi (2015) for example; argue that the teaching presence in industrialised instructions and assessments may produce learning, while lacking in its absence of students’ discussions and face-to-face sessions to help identify students’ challenges. Similarly, Saba (2012), argues that ideal learning is achieved when students interact with both instructional materials for students to construct meaning of the world around them, and peers and instructors to reduce the psychological gap amongst them.
The functional definition of learning considers “learning as changes in behaviour of an organism” (De Houwer et al, 2013, p. 2) in relation to expectations and milieu of the organism. This means that administrators in distance mode and training institutions should organise their resources differently from the traditional mode to enable teachers design courses and interact with students through technology (Moore & Kearsley, 2011). To increase dialogue, reduce the distance and effect conversation in a distance learning environment, students require diverse support necessitating their knowledge of how to study and converse via technology. Students’ interaction with the learning materials is a source of interactivity (Saba, 2012) in home and work environments coupled with peer and student-instructor conversation conducted in other settings. This simply means that interactivity is a requirement in distance education either through simulation and or real conversation (Holmberg, 2003) through student-instructor and student-peer communication and or gatherings. This further indicates that learning in education can be intentional and or unintentional. For example; someone may intentionally or purposely acquire knowledge, skills and attitudes as designed by education experts and stipulated by the curriculum. Consequently, one may learn something accidentally and unintended. It is possible for example; for change in behave to occur outside the intended curriculum or set curriculum or the education setting. In education, learning is “planned; as the path to learning is designed by an expert or experts” (Moore ; Kearsley, 2011, p. 2). While browsing on the internet for example; one may learn something but what is learnt if not designed by the instructor then, it is outside the instructive practice.
However, in distance education a prospective student’s dire need to learn aggravates instructors’ strategies and support to accomplish learning in the student and complete the education process. For example; identification of prospective students’ needs in distance education leads to the design and development of courses that would respond to those existing needs. Challenges and societal or national needs force education institutions to evolve in an attempt to offer appropriate courses to address the needs. In Malawi, for example; the increased shortage of qualified secondary school teachers prompted the government through Domasi College and Mzuzu University public institutions to introduce distance secondary school teacher training.
Distance education and training
In institutions of higher learning, education and training are used interchangeably to mean education. Similarly, teacher and instructor are matching terms employed alternatively in education as is the case with teaching and instruction. Training is a part within the education segment meant to impart practical skills on students. In this case, students learn practical skills relating to their profession. For example, student teachers are exposed to the teaching know-how of their inspired profession. The teachers learn both theory through content coverage and practical work (Ipaye, 2015) through peer or micro-teaching and teaching practice pertaining to the pursued teaching career. In response to terminological ambiguities, philosophers of education have come up with reliable modes of learning coupled with approaches of institutional organisation to yield learning and positive learning experiences.
Learning and lived experiences
The term ‘experience’ refers to positive or negative emotional or psychological feelings one has towards something (Gatsha, 2010). The term experience phenomenologically concerns the future, hence necessitating “openness, choice… reflective action and voluntary commitment” (van Manen, 1995). Originating from the German noun ‘Erlebnis’ (experience) comes from the verb ‘Erleben’ meaning ‘to relive’ or “to still be alive when something happens”(p. 217) It is argued that this form of experience adds to our knowledge of the phenomenon. Experience is further explicated as to “acquire knowledge or skills during a period of practical involvement in something especially experience gained in a particular profession, an event or occurrence, which leaves an impression on someone; to encounter, to undergo, to feel” (Rooyen, 2015, p. 22). The experience can hence be negative or positive depending on whether it brings lethal or optimistic impacts. According to this study ‘lived experiences’ relate to positive and or negative feelings teachers trained at Mzuzu University and Domasi College of Education may have towards the programme and educators. The lived experiences extend to instructors and administrators (educators) technical know-how and their perceptions of the distance programme. The teachers under study have hands-on experiences as participants of the secondary teacher distance programme, as such have perceptions, perspectives and diverse but shared understanding of the phenomenon, distance programme. The lived experiences expose returns and challenges of open and distance education in relation to student teachers, educators and the nation. The positive experiences embrace returns of distance education while negative experiences denote challenges of the distance training as institutionally organised and experienced. The experiences thus, embrace the nature of teaching, learning or training and learning support processes the students went through in their acquisition of theoretical and practical knowledge, skills and attitudes.
Studies in distance education indicate some similarities in students’ experiences of distance learning (Gupte, 2015; Musingafi, Mapulanga, Chiwanza, ; Zebron, 2015). Such experiences are also noticed in the way the tutors or lecturers perceive the delivery of instructions at a distance. As recommended by Kim (2015), I reviewed studies by Gupte (2015) and Musingafi et al. (2015) to situate this study and avoid unnecessary repetition of same study or incidental plagiarism. Through the review, I related and compared the findings with that of the learning implications of the distance secondary school teacher training in Malawi hence sharpening the focus of this thesis.
Gupte (2015) conducted a study at Maharashtra in India whose purpose was to examine students’ perceptions of Indira Gandhi National Open University, gage their achievements, challenges faced and how they overcame them. This study showed instructors’ positive experiences of enjoying offering counselling and tutorials to student teachers though it meant, sacrificing their vacation. The study indicates that working with experienced adults who are also teachers, was easy. It is also reported that contacts with many student teachers made it possible for the college to reach out to mass rural school going children where the students were attached. The lived experiences indicated the primary school teachers’ happiness with the bachelors’ degree offered by Indira Gandhi National Open University as motivated by:
Getting a higher qualification (a degree in teaching), gaining knowledge on how to teach and getting a promotion after graduation and a salary hike. The degree programme reported to have created teachers’ recognition in the society and their opportunities for further studies in education (Gupte, 2015, p. 5).
Students’ positive experiences were drawn from their satisfaction with the programme’s intensive practical schedules and application oriented assignments which they said, promoted their critical thinking. On student support, the study indicated that the student teachers got emotional, mental, moral and physical support from different sources which includes; family members, colleagues, former students, counsellors and study materials. The findings indicate students’ satisfaction with the learning materials’ availability but complained that:
English as a medium of instruction was difficult for them to understand as they previously learnt in vernacular hence expected materials to use local languages. Accommodation and travel distances to face-to-face sessions were a limitation (Gupte, 2015, p. 5).
According to the study, the educating institution, Indira Gandhi National Open University responded to students’ complaints by sometimes providing accommodation in hostels at an affordable fee and using local languages during counselling sessions and teaching practice. However, the study reports that students’ personal challenges were handled by the students themselves and their families through determination and persistence.
A study on challenges for open and distance learning students trained by the Zimbabwe Open University done by Musingafi et al. (2015) disclosed negative students’ experiences in the form of challenges faced. The study established individual related challenges as lack of sufficient time for study, access and use of information communication technology, financial constraints, lack of support from employers and travel obstacles related to distance between home and regional centres. Instructional related challenges include ineffective and delayed feedback on assignments and examinations, lost scripts and unrecorded grades. The study reported that instructional challenges derailed students’ progress to next content. Institutional related challenges identified include “delayed and lack of study materials, lack of counselling and guidance, inadequate academic and administrative student support. The study suggested that the institutions should impart information communication and technology, and self-study skills in the students, recruit competent and self-motivated instructors, produce and distribute adequate learning materials and provide counselling and guidance to students.
My study focused on the exploration of learning implications of the distance secondary teacher training in Malawi. This link is missing in the studies above, and therefore my study fills that research gap.
Teaching, learning and Student Support
As discussed, student support is the core of distance education if students’ goals of learning through the distance are to be achieved. The terms ‘student support’ (Ramdas ; Masithulela, 2016; Kangai, Rupande, ; Rugonye, 2011), learning support (Gatsha, 2010), academic support (Chawinga ; Zozie, 2016) are used interchangeably to mean the same. Khrishnan (2012) and (Kangai, Rupande, ; Rugonye, 2011) used the term student or learner support to mean various help given to students learning outside the four walls of the classroom while Gatsha (2010) refers to it as learning support. Again, literature establishes that properly planned, coordinated and implemented learning support safeguards success of the distance education institution (Isman, Aydin, ; Simsek, 2014). With constant communication or conversation, student support acts as a distributor of pre-packaged instructions and a source of interactivity between the teacher and the student and among students as peers (Khrishnan, 2012). Tireless conversation amongst the peers and, or between the distance the teacher and the student divulges conversational learning whose provision is done differently by different distance institutions dependent on resource availability, level of commitment and creativity. In distance education learning support is done correspondingly with teaching and learning hence achieved through student teachers face-to-face situations or incorporated in instructional materials.
The aspect of face-to-face interaction between the student and the instructor as well as amongst students as peers, also known as real conversation, is an important component of open distance learning. As a tenet of conversational learning theory (Holmberg, 2003) it asserts that real interaction is achieved by instructor’s physical interaction with the students and or student contact with peers. Mnyanyi and Mbwete (2009) consider face-to-face session a vibrant tool even in situations where electronic platforms such as the modular object-oriented dynamic learning environment are employed. In their study on open and distance learning in developing countries; Mnyanyi and Mbwete exposed the need for physical instructor-student contact as essential in information and communication technology distance training. It is deliberated in literature that orientation whether direct or online is a source of face-to-face interaction and is favoured by distance students (Mnyanyi & Mbwete, 2009). However, literature reveal that “there is no online orientation at Mzuzu University because of poor infrastructure in Malawi” (Chawinga & Zozie, 2016, p. 11) These researchers based their argument on Malawi, a developing country and United Kingdom, a developed country indicating that the economic differences between the countries justify why Malawi is technologically behind. However, this is dissimilar to other developing countries like Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia discussed earlier that supplement print with radio, phones, SMS, electronic mail, internet inter alia (see Muyinda, 2014; Kigotho, 2013; Danaher & Umar, 2010). As discussed, mediated and real conversation yield teaching, learning and support to distance students for positive learning implications and experiences.
Hope (2006, p. 18) provides a framework or a check list for good practices as a basis for planning and evaluation of dual mode programmes. Still, Hope explains that the aspects of the quality of institution may vary dependent on the influence of various stakeholders in the learning enterprise. The systematic provision of appropriate academic support for all learners is designed for every course and programme to provide:
o consistent quality outcomes of educational experience between modes;
o effective student support in the form of systematic interaction between teacher and learner is a requirement of all courses and is built in to the design of course materials;
o accessible tutors to individual and groups of learners through synchronous and asynchronous technologies;
o feedback on assessment to all learners on a timely basis so as to inform their ongoing learning;
o distance mode to learners who have no access to the physical facilities (e.g. libraries, study space) and equipment that are necessary for their successful learning and appropriate training in their use;
o opportunities for peer interaction at both the course and institutional levels to promote a sense of belonging and encourage the development of learning and social communities within and across modes;
o all learners with access to counselling before and during their course or programme;
o precise, accurate and current information readily available for each course and programme and well publicised to all students concerning:
? learning outcomes;
? programme structure and requirements;
? total costs;
? financial support;
? admission requirements;
? assessment requirements and processes;
? rules and regulations;
? appeals procedures;
Systematic collection and analysis of student feedback is a core component of academic quality assurance mechanisms.
Empirical evidence of dual mode models
This section of the thesis reviewed some of the most common institutional organisation strategies in education institutions in the world with specific focus on the systems strategy. These countries were chosen because they are economically, culturally and geographically different from Malawi.
Many institutions world-wide, particularly North America, Canada, Unites States of America, Australia, United Kingdom, New Zealand and several other European countries have taken an early lead in investing heavily in dual mode institutions of higher learning, especially online universities (Daniel, 2012).
As discussed earlier in chapter 2 and in the previous section, the introduction of distance education at a traditional institution is a process of change requiring that all those partaking in the change be well informed to help bring in positive change. According to Simango (2016, p. 55) One of the key factors that deter growth of dual mode systems has been identified as resistance from academic staff. Simango reports resistance of academics associated with extra workload for the two educational modes, views of both distance and traditional students and minimal hopes of career growth in terms of instructional material development. Rienties (2014, p. 987) suggests that the multidimensional and uncertainty towards change and the dual nature of student assessment can influence the effectiveness of organisational transitional processes and learning experiences. Insecurity and tension amongst academics in their desire to offer personalised learning within the rigid predetermined instructional materials becomes another source of resistance (Hope, 2006). Academics thus, feel inferior and empty as they seem to lack advanced technological and curriculum expertise due to staff development space, under weighing distance education as inferior and inadequate as compared to traditional education. Lack of support from the institution on existing barriers to organisational change and absence of an administrative infrastructure to support academics and challenges may offset any incentives and possibly fuse the two modes.
To carefully and precisely draw a line between distance education and traditional education while hosted on the same institution, Hope (2006, p. 17) suggests the following:
o a clear mission statement with a vision to expose specific goals and philosophies to guide operations;
o a carefully set boundary between traditional and distance education through the establishment of a distinct distance system with related systems while clearly embracing the parity of the two in the mission statement;
o staff in both administrative and academic roles to demonstrate knowledge of continuous novel initiatives for growth in technology use for effectual teaching, learning and support
o creation of staff development structures;
o responsible initiation of change by management from the very senior levels of the institution;
o management information system to take in all the aspects of distance and traditional students and adhere to their timeliness, reliability and accessibility requirements;
o support of both traditional and distance teaching faculty by administrative structures while also constantly supporting distance students;
o equally certify both distance and traditional students.
According to Tony (2008) this implies informed planning starting with the analysis of the institution’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats generally known by the acronym, SWOT. It is important that the institution analyses its capabilities or strengths such as offering competitive salaries and benefits to staff members and offer marketable programmes. The institution should be aware of its weaknesses which among other things include failure to successfully motivate staff, offer attractive courses and properly manage the institution. SWOT analysis empowers the institution to work on sustaining capabilities, mend flaws and market its services to attract more clients or students and gain economies of scale. It is further argued that to “obtain economies of scale, it is increasingly common to link up with other institutions and share the market, a process requiring unusual foresight and diplomacy on the part of senior managers” (Moore ; Kearsley, 2011 p. 9). Retaining existing opportunities opens doors to more opportunities leading not only to survival but also growth and success of the system while set policies align all the systems, strategies and processes and guide the goals.
Hope (2006) further argues for the need for education stakeholders, practitioners, policy makers, course designers and academics among others to theoretically and practically understand basic expectations and principles of open and distance education. The distance education assumptions include that:
o open and distance education is cost effective if offered to a large number of students as compared to traditional education;
o students must be supported personally, administratively and academically throughout the study for effective teaching, learning and learning support;
o uses novel technologies for technology mediated instructions and support to help bridge the psychological gap between instructors and the student while also optimally planning for physical material and human resources. In this case, a precise boundary between distance education and traditional education is marked leading to massive growth of higher education in such countries;
o the growth stems from both emergent of new universities and colleges, and or the pronounced expansion of technological mediated open and distance learning;
o the blend of traditional with distance education systems under one roof has its own merits and demerits. Effectual blend of the two is expected to significantly address shortfalls of the other and benefit the society at large;
o dual provision of higher education enhances effectual learning experiences due to merged resources allowing administration, academia and trustees to expand.
Change and transformation has recently been part of the mostly addressed issues in literature related to education. There seems to be a growing consensus within all walks of life with academics, policy makers and entrepreneurs as no exceptional on the prevalence of main changes affecting key areas of higher education in the recent decades. Conversely, responding or copying with such changes usually differs depending on varying perceptions of the impacts, scope, or direction of the changes, and on administrative, monetary, permissible and visionary competences of the institutions’ strategies for effecting innovation in a dual-mode institutions with industrial or organisational aspects of planning, coordination, division of labour, specialisation and mass production. Thus, the principal organisational challenges in today’s demanding world relates to identification of long term vision, mission and strategies that can systematically and effectually combat the changes through planned best practices. The systematic strategy is the system comprising interconnected, comprehensive, codependent and internally consistent constituents. According to Moore and Kearsley (2011, p. 22) the systems strategy is key to understanding and practice of distance education as follows:
o impact on teachers, learners, administrators, and policy makers and yield significant changes in the way that education is conceptualized, funded, designed, and enacted. Not least will be the opening of access and improvements in quality;
o includes the subsystems of knowledge sources, design, delivery, interaction, learning, and management. In practice the better these are integrated, the greater will be the effectiveness of the distance education organisation.
The industrial aspect of education as founded by Otto Peters (1973) has for the past decades made tremendous contributions to the concept of distance education (Saba, 2014a). According to Saba (2014a) Peters’ application of business management concepts of planning, division of labour, organisation or coordination and mass production among other aspects yield predetermined instructions. These aspects are key to identification of organisational constituents that are necessary for distance teaching and learning enactment and the production of learning experiences.
Recently, Saba (2012) conducted a study in United States on ‘a systems approach to the future of distance education in colleges and universities: Research, development, and implementation. The study specifically sought to view a dynamic systems approach to distance education to determine the role distance education will play in future of higher education, whether or not the decision-makers, stakeholders, lawmakers, educational administrators, academic senates, and other governing bodies can learn to adjust and coordinate institutional policies with information technology. The study show that the systems approach has currently been adopted by most institutions of higher learning with the application of creativity and innovations to predetermined content yielding better results. The study further indicates that distance education organisation and procedures will define the extent of faculty-administrative culture, offer differential staffing and operating funds to satisfy individual students’ needs for relevant and cost effective programmes.
Though touching on creation of systems for an industrial organisation, my study is different in that the focus is on learning implications of the nature of the distance secondary teacher training and not just higher education in general. While employing industrial aspects of institutional organisation, the study leans on conversational learning to yield learning and learning support whose understanding requires phenomenological aspects. Much as the standard curriculum positively yields good results, it also registers some deficits of;
o ignoring student support which is the key and heart of effective distance learning thereby hindering students’ creativity and independence. They are forced to accept predetermined learning experience and fail to connect to their existing experiences, explore and generate knowledge;
o mean as it offers just a piecemeal of students’ experiences due to lack of educator-students and or students-peer interaction and as the rigidity hinders students’ selection of learning and interaction styles;
o provides inflexible curriculum evidenced by uniform and fixed instructional materials thus, blocking institutional growth. The habit of espousing a one-size-fits-all approach to curriculum result in institutions disregarding planning for innovative pedagogy and or andragogy hence diminutive growth and economised cost of education.;
o lacks human element to respond to emerging and contemporary issues in a two way communication
o the adaptation of courses to facilitate students’ independent study through the internet does not change the rigidity of the curriculum as it remains predetermined;
o the development of instructional materials faces financial challenges subsequent of the absence of course development item on limited grants provisions. This further requires policy makers’ commitment at both micro (institutional) and macro (national) levels to carefully plan and effectively implement the plan while taking resource mobilisation as a central part of management.
The study on challenges for successful planning of open and distance learning (ODL) in a technology enhanced environment – A template analysis by Minnaar (2013) was done in South Africa. The study aimed at analysing literature on ODL planning and implementation to develop a template for ODL planners. The study carried this broad question: ‘What needs to be considered in higher education institutions embarking on planning an ODL facility?’ The findings of the study embraced a template to guide in planning for open and distance education. The results further exposed precisely that planning and implementation of ODL needs to be careful and systematic to ensure success. A lot of thought should go into planning and analysis of markets as shall be discussed later in chapter 10.
My study is different in that the focus is on learning implications of the nature of the distance institutional organisation and not just challenges for successful planning. In addition, my study embraced planning to gage ODE institutional organisation while the above study just concentrated on ODL planning.
Trends of open and distance education in Europe
The understanding of a trend in this study is normally a direction in which something is transforming or changing over time. In this case, the thesis is looking at transformations in terms of institutional designs and organisations that countries and institutions have put in place to facilitate learning experiences.
Although literature provides adequate information on institutional designs, very little literature exists regarding institutional organisation of distance education that countries and institutions have put in place to facilitate learning experience where ODE is hosted at a tradition institution. As discussed, the designs or models offer some insights into the actual and suggested institutional organisation.
Distance education relays back to the early biblical writings of St Pauls epistles or correspondence communications adept in the first generation distance education. The early bible teachings were done through letters sent to targeted groups of people and not usually on face-to-face contacts. Although this was not linked to education then, the practice relevantly outfits learning in the absence of the educator’s face-to-face contact, thus, a one-way traffic with no immediate feedback. Kentnor (2015, p. 23) relates the birth of distance education to Sir Isaac Pitman’s 1840s shorthand correspondence texts written on postcards and mailed to students across England. Some universities begun to offer distance education alongside traditional educational education starting from the time the Phonographic Correspondence Society was established in 1843 marking the beginning of dual mode institutions. The dual mode in this case, offered education on a mixed mode basis. The University of London, founded in 1888 opened the door to the provision of correspondence degrees in conjunction with the University of London colleges thus, opening education access to working men. This provoked the generation of night schools, technical and vocational institutions and private correspondence colleges. The university trained mine inspectors whose enrolment grew from 2,500 in 1894 to 72,000 in 1895. The numbers continued to increase to 90, 000 in 1906 due to an improvement in instructional delivery from the distribution of a single lesson as a carrier of instructions to a book full of lessons.
Daniel (Daniel, 2012, pp. 2- 4) explains that the further growth of open and distance education in the continent is expected to inject life into the dual mode model. The Open Education Resource (OER) is the innovation currently being explored by a group of public universities from several countries searching public-private partnerships to improve the dual mode design. This has come after discovering that victory claimed on dual mode model was done prematurely. The Open Education Resource (OER) University is expected to be the best disruptive element that would impact on electronic learning (e-Learning) in higher education. The OER is expected to widen access in the following ways:
o Give dual mode a new relevance by cutting costs as course curricular may be produced at one eUniversity and allow other universities to adapt the good quality OER from web to their needs. This is expected to cut instructors’ reinvention of the wheel for each course. For example, eAsia university may develop course curricular while Athabasca University may only approve the development of the course after proposers have thoroughly searched for relevant open materials to be repurposed;
o As deliberated in the February 2011 New Zealand Open and Education Resource Foundation meeting to operationalize the concept of OERU, students shall have an opportunity to explore content OER;
o Students access to tutorials from the global network of volunteers and get assessed at a fee and earn a credible qualification from an umbrella organisation;
o Higher education will generally no longer present content through lectures or learning materials as content will be anywhere but public institutions will have to compete through the services they offer;
o Social software is greatly enriching the possibilities for student support and interaction. Students will be supported through a community of scholars and to some extent buy support on a pay-as-you-go basis to sustain model.
According to Daniel (2012), the concept of OER trails the University of London External System’s 150 years ago innovation which was examination oriented rather than knowledge acquisition orientation. However, it is feared that OER on profit making institutions may lock the virtual learning environments and materials in their patented framework. In this case, the for-profit institutions may have to choose between the chance to be cost effective and the onus to run more flexibly. Most importantly, the for-profits institutions may have an opportunity to run efficiently through the existing high quality open access materials they can adapt at will. Daniel (2012) gives an example of the Open University of UK that placed the Non-Commercial terms on their common licenses of the early OER materials as a way of limiting access. However, it is recommended in this discussion that OER re-users acknowledge the source of the materials and put their new version back into the OER. The next discussion is on trends of open and distance education in Asia and the Pacific.
Trends of open and distance education in Asia and the Pacific
In Australia, the first Department of Correspondence Studies introduced in 1911 at Queensland University. Most of the Universities and Colleges thus introduced correspondence and external studies as a response not only to large territories but also to the geographically dispersed population. The development meant that institutions of higher learning for example, in Australia, use same staff for both traditional and external students, and administer similar examinations and awards. For the past three decades Australian dual mode institutions have gained fame due to quality education achieved through a one-size-fits-all philosophy based on an integrated organisation of instructional material production, academics and qualifications.
Literature shows that there are several single mode open universities in the world with the Radio and Television University of China and the Indira Gandhi National Open University in India as good examples. Single mode institutions are organised under the distance education council which regulates the institutions operations and ensures that quality education and lifelong learning is achieved in the process of democratising education.
In spite of remarkable efforts on the universities and colleges, correspondence and external programmes were lowly rated as people considered them second best to traditional on campus courses. Adoption of innovative technologies in a multimedia approach with print, audio, video, stand-alone-computers and word of mouth as media of instruction slowly led to mainstreaming of distance education. Multiplication of open universities in the early 1970s’ expanded the number of students attending university education making a significant contribution to widening access. Daniel (2012, p. 2) describes the two approaches to distance education as conducted by individual academics parallel to traditional classes on small scale enrolment which was not only costly but further with doubtful continuity of the provision. With lack of economies of scale, the open universities could not sustain their provision of education to the small numbers. It was only with the provision of education to specialised groups of students they could charge higher fees that dual mode institutions attracted a reasonable enrolment both locally and internationally and are successful.
Regardless of being housed within the traditional jurisdictions, distance education is allocated specific resources with systematic ways of learning support to all students studying away from the institutions. The traditional and distance education are two modes of study that do not reflect on students, this implies that students are free to switch between the modes of instructional delivery based on convenience. This flexibility in the Australian context relates to socio-economic changes in higher education pushing universities to compete for income for their operation. With a fixed market, universities in Australia pursue international opportunities especially in South East Asia thus, developed resource-based teaching and online learning to satisfy off-shore markets. The coming in of the internet has gradually transformed the provision of distance education as it has led to online learning that has eased communication between academic staff and distance students. Internet allows easy interaction of instructors and students through electronic mail (e-mail) and other web based tools while also providing printing of documents and recording of audio-visual programmes. This threatens the survival of single mode institutions as in dual mode, distance learning seem to have properly been integrated with traditional learning.
Most of the teachers who enrolled to further their studies through distance education aimed at upgrading their credentials in order to overcome salary barrier or cross over from primary school teacher to secondary school teacher status. Primary school teacher graduates were exposed to further training that equipped them with pedagogical and classroom management skills (Simango, 2016).
According to Simango (2016), in China, open and distance education is rapidly growing. The government and institutions embrace distance education as an innovative strategy supplementing traditional education. Through the 11th Five- Year Plan, the China is reminded of its need to develop technologically for the government to expand its financial muscle on education. The ministry of education encouraged 68 top universities to offer distance education degrees to help produce skilled man power as a response to the mushrooming economy. Through the 2000 operation ‘All Schools Connected’ launch, China designed to equip all its 550, 871K-12 schools with distance learning systems by the year 2010. With the 11th year plan calling on science and technology to speed up developments, distance education industry became the top priority in China. Technology and education prominence yielded over 111,000,000 internet users between 2000 and 2005 desirably 393.3%. The Radio and Television University for example; has a school for continuing education where lifelong professional development on non-degree courses is offered.
The Open University of China (2012) reports the assurance of quality instructions and learning support provision through the monitoring and evaluation department. The department aids in supervision of instructors and counsellors, and facilitates the institution’s engagement in research coupled with sharing of experiences while running on yearly working budget to guide its operations. The way Chinese distance education is growing sets global standards for open and distance education and expands entrepreneurial opportunities for United States education services. In economic terms, distance education in China is expanding at about 1.45 billion dollar market with the government spending more than 50 billion dollars on education.
In this region as is the case with all other regions world-wide, education institution employ arrange of institutional designs or models from single mode to consortia model. For example, the Open University of Hong Kong is a consortia mode offering local and off-shore distance education through partnership with other countries. The Open University of China also takes tactical partnerships and joint activities with ministries, industries and entrepreneurs to successfully set and fulfil lifelong edification projects (Open University of China, 2012). Other consortia models are named after their countries of origin. For example; Australia has an Australian model known as the Deakin-dual-mode. The Australian open and distance learning comprises the open university of Hong Kong, United States, China, Canada, Macau and Ireland courses. Malaysia has a Malaysian model and India has an Indian model irrespective of minor deviations experienced in some country’s institutions (Danaher & Umar, 2010). Trends in open and distance education in America is the next discussion.
Trends of open and distance education in America
In America, about three quarters of the population lived in rural areas by 1920 deeming correspondence programmes the sole flexible solution to reaching out to all.
Daniel (2012, p. 1) explains that, some universities have offered distance learning programmes a long side traditional programmes for a century. For example, the Queens University in Canada introduced External Studies in 1888 with the United University of Wisconsin trailing the same in 1908.
In United States of America, distance education was adopted as a means to the democratization of education which was generally accessed by the elite leaving out the disadvantaged. Caruth and Caruth (2013, p. 124) explains that the evolution of distance education has assumed a variety of formats and escalating prominences. Starting as correspondence courses trailing Isaac Pittman’s 1840 shorthand course in 1873 bred the Society to Encourage Studies at Home founded by Anna Eliot Ticknor renamed the ‘silent university’ by Eliza Cary Agassiz. The Ticknor’s society opened access to women evidenced by the enrolment of 7000 women and 100 million Americans studying through distance courses by 1890 with the aim to develop agricultural and professional skills.
Universities started offering radio courses from 1920 to 1930 and in 1960 television courses were introduced. Public Broadcasting Services (PBS) and Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) were established for urban children deprived of education with the Sesame Street programme reaching out to millions of pre-school children. Some famous individuals like Franklin D. Roosevelt, Walter P. Chrysler, Walter Cronkite, Berry Goldwater, and Charles Schutz (Criscito), creator of the comic strip Peanuts benefited from distance learning.
Technology-based distance education in the United States of America has become an increasingly major part of American higher education. For example, the Western Governors University (WGU) made up of several governors of the western states in the United States is a ‘virtual university’ has no campus, only depends on technology. WGU collectively organises resources to globally provide credentials to students.
Regardless of the transformation from correspondence education to technology-based distance education, correspondence education aspects have to be carried over as follows:
o Adaptable institutions with a vision, dedicated to service, with expertise in handling the political issues;
o Institutions must aggressively pursue un-served students;
o Commitment to instructional quality;
o Sensitive to potential disagreements between face-to-face and online faculty.
Online education has gone through visible institutions offering online education, the increase of education over internet, growth of internet-based academic writing and expanded marketing for online education. Online education is thus, an integral part of the development of higher education in USA forcing educators to handle diverse technological changes and the impact of distance education (Caruth & Caruth, 2013, p. 125).
In Jamaica, the University of West Indies (UWI) established in 1948 as a constituent college of the University of London got university status and academic independence in 1962 (Hartman, 2014). As is the case with most universities, UWI attempts to integrate the traditional and distance modes as a strategy to address the needs of prospective students failing to enroll in the three physical campuses. Kuboni (2017, p. 266) pointed out that UWI as the region primary tertiary education provider, in its 1997-2005 strategic plan set to expand and systematise distance education programmes to enlarge its catchment area. UWI met a lot of threats from its off-shore and private competitors penetrating the region’s higher education market. These competitors ‘ success was in their exploitation of distance education potential as sources of revenue and provision of flexible and accessible programmes as compared to UWI inflexible programmes and admission terms. Ext is the review on trends of open and distance education in Africa/
Trends of open and distance education in Africa
According to Moore and Kearsley (2011), understanding of distance education and its successful practice can only be done through its systems. It is important that the distance system ensures that distance students are carefully and systematically drawn closer to the educating institution so as to break their feeling of isolation from educators. With the establishment of systems within systems which are also properly coordinated whilst harnessing specialisation and division of labour, effective enactment of distance education can be insured.
The inclusion of an operational and responsive learning support system amidst the systems and within the distinct distance education structure makes the students abreast with existing courses, application and fees requirements, guidance on course progression, completion, examination results, and career guidance (Kangai, Rupande, & Rugonye, 2011). This suggests that continuous student support be provided to students as an essential tool to addressing emerging and contemporary students’ and societal needs which pre-planned and pre-packaged learning materials cannot handle. Student support is hence all activities and services provided to distance students throughout and after their study on real or mediated basis. This requires that the distance education institution provides students with adequate academic, administrative and personal support in the absence of regular face-to face contacts. The need for continuous support demands total commitment from distance institutions in developing a student support policy to ensure that students’ needs are satisfied for the success of both the students and the institution.
Currently, students, administrators, educators, the government and other education supporting agents need to be informed on existing opportunities and the direction of the distance system and the host institution at large.
It should be acknowledged that although open and distance education has been a widely accepted and mainstreamed terminology, its imperious philosophies may not be easily applied to its enactment. This implication is made to clarify the point that distance education hosted by traditional institutions if properly planned and coordinated yield effectual one-size-fits-all operations while disorganised integration yield unimpressive distance education. Moore and Kearsley (2011, p. 4) explains that the special distance education unit promotes division of labour and specialisation as crucial constituents of the institution. The absence of such components may force the operations and funding of distance education to solely count on the traditional resources thus limiting growth of distance education.
Soundly designed instructions for student’s independent or autonomous learning gives students an opportunity to interact with content and make meaningful connections of their world outside the classroom environment. The talking content helps students to develop independent learning skills and become self-directed, self-motivated and capable of learning in the absence of the instructor (Simango, 2016). However, this does not totally replace the instructor, as the student requires occasional interaction with the physical teacher and peers for probable positive learning experiences. The physical interaction with the human element further gives chance to students to share their experiences from their lived world of their studying away from instructors and peers thus, bringing solutions to emerging and contemporary issues
Within the distance education environment, there are four generally employed modes or models of educational provision which are: single mode institutions, dual mode institutions, mixed mode institutions and consortia.
A single mode model is a distance education institution founded solely for the purpose of offering programmes through the distance mode. It is single mode in its pedagogic purpose of teaching and supporting distance students at an autonomous institution, away from the traditional practices. A single mode institution entirely dedicates its operations to the distance mode while camouflaging traditional teachers to distance tutors, course designers, counsellors and facilitators inter alia. In Africa single mode models include the Malawi College of Distance Education, the University of South Africa and the Technikon Southern Africa.
Dual mode model
A dual-mode model is an institution that adds distance education to its existing traditional establishments by establishing a special unit for distance education or attaching open and distance education to a faculty or school. This unit normally has administrative staff, instructional designers, and technical specialists whose responsibilities are distance education. It rarely has its own faculty, most of such units call on faculty of the parent body to provide subject expertise. The regular on-campus faculty usually does the teaching, often with support from part time faculty. Daniel (2012) regards dual mode distance education as a strategy for the expansion of traditional institutions while Ipaye (2015, p. 2) argue that other universities run “a distance teaching unit under the university’s consultancy outfit … to generate revenue and thus it is for profit”. Dual mode models in Africa include: University of Lagos, University of Abuja, University of Ibadan, Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria, Mzuzu University and Domasi College of Education in Malawi, University of Zambia, University of Botswana, University of Nairobi n Kenya, and Western Cape and University of Fort Hare in South Africa.
Simango (2016, p. 67) explains that the University of Nairobi in Kenya has expanded rapidly and leads in the supply of graduate teachers to the extent of extensively reducing the qualified secondary school teacher gap. The University which has a long experience of both, teacher training and distance education, introduced the degree programme for experienced undergraduate secondary school teachers in 1986. These teachers get the same course content as school leavers with similar qualifications. Similarly, the University of Lagos as a bimodal established the distance education unit in 1974 to respond to national educational needs specifically the shortage of science teachers in secondary schools. Distance education has since been using a combination of broadcasts, occasional face-to-face sessions with tape recorded instructions on residential six weeks’ duration per year and distance learning.
Ipaye (2015) conducted a study in Nigeria on organisation of dual mode distance education in Nigeria. The study focussed on organisational pattern and operating practices of open and distance learning institutions. The study’s findings indicate that dual mode models in Nigeria have not yet gone completely on-line, pedagogic approaches simulate the traditional pattern whilst the director also directly report to the vice Chancellor and to the university senate. This implies resource overstretching as the two modes depend on a single pool of resources meant for traditional education leading to inadequacy in operations and provision of education. Ipaye (2015) argues that there is no standard approach or practices to organisation of dual mode institutions in Nigeria. In this study, the following trends were exposed:
In each university, the decision to go dual and introduce distance education unit was taken by Senate. A unit was designated to house the distance education programme which was empowered to liaise with interested faculties and departments. Programmes of such faculties and departments are then carefully studied to see if they are amenable to distance learning. The distance education unit is empowered to bring on board any department that opts to join distance education programmes. For example at the university of Ibadan, while virtually all the departments in the faculty of Agriculture had made their programmes available for distance education, only the department of Statistics had opted for distance education in the faculty of Science, only four departments in the faculty of Arts and three departments in the faculty of Social Sciences. Usually, the distance education unit appoints a coordinator from the participating faculty to coordinate programmes from that faculty in the distance education offerings. Such coordinators become automatic members of the Board of the distance education. The unit itself is organised into “departments” and sub-units to oversee different functions and activities. The Vice-Chancellor appoints a director, while the registry deploys a senior administrative officer to the unit to oversee administrative functions and senior bursary staff is deployed to head the finance section. According to the author, “one of the implications of allowing departments to opt for DE is that such departments … expected to ensure that same lecturers teach both on-campus and off-campus students” (Ipaye, 2015, p. 3).
The distance secondary teacher training in Malawi has been influenced by experiences of dual-mode models practiced in developing countries internationally and hence may have similar problems. The problems have been observed on organising dual-mode institutions as adopted, for example from Zambia. Some of the problems are highlighted below.
o Some organisational philosophy and policy absence hinders total mainstreaming and development of dual- mode colleges of education.
o Absence of a national open and distance learning policy to guide the development and enactment of programmes at national and institutional levels despite some policy provisions in various government documents.
o Many educational policy-makers, planners, and managers doubt the legitimacy and quality of open and distance learning provisions thinking it can hardly offer quality education as offered by the traditional mode (Simango, 2016).
Mixed mode models are educational institutions that offer extension programmes in addition to their own generic programmes. Mixed-mode institutions encompass (a) independent study divisions of extension colleges (these exist mostly in the United States and Canada); (b) consultation systems, in which students are assigned both to a distant university or college, from which they receive their degree, and to a nearby “consultation” institution, from which they receive instructional services (these systems exist mostly in Europe); and (c) integrated systems, in which an academic department, supported by administrative staff, provides the same curriculum to both on-campus, and remote students (these were ?rst established in Australia) (Moore ; Anderson, 20 13, p 5). Mixed mode teaching may occur in dual-mode institutions with some of the courses designed, delivered, and administered by distance education departments while others are offered by a traditional department. Mixed mode models include: The University of Malawi (Polytechnic and Chancellor College), The Malawi College of Accountancy, University of Mauritius, the Zimbabwe Integrated National Teacher Education Course (ZINTEC) and the Witwatersrand and Pretoria in RSA.
Consortia mode model
Moore ; Kearsley (2012, p. 5) define a consortium institution as an organisation of multiple institutions banded together to extend the reach of each. Consortia-mode institutions are clusters of institutions joined with other independent institutions or companies to offer distance education with combined efforts, expertise, and resources so as to achieve challenging goals. Africa has also successfully used the consortia-mode with the Confederation of Open Learning Institutions of South Africa and the African virtual University as good examples. The collaborative efforts of the institution to extend the reach of each (Moore ; Kearsley, 2011, p. 5) can be beneficial in covering up shortfalls of each of the institutions in the conglomerate.
University of Lagos, University of Abuja, University of Ibadan, Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria, Mzuzu University and Domasi College of Education in Malawi, University of Zambia, University of Botswana, University of Nairobi n Kenya, and Western Cape and University of Fort Hare in South Africa among other; offer dual mode pedagogy in the African continent. Dual mode models as is the case with all other institutional models require effectual organisation to bring about positive learning experiences. Moore and Kearsley (2011) regard establishment of systems within the distance unit as the means to effective institutional organisation and successful distance education practice. Distance education institutional organisation embraces systems embedded in planning, coordination, specialisation, division of labour and mass production of instructions. Administrators and instructors should be informed on both theory and practice of distance education in terms of setting and coordinating systems while recognising diverse expertise to achieve mass production of instructions.
As pointed out by Schmidt (2016), consortia mode model is a solution to resource challenged countries where technology application for instructions is limited and conventional education cannot suffice the demand for education. In Africa, enhancement of collaborative efforts on policy issues, sharing of resources and the development of systems can be drawn from the consortia practice. Nyoni (2012, p. 56) argues that from the many initiatives, examples of networking and collaborative establishments can be drawn from national and regional associations such as:
o Training of Upper Primary and Junior Secondary Science; Technology and Mathematics Teachers in Africa by Distance. This programme is supported by the Commonwealth of Learning and countries included are Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe;
o Training for primary school principals, using print materials and Internet, coordinated by CIFFAD, the International Francophone Consortium of Distance and Open Learning Institutions. CIFFAD also has a project in Senegal, Guinea and the Côte di Voire to improve the teaching of French at the secondary level.
This therefore requires that all categories of distance education establish suitable institutional systems for dual mode educational institutions.
Domasi College of Education and Mzuzu University
In Malawi, Domasi College of education, a constituent college of the University of Malawi and Mzuzu University are dual mode institutions as they both offer distance education alongside their main traditional courses. Most of the students are qualified primary school teachers trying to upgrade their credentials in pursuit for promotion and salary increase. Domasi College introduced distance education in the year 2000. Msiska (2013, p. 2) explains that the establishment of distance education at Domasi College of Education was a response to the need for upgrading of primary school teachers teaching in Community Day Secondary Schools. Through the college, the Government of Malawi attempted to reduce qualified teacher to pupil ratio from 1:90 to 1:60 by 2013.
Domasi College of Education
As stipulated in its 2005-2015 strategic plan, Domasi College of Education acts on orders from the government, Ministry of education science and technology to train secondary school teachers through the distance and traditional means (Domasi College of Education, 2005, p. 1). This public institution has a vision and mission statements to guide achieving its goals. The institution analysed its environment as part of the institution’s plan through SWOT analysis. The institution identifies its strengths in terms of human resources; embraces highly committed and self-motivated staff with cordial relations among them and with no vacancies for senior positions. The college indicates adequacy of physical resources such as land for physical infrastructures, adequate water and sanitation services with affordable tuition for students. As for programmes, the institution responds to changing needs of the education sector through diverse programmes, adequate quality control mechanisms such as the external examining partners. It also offers innovative courses on HIV/AIDS and gender with institutionalised distance education, adequate provision of teaching and learning resources and graduates the highest number of secondary school teachers in Malawi. As part of its organisational structure, the institution boasts to possess a workable structure with management committee, calendar of activities, open day policy, and documented internal policies. The institution further claims to have good relations with other organisations. For example; University of Malawi and the surrounding community, gets support from JICA, World universities services of Canada and International Foundation for Education Self Help (Domasi College of Education, 2005, p. 11).
The institution exposes its weaknesses in human resource as high staff turnover, poor conditions of service due to non-competitive salary, under-qualified staff, inadequate professional development opportunities, delays in filling vacant positions and high faculty-student ratios. The institution indicates its inadequacy in physical resources revealed in facilities like classrooms, offices, staff and student accommodation with classes which are too large for the available space and with diverse sizes depending on departments. Inadequate financial resources were included denoting inadequate funding from government with little autonomy from University of Malawi and the Ministry of education while also enjoying fewer formal relations with institutions outside Malawi. On organisational structure, the college complains of overloaded institution’s calendar with no adequate holidays for staff, too many college committees, with no gender and HIV work place policies. Lack of programme formalisation was also noticed in HIV/AIDs and gender curriculum as indicated in the strategic plan dated 2005-2010, p. 12.
Domasi College indicated in its strategic plan that it has the potential to invest in information technology so as to expand and revolutionise its programming while also attracting potential partners. The institution forecasts unremitting high demand for secondary and primary teachers ensuring future high demand of the College’s services. It predicted its 2012 merging with the University of Malawi to become a constituent college as revealed by the 2000 Malawi teacher education and development review. The college expected to develop to a dual mode institution initiating continuous professional development (CPDs) for secondary reflecting the suggested role of the Malawi institute of education as indicated in the strategic plan 2005-2010, p. 13.
The institution identifies human and financial resources, and relations with the Government and similar institutions as its major threats. The institution points out that HIV/AIDS pandemic negatively affects staff’s active participation while at the same time facing threats from similar institutions that offer competitive conditions of service. The college bemoans the high inflation rate in Malawi as stretching its financial resources which are already affected by educational policies such as the free primary education policy. In references to relations with other institutions, the institution regards partners influence on programmes and direction for the college as a threat topped with other institutions better remunerations to staff (Domasi College of Education, 2005, pp. 13-14).
Domasi College is hence cognizant of its fortes, prospects, imperfections, primacies and pressures illustrated from pages 11-14 of the strategic plan to expose the fertile land for distance education enactment. This implies that the institution through SWOT analysis is informed about its capabilities, defies, fortes and fears hence operates on an informed direction. This echoes the earlier arguments that SWOT analysis must precede strategic planning for institutions’ to plan remedial actions to the challenges and threats while capitalising on the existing strengths and opportunities (see American University, 2014; Minnaar, 2013; Polk State College , 2012; Moore & Kearsley, 2011; Wren, 2009).
Mzuzu University’s vision for traditional education is to be a “premier provider of tertiary education, adaptive research and outreach in Malawi and the world” with a mission to provide ‘high quality education, training, research and complementary services to meet the technological, social and economic needs of individuals and communities in Malawi and the world’. Mzuzu University’s strategic plan sorely touches on traditional education with no consideration to open and distance education. As is the case with Domasi College of Education, Mzuzu University is a bimodal. The university combines open and distance education with traditional education sharing instructors. This Malawi government’s institution has no mandate for the distance education existence at the institution except for the vision and mission of the host system. This makes it difficult for this study to gage the institution’s planning and enactment practices for open and distance system.
Colleges of education in Malawi
Malawi has only two colleges of education which are dual modes. Domasi College and Mzuzu University are sole education colleges offering both traditional and distance education to secondary school student teachers. Currently, on 10th May, 2016 the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, through the Skills Development Project inaugurated the establishment of open and distance education.
The Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources
The Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, through the Skills Development Project inaugurated the establishment of open and distance education. The college is a new entrant on the dual-mode scene. Naturally, the university offered Agriculture and Natural resources programmes till 2004 when it introduced Development Studies, embracing among other courses, Agriculture Education and Development Communication.
Malawi’s conceptual view of open and distance education
Generally, the pyramidal structure of education and training provision in Malawi persists. The system continues to have large numbers of students at the bottom who are filtered and dropped as they progress upwards. In Malawi, distance education has been in existence since 1965 when the Malawi College of Education was established by the Malawi Government to offer secondary school education. In 1990 Malawi designed and enacted a three year distance primary school teacher training known as Malawi Special Teacher Education Programme (MASTEP) which run parallel to the traditional programme from 1989 to 1993. The open and distance education programme generally known as ODL was introduced in 2006 to help train primary school teachers through the distance mode. In Malawi, distance education has been employed to solely address qualified teacher shortage and not to address the nation’s hunger for education. This is regardless of the argument that Southern Africa universities, specifically Malawi are unable to admit all deserving individuals on a campus face-to-face or residential basis (Chawinga & Zozie, 2016, p. 2). University’s ability to offer education to all potential students ensures their survival and relevance hence the need to introduce open and distance education to help address the access need. Malawi’s higher education harnesses distance education “as an affordable means of reaching more teachers more quickly…than traditional provision, to re-orient them to new teaching approaches and curricula” (UNESCO, 2009 p. 17). This is the reason distance education for secondary school teachers was established in 2000 and 2011 at Domasi College and Mzuzu University respectively.
Malawi employs asynchronous technology in the form of print with pre-planned and pre-packaged instructions for distance students to use on self-study in their distinct localities. The use of preplanned instructional materials implies that Malawi relies on one-size-fits-all approach to distance instructional delivery. It can hence be argued that Malawi’s distance education is industrial in nature denoting the presence of industrial element of producing preplanned instructional materials in masses (Saba, 2012; Peters, 1973).
Msiska (2013) conducted a study on the use of distance education for Teacher Training and Development in Malawi. He focused on models employed, technologies used, and successes so far achieved. Another study by Chawinga and Zozie (2016) was on increasing access to higher education through open and distance learning in Malawi. The study focused on models, successes and challenges. This study is taking another dimension by focusing on learning implication conveyed by the nature of institutional organisation of the distance secondary teacher training in Malawi. It draws its vision on the gaps in the two studies cited above which were conducted in Malawi, and hopes to shed light on the learning implications of the nature of institutional organisation of the distance secondary teacher training. This study therefore is unique because it discusses learning implications in relation to institutional organisation, an aspect which is lacking in the cited studies.
The use of preplanned instructions requires that the institution establishes a distance education unit or system and supporting systems to carry differential expertise and operations that should also be properly coordinated. Thus, the need to explore the learning implications of the institutional organisation as it impacts on students’ learning and reasons for such impact to help improve the distance organisation and enactment. These distance education providers need to understand that planning, coordination, specialisation, division of labour and mass production of instruction are essential for the success of an institution. Further, it should be known that real and mediated conversation bring about learning and learning support as missing elements in the organisation of the institution revealed through shared lived experiences.
Challenges of higher education and secondary teacher training in Malawi
From 1965 to 2005, Malawi used to train secondary school teachers solely through the traditional mode. The introduction of distance education at Domasi College and Mzuzu University increased under qualified teachers’ access to higher education and secondary teacher training in particular. Similar to developing nations, the sub-Saharan African in particular, implementation of education in Malawi is a challenge due to access and equity, quality and relevance and governance and management issues (see Chawinga ; Zozie, 2016; Musingafi, Mapulanga, Chiwanza, ; Zebron, 2015; Ipaye, 2015; Mhishi, Bhukuvhani, ; Sana, 2012; Basanza, Milman, ; Wright, 2010). As indicated in the prior chapter, the government of Malawi adopted the named issues as strategies to the attainment of improved education in Malawi. Each of the challenge is discussed in detail to promote understanding of the suggested improvements on the distance secondary teacher training discussed in chapters 9 and 10 for positive learning implications.
Governance and management challenges: The Ministry of education identifies lack of monitoring, documentation and enactment of throughput and dropout rates at higher education levels as shall be reported in chapter 7 to 9 deeming higher education expensive (Malawi Government, 2008). In reference to distance education, the problem is partly aggravated to educators’ total adherence to traditional practices with incomprehensive exposure to ODE know-how through trainings limiting their understanding of ODE enactment and students’ retention. The total adherence to traditional practices stem from the national level where distance education is just incorporated within the traditional endeavors in a one-size-fits-all approach. Initiated by the Common Wealth of Learning and Canadian International Development Agency, the introduction of distance education for higher learning in Malawi was without long-term strategies to strengthen capacity edifice. It is argued in the 2008 to 2017 national education sector plan that defies in managerial system which includes imprecise regulations governing such systems like poorly defined structures affect access and equity to higher education.
The concern in the National Education Sector Plan (NESP) is solely on the traditional education mode whilst mentioning distance education as wholly incorporated in the traditional practices as a mixture of the two systems. According to the Malawi Government (2008, pp. 23-24) there has been defies in management systems with the absence of precise guidelines, hiring and terms of contracts, and internal resource mobilisation compromising access, equity, relevance and quality of education. The Ministry for education sets as a strategy for institutions of higher learning to improve quality and efficacy through the development and implementation of programmes they can fund through their own initiatives. Much as the deliberations hint on traditional education provision, the distance mode requires just the same which in both situations need informed planning and execution to properly set off and produce learning. Chawinga and Zozie (2016) in their study on increasing access to higher education through open and distance learning: Empirical findings from Mzuzu University, in Malawi, settled that, the adoption and implementation of ODE among other management and governance challenges faces poor communication between the distance system and departments, prolonged registration of students, poor remuneration of lectures, poor provision of learning support, poor information technology infrastructure and instructors’ inadequate expertise in distance education.
Quality and relevance challenges: The Ministry of education further identifies governance problems in the education system like “poorly defined governance structures, lines of authority and delegation of powers” (Malawi Government, 2008, p. 25) as compromising quality and relevance of education offered in institutions of higher learning. Referring to distance education, lack of precise systems implies poor definition of the systems comprised by the distance system. Lines of authority and delegation of power weds to centralised systems or lack of autonomy from the parent at national and institutional levels hindering growth of the distance system. It is argued in the national education sector plan that quality of education in Malawi is further undermined by teaching and learning resources (computers, laboratories, libraries) dearth. As is the case with the traditional system, quality and relevance of distance education is compromised by instructors’ and administrator’s inadequate expertise and poor attitude towards the distance mode. Chawinga and Zozie (2016) found that, poor attitude towards open and distance education hinders effectual enactment of open and distance education. For example’ they regard ODL students as under trained due to their independent study and the value for traditional education as perceived by students, educators or the general public. This is similar to several other countries experiences such as Uganda and Zimbabwe (see Musingafi, Mapulanga, Chiwanza, ; Zebron, 2015; Basanza, Milman, ; Wright, 2010) among other countries. In Uganda, Basanza et al. (2010) ‘the challenges of implementing distance education in Uganda: A case study elaborated some implications of instructors’ inadequate distance education expertise as; lack of quality distance learning materials and lack of student support thus, frustrating students. The studies further reveal delayed end of semester results and feedback on assignments, and students’ failure to find supplementary information to enrich their studies. In addition, in Malawi, infrastructural development for distance education is none existence as the country depends solely on print for instructional delivery while also not adequately ensuing capacity building as endorsed in the national education plan.
Access and equity challenges: As highlighted in the national education sector plan, the notions access and equity in higher education are associated with renovations and expansion of educational institutions to facilitate higher intake and inclusive education (Kotecha, et al, 2012). As discussed in chapters 1 and 2, access to higher education in Malawi as offered by the traditional mode, has been a challenge due to inadequate space and poor inclusion of women and other vulnerable groups of the society. Open and distance education overcomes access and equity challenges as discussed in chapter 2 requiring effectual organisation to effect learning and positive experiences and implications. On the contrary, the National Education Sector Plan (NESP) 2007-2016 puts more stress on introduction of parallel programmes in teacher training institutions and upgrading of under qualified teachers/tutors/lecturers for facilitation efficiency. This implies limited use of distance education to help educating masses. The plan mentions distance education but without specific interest on its execution.
Access to higher education is challenged with erratic funding of traditional education extended to distance education whose subvention is not significantly exposed in the NESP. It is argued that existing education policies in Malawi “have been biased towards the basic education levels, as evidenced by the introduction of fully government sponsored primary education with steadily diminishing subvention directed to the higher education sector when considered in real terms” (Dunga, 2013, pp. 184-185). Funding has proved to be at a decline despite flooding numbers against higher education demands and the need to train relevant and useful graduates to help develop Malawi. Funding discrepancies further block access and equity to higher education which is a common defy in Africa as subvention mismatch the need for expansion and quality attainment (Teferra, 2014). Erratic funding has thus led to compromised quality and relevance of education as the inadequacy could not carter for all the required human and material resources. With the long distances the student-teachers travel for on campus sessions due to the fact that Malawi has only two providers of distance secondary teacher education, student-teacher are likely to meet heavy travel costs (refer to Figure 1).
As the government through the Ministry of Education plans for parallel programmes and other alternative strategies of massifying higher education as indicated in the NESP, student financing infringes on the plan. Students’ loans which are also given to the few have proven inadequate as students are required to fend for themselves in terms of meals and lodging making higher education expensive. This further blocks access and equity to education regardless of the adoption of open and distance education as one of the strategies to bridge the access and equity gap.
In chapter 3, I have reviewed literature related to the topic understudy. Some of the issues reviewed are the growth of distance education in relation to dual mode institutions around the world. The discussion relates to the institutional organisation within the dual mode model. The contention is that accepting that institutional organisation is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ provides grounds for an in-depth understanding of the learning implications of the Malawi distance secondary teacher training. Distance education institutional organisation sets grounds for education stakeholders to establish systems within their planning and divide labour according to specialisations while also coordinating tasks for effective mass production of instructional materials. Similarly, the organisation guides educators on the nature of instructor-student conversation and determines the nature of students’ lived experiences of the training that may feed policy and practice.