Building Online Education Capacity during a Pandemic - from Concept to Action in Developing Regions

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

PCF10 Sub-theme: Building Resilience // This paper describes a learning journey which started with a COL-supported webinar series addressing ‘Learning Design leading to Sensitisation for Online Course Development using OER’. The webinar OER materials were hosted on Moodle and required participants to complete a series of related online activities interspersed between the synchronous sessions. The high-level output of this stage was the drafting of an institutional, faculty, or departmental action plan to propagate deeper understanding and new skills at an institutional level. The second stage was the refinement of these Action Plans using a Results-Based Management approach, with the third stage being the COL-supported implementation of these plans. // In a COL collaboration with the Southern African Development Community Centre for Distance Education (SADC-CDE), the first cohort of 39 participants were drawn from four educational institutions: College of Open Schooling (COS) at Botswana Open University (BOU); Institute for Adult Education (IAE) in Tanzania; Lesotho Distance Teaching Centre (LDTC); and Namibia College of Open Learning (NAMCOL). COS BOU, LDTC, and NAMCOL continued this journey through to the final (3rd) implementation stage. // A revised webinar programme was repeated for the West African Sub-region (WASR) under a COL collaboration with the Regional Training and Research Institute for Distance and Open Learning (RETRIDOL). This involved 39 participants from Cameroon, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and the Gambia, drawn from educational institutions and national education ministries. Although this cohort did not progress to the 2nd stage of action plan refinement supported by COL, intentions were to refine plans at a national level for the WASR States. // Throughout the webinar series regular online reflections were encouraged using the Moodle blog, and a final reflection based on the Brookfield Critical Incident Questionnaire was undertaken at the conclusion of each cohort experience. Useful feedback was obtained indicating factors that sparked engagement and what constituted challenges for each cohort. // Finally, findings relating to the two cohorts’ engagement and experience of their journeys are presented, and achievements of participating institutions and countries with reference to their goals and plans are recognised. Lessons learned by the project leader and collaborators are identified, and potential improvements suggested. The projects took place during the Covid-19 pandemic within which all participating institutions and the facilitator were in lockdown in their home countries (2020/2021) and experienced associated challenges. // Paper ID 4780

Online Learning,Learning Design,Open Educational Resources (OER),Professional Development,Developing World,Capacity Building,Open Schooling,Higher Education
South Africa,Botswana,Namibia,Tanzania,Cameroon,Ghana,Sierra Leone,The Gambia