Open and distance learning What are the benefits for Africa, and what is its future

Open and distance learning What are the benefits for Africa, and what is its future

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Open and distance learning: What are the benefits for Africa, and what is its future? Thierry Karsenti Faculty of Education, University of Montreal, Canada thierry.karsenti@umontreal.ca Simon Collin Faculty of Education, University of Montreal, Canada simon.collin@umontreal.ca Abstract: This paper presents the results of a three-year longitudinal study (2007–2010) on open and distance learning (ODL) programs in Africa offered by the Agence universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF), the equivalent of the Commonwealth for French-speaking countries. We employed a mixed-method approach, including (1) an online questionnaire targeting students who were taking or had recently completed an ODL program offered by AUF in 2008 (N = 626); and (2) semi-directed individual phone interviews (N = 24). We performed descriptive and inferential analyses (SPSS) of the questionnaire data and a thematic analysis (QDA Miner) of the interview transcripts. In this presentation, we focus on the results concerning students’ challenges and satisfactions as well as the benefits of ODL programs. We draw some conclusions about the pros and cons of ODL in the current African sociocultural context. Introduction We present the results of a three-year longitudinal study (2007–2010) on open and distance learning (ODL) programs in Africa offered by the Agence universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF). We focus on the results of the second research year concerning students’ challenges and satisfactions as well as the benefits of ODL programs. We draw some conclusions about the pros and cons of ODL in the current African sociocultural context. Setting the Context ODL is rapidly gaining ground around the world (Glickman, 2002 ; Shop.org, 2001). In developing countries ODL is viewed as a way to train qualified workers in their own sociocultural contexts, with no need to migrate from South to North. However, ODL programs have a number of drawbacks such as high dropout rates and lack of individualized supervision (Bernard & Amundsen, 1989 ; Blay, 1994 ; Bourdages & Delmotte, 2001 ; Brindley, 1987 ; Fredda, 2000 ; Garrison, 1985, 1987 ; Morgan & Tam, 1999 ; Powell, Conway & Ross, 1990 ; Scalese, 2001 ; Visser, 1998), to which we may add the many challenges that developing countries face, starting with access to adequate technologies so that students can enrol in the programs (Oladele, 2001; Intsiful, Okyere & Osae, 2003; Selinger, 2001; Tunca, 2002; Bakhoum, 2002). In such circumstances, the question arises as to whether ODL is really effective in developing countries. In an attempt to respond to this question, we investigated African students who were taking or had recently taken an ODL program - 1869 -
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offered by AUF. The objective was to better understand students’ challenges and satisfactions with ODL and how they benefited from it. Method
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This note was uploaded on 03/13/2011 for the course PUK 202 taught by Professor Roth during the Spring '10 term at Universität Klagenfurt.

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Open and distance learning What are the benefits for Africa, and what is its future

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