Monitoring and Reflecting on the Impact of Quality Assurance Interventions through Action Research: A Case of CODeL at the University of Namibia
Open and Distance Learning (ODL) is an important method of delivering Higher Education in Namibia due to its massive geographical dispersion. ODL is seen in Namibia as “an approach to learning that focuses on freeing learners from constraints of time, space and place, while offering flexible learning opportunities” (NOLNet, 2016, p. vi). The University of Namibia established the Centre for Open, Distance and eLearning (CODeL) in 2016, formerly called the Centre for External Studies (CES), “in August 1992 as an academic Centre to ensure greater access to Higher Education and equity for students with various educational backgrounds” (UNAM, 2011, p. 1). CODeL has 12 Centres, 7 uniquely established standalone Centres and 5 Centres linked to an already existing university campus situated in all major towns and cities in Namibia through which it provides its ODL services to students across the country. // ODL does not come without challenges, some of which are lack of comprehensive ODL policies, underfunding, limited use of ICTs, inadequate learner support services, lack of or ineffective quality assurance systems and negative perceptions about ODL (SADC, 2009). In regards to ineffective quality assurance systems, ODL institutions in Southern Africa are found to have minimal consideration for the quality of provision of ODL because they “tend to use the same kind of academic verification processes that traditional contact-based institutions use in ODL quality assurance processes and therefore do not respond to the needs of ODL programmes” (SADC, 2009, p. 18). In an effort to address this challenge, SADC developed a Regional ODL Policy Framework to “promote the development and deployment of effective, harmonised Open and Distance Learning, increase access to quality education and training and support regional integration across SADC” (SADC, 2012, p. 22). This ODL Policy Framework informed the development of the National ODL Policy for Namibia, effective since 2016. // ODL has proven effective in enabling students across Namibia to access University education. As a dual-mode institution, however, the University of Namibia faces similar challenges as those found in the SADC Region. One example was that the University of Namibia’s Quality Assurance Policy had minimal provisions on ODL aspects of the University. // Paper ID 260
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