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Modules 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11


Delivery of Higher Education Using Distance Learning Methodologies


Site Map of Module

Introduction and General Objectives
Unit 1: Overview of Distance Education
Unit 2: Distance Education Systems
Unit 3: Course Design and Development
Unit 4: Case Studies from Tanzania and South Africa

Reflect on the following Declarations as you work through this Module

  1. The importance of the concept of lifelong learning is highlighted by the Tokyo Conference as a means of increasing access for groups currently under-represented. Distance education and open learning can contribute to reaching this objectives. The same argument is offered by Latin America and the Caribbean: ‘the nature itself of contemporary knowledge –in a process of constant renewal and most sudden and dramatic growth- fully agrees with the current notion of permanent education’. In this Declaration, in the part concerning ‘quality’, we can also read that the institutions of higher education will have to take up –without any further delays- the paradigm of permanent education and that ‘they will have to turn into pertinent centres for facilitating professionals to be up to date, duly retrained and ready to change careers’.
  2. The Arab States Conference declared that ‘the concept of lifelong learning is of utmost important’, that ‘determined efforts are necessary to further increase access to higher education to all groups of society’ and added that: ‘in rapidly changing economies, the labour market will constantly require new and various skills. Hence, mechanisms must be developed at higher education level to allow workforce in all fields to upgrade their skills and develop new competencies at regular intervals throughout their lives’. The idea of lifelong education appears also in the Palermo document.

Introduction and General Objectives

The phenomenal development which open and distance education has undergone and is still undergoing around the world indicates its significance in contemporary educational development. Most developing countries now use it as a potent instrument for human resource development. With the world population increasing at a fast pace and the need to educate just about everyone, several issues have resulted in the need to focus on open and distance education. They include the following:

Basically, there are three types of universities in the world. First, the conventional universities which deliver full-time education through on-campus face-to-face delivery. More than three-quarters of the world’s universities fall in this category. Their students are drawn mainly from age 16 to 24 years on the average and they are mostly high school graduates who are not in any employment. University of Ibadan, Nigeria and University in Ghana, Legon, are examples of this type of institutions.

The second type is the distance and open university which delivers higher education via the distance mode of instruction. Probably about ten percent of the universities in the world are in this category. Their students are often adults average age of about 35 years, usually employed or unable to undertake full-time study for a variety of reasons. Their education is not necessarily full time but part time or allowed to study the course till they graduate. These students are separated from the institutions and lecturers who provide the courses and instruction by distance. The students study at their own pace and at their own time often on their own either at home, workplace or in designated study centres. Examples of this type of university are The United Kingdom Open University, The Open University of Hong Kong, The University of South Africa, Simon Fraser University, Canada, and Payame Noor University, Iran. Originally it was known as correspondence because the only means to get the instructional materials to students was by post.

Today, technology is playing a tremendous role in the delivery of instruction and has now changed the term from correspondence education to distance education. Indeed others especially in North America use the ‘distributed education’ model based primarily on the use of technology (video conferencing) to deliver instruction to students in different locations. The third type of university is that which combines both distance education and face to face on campus education under one management. Such institutions are called dual-mode universities. They offer both the distance mode and the on-campus mode of delivering instruction.

There is a slight modification of this dual mode type of institution in many countries of the world, especially in Africa where resources are limited and cannot cope with both full-time and full-distance education. What therefore obtains is that the institutions run part-time degree and sub-degree programmes alongside on-campus full-time courses. Strictly speaking, these are not distance education courses but have now been accepted as a variant of distance delivery of education. They appear to combine in some formula both on campus and distance modes in one offering. It affords teachers who have only the holiday to study, to attend short-term instruction on campuses while they are not teaching. Universities such as the University of Lagos, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria, University of Cape Coast, Ghana, and the University of Wittswaterstrand, South Africa fall within this category. Others include the University of Nairobi, Makerere University, University of Zambia, the University of Namibia, the National University of Lesotho, The University of Abuja, Nigeria and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

For many countries with large population of those wishing to be educated, open and distance education is a convenient avenue to enroll as many as are qualified. Since such institutions usually do not require as much classroom space as conventional on-campus education, space is not necessary a problem. In addition, such universities are ‘open’ regarding the entry qualification. In fact, no set qualification is necessary to enroll. A prospective student only needs to pass a qualifying entrance examination to indicate that he or she can cope with the foundation courses to be enrolled. Hence, such universities are called open universities. Examples of such universities in Africa are the Zimbabwe Open University, the Open University of Tanzania, and the Open University of Sudan.

Sir John Daniel, The Vice Chancellor of UK Open University has coined the term ‘mega-universities’ to represent open universities with enrolment of 100,000 students and above. . There are now at least 10 such universities world-wide . The only one in Africa is the University of South Africa (UNISA). Due to the increasing importance being attached to open and distance education, it is becoming imperative for everyone including teachers, administrators, and policy makers, to understand what this mode of education means and entails. This module has been written to fulfil this aim.

The main focus of this Module is to provide a brief overview on distance and open education to serve as a basic guide especially to those who are unfamiliar with this mode of education that has become fashionable the world over. The module does not pretend to cover every aspect or the depth of information and issues in distance and open learning. It is to serve as ‘an eye opener’ and hopefully will motivate you and other readers to seek more information elsewhere. Several references have been provided in the Module to which you may refer.

On completion of this module, you should be able to:


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After completing this unit, you should be able to :

What is Distance Education?

Very simply put, distance education is that form of study where students are not in direct physical contact with their teachers. In its historical perspective, distance education has gone through several phases beginning with exchange of letters (such as epistles by St Paul to the early Christians), correspondence courses (such as those conducted by Pitmans in shorthand), tuition for external examinations (such as for external degrees offered by the University of London), off-campus and part-time studies for existing universities (such as those conducted by the University of Nairobi and the Ahmadu Bello University) to universities devoted 100% to students who study while at a distance. Many of these students are located hundreds if not thousands of miles/kilometres from the university head office, such as is the case in the UK Open University, University of South Africa, Indira Gandhi National Open University and many others like them.

Known differently and variously as ‘correspondence study’, ‘home study’, ‘off-campus study’, ‘independent study’, ‘distance study’, ‘telematic teaching’, ‘extra-mural system’, what we now call distance and open learning has meant the same for everyone in the world. This is the provision of education by a mode other than the conventional face to face method but whose goals are similar to, and just as noble and practical, as those of on-campus full-time, face to face education.

The history and evolution of distance education has been marked by three main issues (Gough, 1980). The first is access: to allow students who would otherwise be denied educational opportunities to gain access to courses. The second is equivalence and integrity: students taught at a distance should receive an equivalent education and an equivalent qualification with the same integrity as those earned through the conventional mode. The third is excellence: quest for excellence in quality of learning materials, teaching, support services, academic and administrative systems or professional development of staff. As the resolution of these issues continue to dominate the theory and practice of distance and open learning, many countries in the world, especially those developing, became increasingly attracted to this form of education. Distance education relies on materials, the radio, television, tape recordings, learning units, the telephone, computer, and satellite communication. Several institutions conducting their programmes through distance education organise face-to-face practicals and field trips.

Why would anyone employ this form of study? There is no simple answer since there are diverse circumstances. First the political philosophy of a nation or political party in power has a very strong influence. Secondly, availability of new methods of communication has solved problem of scattered populations such as those in Australia, the Island states and those with limited or no facilities for higher education. A previous Module describes in detail the use of technologies in higher education. The type of technology used depends on the ability to pay for it as well as supporting infrastructures. But, research has shown that even in quite developed countries, students have depended heavily on the printed materials for reasons we do not need to go into here. This should allay fears of those who are afraid of trying distance education because they are scared of the great expenses associated with the new technologies.

A third reason for resorting to distance education is its flexibility in relation to place, pace, age and time. Students do not have to be in physical contact with their teachers. They can continue earning their living while they pursue their studies i.e. they work as they learn their living while they pursue their studies i.e. they work as they learn and they learn as they work. They can take small doses over a long period or large chunks for a shorter period as circumstances dictate, unlike existing universities which expect students to move at a uniform pace.

In many countries especially where the state bears the financial burden of student bursaries, age is and important factor. Older students are not welcome since it is agreed that their working life before retirement would be too short. Distance education puts no upper limit to age. It is on record that the oldest student for the B. Ed at the National University of Lesotho was a retired lady who was then 63 years old. The UK Open University has had students in the 80s registered to do courses of their choices. At the end of the spectrum, there is the young preconscious boy in New Zealand whose age did not allow him admission to the University even though he already had met the criteria set for admission. He was enrolled for university programmes by distance education instead as he waited to meet the age criterion for the traditional universities.

This flexibility of distance education has given many men and women a "second chance" to obtain higher education because they had not been able to avail themselves of such studies earlier in their lives.

  • Distance Learning in Higher Education

  • Neil Butcher

    Pressures Stimulating Distance Education in Higher Institutions

    Factors Creating Pressure for Change

    There has been considerable and growing interest in distance education to provide access to students previously denied by personal or social circumstances. The costs are, however, to be carefully measured if one is to amortise all identified costs over time and over student numbers. The start-up costs are, therefore, minimal as compared to the long-term sustainability of the project.

    Distance education and resource-based learning strive to break down traditional notions of having the teacher ‘talk down’ to the learners. Thus, distance education calls for the implementation of strategies that will shift the role of the educator. As a result, distance education demands that expenditure must be directed towards the design and development of high quality resources.

    Some Problems and Possibilities

    Common problems identified in distance education include the need for face-to-face tutorial support (which is expensive) and course material development (which is often unreliable and unsustainable). Professional development of educators is also often limited and sporadic. Administrative systems are often underdeveloped. Course fees are often beyond the reach of the learner. Unrealisable infrastructures make communication systems by way of roads, the postal service and telecommunication facilities and services difficult. There are funding constraints and no ready-made solutions that are applicable in every country.

    Despite the rapid development and convergence in functionality of technologies, there is still a legacy of failed initiatives in attempting to implement educational technology. The four most common reasons for failure are: 1) inflexible technological choices were imposed on a system; 2) lack of investment in curricula and course design; 3) extremely high operating costs; and (4) underestimation of fully deployed systems for student support.

    In light of the above failures, new approaches to planning have been adopted, and these include:

    Excerpted from: Butcher, N. (1999). Distance learning in higher education. Presentation at the Regional Workshop on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, September.

    1. List institutions in your country offering courses by any form of distance education.
    2. For each institution, what are the possible problems facing the delivery of distance education?
    3. Using Butcher’s (1999) list above suggest solutions to these problems.


    Send your answers for review by the Guide's Experts Team
    Guide's Team of Experts


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    Theoretical Influences Adopted in Distance Education

    As stated earlier, Distance Education has been with us for several centuries even though in various forms. As is the case with all human endeavours, advances in research have had an impact on distance education. We will only mention a few which you can follow up in your own time. Since distance education provides the same type and quality of education as provided through full time on campus education, their theoretical frameworks are not different from each other. Heavy reliance is placed on the theories of instruction, theories of instructional science and technology and theories of applied cognitive science. Some of the theories you may have been familiar with are treated here.

    There is the Skinner's stimulus-response theory which posits that we respond to certain stimuli depending on their relevance and intensity. Distance education makes use of this theory in the structure of its study materials for the distance learners so that they are encouraged to keep on learning. There is the Rothkopf's in-text questions theory which shows that constant and regular challenge to the learners to relate what they read to their understanding of the content is placed in context. Writers of study materials are expected to take this into consideration as they write their units, sections of units as well as in other manuals.

    Ausubel's contribution is the advance organiser model which emphasises the need to produce materials that bridge the gap between the known and the unknown. Distance education students have a very rich background of experiences unlike the youngsters straight from school. Writers of study materials as well as tutors who meet the students during face-to-face sessions need to take Ausubel's model seriously.

    We cannot review every theoretical contribution but we can at least consider Carl Rogers' facilitation model, which emphasises the need to create a facilitating and friendly environment to learn. There is need to engage the learner in a dialogue with the teacher both in face to face sessions as well as in the writing style of study materials. Gagne’s general teaching model points out that there is a logical order of presenting materials. This is especially important with the distance education learner who does not interact with his teacher instantly in a physical sense.

    Module 3 has covered the teaching-learning process more extensively and intensively and is it therefore sufficient to end with Holmberg's theory of didactic conversation which emphasises the important role of interactivity. Even in the marking of assignments, the tutor doing the marking needs to interact with the student so that this is not just the question of assigning a grade to the work done but teaching the learner through the replies given. However, for distance and open education several other philosophical and psychological frameworks are considered additionally because of the type of students who study through the distance mode. Adult education principles including lifelong education, co-operative learning, and socio-cultural aspects of learning which include constructivism have become incorporated within the guiding principles of instructional design and development.

    Support Services

    The principles of student support services are predicated on the belief that for students who are separated from their institutions, teachers and peers, there need to be a well-developed system of answering to the many needs they may have. Needs such as reaching their institutions, lecturers and other students for counselling, course and subject selection, instructional guidance, and co-operation with other students for peer-group tutoring or for tutorial through technology such as tele-tutorial (using the telephone system) or computer conferencing, or video conferencing. Many distance education institutions have a small but highly organised centre or head office which looks after such needs of the students. They operate by bringing closer to the students services that will facilitate their learning. The first level of decentralisation is the Regional Centre and the second level is the study centre which is closest to the student. For example, the UK Open University has 13 Regional Centres and hundreds of Study Centres. The Open University of Tanzania has 21 Regional Centres and over 49 Study Centres throughout Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar. The National Teachers Institute, Kaduna, Nigeria, which is probably the largest distance education system for training teachers at the primary and junior secondary levels in Africa has a network of regional centres in each of the 30 states of the federation. The basic setup of most student support network is as diagrammatically shown below. Please note that not all distance education organisations or institutions have such extensive network of student support services.

    At the Head Office/Head Quarters there is the general administrative structure that handles students records with as many details on each as is necessary, their grades, accounts including fees paid, outstanding debts, processing of scripts, stores of study materials, study units, audio and video cassettes.

    Another service for students is tutoring at a distance. These tutors are engaged in marking, face to face sessions with the students, part-time staff to supervise science practicals in borrowed space in laboratories owned by other teaching and research institutions. Most of these tutors and part-time staff, are full-time employees of other institutions paid for their service to the distance education institutions

    A third service to students is counselling which is at both the Head Office/head quarters as well as at Regional Centres. This way, students need not travel long distances nor spend too much money for boarding and lodging during orientation, face to face sessions, timed tests or examinations. The university accesses space at schools, private buildings, magistrate courts, police college premises, other institutions for higher learning for use by tutors, and the students

    A developing country like Tanzania has found out that it cannot rely on large sums of money to invest on new projects such as the Open University. It has, instead, borrowed a leaf from other experiences elsewhere to enhance provision of student services. These include the library network run by the Tanzania Library Services Board throughout Tanzania. The Open University finds books and journals from well known international groups and then deposits them in the library network. When the public library system has no branches, arrangements have been made with private libraries

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    After completing this unit, you should be able to :


    Characteristics of Distance Education Systems

    There is no universally agreed and exhaustive list of characteristics of a system in distance education. Holmberg has a ten-process components list of his concept of a distance education system. These are :

    1. Development of a rationale of distance education

    2. Establishing goals and objectives of study

    3. Selection of target groups

    4. Choice of content and structure

    5. Developing mechanisms for organisation and administration

    6. Choice of methods and media used in the presentation of study matter

    7. Selecting methods and media of two-way communication in distance


    8. Course development

    9. Evaluation

    10. Revision

    It has been observed that whereas Holmberg's list would be sufficient for a developed country, Third World Countries would have to add two more. These are:

    11. The politics of credits and credentials

    12. Institutional networking to obtain instructional support from outside


    It is therefore urged that quality assurance should be accorded a very high premium. In the context of teaching in distance education system, there is need to make full use of all the relevant pre-existing educational and communications facilities

    Review Holmberg’s ten-process components list. Do you consider the list exhaustive? If yes, which of the components apply strictly to distance education in your institution? If no, what other components can be added to the list?



    Experience worldwide has shown that distance education systems are dependent quite heavily on the following external (to themselves) agencies.


    A publisher can make or unmake a carefully planned system if he does not guarantee availability of set books. Certain courses require students to read beyond the study materials written by the institution. If these set books come too late, say, after examinations, students will not be keen to read them while their understanding of the course will be limited to the extent that useful supplementary knowledge was lacking.

    Universities which are not their own publishers depend on commercial publishers to produce their study materials after they have gone through the preliminary processes. When these publishers have not been paid or when their machines breakdown or when power is not available, then this causes pandemonium that puts off students. Their plans are put off gear. Quality of published materials is also quite important to the distance education student since illegible text, or loose bound text lead to frustrations.


    An open university is ill equipped to do book selling to its students and the general public. Stocking all the study materials published in its own stores would require investment in large storage facilities. Herein come book sellers who between them can handle an otherwise impossible volume of materials. Where the university policy is to include study materials in the fees structure, the way out is to decentralise store-keeping to Regional Centres. In a case such as Tanzania, this would imply distribution of the consignment to 21 Regional Centre stores, with quantities proportional to number of students registered in the Region.


    For single mode universities, the most cost effective way of conducting science practicals, accessing learned journals, conducting face to face sessions is by making good use of existing facilities at the traditional universities. But this also applies to dual mode universities with students in far flung areas in and outside their countries. If they conduct distance education courses they cannot bring them all to the main campus of the university. It would be cost effective for them too to make use of facilities at other universities.

    Current examples are the Open University of Tanzania whose BSc students do their practicals at the University of Dar es-Salaam and Sokone University of Agriculture. Another example would be the UK Open University which makes use of the Open University of Tanzania to invigilate her students resident in Tanzania during their examinations. In the UK itself, it makes use of many British Universities.

    Local Education Authorities

    These authorities can allow access to school buildings by distance education students who use them as study centres. In Malaysia, it is Government policy that all schools shall make a classroom available for distance education students. Local education authorities can also provide financial support to students especially those with limited means. Mtwara, Lindi and Zanzibar are examples of regional and revolutionary governments which have committed themselves to pay fees or providing loans for some of the students.

    Public Libraries

    These libraries, especially if properly stocked are a great help to distance education students. With new technologies, it is possible to access library holdings in great libraries, a technique referred to as digital libraries. Even for poor and developing countries, the digital library is now at the door steps though projects such as the African Virtual University.

    Reference to the Open University of Tanzania as regards access to the public library network has been made elsewhere in this Module. In a poor and developing country, it is not sufficient to leave it to the public library system alone to fetch for books and journals. The universities have and do assist in the acquisition of such valuable tools in the study programmes of their students.

    Post office

    Many modern and sophisticated ways of dispatching mail and materials may exist but the old Post office is a dependable provider of service to and from students. Working relationships can be worked out between the universities and the Post Office that will ensure safe, fast and affordable delivery system. The students on their part are advised to be very precise with their addresses since many a mail has been misplaced because inaccurate address was used.

    Radio Broadcasting

    The UK Open University found the BBC a very dependable ally in the production and transmission of its programs to her students. Circumstances have changed and its operations have been scaled down. The Open University of Tanzania has not been able to use the State Radio because its establishment coincided with the liberalisation policy that demanded that the State Radio operates commercially and operated without government subsidies. This development has made the venture too expensive for the University to afford. Investment in the radio project would have denied the University an amount that could have published 30 titles per annum. The University opted for the latter course.

    Commercial Printers

    These are very crucial in printing course units and handbooks. For limited quantities, Desktop Publishing would be adequate but for large numbers, commercial printers become necessary.

    Full time staff of other institutions

    As referred to elsewhere, an Open University on the single mode cannot afford to employ all the staff required. Staff student ratio of 1:30 has been proposed for distance education institutions. Relying on its own staff, the Open university of Tanzania has a staff student ratio of 1:106 while it changes to the ratio 1:37 when part time staff from other institutions are counted.

    International links

    The Open University of Tanzania has been able to achieve what it has to-date due to assistance in books from the USA and UK, desk top publishing facilities from UNESCO, staff development scholarships and fellowships from the Association of Commonwealth Universities, financial support for staff training on how to write study materials from Australia, financial assistance from the Commonwealth learning for writers workshops and for production of some titles, a private organisation in the UK which is supporting a project to produce audio tapes for distance education students who are handicapped both the blind and the multi-handicapped, the World Bank which has paid for facilities to enable the University to participate in the African Visual University project.

    International links with Universities

    The University of Nairobi/Open University of Tanzania is a good example of how such links can assist. The University of Nairobi established its B Ed programme in 1985 and produced study materials in 10 subjects namely Business Studies, Economics, Education, English Language, Geography, History, Kiswahili, Linguistics, Mathematics, Philosophy and Religious Studies. The Open University bought materials and used them. Other examples can be cited involving UNED in Spain, IGNOU in India, Hong Kong Open University, Makerere University and the network grows. This way, many short units and leap-froging can be achieved.


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    After completing this unit, you should be able to:


    Programme Planning

    Four factors need to be emphasised in distance education. First factor in the planning is the need to define the educational objectives of the programme. This will constitute the syllabus. Then there is need to carry out an analysis of the subject matter taking into account appropriateness and relevance. Third there is need to look at learner needs and characteristics. Some of these are Immigration officers or Custom officers or non-graduate Primary Court magistrates or Police officers or members of the Prisons service or general administrators. In planning a law course, needs of these men and women dictate environment specific inputs rather than universal principles with little applicability to their situation. Lastly, there is need to look at the institutional framework which will determine manner of delivery, support services, type of technology in communication and several other issues.

    Diagrammatically, this process would appear as follows :

    Educational objectives Analysis of Subject

    ( Syllabus) matter

    Programme planning

    Learner needs

    and characteristics Institutional


    Course Planning

    As you plan the course, the following specific details need to be decided upon :

    . the course title

    . the target group

    . the aims and objectives of the course

    . the content of the course

    . the teaching strategies

    . assessment methods

    . the study time needed

    . resource materials.

    This list is by no means exhaustive. Refer to the Module on Curriculum Development for definition of terms and processes. Compare this list with the information on course planning in Module 3.

    Unit Planning

    Each course will have several units. Each unit should have the following :

    . a title

    . a table of contents

    . a list of objectives

    . study notes on the subject matter

    . activities

    . assignments

    . symbols and illustrations

    When a unit has been completed and before it is released, there is need to pre-test it.

    Pre-testing the Unit

    For each Unit, you need to involve key groups represented by experts in content as well as distance education, peers and the learners. Methods you could employ in the pre-testing exercise could include interviews, questionnaires, tests and group discussions.

    Key questions which could be raised are summarised in the diagram below :

    Learning aids Contents Readability

    Sufficient examples errors Logical structure clear

    graphs and tables incomplete technical terms explained

    key definition presentation too extensive

    motivating intro- pre-knowledge lacking

    ductions references



    related ?


    SAQS and

    assignments related ?  learning objectives

    adequate number of exercises objectives concrete

    adequate degree of difficulty objectives complete

    objective covered



    Tutorial Support

    The need for tutors in student support services has been referred to already. Here, we will summarise in a diagrammatic form the functions of such a tutor.


    Marking counselling student evaluating

    assignment . face to face teaching

    . by correspondence materials

    . by telephone

    . by other communi-

    cation technologies


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    Copy Editing, Printing and Dispatch

    Whichever technology is used, there is need to make sure that the hard copy or the final draft of the manuscript is free from factual errors, grammatical mistakes and no gaps in content have been left unattended. There is nothing as frustrating to a distance education learner as a study material full of mistakes. It is even worse when this is the case with assignments or timed tests or examinations. This is not idle talk since there are recent cases of such lapses leading to appeals to the Vice Chancellor or to Senate for remedy. If it is repeated a few times, then it will make the institution not credit worthy.

    It is important at this stage to agree on a format of the unit as well as its layout. Several institutions have developed house styles which make their study materials recognisable at first sight. Students also identify with study materials whose style they are familiar with.

    Illustrations in distance education study materials are very important. Over a number of years practitioners in distance education have developed symbols that draw readers attention to special features such as objectives, self tests, further reading, things to remember etc. Also many concepts and processes become clearer when diagrams, charts, figures, pictures and so on are used. When corrections have been made routine work leading to printing, binding and dispatch follow.


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    At the end of the unit you should be able to :

    Tanzania- Decision to go single mode

    The first critical decision for Tanzania was how best in a cost effective manner address itself to the very low transition rate from Secondary education level to the tertiary level. Tanzania has one of the lowest transition rates in Africa a fact that has worried policy makers, politicians, parents and the students alike.

    Two options were considered a) expand existing university enrolments by constructing more hostels, lectures theatres, laboratories, staff houses; b) adopt distance education strategies. Option a) was found to be unattainable due to the very high costs involved. Option b) was explored further so as to decide on the single or the dual modes. A committee set up to weigh the pros and cons of the two modes travelled extensively around the world and reported back in 1990 in favour of the single mode. The Committee thought the single mode option gave the institution greater autonomy to plan and execute those plans. It also argued that in times of economic squeeze, distance education in a dual mode setting would be suffocated whereas in a single mode variation, it would still be left with something to keep going.

    The next critical step after Government approval of the single mode option was to translate recommendations on paper to implementation packages. To handle this stage, and ad-hoc Planning Committee was established to do the following :

  • - propose an appropriate draft Bill that would govern an institution devoted to distance education

    - propose where to obtain initial study materials for adoption or adoption since the 1990 Committee recommendations had stressed the need to begin with what was already available rather than wait for another 3-4 years while writing materials from scratch.

    - simultaneously set up machinery to develop new materials in areas not covered from adopted ones and to cover gaps where adopted materials were found inappropriate for Tanzania.

    - establish admission criteria, regional centres from which to serve students, propose various other regulations on fees, assignments, assessment.

    - identify teaching staff-academic, administrative full-time, part-time

    - propose and make contacts with external support services as the library, Post Office, Telephone.

  • The Ad Hoc committee worked for two years after which many things had happened. First, an Act of Parliament establishing the single mode university had been passed. .Key officials had been appointed including the Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, Chairman of Council and Council members. This step was crucial since without them, there would be no legal body to approve programmes, admission and examination regulations, budgets, contracts and agreements with publishers, printers, and all the important things that make a university work.

    Then came the acquisition of study materials. As pointed out in this module, the University of Nairobi had already been conducting the B.Ed programme by distance education for seven years. It was to this university that the new institution turned to for

    a) supply of the first materials and audio cassettes

    b) syllabuses for the B. Ed. programme for first year to the final year

    1. experts to run training workshops

    These workshops introduced workshop participants to the philosophy concepts and practice of distance education, to how distance education systems work; planning distance education programmes; writing of study materials - step by step to the dispatching stage. In the case of materials already written, there were live examples to work on. In new areas such as the B.Sc. and LLB Study materials, workshop participants worked from scratch until the first units had been produced. Guidebooks were also produced for future writers, for tutors who would work with the students and for students explaining what it meant to be a distance education student and how to effectively and efficiently work their way through the system.

    d) Supply of sets of assessment tools developed over the seven years to go with their study materials. These included ordinary assignments on a unit being studied, timed tests at end of a unit and examinations at the end of a course.

    Techniques and skills acquired at these workshops were very useful in developing new materials in areas Nairobi had not written any. They were also useful in the writing of Additional Notes to fill the gaps to replace chapters or Units in the Nairobi study materials. It was felt that certain treatments were Kenya-specific and a Tanzanian student would have to be exposed to knowledge and skills peculiar to his situation. Examples are to be found in History, Economics, Geography and Education.

    Student Support Services

    How does a country go about deciding on the establishment of regional centres? In the case of the National Teachers Institute (NTI) of Nigeria, the political divisions of the country and states were used to create regional centres. Other institutions used criteria they find suitable for their purpose and those of their students. For example in Tanzania, a large country where it is impossible to establish Regional Centres to serve the students all at the same time, a simple rule of thumb was adopted namely that any Region with 40 or more registered students would qualify for a Centre. Those which did not would be served by those which did. Once a year, these Regional Centres are used for up to three weeks for annual examinations, supplementary examinations and for resits for those who missed out in earlier sessions.

    For financial reasons, it has been possible to post full-time Directors at these Regional Centres in only eleven of them so far. The rest are activated when activities are in session. For those with Directors, there are mini-libraries, a PC each, a reading room, copies of each study material published to-date, prospectuses, Guide books, joining instructions. The Directors are in touch with the Head Office by telephone, ordinary mail and some by fax. Similarly the students, a few who communicate via the E Mail. Some Regional Centres now keep stock of audio and video cassettes. With the African Visual University Project, it is hoped to get in touch with all the Regional Centres, through the Internet and Satellite. The World Space Foundation is actively promoting the digital radio technology which will improve even further the communication between the Main Campus, the Regional Centres and the students.

    It has already been pointed out that the University makes full use of the Public Library network. There are 17 such libraries and the gaps are filled by using libraries owned and run by other institutions. The main contributors of books have been the Book Aid International of the UK and the International Book Bank of the USA. Publications with around US$80,000 have been received and distributed to the 2 regions of Mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar. For efficiency, the Directors of Regional Centres meet in Dar-es-Salaam once every 3 months to share experiences, compare rotes and propose new developments. There is a Dean of Students at the Main Campus whose counselling services are carried out by Directors of Regional Centres. She also coordinates supports for the handicapped, especially to blind. A grant of UKú36.000 will enable blind students to register in January 1999 using audio cassettes to be produced at the Main campus in recording books now under construction.

    It is worth mentioning that the first prisoner has applied for admission. The university has already sought permission from the Ministry of Home Affairs to register him. The UK Open University has shared with us their regulations on how to provide support services for such students. Support services for foreign students are a bit tricky but already the University has students resident in Kenya, Lesotho and other neighbouring countries. Regional Centres have been assigned responsibilities for a number of such countries. for example, the Kenyan student has travelled regularly to northern Tanzania towns of Arusha or Moshi but sometimes he has come to Dar-es-Salaam. For one student based in Lesotho, the University uses the authorities in that country, through mutual arrangements.

    Quality assurance

    The Open University of Tanzania commission competent individuals, most of them University based, to write study materials. The first draft is sent to a reviewer whose academic competence is vouched. Comments of the reviewer are used by the original writer to improve the manuscript before it is subjected to a second review to ensure that comments have been incorporated. At all stages the relevant subject specialists and faculty Deans are involved.

    The final draft is submitted to an editor as described in a previous unit. The University pays a token honorarium of US$700 for a unit equivalent to 35 hours of contact in a regular university. The reviewer is paid 10% of this honorarium while the editor is paid 20%. If the manuscript is translated into another language, the translator is paid 50% of the honorarium. Where a few hundred copies are required, all the steps from final stage up to dispatch are done in house. Where thousands of copies are required, the work is tendered to commercial printers. To-date, the University has published over 60 titles while it uses over 100 titles bought annually from the University of Nairobi. Quality of its programmes is also subjected to external scrutiny. External examiners have so far been appointed from the University of Malawi, University of Nairobi as well as the High Court of Tanzania and by academics now serving in both the public and private sectors.

    Quality of the syllabuses, courses and study materials is guaranteed through the involvement of experts from traditional universities as well as experts in distance education. Good materials in incompetent hands could lead to disaster. The appointment of the academic staff observes merit and thus only those with First Class Honours or Upper Second (upper half) are appointed. If they do not possess the PhD degree, they are put on staff development programme. An annual staff review exercise is used to reward the good performers and counsel those not doing so well.

    Because distance education is based on special methodologies all staff irrespective of priority, undergo training at workshops led by resource persons well informed on the philosophy and practice of distance education. This has also involved attachments to IGNOU, UNISA, University of Nairobi and UK Open University. Knowledge is advancing at a quick pace and diverse approaches are required to access it. The African Virtual University project has provided an opportunity for academic staff to update their own skills and knowledge.

    Non-degree programmes

    Many universities in Africa are establishing non-degree programmes within their distance or part time education offerings. Universities such as those in Ibadan, Zaria, Lagos, Accra, Khartoum, Harare, Nairobi, to mention but a few fall in this category. The Open University of Tanzania, for example, has established an Institute of Continuing Education to handle needs of men and women for tailor made courses lasting a few weeks up to one year. Currently there is the Foundation Course which is a bridging course for applicants who do not meet the minimum criteria for admission to the first year of the degree programmes. After one year, those who pass a university set examination are admitted. To-date, two groups have qualified for admission under this arrangement.

    A 13-module Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP) diploma course is nearing finalisation. The Commonwealth Secretariat in London has requested the University to handle its Lusaka based (CYP) since the residential programme is not reaching many youth fast enough. It will be launched in January 1999. A certificate course on training of trainers (TOT) in distance education is being mounted in conjunction with South African Extension Unit (SAEU) which used to cater for South African refugees by distance education method. With political changes in South Africa the SAEU is turning its attention elsewhere.

    Post Graduate Studies

    Busy bureaucrats, college, tutors, public and private sector employees, graduates of the Open University of Tanzania have requested for access for post graduate studies by distance education. Later in 1999 or early 2000 the University will mount its first post graduate studies by distance education. It already has some experience since it was involved in the Rajiv Ghandi Fellowship programme for the Masters in Distance Education launched in 1994-1995 academic year. IGNOU provided the course, COL met the financial obligations and the University tutored the Tanzanian-based students.


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    Some South African Examples of Distance Education Delivery Systems


    Technikon SA is the largest institute for career-related tertiary education in Southern Africa and offers students the opportunity to qualify in a chosen career no matter where the student lives or works. In 1998, over 75 000 students registered at Technikon SA for courses which will support their career development. Technikon SA promotes the concept of lifelong learning, which enables learners to improve their qualifications at any stage of their career. The courses at Technikon SA are drawn up with specific careers in mind and are market-related. Technikon education goes hand-in-hand with work experience, so when they qualify, students are ready for the job. Technikon SA is increasingly using technology to assist in student support, and soon this will include making study material available online.

    The institution’s head office is situated at its main campus in Florida, Gauteng. Lecture, research and office facilities are located here as is the Gold Fields Library and Information Centre that provides students with access to thousands
    of reference works. Students are spread across South Africa. To bring administrative and academic services closer to our students,
    twelve regional offices have been established and a further nine branch offices in the main centres across South Africa. Unlike a university, Technikon SA has Academic Divisions rather than faculties. Each of the Academic Divisions consists of a number of Programme Groups. The Programme Groups focus on specific careers with qualifications ranging in levels from Technikon certificates and national diplomas to degrees.

    More About Technikon SA and Lessons Learned


    The University of South Africa, also known as Unisa, is one of 11 mega distance teaching universities in the world. It was established in 1873 as the University of the Cape of Good Hope. To ensure the status of the university, hence the recognition of degrees conferred by it, the university administration hastened to apply for a royal charter. The governor, Sir Henry Barkly, made representations to the Queen and the charter was granted in 1877. In 1916 its name was changed to the University of South Africa. Under its auspices several colleges became autonomous universities. Over fifty years ago, in 1946, Unisa pioneered tertiary distance education in the western world, a move which heralded the beginning of Unisa as we know it today. Distance education provides a unique opportunity to all who wish to further their studies and who cannot attend residential institutions because of personal circumstances or occupational obligations.

    The University is located in Pretoria, and its impressive campus on Muckleneuk Ridge is a major landmark of the capital city. It has provincial centres in Cape Town, Durban and Pietersburg, Nelspruit and Umtata. The University has 5 learning centres in Pretoria (Thutong), Johannesburg, Durban (Masifunde), Pietersburg, Cape Town and one satelite centre in Umtata. To facilitate its services to approximately 120 000 registered students all over the world, the Unisa Library stocks more than 1,6 million books and journals at the main campus, provincial centres and learning centres in most major centres of South Africa.

    More About UNISA and Lessons Learned


    Colisa is a confederation of three higher education institutions, Unisa, Vista University and Technikon Southern Africa that remain autonomous members of a body which aims at close collaboration by consensus. It is a national resource and reference point for providing quality higher education in South Africa.

    Colisa supports an integrated flexible learning system with regional nodal points whithin which quality distance education can be provided. It has the potential to provide learning opportunities to a vast number of people, especially the disadvantaged, in an effective manner.

    Why Colisa was established?

    Distance education (including the capabilities of advanced technology) is a powerful means of addressing new challenges and the massification of higher education in Southern Africa. The rapid increase in student numbers; the demand for added services such as student support; the use of advanced technology; and new approaches in the design and development of courseware, are but a few of the demands. Southern Africa faces the challenge of a transformed higher education system that is aligned with the needs of a rapidly changing society. The capacity of universities and technikons to respond to these demands are severely constrained by limited resources, a built-in flexibility and the high cost of traditional education practices. Colisa, as a national distance education organization, is establishing a network of learning centres in collaboration with other institutions where quality study material will be supported by face to face tutorials and interactive higher-technology.

    Functions of Colisa

    Colisa strives to attain its mission by

    Colisa Operations

    The operations of Colisa are controlled by a Board consisting of representatives of the constituent partners.

    Colisa emphasises the importance of interactive projects. Joint Task Teams are researching collaboration in

    The Task Teams develop their own terms of reference and with the Board liaise with the relevant bodies in order to initiate, assess, implement and coordinate projects between the three institutions. Savings are effected and improved services rendered to students.

    More About COLISA and Lessons Learned


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    Vista is a multi-campus, mixed-mode university providing tertiary education at seven contact campuses based in major black urban areas and correspondence study through a Distance Education Campus based in Pretoria. With a total student enrolment of 32 182 students, Vista is the second largest university in South Africa, and, having been established in 1982, is also South Africa's youngest university.

    Apart from its academic mission Vista places strong emphasis on community development. The university's Centre for Cognitive Development has extensive experience in providing cognitive education workshops for students and teachers from the pre-primary to tertiary level. A number of community projects are managed by the various campuses and the university has two research units; the Employment Research Unit which focuses on employment creation and the Research Unit for Indigenous Languages which focuses on the development of South Africa's indigenous languages.

    During 1978 the National Party Government appointed a commission of inquiry to investigate university needs and requirements of urban blacks in the Republic of South Africa. The commission submitted its report to the Government during 1980, the outcome of which was the decision to establish Vista University.

    Vista University was established in terms of Act 106 of 1981 and came into being on 1 January 1982 with a central administrative office in Pretoria and decentralised campuses in the main black urban areas. In addition the Distance Education Campus in Pretoria was taken over from the Department of Education and Training on 1 April 1982. Its original purpose was to improve the qualifications of teachers by means of distance tuition. Vista University's first academic year began on 1 January 1983.

    The University currently has eight campuses:

    More About VISTA and Lessons Learned


    Lessons Learned from VISTA


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    The South African College for Teacher Education (SACTE) came into being on 1 March 1996. Its establishment was the result of a merger between two distance education colleges (CESA and CCE) which were both involved in the further education of practising educators.

    The College is a national distance education college, and all diplomas offered are thus recognised by all provincial education departments. The College was established to serve all teachers and all education departments in the country.

    The main campus is located in Groenkloof in Pretoria. The College also has Regional Learning Centres (RLCs) at various regions throughout the country, and if the need arises more will be established.

    At present the College has more than 14 000 active students who are either improving their teaching qualifications from m+0 to m+3 or upgrading to m+4 or m+5 .

    As a national education institution, SACTE commits itself, through distance education and in-service training, to

    The College is also committed to keeping tuition fees as low as possible.

    The College offers all unqualified and underqualified educators and trainers the opportunity to obtain a teaching qualification or upgrade their qualifications through distance education. Entry requirements for the Diploma in Education are an appointment as a teachers, matric and three years' teaching experience or St 8 and five years' teaching experience. For the Higher Diploma in Education and Further Diploma in Education the requirement is an m+3 professional qualification. Candidates for the B Ed must be in possession of an m+4 professional qualification.

    The aims of the College are to provide an opportunity for learning almost at the educator's doorstep and to establish a culture of life-long learning.

    The College prides itself in working closely with all the Education Departments and other tertiary institutions such as universities, technikons and colleges.

    The College also maintains close contacts with its overseas counterparts to keep abreast of new trends and developments.

    The College and its staff are directly involved in supporting, developing and promoting ventures such as Curriculum 2005 and Outcomes-Based Education.

    Although training is through distance education, students are supported by means of ongoing lecturer support, regular tutoring services, supportive audio/video material and telephonic services.

    The College is also involved in community projects such as environmental education.

    Study material consists of packages of interactive learning modules which are frequently updated.

    Study material is presented in an outcomes-based manner.

    Production facilities

    The College has the following production facilities in support of study material:

  • A video studio, with Betacam broadcast-standard equipment, where professional instructional videos are produced.
    A sound booth with state of the art recording equipment for the recording of sound cassettes used for enrichment of study material.
    A graphic studio where visual material, for use in study material, are created.
    A printing unit where all study material and other supportive materials are printed.

  • Courses

    SACTE offers the following Diplomas:

    Diploma in Education (m+3)
    Pre-Primary * Junior Primary * Senior Primary

    Diploma in Education Secondary (m+3)
    General * Home Economics * Technical

    Higher Diploma in Education (m+4)
    Pre Primary * Junior Primary * Senior Primary * Secondary

    Higher Diploma in Education (Post Graduate)
    Junior Primary * Senior Primary * Secondary

    Further Diplomas in Education (m+5) in specialised fields of study

    FDE Home Economics
    FDE Education Management
    FDE Economic Sciences
    FDE English Language Teaching
    FDE Computer Science
    FDE Mathematics and Natural Sciences for the Junior Secondary Phase
    FDE School Subjects
    FDE Technical
    FDE Special Educational Needs

    B Ed degree

    This B Ed offered in conjunction with the University of Natal, has been designed to provide educators and trainers with opportunities for career development. This degree enables the educators to develop additional competencies, equip them with an understanding of practices and enable them to make better decisions. The B Ed promotes appropriate skills and values.

    All courses are offered in modular format.

    More About SACTE and Lessons Learned


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    SAIDE was formed as an educational trust in June 1992. For the purpose of :

    More About SAIDE and Lessons Learned


    The Rand Afrikaans University, situated in Johannesburg - the focal point of South Africa's mining, finance and manufacturing industries - was established in 1967 as the academic home of Afrikaans-speaking students of the Witwatersrand. It was the aspiration of the Afrikaans community in the Witwatersrand to establish its own Afrikaans university that would specifically meet the educational needs of the fast-increasing Afrikaans-speaking population of the Witwatersrand. RAU was intended, through its Afrikaans spirit and character, to further and enrich the culture, philosophies of life and pursuits of the Afrikaner nation. As the first stage in the pursuit of an Afrikaans university, the "Goudstadse Onderwyskollege" (the "Goudstadse" College of Education) was established in 1961. Negotiations were also entered into with the University of South Africa (UNISA) to move its headquarters from Pretoria to Johannesburg, but the effort failed. On 4 August 1965, Minister Jan de Klerk announced that UNISA would remain in Pretoria, but that an independent Afrikaans university would be established for the Witwatersrand, with its headquarters in Johannesburg.

    RAU College of Distance Learning is committed to creating, for every teacher in South Africa, the opportunity to obtain the professional qualifications, knowledge and skills to reach the highest level in their careers and enjoy the concurrent personal enrichment that will ensure a better future.

    A number of contact lectures are held throughout the year at the RAU and other centres countrywide where course content and related problems are discussed. However, a minimum of 20 students must be registered in an area for a specific course, before a centre can be opened.

    More About RAU and Lessons Learned

    Give a comparative account of the distance education delivery system in Tanzania and that of a named distance education institution in South Africa. What lessons can be learned for improving DE in your institution or country?


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    World Bank Global Distance Education Network

    The World Bank’s Human Development Network - Education and Technology Team has developed the Global Distance Education Network (Global DistEdNet). Phase 1 consisted of the web site architecture, content selection, structure, and the provision of resources at the World Bank web site. Phase 2 involves further development of Global DistEdNet through partnerships among a number of institutions world wide. A number of instutions world wide have been invited as collaborating partners for the Global DistEdNet The The South African Institute for Distance Education (SAIDE) based in Johnanesburg, South Africa is the first partner in the Southern Africa region. Other regional partners are being identified. Eventually the Global Distance Education Network will consist of the World Bank’s Global DistEdNet core site and a number of partner institutions representing different regions of the world. It is expected that in 1999, partner institutions identified as having established capacity for knowledge management in distance education will further develop their systems for collecting and disseminating information about distance education in that part of the world where they are located. The URL for the Global; DistEdNet is

    A consultative meeting was held at the World bank’s headquarters in Washington DC in June 1998 to address the following :

    The three-day meeting examined the following: overall vision of the Global DistEdNet, partnership and governance, operational issues (content focus, content generation and selection, copyright, content processing, content updating, monitoring & evaluation), technology issues, resources, and future steps.

    The meeting agreed that (i) the global DistEdNet will foster co-operative pooling of knowledge resources by partner institutions around the world, which entails decentralisation of responsibility for developing, assembling and maintaining content-rich web sites which will be linked to sites at the other partner institutions, (ii) systematic management is required to deal with the large quality and variability of distance education information. Thus the value added by Global DistEdNet is that the information sources have been screened, selected, and classified, and (iii) the development of this network is expected to be a source of learning on the specific needs, capabilities and resources in developing countries for learning about distance learning and sharing good practices across countries.

    The prototype web has been organised using four domain frameworks of Teaching and Learning, Technology, Management, and Policy and Programs. Each partner institution will dedicate a portion of their web sites to Global DistEdNet. Through a structure of well- developed hotlinks, these various contributions from partner institutions will constitute the collective pool of knowledge resources developed for Global DistEdNet. The partner institutions are to function as cultural and geographical representatives in the development of the Global DistEdNet.

    Head, Educational Technology Team

    World Bank Group

    Rm J 3081, 1818 H St NW

    Washington, DC 20433


    Tel: 202 473 1985

    Fax: 202 522 3233


    The South African Institute for Distance Education

    SAIDE’s Resource Centre

    Braamfontein, Johannesburg

    Republic of South Africa

    Summary and Conclusion

    We set out in this module to learn about distance education delivery systems in higher education and to study some examples of successful practices with a view to learning lessons that can be applied to our different settings.

    We learned in the module that:

    We also learned of four factors that need to be emphasised in distance education. These are (1) the need to define the educational objectives of the programme. This will constitute the syllabus. (2) Then there is need to carry out an analysis of the subject matter taking into account appropriateness and relevance. (3) There is need to look at learner needs and characteristics. (4) Lastly, there is need to look at the institutional framework which will determine manner of delivery, support services, type of technology in communication and several other issues.

    To give concrete frame to these issues, the cases of The Open University of Tanzania and six distance education delivery institutions in South Africa were studied. It is hoped that as you worked through this module, you have been able to learn a number of lessons that you plan to deploy for improving distance education in your institution or country.


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