Open and Distance Learning

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Rupantar Open and Distance Learning

Vision To emerge as a leading Open and Distance Learning (ODL) provider in the Non Government sector in South Asia on a variety of topics related to good governance and civil society’s role in strengthening democracy.

Mission To use ODL effectively in supporting the mission of Rupantar and its development objectives.


Realising the potentials of Open and Distance Learning (ODL), Rupantar has taken an initiative to use it to provide training to the elected members of local government and citizen leaders through a 4 module course on “Strengthening Local Government”. The course has been developed with the assistance of the Commonwealth of Learning, Vancouver, Canada. Beside this, Rupantar would also like to take forward and promote ODL in Bangladesh, particularly within the NGO community, to offer many other courses relevant to the local needs for development. In order to make this possible and also to run the first DOL course successfully, a separate unit within Rupantar has been planned, and this document outlines the structure and functions of various operational strategies of ODL-Rupantar.

Open Distance Learning

For Rupantar, ODL is yet another strategy for social transformation, where it will use print, radio, video, pot-song and theatre and other communication channels to support learning and development at community, sub-national and national level.

Organizational Structure Rupantar-ODL shall be a unit with a distributed structure, and it will take support and help from Rupantar’s press, upcoming Community Radio, Audio-Visual unit and the existing Rupantar Institute of Folk Theatre (RIFT). It will have a small unit at the Headquarter with a small staff, and a large network of Distance Learning Facilitators spread all over the working area of Rupantar.

Learning Support Centres There shall be Learning Support Centres (LSC) as facilities either created by Rupantar or developed in partnership with other agencies (Govt/ non-govt.). These centres shall be the meeting place for the learners for all groups and activities including tutoring and counselling. There shall be a small library and reading room, a radio listening room and space for group discussion and tutorial support. As far as possible, the LSC shall be located at the Union Porishad, which normally has adequate space to accommodate the activities of the centre. Depending on the requirements, there shall be one or more Distance Learning Facilitator (DLF) in one LSC.

Function of Rupantar-ODL The Rupantar-ODL shall be the main wing of Rupantar to design, develop and deliver training programmes through technology and methods of ODL on a wide range of topics and areas relevant to the activities of Rupantar.

Staff of Rupantar-ODL The following staff shall be available for the regular activities of Rupantar-ODL:

  • Manager, ODL (Full-time)
  • Asst. Manager, ODL (Full-time)
  • Distance Learning Facilitators (Part-time)
  • Course Team Members (depending on course development; all part-time drawn from various fields)

Manager, ODL Reporting to the Director, Rupantar, and the Manager (ODL) shall be the overall in-charge for design, development and delivery of ODL courses and programmes of Rupantar. He/She shall:

  • Manage all activities of Rupantar-ODL;
  • Organize and conduct capacity building training, orientation and workshops on ODL for course-writers, DLFs and other stakeholders;
  • Coordinate with Chairperson(s), Course Writers, Subject Matter Experts, DLFs and other stakeholders including national and international agencies;
  • Liaise with other units of Rupantar for effective functioning of Rupantar-ODL;
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of ODL programmes of Rupantar;
  • Promote ODL in Bangladesh through a variety of media and methods; and
  • Perform any other work assigned to him in the interest of Rupantar.

Assistant Manager, ODL Reporting to the Manager (ODL), the Assistant Manager (ODL) shall assist the Manager (ODL) in all activities of Rupantar-ODL. He/She shall:

  • Organize capacity building training, orientation and workshops on ODL for course-writers, DLFs and other stakeholders;
  • Collect information about learners needs, difficulties, etc. to improve programme offerings;
  • Maintain database of the learners, their performances and other stakeholders;
  • Support learners through email, phone and letters;
  • Liaise with DLFs for effective delivery of programmes;
  • Coordinate material development activities and facilitate course team activities; and
  • Perform any other work assigned to him in the interest of Rupantar.

Distance Learning Facilitator Reporting to Manager (ODL), the Distance Learning Facilitator (DLF) shall perform the following functions:

  • Provide clarification on content related problems of the learners;
  • Motivate and encourage the learners to complete the programme;
  • Encourage development of collaborative self-help groups;
  • Manage information resources in the learning resource centre;
  • Keep record of progress of the learners;
  • Support learners over phone;
  • Facilitate ‘radio school’ and organize counselling sessions, pot-song performances’
  • Collect feedback from the learners for programme evaluation;
  • Organize meetings of learners at the LSC; and
  • Perform any other work assigned to him in the interest of Rupantar.

Course Team Every Course Team (CT) shall constitute the following members to serve on part-time basis, the design, development and effective delivery of a specific programme (e.g. Strengthening Local Government)

  • Chairperson (Subject Matter Expert) - 01
  • Course Writers (01-10, as per the requirements)
  • Graphic Designers (01-02)
  • Print Production (01)
  • Monitoring an Evaluation (01)
  • Audio-Visual Media Expert (01)
  • Instructional Designer (or a trained ODL writer other than the subject) (01)

For every programme/course there shall a CT. Roles and reponsibilities of CT members are as follows:

Chairperson: The Chairperson shall be the overall advisor and quality control officer for the programme. As a Subject-Matter Expert, he/she shall edit the learning materials, and chair the meetings of the Course Team. He/she will coordinate with the Manager (ODL) for all activities of the CT; and shall also conduct the proceedings of the CT meeting and recommend the decisions taken to Director, Rupantar for implementation in the programme.

Course Writers: They are subject matter experts, who receive training on how to write self-learning materials and contribute to the course development of Rupantar.

Graphic Designers: The role of graphic designers is to develop relevant graphics for the course under development. They should ideally attend all the Course Team meetings to have an idea of the project and liaise with Course Writers to develop relevant graphics for the units.

Print Production: In coordination with the Manager (ODL), the pint production expert will finalize the print related task for the programme. All printing related tasks shall be performed by the print production expert.

Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E): The M&E expert shall plan and develop monitoring and evaluation strategies for the programme based on sound principles, and implement the same during the launch of the programme. The ODL unit shall take his/her help from time to time during the launch of the programme. However, as part of the CT, he/her primary role shall be development of the strategic plan for M&E of the programme.

Audio-Visual Expert: The AV expert shall be identifying and developing the audio-video materials related to the programme/course in consultation with the Manager (ODL). However, he/she shall be part of the CT team in all the meetings to lease and coordinate with the members of CT to develop the contents of the AV materials.

Instructional Designer: He/She shall be a person who has received training on ODL material development and/or Instructional Design. Such a person shall be there to advise the CT in development of programme/course outline, and Course design documents. He/She shall also do the format editing of the course/programme.

Programme Delivery of Rupantar-ODL

For every programme of Rupantar-ODL there shall be one or more of the following:

  • Printed lessons in modular format written to promote self-learning;
  • Learner support through DLF and LSC;
  • Use of pot-song and theatre performances;
  • Rupantar Radio; and
  • Video programme.

For supporting the learners, in each programme there shall be some face-to-face engagements shall be decided as per perceived need. In the Strengthening Local Government course there shall be at least 2 face-to-face meeting organised at LSC by each DLF. The purpose of these meetings shall be to develop self-help groups, encourage collaborative learning, show pot-song performances, organise ‘Radio School’, and view video programmes.

Material Format

The ODL printed materials developed by Rupantar shall adhere to the principles of distance learning materials, including the five characteristics of self-learning materials: self-explanatory, self-directed, self-motivating, self-contained, self-evaluating. The materials shall be prepared in conversational language, with rich illustrations, and self-assessment questions. Besides sections and sub-sections of the content, each unit of ODL material shall have the following:

  • Introduction: Bhumika
  • Objectives: Uddeshya
  • Structure: Visaya suchi
  • Self-Assessment Questions: Swa-mulyayeeta prashna
  • Summary: Saransha
  • Activity: Karma-kanda
  • Terminal Questions: Path samapani prashna
  • Glossary: Sabdartha
  • Answers to Self-Assessment Questions: Swa-mulyayeeta prashnottar

The Physical format of the materials shall be as follows:

  • Module cut finish size: 11” X 8” (A4 international)
  • Print area size: 9” X 6”
  • Left side blank space in each facing page: 2”
  • Title of the Unit: 24 pt font size
  • Main Headings (Sections): 18 pt font size
  • Sub-headings (Sub-sections): 16 pt font size
  • Text: Normal 14 pt font size

As far as possible, depending on the content there shall be graphics in each page, and after SAQs, there shall be space to complete it. Learner Performance Assessment Rupantar-ODL shall use a variety of flexible approaches to assess learner performance and achievement of learning objectives, including, but not limited to:

  • Self-assessment questions in the learning materials;
  • Activities (task to be performed by the learners and feedback provided by the DLF);
  • Observation by peer team and/or experts;
  • Home Assignment (to be taken up later); and
  • Formal oral/written Examination (to be used later).

Programme Evaluation

All ODL programme of Rupantar shall be constantly monitored and evaluated for its impact assessment, and it shall be a continuous process. Feedback shall be gathered from:

  • Learners (on quality of materials and services received)
  • DLFs (about learners’ progress and difficulties, if any)
  • Others.

Staff Development

Improving the efficiency of the staff engaged in ODL programme activities, including the course writers and DLF shall be a primary focus of Rupantar-ODL. In order to achieve this objectives, manuals and reading materials in Bangla shall be developed in Bangla or existing English materials shall be translated. A manual for DLF shall be developed and orientation and refresher training programmes shall be continuously organised. Efforts shall be made to develop internal capabilities to sustain ODL programmes.