Serendipity in Northern Zambia: Developing Online Learning and Sustainable Energy Programs at the Zambian College of Open Learning

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

During a tea break at the 2016, PCF8 conference in Malaysia, the authors had the fortune and pleasure of meeting.
One author, the founder and president of t he Zambi a College for Open Learning which is based in Solwezi, Zambia. The other author, an educational consultant and university lecturer based in Canada. This serendipitous meeting led to a fruitful and long

term working and personal relationship that ha s resulted in the development of an online learning system aimed at pre

service and in

service teachers, the development of a series of professional development workshops aimed at upgrading the skills of ZAMCOL faculty and staff and partnerships with like

minded organisations including the Open University of Tanzania. Over the last two years we have launched over 100 online courses across six program areas including Business Studies, Technology Studies, Education, Science, Mathematics, Languages and Social Sciences. This paper takes the form of a case study to explore the challenges we have encountered along the way and the ways in which we have solved them. The emphasis isn’t simply on problem solving but on being open to embracing unusual challenges and th e serendipitous solutions that often result. As an example, a major challenge for our more rural students is poor access to electricity. Indeed, electrical shortages even at the main campus are common. Our solution was to work with a solar engineering comp any with offices in Zimbabwe and Canada to develop a small solar field that would produce enough power for the college and a surplus that the Zambian Electricity Supply Authority would purchase at market rates. The remainder of the case study provides reco mmendations for embracing ambiguity and serendipity in education and also discusses future challenges including transforming the college into a university and building research and teaching capacity among the ZAMCOL faculty members. Readers of the article and participants in the presentation are encouraged to consider what opportunities are available to them right now as well as which opportunities they may have missed either personally or professionally. // Paper ID 49

Online Learning,Monitoring and Evaluation,Outreach,Quality Assurance