The Fourth Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF4)
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Ontiretse Tau

Workshop description: Collaboration to Build Research Capacity in Distance Education Institutions in Southern Africa

Ontiretse Tau
Centre for Continuing Education, University of Botswana

Robert Chimedza
Zimbabwe Open University

Mamolete Mohapi
National University of Lesotho

Joseph Mutangira
Department of Adult Education

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     Last modified: October 27, 2006
     Presentation date: 11/01/2006 11:45 AM in NT Ortanique
     (View Schedule)

The Distance Education Association of Southern Africa is a community of practice organization in Open and Distance Learning in Southern Africa. It is made up of 20 ODL institutions from eight countries. In line with the UN Millennium Development Goal to Develop Global Partnerships, DEASA has embarked on an extensive collaboration in capacity building in the area of research.

With limited resources the Association has committed itself to an initiative to build capacity in research for human resources in member institutions in order to develop and improve ODL practice in the region. This is done to improve their practice using their own expertise and resources, augmented by other accessible resources such as COL PREST materials. However, collaboration and assistance from external sources is needed in the facilitation of future workshops and related activities.

A need analysis was carried out and it demonstrated that there was a great need (and interest) to develop capacity in research in the region. Also, there was indication that the region has enough experts to help mentor those emerging researchers. Based on the needs analysis, the Association planned and is currently running a series of research capacity building workshops for its members. Moreover, the Association has initiated a research proposal intended to achieve two objectives, i) to research the area of learner support in member institutions. The Association considers learner support to be a priority area for ODL development in the region; ii) to facilitate the acquisition of skills in the conduct of research. The study will give the emerging researchers an opportunity for a hands-on experience mentored by expert researchers as well as afford mentors opportunity to horn their mentorship’s skills.

By equipping ODL practitioners in the region with research skills the Association hopes to produce reflective practitioners who inform their practice with on-going research. Such information will be disseminated through the DEASA Journal and other publications. The panel will discuss and share its experiences in terms of the process it has gone through, achievements so far and its plans for the future.

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