Technology Based Distance Education for Adult Learners -A Case of Botswana

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

PCF3 // Technology driven distance education plays an important role in the development of higher education especially in assisting adult learners. In the context of Botswana, the development of distance education and the significance of technology in the delivery process is examined. Finally, the future prospects and the viable technology for the distance education programmes is suggested. // Among different innovative methods of education, distance education mode gained prominence in the development of higher education in recent years. The obvious reasons for this choice are flexibility, economized mode, learner friendly, adults’ favourite. Commonwealth of Learning(COL) has been playing a vital role as a catalyst in advocating the use of modern communication technologies in distance education for different clientele. Some developed countries put more emphasis on technology, some go by traditional approach (print media) and others use the combination of latest technology and traditional approaches to complement each other in the learning process. // Technology based distance education is termed as the delivery of courses/programmes through different means of technology. In distance education, technology is used to communicate with the learner instead of depending mainly on the teacher lecturing. Each and every means of technology that is used in distance education will work towards effective communication of information. // In the context of Botswana, the distance education, although dated back 1986 (as a provider), its effective use and expansion is of a recent phenomenon. Pre-tertiary education by distance mode has been in place for quite sometime, but the tertiary education is of a recent occurrence. // The Government of Botswana is committed for the development of distance education through its lead agency (NDP 8) i.e. University of Botswana, the only higher learning institution in the country by adapting the latest developments in distance education especially technology based and technology supported approaches. Further, the government is willing to strengthen the technology supported distance education programmes. Since the country has a sound economic base, it took deliberate steps to assist adults (be it employed or otherwise busy in the domestic work) through the delivery of technology based distance education. // Technology based distance education will yield more benefits to the learner who can access it at their own pace, time and geographical location. Recently, the University of Botswana and Botswana College of Distance and Open Learning (BOCODOL) have introduced some new programmes and also installed latest equipment needed for the programmes. // In view of the importance attached to technology supported distance education and also on the basis of demand for programmes through distance mode, this paper analyses the following: // • Development of distance education in Botswana. // • Significance of technology based distance education for Botswana. // • Current programmes of operation and their relevance. // • Current status or available means of technology used for distance education. // • Future prospects and the viable technology for distance education programmes. // While analysing the above issues, the most viable technology, among the available technologies, is suggested for teaching and learning through distance education programmes in the country.