Awareness campaign and sensitization of stakeholders in distance education. In Kenya, many decision makers at the policy level do not understand the meaning, scope, depth and importance of alternative deliveries or channels of higher distance education.
There is need therefore for decision makers to understand existing forms of distance education, and challenges facing current Distance Education programmes.
Effective planning (Physical and Financial Planning); management of Distance Education intervention strategies.
Capacity building of decision makers in information communication technologies (ICT), This is important because distance education delivery methods have improved dramatically through the use of modern technologies.
Understanding the current use of modern multi-media technologies in distance education.
Appreciate the importance of quality learner support systems in distance education.
Quality Assurance mechanisms in Distance Education to be implemented.
KNOWLEDGE BASE FOR DISTANCE EDUCATION IN HIGHER EDUCATION – KENYA
A knowledge base for Distance Education in Kenya would be used to support decision makers, and other stakeholders in the country. This resource would make all information pertaining to distance education easily accessible either electronically or in print. Since the Ministry of Education does not have a specific unit dealing with distance higher education, it is very difficult to get information.
Since the state of Internet connectivity in Kenya is slow compared to countries like South Africa, it is appropriate to focus on two strategies for providing access to information. Therefore, the knowledge base could comprise a web-based database, and a back-up base in print format.
The following types of information could be relevant to the knowledge base:
Institutions of Distance Education in Kenya
This might focus on both private and public institutions which provide distance education. For example:
Public and private universities.
Institutes / faculties / departments of Distance Education.
Middle level colleges with international partnership in providing foreign and international degrees.
Information on Distance Education Opportunities in Kenya
Opportunities related to various kinds of undergraduate degrees, Masters degrees and Post graduate degrees and higher diplomas. Information on course descriptions, assessment and accreditation would be provided.
Different Models of Delivery of Distance Education in Kenya
Information on the choice, affordability and relevancy of different modes of delivery would be provided. For instance:
Suitable Technologies for Distance Education
The knowledge would be required to provide information on availability of complete course materials and the format. Availability of course materials would be enhanced by information on materials available regionally, continent-wide and also internationally. This would reduce duplication of efforts and wastage of money. The knowledge base could also link to other relevant existing databases in the world. For adaptation of course materials it is useful to customize content to suit the environment, culture, target group and relevancy.
Available Research and Evaluation Reports in Distance Education
The knowledge base will include information on research on distance education. Research could include the following:
Commissioned researches in Distance Education and Open Learning by all stakeholders in Education, universities, non-Governmental Organizations, Ministries, donors, World Bank etc.
Dissertations of students at Masters and Ph.D. levels.
Donors who support research and evaluation in Distance Education
Existing partnerships and networks available in Distance Education
For such a database to succeed, it would have to be integrated with existing organizations and networks. For instance, the Open Learning Association of Kenya (OPLAK) and Open Learning Distance Association of East Africa (OLDEA-EA). A knowledge base would rely on Electronic database which would be created and updated by the Open Learning Association of Kenya (OPLAK). Therefore, the Open Learning Association of Kenya (OPLAK) would host the database both in electronic and print formats as a back-up. Therefore, no one single university in Kenya would claim ownership of the database, hence reduce ownership wrangles among academics.
This paper has provided an analysis of distance higher education in Kenya. It has attempted to highlight the institutional setting of distance education providers, information needs, tasks and challenges facing decision makers in Kenya. This paper finally tries to suggest essential components that would form a knowledge base in Kenya.
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