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Distance Learning alone doesn't work!

Our experience in Africa has been that students doing distance learning/on line courses will drop out if they don't meet together for help.

Photo of Margaret Hill

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The human, social element seems to be forgotten sometimes when people are encouraged into distance learning. Although this looks technologically great, we have found people need time to talk together face to face and share ideas and challenges. This is being ignored in some programs.

Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine higher education to support the needs of tomorrow?

This fact should resonate with anybody providing distance learning.

This idea emerged from:

  • A Design Jam or Workshop event

Tell us about your work experience:

I train Africans who have finished Secondary school to help them get degrees.

12 comments

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Photo of Terry Hosler
Team

Margaret
We have found that to be a very large risk for first generation or rural or low-income students. Working with schools and students in Appalachia in Kentucky (US), our experience is that even when students have the infrastructure for online classes, few have the self efficacy and self discipline to maintain a full course load successfully without some one on one or group meetings for clarity and support.

Students especially struggle when it comes to understanding the protocols and culture of higher education from terminology (i.e. Bursar or Registrar) to deadlines and how to refer to a syllabus for individual class requirements and mandates.

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Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Hi Margaret and Terry Hosler 
Meeting to learn together seems to be something that many students needs, across age groups, for life long learning. I learned about an exciting project being piloted in libraries to address this need for students using MOOCS. I just checked into that project again and it is expanding.
p2p is a peer to peer learning model that is facilitated by libraries. I first read about it when I was looking at something about a challenge run by The Knight Foundation. http://www.knightfoundation.org/grants/201550344/

https://www.p2pu.org/en/
https://learningcircles.p2pu.org/en/
https://www.facebook.com/P2PUniversity

What do you think?

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Photo of Joseph Joram
Team

The course must be inspiring and the course coordinator should also be inspiring with or without technology to get people together. Could it be that this is the missing link? I know working people who are pursuing studies through distance learning and seem to be quite comfortable despite not interacting at human level. The one's I know of interact through online discussion groups where they share information on anything useful. African Nazarene University seems to be managing her distance learning program successfully well through this approach.

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Photo of Otaigo Elisha
Team

Hi Margaret
Interesting idea , what is you proposed solution especially to the people who study online because they have other schedule like working etc?

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Photo of Margaret Hill
Team

A summer school like the Open University? Smaller groups meeting in evenings according to geographical locations? Buddy partners working together?

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Photo of Andrea Zelenak
Team

Hi Margaret!

I'm interested in finding out more about you/where your work! I've spent a lot of time in Tanzania. I wonder if you can incorporate Stephan Kardos 's post (Professional) Life stories inspire for professional career paths . It's an online platform but I think the ideas and thoughts could be translated offline, and might be similar to what you're doing! You should check it out!

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Photo of Jessica Vechakul
Team

Hi Margaret, I'm curious to hear what you think of the Africa Leadership Academy http://www.africanleadershipacademy.org.

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Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Margaret!

Thank you for sharing your idea. I will admit that I started some Udemy courses and did not finish them because I missed human interaction and applying the knowledge I learnt.

What do you think of this idea - Roundtable - is this close to what you envisage?
Could tech be used to facilitate interaction e.g. Networking Apps & Sites and http://www.startupdaily.net/2015/06/sydney-startup-meetisan-wants-help-uni-students-find-study-buddies-project-collaborators/?

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Photo of Margaret Hill
Team

The trouble with tech solutions in Africa is that often there is not the bandwidth to support them. One of our students completed his studies accessing all the material with a series of dongles only (in northern Mali).

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Photo of Margaret Hill
Team

Our solution in East Africa has been to meet with all the people involved in distance learning for 2 weeks each year. This is for mutual encouragement, and also for face to face instruction in areas that are difficult to do by distance elarning, for example, English phonetics.

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Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Margaret, interesting post! Any chance you could find an image to go along with it? Images help grab attention and tell a story. You should be able to use the Edit Contribution button on the top of your post and follow the instructions to add images from there. Looking forward to seeing more of your inspiring insights on OpenIDEO.

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Photo of Zuber
Team

Margaret Hill - I agree. I did my UG in a traditional classroom way, while currently nearing completion of my Masters in Engineering - in ONLINE mode (part-time). Being someone who heavily relied on classroom instruction in UG, I've faced challenges in the online mode. The only thing that kept together was a few friends who are pursuing the same course with me. We use each other as sounding boards to discuss ideas.