Collaboration in Distance Education as a Strategy for Supporting National and Regional Development: The UTech-Jamaica Experience of Challenges and Opportunities

Jeanette Bartley, Continuing Education, Open and Distance Learning, University of Technology

Forum Theme: “Achieving Development Goals”
(SubTheme: Collaboration)

Within the Caribbean, there is the increasing demand for a knowledge-based workforce, the blending of professional expertise with regional history/culture; and the urgent need for tertiary level training especially in technical-vocational areas. In response, the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech) is developing a dual learning modality for educational outreach through diverse collaborative initiatives. These initiatives are made possible by the use of advanced information and communication technology systems to redefine time/territorial boundaries, increase connectivity and expand access to life-long learning opportunities.

Collaboration in distance learning has been a key strategy for UTech in the pooling of technical, financial and human resources. A variety of collaborative arrangements have evolved through partnerships and franchise agreements with local, regional and international organizations, funding agencies and other educational providers. Despite the varied challenges relating to time lags, cultural and geographical differences, and maintaining stakeholder consensus and synergy; there have been invaluable institutional gains arising from the shared resources and teaching-learning experiences.

One observation arising from the UTech experience is that using distance education as a means for facilitating national and regional development requires more than the effort of an individual, institution or country. This approach requires collective will and long-term commitment of all stakeholders.

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