The University of Zambia OER experience by Richard Siaciwena
I hold a PhD in distance education from the University of Wales, United Kingdom. I have worked in distance education for 30, mostly at the Univeristy of Zambia, where I have in the past served as Director of the Directorate of Distance Education. I am currently serving as Coordinator (Research and Evluation) in the same iDirectorate.
One of my areas of specializatio/interest is Instructional Design and Materials Development and have conducted sevearl training workshops in Zambia and in a number of SADC memebrs countries in this area.
Development of Course Materials
The University of Zambia has been offering some of its degree and diploma courses by distance laerning since 1966. The delivery of distance learning programmes is managed by the Directorate of Distance Education. Printed materials are the main medium of instruction supported by face- to-face sessions during four - week residntail schools held once each year.
Course materials are developed by individaul lecturers, most of whom lack relevant knowledge and skills for developing distance learning materials. The Directorate of Distance Education runs training workshops in insructional design and materials development. I am one of the trainers and also serve as an Instructional Design Editor. Staff in the Directorate provide continous professional support. The use of ICT in materials development and programme delivery is limited.
Following a recent policy decision all the materials are being revised to improve their quality, especially in terms of advance organizers and iDevices. Materials will be peer reviewed by content experts and ID specialists. Once this is done materials will be uploaded so that distance learners may access through the the University of Zambia website, in PDF format. Access will be restricted to distance learners.
There is likely to be greater use of ICT in materials development under a collaborative project with the African Virtual Univeristy, which aims at establishing Open Distance and eLearning (ODeL)Centres in different parts of the country.
It will therefore be possible to develop materials that could be freely available. This will necessity training in the application of various ICT tools in course development including WikiEducator.
Collaboration in Developing Course Materials
The Directorate of Distance Education has collaborated with the Commonwealth of Learning and the In - Service Training Trust in developing programmes and materials for agricultural education and for improved livelihoods, involving a numbers of countries in the SADC region.