A Paper presented to the Academic conference for the School of Continuing and Distance Education on 18th April 2013..
This paper is a discussion of the Practices and experiences of the Centre for Open and Distance Learning in developing distance education in the University of Nairobi. The Centre for Open and Distance Learning which is an independent unit of the University is mandated to collaborate with internal Schools, Faculties, Institutes and Centres to develop Distance education for diversification, access and enrichment of the learning/teaching system of the University of Nairobi.
Data for this paper was obtained through documentary analysis, observation, reports on the activities and interviews with stakeholders in distance education. Data obtained were analyzed and the findings reported in this paper.
This paper will discuss the structural setting put in place which enables the centre to undertake its tasks and mandate through collaboration with internal schools, faculties, centres and institutes. units in carrying out its mandate. In particular, the paper describes the specific units of the Centre which are key in implementing distance education. These are: print materials development unit; audio and visual material development unit; evaluation, research and quality control unit; e-learning unit and learner support and programmes coordination unit.
The paper further elaborates on the operations of the processes taken by the Centre namely the sensitization process, process of material development in print and electronic, quality assurance mechanisms in place, the coordination arrangements put in place and the learners support services available for the learners.
The paper stresses that although there are many ways of acquiring instructional materials namely through adoption, adaption or developing, the practice at the Centre for Open and Distance Learning has been largely to develop their own material but use other sources for support because of the uniqueness of the University of Nairobi programmes. The paper further elaborates on the practice of material development in which the centre plays the role of instructional designing while the collaborating departments provide the subject content.
This paper elucidates the role of the Centre for Open and Distance Learning in providing orientation to subject tutors for efficient and effective tutoring and to learners for copying with the requirements and expectations of open and distance education.
The paper also discusses the challenges that are faced by the Centre for Open and Distance Learning and the collaborating units in implementing distance education programs in the university. Key among them being policy issues, infrastructural and human resource capacity and technical capability of lecturers tutoring on-line.
Finally the paper discusses the outcomes which include: instructional materials developed; new open distance and e-learning programs developed and mounted; increased competency of faculty members and better Co-ordination open, distance and e-learning programs of the university.
In conclusion, the paper recommends that open, distance and e- learning should be embraced further by the university as it can provide solutions to the challenges facing the university and the entire education sector not only in Kenya but also to the rest of Africa.