Development of Distance Education Courseware at the Namibian College of Open Learning (NAMCOL)
The Programmes and Materials Development (PMD) division at NAMCOL is responsible for planning new distance education programmes and courses, drafting and editing all study materials, laying these out in a user-friendly manner as well as ensuring that materials are printed packed and despatched to learners.
The main medium of instruction at NAMCOL is print which is supplemented by the following:
- audio cassettes
- radio programmes
- web-based lessons
Different Approaches to Course Writing
NAMCOL uses two different approaches to course writing. Each approach, of course, presents its own challenges and benefits. Thes approcahes are:
- the single writer approach, and
- the team writers approach.
Course teams are appointed by the College to develop new courses or to revise existing ones. A course team may consist of the following members:
- Course Writers/Course Revisers
- Programme Developer/Instructional Designer
- Content Editor
- Language Editor
- Proof Reader
- Materials Production Manager
- Programme Manager
- DTP Technician
The Writing Process
This is the most challenging part of an otherwise dynamic process. The teams have been trained in writing distance education materials by NAMCOL, production schedules have been compiled and accepted by the team, and, frankly, everyone is enthusiastic about the new baby.
One month, two months into the process and the first signs of writers' fatigue become visible. Some quit outright, others hold on to half-written units like a drowning (wo)man clutching a straw.
Time is running out for this baby which is scheduled to be born during the new year. Production schedules become like those New Year's resolutions you don't want to reminded about. Substitute writer(s)with the necessary subject expertise needs to be recruited and trained.
A flurry of activities ensues now. Everyone is concerned about the unborn baby. So the process starts all over again and as the saying goes in Programmes and Materials Development at NAMCOL: "The work never ends."