Staff Development for Distance Education: Challenges and the Way Forward

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

PCF2 // Before we start discussing the issue of staff development for distance education we need to talk about what open and distance education (ODE) are. Open learning has its sub-set, distance education. They both aim at reducing the barriers that can prevent students from attending formal education. ODE aims at providing a learning environment to learners who study for the highest probability of succeeding in their learning experiences. By using self-instructural materials, ODE open up opportunities for access to education and provide chance of success (Laymaman 2001:1). // However, for any educational system to be sustainable and effective, there is need for staff development. In the case of ODE programmes, well trained staff is vital. Based on ODE programme at Domasi College of Education under Secondary School Teachers Education Project (SSTEP), the issue of staff development is well motivated because of the following challenges: shortness of residential period, huge numbers of teachers-learners, need for the teacher-learners to be encouraged to learn on their own, need for lecturers to produce modules that are user friendly. The produced modules also need to be professionally written and edited. Another challenge is that facilitators, supervisors and teacher-learners should be aware of lack of adequate teaching and learning materials in secondary schools. // In view of these challenges, there is need for equipping teaching and supervising teams with special skills for the success of the ODE systems. This paper further highlights challenges that professional staff (lecturers and supervisors) meet in running an ODE programmes based on a similar programme existing at Domasi College of Education (DEC) in Malawi. Possible solutions to some of the staff development problems have also been suggested. However, we need to first of all, understand the nature ODE at DCE before any discussion. //