Strengthening and Sustaining the African Higher Education and Research Space (AHERS) through Information and Communications Technology, Open and Distance Learning, and Open Educational Resources

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1

Strengthening and
Sustaining

the African
Higher Education and Research Space
(AHERS) through Information and
Communications Technology, Open and
Distance Learning, and Open Educational
Resources



May
,
2012

Report prepared for the African
Development Bank

by

Sarah Hoosen, Neil Butcher, David
Hornsby
,

and Catherine Ngugi



2

Table of Contents

1

Executive Summary

................................
................................
................................
........................

7

1.1

Introduction

................................
................................
................................
............................

7

1.2

Overview

of ICT, ODL, and OER

................................
................................
...............................

7

1.3

ICT and Higher Education

................................
................................
................................
........

7

1.3.1

ICT in Education Policies in Africa

................................
................................
...................

8

1.3.2

Continental and Regional
Initiatives

................................
................................
...............

8

1.3.3

Institutional Use of ICT

................................
................................
................................
....

8

1.3.4

Challenges in Policy and the Implementation of ICT in Higher Education

......................

9

1.4

OD
L and Higher Education

................................
................................
................................
....

11

1.4.1

Use of ODL, Good Practices, and Promising Approaches

................................
.............

12

1.4.2

ODL Policies

................................
................................
................................
...................

12

1.4.3

Oppo
rtunities

................................
................................
................................
................

13

1.4.4

Challenges in policy implementation and practice

................................
.......................

13

1.5

Open Educational Resources (OER) and Higher Education
................................
...................

15

1.5.1

Open Licences

................................
................................
................................
...............

15

1.5.2

The Power of OER

................................
................................
................................
.........

15

1.5.3

Use of OER

................................
................................
................................
.....................

16

1.5.4

OER policies

................................
................................
................................
...................

17

1.5.5

Challenges in policy implementation and practice

................................
.......................

18

1.5.6

Opportunities

................................
................................
................................
................

18

1.6

General Areas for Action: Harnessing the Potential of ICT, ODL, and OER
...........................

20

1.6.1

Areas for Action

................................
................................
................................
............

20

1.7

Implications for an African Higher Education and Research Space

................................
......

24

1.7.1

Roles of ICT, ODL, and OER in Establishing and Maintaining and AHERS

.....................

24

1.7.2

Roles
of an AHERS in Supporting Effective Use of ICT, ODL, and OER

..........................

26

1.8

Conclusion

................................
................................
................................
.............................

29

2

Introduction

................................
................................
................................
................................
.

30

2.1

Overview o
f ICT, ODL, and OER

................................
................................
.............................

30

3

ICT and Higher Education

................................
................................
................................
.............

33

3.1

Introduction

................................
................................
................................
..........................

33

3.2

ICT in Education Policies in Africa

................................
................................
.........................

34

3.3

Continental and Regional ICT Initiatives

................................
................................
...............

41

3.3.1

Association of African Universities (AAU)

................................
................................
.....

41

3.3.2

ADEA Working Group on Higher Education (WGHE)

................................
....................

42

3.3.3

The Commonwealth of
Learning

(COL)

................................
................................
.........

42

3.3.4

UbuntuNet Alliance and other initiatives for Research and Education Networking

....

43

3

3.3.5

Inter
-
University Council

of East Africa (IUCEA)

................................
.............................

44

3.3.6

The Southern Africa Regional Universities Association (SARUA)

................................
..

44

3.3.7

Regional Virtual Library Network

................................
................................
..................

44

3.3.8

Africa Virtual University (AVU)

................................
................................
......................

45

3.3.9

PHEA Educational Technology Initiative (PHEA ETI)

................................
.....................

45

3.4

Institutional Use of ICT

................................
................................
................................
..........

46

3.4.1

Research

................................
................................
................................
........................

46

3.4.2

Teaching and learning

................................
................................
................................
...

48

3.4.3

Use of ICT to Support Administration

................................
................................
...........

56

3.5

Challenges in Policy and the Implementation of ICT in Higher Education

............................

58

3.5.1

Policy

................................
................................
................................
.............................

58

3.5.2

Infrastructure

................................
................................
................................
................

59

3.5.3

Bandwidth Constraints

................................
................................
................................
..

60

3.5.4

Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation

................................
................................
..........

60

3.5.6

Technology
-
Led Initiatives

................................
................................
............................

61

3.5.7

Shortage

of Trained Professionals and Skilled Leaders

................................
................

61

3.5.8

Funding ICT in Higher Education

................................
................................
...................

62

3.5.9

Relevant Educational Content

................................
................................
......................

63

3.5.10

Unequal Access to Resources

................................
................................
.......................

6
4

3.5.11

Computer/Network Security

................................
................................
.........................

64

4

Open and Distance Learning (ODL) and Higher Education

................................
..........................

65

4.1

Introduction

................................
................................
................................
..........................

65

4.2

Growth of ODL in Africa

................................
................................
................................
........

66

4.3

Activities across the Continent

................................
................................
.............................

66

4.4

Use of ODL, Good Practices, and Promising Approaches

................................
.....................

68

4.5

ODL Policies

................................
................................
................................
...........................

72

4.6

Opportunities

................................
................................
................................
........................

75

4.7

Challe
nges in Policy Implementation and Practice

................................
...............................

75

4.7.1

Perceptions of ODL

................................
................................
................................
.......

76

4.7.2

Funding for ODL

................................
................................
................................
............

77

4.7.3

Focus of Student Numbers to the Detriment of Quality

................................
...............

78

4.7.4

Quality Assurance

................................
................................
................................
.........

78

4.7.5

Policy Status at Regional Level

................................
................................
......................

79

4.7.6

Lack of ODL capacity

................................
................................
................................
.....

80

4.7.7

Tackling Access

................................
................................
................................
..............

80

5

Open

Educational Resources (OER) and Higher Education

................................
..........................

82

5.1

Open Licences

................................
................................
................................
.......................

82

5.2

The Power of OER

................................
................................
................................
.................

82

4

5.3

Use of OER
................................
................................
................................
.............................

83

5.4

OER polici
es

................................
................................
................................
...........................

89

5.5

Challenges in Policy Implementation and Practice

................................
...............................

93

5.6

Opportunities

................................
................................
................................
........................

94

6

General Areas for Action: Harnessing the Potential of ICT, ODL, and OER

................................
..

97

6.1

Introduction

................................
................................
................................
..........................

97

6.2

Areas for Action

................................
................................
................................
....................

98

6.2.1

Investing in the Policy Environment

................................
................................
.............

98

6.2.2

Development of Strategies at the Regional Level

................................
.........................

99

6.2.3

Widening Access

................................
................................
................................
.........

100

6.2.4

Capacity Building

................................
................................
................................
.........

101

6.2.5

Quality Matters

................................
................................
................................
...........

102

6.2.6

Enhancing Management, Administration, and Operations

................................
........

102

6.2.7

Content Creation and Knowledge Management

................................
........................

103

6.2.8

Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation

................................
................................
........

103

6.2.9

Awareness
-
raising and advocacy

................................
................................
................

104

7

Implications for an African Higher Education and Research Space

................................
...........

105

7.1.1

Roles of ICT, ODL, and OER in Establishing and Maintaining and AHERS

...................

105

7.1.2

Roles
of an AHERS in Supporting Effective Use of ICT, ODL, and OER

........................

108

7.2

Conclusion

................................
................................
................................
...........................

113

8

References

................................
................................
................................
................................
..

114



5

List of Abbreviations


AAU


Association of

African Universities

ACDE


African Council for
Distance Education

ADEA


Association for the Development of Education in Africa

AHERS


African Higher Education and Research Space

AISI


African Information Society Initiative (AISI)

ASSAf


Academy of Science

of South Africa

AUC


Africa
n

Union Commission

AUF


Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie

AVU


African Virtual University

BCA


Bunda College of Agriculture

CC


Creative Commons

CEMAC


Central African Economic and
Monetary Community

CEND


Centre for Dis
tance Education

CET


Centre
for Educational Technology

CHS


Colle
ge of Health Sciences

COL


Commonwealth of Learning

COMESA

Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa

CoP


Communit
y of practice

CSIR


Council for Scientific and Industrial Research

CSRS


Centre Suisse de Recherches
Scientifiques en Côte d’Ivoire

DATAD


Database of African Theses and Dissertations

DEASA


Distance Education
Association of Southern Africa

DEATA


Distance Edu
cation Association of Tanzania

DOAJ


Directory of Open Access
Journals

EAC


East African Community

ECCAS


Economic Community o
f Central African States

ECOWAS

Economic Community of Western African States

EFA


Education for All

EIFL


Electronic Information for Libraries

ESP


Education Strategic Plan

EthERNet

Ethiopian Education and Research Network

ETI


Educational Technology Initiative

FORST


Formation à la Recherche et à la Spécialisation en Santé au Travail

GÉANT


Gigabit European Advanced Network Technology

IADP


International Association for Digital Pub
lications

ICDE


International Counc
il for Distance Education

ICT


Information and Communication T
echnology

IGAD


Inter
-
Governmental Authority for

Development

IGO


In
ternational Governmental Organiz
ation

IOC


Indian Ocean Commission

IPR


Intellectual
Property Rights

ITB


Inter
national Trace Bargaining

IUECA


Inter
-
University Council for East Africa

JABIS


Joint Admissions Board Information
System

KNUST


Kwame Nkrumah University of Scienc
e and Technology

LCE


Lesotho College o
f Education

LINK


Learn
ing,

Information and Knowledge

Centre

LMS


Learning management systems

6

MDG
s


Millennium Development Goals

MINEDAF

Ministers of Education of the African Member States

MIS


Mana
gement Information System

MoU


M
emorandum of
Understanding

NADEOSA

National Associat
ion of Distance Educatio
n Organizations of South Africa

NOLNet


Namibian

Open Learning Network Trust

NOUN


Natio
nal Open University of Nigeria

NREN


National Research and Education Network

NUC


Nation
al Universities Commission

ODL


Open and Distance
Learning

OER


Open Educational Resources

OUT


Open University of Tanzania

PASDEP


Plan for Accelerated and Sustainable Development to End Poverty

PHEA


Partnership for Higher Education

QA


Quality Assurance

QAAA


Quality Assurance and Accreditation

Agency

RICTSP


Regional ICT Support Programme

RUFORUM

Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture

SADC


Southern African development Community

SADC
-
CDE

SADC Centre for Distance Education

SAIDE


South African Institu
te of Distance Education

SARUA


Southern Africa Regional
Universities Association

SciELO



Scien
tific Electronic Library Online

SDPRP


Sustainable Development and P
overty Reduction Program

SMS


Short
-
Message
-
Service

TELESUN

TELEt
eaching System for Universities

TENET


Tertiary Educ
ation and Research

Network of South Africa

TERNET


Tanzanian Educati
on and Research Network

TESSA


Teacher Educati
on in Sub
-
Saharan Africa

UB


University of Botswana


UCT


University of Cape Town

UDSM


Un
iversity of Dar es Salaam

UEM


U
niversity Eduardo
Mondlane

UEMOA

Union Économique et Monétaire Ouest
-
Africaine

(
West African Economic and
Monetary Union
)

UFH


University of Fort Hare

UG


University of Ghana

UNESCO

United Nations Economic, Scientific and Cultural Organization

UNIMA


University of Malawi

UNISA


University of South Africa

UWC


Uni
versity of the Western Cape

VoIP


Voi
ce
-
over Internet Protocol

VSATS


Very Small Aperture Terminals

VUSSC


Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth

WACREN

West and Central African Research and Educ
ation Network

WCHE


World Conference on Higher Education

WGDEOL

Working Group on Distan
ce Education and Open Learning

WGHE


Working Group on Higher Education

ZOU


Zimbabwe Open University


7

1

Executive

Summary

1.1

Introduction

The African Higher Education and Research Space (AHERS) seeks to create opportunities for
institutional, national, regional, and continental collaboration using the common challenges
experienced by higher education institutions in Africa as the driving for
ce behind this collaboration.
An initiative spearheaded by the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA)
Working Group on Higher Education (WGHE), African Union Commission (AUC), United Nations
Economic, Scientific and Cultural Organiza
tion (UNESCO), Association of African Universities (AAU)
among others, the AHERS objectives are to strengthen the capacity of African higher education
institutions
by stimulating
collaboration in teaching and research, improv
ing

the quality of higher
educa
tion, and promot
ing

academic mobility across the continent through the recognition of
academic qualifications.


Several aspects have been identified for fostering collaboration, among them promoting open and
distance learning (ODL) to improve access to te
rtiary education and effective use of information and
communication technology (ICT). This
desk research
report explores how ODL and ICT, as well as use
of open educational resources (OER), can serve to strengthen and sustain AHERS.

1.2

Overview of ICT, ODL, a
nd OER

The past 15 years ha
s

seen rapid development of ICT
-
related activity in the higher education sector,
as higher education institutions and national systems deal with the challenge of how best to deploy
the potential of ICT to the benefit of students,

academics, and countries.
Whilst the dominant focus
has traditionally been on e
-
learning, its use for management, administration
,

and research are also
increasingly recogni
z
ed. In addition,
ICT has created a revolution in
ODL by
offering new and more
flex
ible learning opportunities
, providing
tools needed to extend education to underserved
geographical regions and groups of students, and
empowering
teachers and learners through
improved access to information.

Another significant trend initiated by the expl
osion of
the
emergence of
OER
, which
frees all citizens


but particularly those in education


to author and
publish learning materials in
openly licensed
formats. In a nutshell, the concept of OERs describes
educational resources that are freely availabl
e for use by educators and learners, without an
accompanying need to pay royalties or licence fees.


Although there is a clear connection between issues pertaining to ICT, ODL, and OER, this report
focuses separately on each, describing current practices i
n Africa and using this to highlight some of
the key opportunities arising from use of each. It also describes challenges associated with each
area. With this background, the report then presents a series of guidelines and recommendations
targeted specific
ally at the AHERS.

1.3

ICT and Higher Education

ICT refers to

technology that is used in the manipulation, storage, and conveyance of data through
electronic means.
1

I
t is
considered a critical tool in preparing students with the required
skills for the



1

OpenLearn.
(no date).
ICTs

in everyday life. Retrieved from

http://labspace.open.ac.uk/mod/resource/view.php?id=371982


8

global workplace and is
regarded as an engine for growth and tool for empowerment, with profound
implications for education and socio
-
economic development. ICT use in higher education and
development is not simply about teaching ‘ICT literacy’


i.e. learn
ing to operate the technology


but also about building higher
-
order skills, such as knowing and understanding what it means to live
in a digitized and networked society and use digital technology in everyday life
.
Critically, ICT is
valuable as a
means

to

achieve genuine knowledge societies.
Thus, u
niversities are faced with a need
to provide formal instruction in information, visual, and technological literacy, as well as in how to
create meaningful content with today’s tools.

Access to ICT across the con
tinent is improving and
the costs associated with access to ICT are reducing as telecommunication markets are liberalising
and the costs of devices are declining. This has important ramifications for expanding ICT into
African HEIs.

1.3.1

ICT in Education Polici
es in Africa

Internationally, the need to provide quality education for all learners has motivated countries to
develop plans focused on the use of ICT for teaching and learning.
In Africa, there is growing
recognition by national, regional, and continenta
l bodies of the role of ICT for socio
-
economic
development. Evidence of this includes the many countries that have focused attention on
developing national ICT policies and National Information and Communication Infrastructure Plans
to support their socio
-
economic development efforts and ICT in education policies. There has also
been significant growth of continental and regional strategie
s to create knowledge societies


actions

suggest
ing

high
-
level support for integrating ICT into higher education
, but also acting
predominantly as coordinating hubs or sources for financial support
behind

efforts to use ICT in
higher education
at the institutional level.
This indicates that many African nations are recognizing
the importance of ICT in promoting soci
al and economic change in their countries, and the important
role of higher education institutions in driving this change. However, many policy documents provide
a passing reference to ICT in higher education without providing much clarity
on
mechanisms fo
r
integration.

1.3.2

Continental and Regional Initiatives

S
everal continental and regional initiatives contribut
e

to advancing ICT in higher education in Africa.
This includes the work done by the AAU and the ADEA WGHE in assisting institutions to develop
strat
egic plans for use and integration of ICT,
as well as
the work of the Commonwealth of Learning
(COL), regional bodies
,

and Initiatives for Research and Educatio
n Networking such as the Ubuntu
N
et
Alliance. Simultaneously, there is significant work carried o
ut at the institutional level


by
institutions themselves and also through projects such as
the Partnership for Higher Education
(PHEA)
Educational Technology Initiative
(ETI).

1.3.3

Institutional Use of ICT

ICT has proven to be powerful in enhancing education,

and is being used in research, teaching and
learning, and administration in higher education. The use of ICT to promote and enhance the
research space in African higher education has been developing over the last decade.
For example,
the AAU has its
Datab
ase of African Theses and Dissertations (DATAD)

initiative
,

through which
African researchers can make available their theses and dissertations or even their teaching and
learning materials.
ICT in higher education not only assist
s

in promoting research in

Africa,
but
is
also
a topic of research, of which there are a number of cases of good practi
ce that exist on the
continent.

9


In relation to teaching and learning, ICT is used to support e
-
learning and mobile learning (m
-
learning), teaching
,

and assessment

activities. E
-
learning can be defined as ‘the use of new
multimedia technologies and the Internet to improve the quality of learning by facilitating access to
resources and services as well as remote exchange and collaboration’.
2

M
-
learning is a form of e
-
learning, with mobile devices

as the technologies of choice
.
Where ICT has been used in African
higher education, including through e
-
learning and m
-
learning,
the aim

has most commonly been to
tackle teaching and learning challenges faced in traditional teacher
-
led lecture rooms, including large
classes, multilingualism, development of literacies, and bridging the chasm between theory and
practice.


Several African un
iversities are using
Learning management systems
(LMS),
which
they are regarded
as integral
to

the development and facilitation of online, blended and web facilitated learning.
Investment in these, including development of the capacity of staff and student
s to use them
effectively and efficiently, as well as in the
technical requirements to procure, set up, and maintain
LMSs, is key to the effectiveness of e
-
learning and blended learning.

There appears to be a growing
move
by
universities
to use
open source

LMS such as
Moodle and S
akai
.

However, the use of LMSs
still remains a challenge in Africa, with studies suggesting the need to promote the advantages of
using an online LMS
in higher education and build

up the necessary skills base to make this a tenable

and useful shift.


Furthermore, the u
se of technology in higher education has enabled transcendence of geographical
boundaries, and facilitated collaboration between and among students and staff from different
universities. Collaboration between colleague
s who have never met each other physically is also
possible with technological tools like instant messaging, Voice
-
over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
applications like Skype, and social interaction tools like Facebook, which can help to nurture
communities of p
ractice.


Many African universities are turning to ICT
to support

their human resource, finance
,

and student
administration systems. In particular, such databases as Oracle and PeopleSoft offer institutions of
higher education a virtual platform to organi
ze registrations systems, payroll, and to manage staff
policies such as requests for vacation or leave.

In addition, the u
se of SMS for administration can be
valuable because it has potential to free academics to focus on core business. When SMS is used to

communicate information on course requirements, this reduces the amount of time that academics
would spend dealing with queries regarding courses, and they can divert the time saved to academic
pursuits

like curriculum design and research.

1.3.4

Challenges in P
olicy
and the
Implementation of ICT
in

Higher
Education

Despite numerous improvements and successes in recent years, there are nevertheless several
challenges facing ICT in Higher Education in Africa
.
T
he lack of comprehensive policies covering the
integra
tion of ICT in education remains a major barrier in many African countries
.
African countries
are at different stages in considering policies to harness ICT in support of education and
development.
I
n some instances, ICT and development policies may not be

complemented by other
relevant
supportive
policies, for example a telecommunications policy that supports such
development, as well as associated budgetary allocations to policies. Some may have national
policies, but may not have policies that make speci
fic reference to ICT and education.
In other



2

Commission of the European Communities.
(2001). Communication from the European Commission to the Council and
the Europea
n Parliament: The elearning action plan. Designing tomorrow’s education. Brussels, 28.3.2001.

10

instances,
ICT in education is actually mentioned within national ICT policies in general terms, but
may not always be accompanied by a detailed implementation plan or commitment from
government to implement pol
icies.


A major challenge facing ICT in higher education is that of limited infrastructure, in

particular limited
a
ccess to power

and the l
ack of affordable and reliable Internet access.

In most African countries,
Internet access is limited and slow. Where

broadband is available, it is typically very expensive

far
beyond the financial means of the majority of Africans.
3


Equipping universities and keeping them up to date with ICT equipment is very expensive due to
hardware and software purchases, as well as

the recurrent costs associated with maintenance and
support. Rapid advances in technology have continued to add potential to the use of ICT as an
integral part of teaching and learning. However, changes and innovations in technology tend to be
much faster

than changes in the education system, and this is an area of concern, as reform may be
dependent on technologies that are no

longer available or supported.
4


Insufficient attention is paid to
monitoring and evaluation during the des
ign of most ICT initiat
ives.
In

addition, there appears to be a dearth of useful resources attempting to translate what is known
to w
ork
(
and not
to
work
)

in this field.


Furthermore, t
here has been a common tendency to use technology
experts
to lead and implement
ICT in educati
on projects, with a resultant focus on engineering or software skills. People who are
trained in and understand education play a secondary and often peripheral role. Technology
-
led
initiatives may appear successful at the technical level, but
generally do
not achieve the expected
outcomes and impact
, and are
consequently not sustainable.


Many African countries face a shortage of IT professionals and lack of educators with ICT skills.
African universities in particular face a critical shortage of skilled IC
T workers. The in
tegration of ICT
in learning require
s

retraining and
creates
new time demands on academics
. The absence of
incentive schemes, especially in environments where salaries and benefits are low, is both a
challenge and a major risk to success.

Another challenge is the high turnover of skilled technical
personnel, as institutions are unable to pay salaries that are competitive with the private sector.



Lack of financing and prioritization of ICT investments is a serious barrier to effective ICT
use.

Little is
known about the true costs of ICT in education, and
,

given budgetary and resource constraints,
widespread investment in ICT in education may not be pos
sible in many African countries or may not
feature highly
higher education institutions’ i
nvestments or priorities.
Costs for ICT tools can also be
prohibitive. Purchasing site licences and support services can result in significant upfront costs that
may at first glance appear prohibitive and unnecessary. Fortunately, there
several
open source
options available for most software applications,
which
can
, under certain circumstances,

be
cheaper to maintain and tend to be well supported by their respective online communities
.


In Africa,
there is little digital education content that is

locally contextually relevant or based on local
curriculum frameworks.
Creating local e
-
learning content has proved difficult because many African
higher education institutions are still not conversant with courseware tools and digital environment.



3

Williams, M.D.J., Mayer, R., and Minges, M. (2011). Africa’s ICT Infrastructure Building on the Mobile Revolution. World
Bank: Washington. Retrieved from
http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INFORMATIONANDCOMMUNICATIONANDTECHNOLOGIES/Resources/Afr
icasICTInfrast
ructure_Building_on_MobileRevolution_2011.pdf


4

Adam, L., Butcher, N., Tusubira, F.F.T., and Sibthorpe, C. (2011). Transformation
-
Ready: The strategic application of
information and communication technologies in Africa
-

Education Sector Stu
dy. Prepared for the African Development
Bank, the World Bank and the African Union.

11

Facult
y members

also have excessive loads and limited time, skills, and incentives to develop e
-
learning materials suitable to their local needs. The educational reward system was not designed to
encourage faculty and students to own and get involved in e
-
learni
ng content development and use.


ICT tends to accentuate social, cultural, and economic disparities. For instance, ICT projects tend to
give preference to
students

in urban areas and in areas where existing infrastructure is the best.
Whilst there is a ve
ry real risk that ICT can further marginalize groups already excluded or
marginalized from educational practices and innovations, ICT also holds a promise and opportunity
for facilitating greater inclusion of such groups such as special nee
ds students, stu
dents

in remote
areas, students from historically marginalized linguistic, cultural or ethnic groups, and low income
communities into existing educational practices and environments. With supportive policies and
careful planning and monitoring, ICT can off
er the potential of facilitating greater inclusion of such
groups.
5

1.4

ODL and Higher Education

ODL is increasingly being se
en as a strategy to tackle the

challenges of access, quality, and equity
,
particularly in higher education
. Many African countries are
deploying ODL models in order to meet
the growing demand for higher education places
, and are
embracing ODL as a cost
-
effective and
efficient means of increasing access to education.

The result
ant

increasing awareness of, and
appreciation for
,

the potentia
l of ODL in increasing access to higher education has also seen calls for
African countries to prioritize and support ODL, to introduce quality assurance mechanisms for ODL
and to foster regional collaborations in higher education.
ODL is

not limited to tr
aditional dedicated
distance education institutions. Its promise and possibilities are also being explored and
implemented by many contact universities faced with the same kinds of technological advances,
constraints, dynamics
,

and challenges as those that

have caused traditional distance education
institutions to turn to ODL models of provis
ion.


As part of the process of finding solutions, many African countries and organizations have made
efforts to harness the perceived potential of ODL, as reflected by

the number of initiatives across the
continent.

Examples of these include the
African Council for Distance Education (ACDE)
,
a
continental educational organization
with a vision of becoming
a major player in promotion and
advocacy for ODL in Africa.
ADEA

includes a Working Group on Distance Education and Open
Learning (WGDEOL), to help ministries of education, training institutions, and NGOs in Africa
improve access to, quality of, and equity in education, and, in particular, to strengthen the capacity
of
the education system.

In addition, there are various regional organisations dedicated to ODL, and
these include the

SADC Centre
for Distance Education, the
Distance Education Association of
Southern Africa (DEASA)
,
The South African Institute of Distance E
ducation (SAIDE)
,
The National
Association of Distance Education Organizations of South Africa (NADEOSA)
,

and
The Namibian Open
Learning Network Trust (NOLNet
).
Initiatives and organizations such as those listed above play a
critical role in supporting the

development and growth of high quality ODL practices in African higher
education.




5

Adam, L., Butcher, N., Tusubira, F.F.T., and Sibthorpe, C. (2011). Transformation
-
Ready: The strategic application of
information and communication technologies in Afric
a
-

Education Sector Study. Prepared for the African Development
Bank, the World Bank and the African Union.

12

1.4.1

Use of ODL, Good Practices, and Promising Approaches

In Africa, ODL at the higher education level is offered by two main kinds of institutions


dedicated
ODL
,

or single
-
mod
e
,

institutions and dual mode universities (offering both ODL and face
-
to
-
face
teaching courses
).
There are several higher education institutions that are dedicated ODL
universities and colleges.
Examples of these include the

Lesotho College of Education (LCE)
,
Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU)
, University of South Africa, Open University of Tanzania,
National
Open University of Nigeria (NOUN)
, Open University of Sudan
,

and Zambia Open University.
Many of
the programmes offered a
t dual
-
mode institutions focus on the professions of teaching and nursing,
but there is also growth of programmes in areas such as business studies and specialist professions
.
In addition to dual
-
mode institutions
,

there are also mixed
-
mode institutions, w
hose programmes
are designed, delivered and administered by the same people who provide conventional
face
-
to
-
face
programmes. This mode is a fairly recent development, with teachers and trainers in conventional
higher education institutions offering their
courses off campus using audio
-
conferencing and video
-
conferencing, and in more recent years,

via the Internet.


Several universities in the region offer at least one ODL programme, which has resulted in an
increase in higher education study places. For ex
ample, distance education students now represent
at least 30% of those enrolled at Makerere University in U
ganda. There is also a
growing trend
towards international cooperation initiatives in many countries. For example, the University of
Mauritius offers

a police studies programme in partnership with the University of Portsmouth in the
United Kingdom.

In another example highlighting the minimizing of duplication of effort required to
develop materials, COL has worked with the eight countries of the
SADC

t
o develop training
materials that will allow teachers to enhance their p
rofessional skills through ODL.

These examples
highlight that, with collaboration, the cost of a particular initiative to any one institution, agency, or
country can be reduced and the

quality of the finished product can be higher than if only one
institution or country undertook the development of the learning materials.


ODL opens access to education to many students, and technology can help to facilitate and enhance
learning for thes
e students. Virtual learning environments in distance learning expand learning
opportunities for students who can access computers and the internet. These open their world to
other resources through engagement with the university virtual learning environme
nt. There is a
growing trend of institutions using ODL programme designs that incorporate contact and interaction
between students and educators, rather than resorting to correspondence methodologies.
6

As such,
the line between face
-
to
-
face education and O
DL is
being
increasingly blurred by
the growth of OER,
, m
-

and e
-
Learning, and
low
-
cost computers.

1.4.2

ODL Policies

There is a wide diversity of national policies and strategies pertinent to education generally and ODL
specifically. Many African countries hav
e policies and strategies that recognize the importance of
ODL, although their coordination and implementation vary from country to country. In addition,
countries are at various stages in developing ODL policies. Countries such as Lesotho and Mauritius
ha
ve well
-
developed, integrated policy approaches to ODL
,

while others, such as Namibia
,

are in the
process of developing policies specifically focused on ODL. Other countries have yet to begin to
develop policies which fo
cus on specifically on ODL.




6

Thutoetsile, T. (2005). Report of the Southern African Regional Distance Education Centre: Situational Assessment of ODL
Institutions.
SADC
-
CDE
.
Retrieved September 19, 2008, from
www.sardec.org.bw/reports.htm
.

13

1.4.3

Opportun
ities

T
here has been significant growth in the number of ODL programmes offered from traditionally face
-
to
-
face institutions, with such programmes now being offered by institutions across Africa. ODL is
widely acknowledged for its potential to open up vari
ous opportunities for higher education in
Africa. Examples of its perceived potential are to:



Provide access to students who would


either because of work commitments, geographical
distance, or poor quality or inadequate prior learning experiences


be de
nied access to
traditional, full
-
time contact education opportunities. It supports lifelong learning and helps
remove obstacles to enrolment for women and other marginalized groups.



Expand access to educational provision to significantly larger numbers of
learners.



Be cost
-
efficient and achieve significant economies of scale as it enables institutions to increase
enrolments without increasing staff levels and associated physical infrastructure.



Shift patterns of expenditure to achieve economies of scale b
y amortizing identified costs
(particularly investments in course design and development and in effective administrative
systems) over time and large student numbers.



Exploit the potential that integration of new educational technologies into teaching and

learning
environments has for supporting, improving, or enhancing those environments.



Enhances and promote quality through the development and provision of learning resources,
which can be used by teachers and learners, irrespective of their location.



Facilitate and promote access to lifelong learning, in particular, ongoing professional
development, to those who have obtained formal qualifications but who are required to
upgrade their knowledge and qualificat
ions
.



As ODL transcends time and space boundaries, a particular opportunity to emerge from the
implementation of ODL programmes is collaboration. Most important, web 2.0 tools such as
wikis are making it possible for teams of subject specialists to collaborate i
n the development of
high
-
quality content

1.4.4

Challenges in policy implementation and practice

ODL faces similar challenges to e
-
learning
, including
:

lack of ICT capacity
;

limited and expensive
access to broadband, connectivity, hardware, software and skills;

a lack of government funding; no
national ICT and ODL policy development; poor, non
-
existent or outdated infrastructure; poor
teaching and learning practices; and inadequate and inappropriate courseware.
In addition,
ODL
institutions and programmes face n
egative public perception and are often regarded as inferior
relative to face
-
face
-
institutions
, even though the
institutions and programmes are accredited by
national regulatory agencies.
Such misunderstandings can be attributed to, among other reasons, a

lack of an adequate ODL research needed to support informed decisions and policy choices.

These
negative perceptions have meant that many African educational policymakers and planners are
sceptical about its legitimacy and quality, and therefore only affo
rd ODL initiatives limited funding
and political support.


Funding for the expansion of ODL programmes is still inadequate

in much of Africa
. In many
countries, the shortage of resources is aggravated by poor inter
-
university cooperation. In addition,
man
y governments are keen to increase the proportion of ODL being funded by students through
fees.

Furthermore,
ODL provision tends to generally skewed to the arts
-
based or business
-
related
courses, as well as teaching and nursing
, which may not be the
priori
ty of governments, which
results in skewed funding in favour of face to face inst
itutions.


In Africa and globally, it appears that many organizations and individuals are employing various ODL
education methods and low
-
cost versions of resource
-
based learn
ing as a means to boost their
14

student enrolment and earnings without
sufficient
concern for the impact

this has on provision
quality.


Many African countries lack policies to guide development and implementation of ODL programmes
at national and institutio
nal level. More than two thirds of all African countries have no agencies or
other bodies that deal with QA, and, even where such organizations exist, they are unlikely to have
developed any QA frameworks or guidelines for ODL

as their original mandate wou
ld usually have
pertained to conventional training
. There is little documented evidence of systems or processes
being put in place for ensuring quality in the design of curricula. Such is the paucity of suitable QA
policy bodies and frameworks and the chal
lenge of unregulated private providers and exploitative
practices flourishing that, in the context of increasing cross
-
border higher education, that there has
been a growing sense of need to initiate regional and continental harmonization and QA processes.


Nevertheless, a key development recently has been the launch of an ODL
Quality Assurance and
Accreditation

Agency (QAAA) by the ACDE, which is being implemented under a Memorandum of
Understanding with the African Union
,

as part of the Second Decade of E
ducation Plan. While the
Agency is very recently established, it has potential to make a significant contribution to quality
improvement in ODL on the continent. Nevertheless, t
here is still a great deal of work to be done, as
there are significant variati
ons in policies and procedures for QA for ODL and still limited evidence of
successful initiatives.


Several African countries lack policies needed to guide the development and implementation of ODL
programmes at national and institutional levels. At the r
egional level, and some national levels,
distance education practices remain uncoordinated because concrete steps have
yet to be
taken
to
wards the

develop
ment

regional policies on ODL.
7

Consequently, despite some notable
exceptions,
this has meant that
many

institutions and individuals work on their curriculum design
processes largely in isolation.


In many countries
,

there is a dire shortage of qualified staff required for guiding and influencing the
development of ODL policies and for planning, develo
ping, managing, and evaluating ODL
programmes.

I
nstitutions
may struggle
to recruit skilled and experienced ODL specialists, which
compounds the risk of materials and processes being subjected to a traditional contact
-
based quality
assurance process, rathe
r than QA processes

relating to the needs of ODL
.


In a bid to broaden access to higher education, m
any ODL institutions in Africa have establish
ed

regional learning centres in geographically dispersed areas and
offer
e
-
learning programmes

through
such cen
tres
.
However,
this model of provision and expansion has

tended to
locat
e

such regional
learning centres mainly
in
urban centres
,

where
the
majority of residents are already relatively
advantaged.


Adding to the above
-
mentioned challenges, Braimoh and
Osi
ki
(2008) note that the ability to use to
its full capacity the enormous value of e
-
learning and associated resources in ODL across
sub
-
Saharan
a is challenged by the following:



U
nstable power supply;



Some ODL institutions’ drive to accumulate wealth;



Driv
e to commercialize education to the detriment of educational quality;



High cost of ODL coupled with learners’ poor socio
-
economic situation leading to a reluctance to
invest in the technical faciliti
es needed for learning;



Learners’ technological
illiteracy, when they need to use modern technology for learning;




7

Braimoh, D. and Lekoko, R. (2005) ‘The Need for Policy Framework in Maintaining Quality in Open and Distance Education
Programmes in So
uthern Africa’.
Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education
-
TOJDE
, Vol. 6 No. 4.

15



The rural location of many learners, who therefore have restricted access to the modern
communication facilities needed for learning;



Some lecturers and site tutors being party to fraud,
bribery and corruption;



Foreign institutions’ neo
-
imperialism leading to cultural dilution and value distortion;



Inadequate counselling and mentoring of learners;



Inadequate provision of learner support.
8



Thus, while ICT has created a revolution in ODL,
offering new and more flexible learning
opportunities,
there continue

to be
significant
challenges, especially regarding the quality of
education and limited resources. And although many countries have policies and strategies for
implementing ODL, it has y
et to realize its full potential
.

1.5

Open Education
al

Resources (OER) and Higher Education

1.5.1

Open Licences

Open Educational Resources (
OER
)

ha
ve

become the subject of heightened interest in policy
-
m
aking
and institutional circles.

There are various licensing f
rameworks for OER use, some of which simply
allow
copying;

others which make provision for users to adapt the resources that they use. The most
commonly used licenses are the Creative Commons (CC) licen
ces.

CC licenses gives creators the
ability to dictate how others may exercise their (creators) copyright rights
-

such as the right of
others to copy their work, make derivative works or adaptations of their work, to distribute their
work and/or make money fr
om their work. Creative Commons also permits creators the ability to
have a ‘no rights reserved’ alternative to copyright.

1.5.2

The Power of OER

The sharing of resources as OER is guided by many principles, key
amongst
which are the right to
education by all, a
nd making information and knowledge more accessible and useable for the good
of the public who want to consume this knowledge. The transformative power of the concept for
education revolves around three linked possibilities:



Because OER removes restriction
s around copying resources, they hold potential for reducing
the cost of accessing educational materials.



The principle of allowing adaptation of materials provides one mechanism amongst many for
constructing roles for learners as active participants in e
ducational processes, who learn best by
doing and creating, not by passively reading and absorbing. Content licences that encourage
activity and creation by learners through re
-
use and adaptation of that content can make a
significant contribution to creat
ing more effective learning environments.



OER have potential to build capacity by providing educators access, at low or no cost, to the
means of production to develop their competence in producing educational materials and
completing the necessary instruct
ional design to integrate such materials into high quality
programmes of learning. Many educational systems are foundering because their employees
have become so overwhelmed by administrative tasks that they have lost the time and space to
exercise this cr
itical creative capacity, and it will take time and investment to rebuild it. The



8

Braimoh, D., & Osiki, J. (2008). The Impact of Technology on Accessibility and Pedagogy: The Right to Education in Sub
-
Saharan Africa.
Asian Journal of Distance Education
,
6
(1), 53
-
62.

Retrieved from
http://www.asianjde.org/2008v6.1.Braimoh.pdf


16

concept of OER has potential to facilitate this if the process of developing educational materials
is seen as being just as important as


maybe more important than


the fin
al product.
9


However, it should be noted that content is only one aspect of education
,

and
effective use of
educational content requires good educators to facilitate the process. Importantly, OER provides an
opportunity to engage higher education facultie
s and academics in structured processes that build
capacity to design and deliver high quality higher education programmes without increasing cost.
OER provide opportunities for pedagogical support in the form of student and practitioner course
access. Pra
ctitioners can update their course material and share it with others who can update it and
build on what they have produced. Without this growing institutional capacity, OER will not be able
to fulfil its transformative potential.

1.5.3

Use of OER

Educational re
sources that are shared, reviewed
,

and developed within a community of practice are
likely to be of a higher quality than those developed solely by individuals working in isolation.
Further
,

development of these materials for reuse is likely to enhance the
ir quality
,

as well as
develop the capacity of those who engage in the development of the material. The quality of
materials made available to students, can be enhanced through adaptation and localisation of the
available open source materials. In this reg
ard, OER have a major advantage over imported
textbooks that do not consider local context in their presentation of information.


The short
-
term costs of sourcing and adapting OER may be high, but there are reduced content costs
from open resources that ca
n widen access to higher education. Use of OER will reduce textbook
costs as well as costs of other proprietary materials that are borne by students.
Increasing numbers
of periodicals are making their databases easier to access and there has been a tremend
ous growth
in Web 2.0 user
-
created content. Increasingly, higher education institutions campus libraries are
playing an important role in the acquisition and distribution of institutionally licensed web based
digital material.


Where institutions cannot i
nvest heavily in content development, they can still get access to high
quality materials by using what is available through open access.
Indeed, perhaps one of the most
promising developments relevant to research is the growth of Open Access Journals. Res
earch
opportunities are promoted in the OER movement, and some of this research focuses on the role
and forms of educational technologies used in higher education.
Institutions can brand themselves
through availing its resources for use and adaptability by

others and contributing to research. Whilst
the presence of such resources allow
s

African academics access to articles at no cost, this does
require access to the Internet.


There are several OER initiatives focused on higher education in Africa
, which se
ek to harness these
possibilities
.
Examples of these include the
Teacher Education in Sub
-
Saharan Africa (TESSA)
initiative (
http://www.tessafrica.net
)
, which

is a research and development initiative creating OER
a
nd course design guidance for teachers and teacher educators working in Sub
-
Saharan African
countries.
SAIDE established the

OER Africa initiative

(
http://www.oerafrica.org
)
, which focuses on
supporting and developing OER in a number of thematic areas, including Agriculture, Health and
Teacher Education.
OER Africa is involved in numerous projects supporting the adoption of OER in
higher education institutions across Africa
,
for example, the Saide ACEMaths project, which piloted a
collaborative process for the selection, adaptation
,
and use of OER materials on the teaching and



9

Butcher, N.

(2011). A Basic Guide to Open Educational Resources (OER). UNESCO and Commonwealth of Learning.
Retrieved from
http://www.col.org/resources/publications/Pages/detail.aspx?P
ID=357


17

learning of mathematics for teacher education.
10

The

web
site not only allows access to African
-
develop
ed resources, but also allows users to follow a documented process of how the materials
were created.


There are
several other initiatives
,

such as the
IADP
-
SADC Digital Resources project,
University of
Cape Town’s OpenContent (
http://opencontent.uct.ac.za
) directory, the African Virtual University’s
ICT
-
integrated Teacher Education Programme for Maths and Sciences, University of Malawi’s
OER
project at t
he Bunda College of Agriculture
to develop a textbook on Communication Skills, and the
Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST)
College of Health Sciences
’ OER
initiative

supporting the production an
d use of OER.

1.5.4

OER policies

The presence of OER policies at higher educ
ation institutions can accelerate the adoption and
creation of OER and assist in ensuring the sustainability of OER
.

Institutions harnessing OER usually
need to review several policies in order to ensure the effectiveness and sustainability of OER. Several

policy issues are usually considered when examining commitment to OER development and use at
higher education institutions. There are at least four main policy issues:

1.

Provision in policy of clarity on
Intellectual Property Rights (
IPR
)

and copyright

on w
orks created
during the course of employment (or study) and how these may be shared with and used by
others.

2.

Human resource policy guidelines
regarding whether or not the creation of certain kinds of work
(e.g. learning resources) constitutes part of the job description for staff and what the
implications are for development, performance management, remuneration, and promotion
purposes.

3.

ICT pol
icy guidelines

regarding access to and use of appropriate software, hardware, the Internet
and technical support, as well as provision for version control and back
-
up of any storage
systems for an institution’s educational resources.

4.

Materials development

and quality assurance policy guidelines

to ensure appropriate selection,
development, quality assurance, and copyright clearance of works that may be shared.

11


D
espite the growth of OER at institutions worldwide, this has not necessarily yet led to the
d
evelopment of specific policies that address or support development, sharing, adaptation, and use
of OER. Nevertheless, a few African institutions that have embarked on OER initiatives have taken
several steps to develop OER amenable policies.
These includ
e the University of Cape Town in South
Africa and the University of Ghana and KNUST in Ghana.
One of the remarkable outcomes of
KNUST’s invo
lvement in OER has been the influence it has had at a national level
, with the
KNUST
institutional repository design
ated as the national Open Access repository.
12



At a continental level, the ACDE has established a formal Policy on Collaboration, which includes a
strong commitment to OER. This Policy, which was approved by the ACDE Board in 2011, addresses
five broad ar
eas:
Sharing intellectual property
; m
aximi
z
ing human capacity
;

collaborating

on learning
and teaching
; c
ollaborating on research
;

and
c
ollaborating on developing
and sustaining enabling
systems. It provides an excellent example of an inter
-
institutional co
mmitment to collaboration and



10

OER Africa. (no date). Teacher Education. Retrieved from
http://www.oerafrica.org/teachered/TeacherEducationHome/tabid/933/Default.aspx


11

Butcher, N.(
2011). A Basic Guide to Open Educational Resources (OER). UNESCO and Commonwealth of Learning.
Retrieved from
http://www.col.org/resources/publications/Pages/detail.aspx?PI
D=357


12

Electronic Information for Libraries. (2011). Ghana: The first results of OA advocacy campaigns. Retrieved from
http://www.eifl.net/news/first
-
results
-
oa
-
advocacy
-
campaigns
-
eifl
-
part


18

sharing of intellectual capital, providing also for ACDE members to share their course materials on a
voluntary basis through the ACDE Technical Committee on Collaboration.

1.5.5

Challenges in policy implementation and practice

Ther
e are several challenges in using and creating OER in an African context
:



Being able to access OER requires adequate infrastructure and a robust and fast connection to
the Internet, which is lacking in many African institutions.



Due to unfamiliarity with t
he OER model, there is a need for lobbying around the benefits of OER
to encourage buy in from African academics to use OER.



S
taff workload needs to include time to source and adapt materials as most lecturers have to
balance teaching obligations, clinical

service requirements and research expectations.



Available
OER may not always match methods or subject matter as taught locally.



There is a need to train and capacitate additional staff to source and adapt OER
.



OER are free to access but not free to
produce. African institutions may face the challenge of
lack of funding to cover the time required to do the searching and adaptations. There are also
hidden costs, such as the time taken to search for appropriate OER as well as the time needed to
do the a
daptations and production costs.



It may create technological bias, as using
OER
demands new skills for both educators and
students.



M
any OER projects re
main predominantly donor
-
funded.
Whilst Foundation funding has been an
essential component of establishi
ng the OER field, it has been argued that such funding cannot
be relied on for ongoing development, operations, and sustainability, with many OER initiatives
struggling to establish and transition to a future independent of Foundation funding.



In instances

where OER practices in institutions are as part of ‘projects’ rather than integrated or
institution
-
wide processes, practitioners face time constraints as they are required to complete
this work in addition to their already heavy teaching workloads.



Few i
nstitutions have yet adopted new, or adapted existing, policies to reflect OER practices or
to explicitly encourage and formally endorse such practices at institutions.



At u
niversitie
s
curriculum and operational changes are made only after going through s
everal
institutional processes that are often time
-
consuming.



As
OER initiatives appear to be largely project
-
driven rather than an institut
ion
-
wide integrated
process, this
perhaps accounting for lack of relevant policies.



It is also possible that lack
of policies is due, in some instances, to lack

of leadership support for
OER.
However it should be noted that policy fulfils a limited function, and issues such as
sustainability and faculty buy
-
in and involvement are of equal importance.

1.5.6

Opportunities

A
d
opting OER in an African context can have positive impacts on the teaching and learning
environment as adopting this model requires institutions to invest in programmes, course and
materials development, and thereby
begin to incorporate
notions of quality.

The challenges of
growing access, combined with the ongoing rollout of ICT infrastructure into educational institutions,
indicates that it is becoming increasingly important for them to support, in a planned and deliberate
manner, the development and impr
ovement of curricula, ongoing programme and course design,
planning of contact sessions with students, development of quality teaching and learning materials,
19

and design of effective assessment


activities all aimed at improving the teaching and learning
environment


while

managing the cost of this through increased use of resource
-
based learning.
13


OER approaches can also assist in
alleviating
funding
constraints
by acknowledging the benefits of
integrating OER practices with any content/material develop
ment process. Sourcing existing OER as
part of the process of investing in high quality learning resources that meet curriculum needs can
save costs. In contexts of national support for OER, such approaches formally support and encourage
institutions to cr
eate OER. Additionally, such support for OER provides an increased likelihood that
such efforts are sustainable.


OER
also
opens several other opportunities for enhancing higher education in Africa. These include:



Advancing knowledge by making educational
resources available.



Generating new educational opportunities by providing an opportunity for teachers to access
material to use in teaching their classes or to complement a course.



Allowing for sharing of support, resources, experience and best practices.



Providing potential for anyone to study a course to develop their personal knowledge.



Providing additional information on subject matter, as an alternative for thousands of students
with HE interests.



Increasing student and educator access to educational
materials, as, when OER are distributed
electronically, they are easy to access via a computer, to copy and to share.



Promoting innovation and the improvement of teaching resources used by
faculty
.



Providing an opportunity to re
-
examine the curriculum, le
arn new teaching methods and to
rethink teaching approaches.
Faculty

may use OER from elsewhere to inform their own teaching,
and likewise, creating OER for a global audience may encourage faculty to re
-
examine their own
teaching practices before codifying

them as OER.



Familiarizing teachers with using ICT

and

increas
ing

comfort with the web, broadening their skills
base.



Providing an opportunity for author recognition for those creating and sharing OER
.



Enhancing an institution’s reputation and brand image
.

E
vidence is
emerging
that institutions
that share their materials online are attracting increased interest from students in enrolling in
their programmes. This in turn brings potential commercial benefits, because the sharing of
materials online raises a
n institution’s ‘visibility’ on the Internet, while also providing students
more opportunities to investigate the quality of the educational expe
rience they will receive
there.



Lowering cost for student access to educational materials. Unlike traditional t
extbooks and
journals, OER do not require licensing fees. Although OER are not free to produce, they are free
to access. There may still be a marginal cost for distributing OER (
for example,

for printing or for
removable media such as CDs), but it is a fra
ction of the standard licensing fees.



Decreasing faculty time on materials development. Harnessing open content can reduce faculty
time required to produce content. OER makes it easier for educators to preview how others in
their field teach a given topic.

Faculty can use OER created by others


in whole or in part


to
develop their own lecture slides or other teaching aids.



Easing the development of new programmes. OER may be particularly useful when a university
is looking to expand its curriculum by off
ering new courses and degree programmes. OER allows
faculty to preview how a topic is taught at other institutions and open licensing allows faculty to
contextualise and translate OER to suit local needs.



Enabling students to use OER for review and revisio
n purposes, to complement class material,
plan a course of study and to prepare for formal studies.




13

Adam, L., Butcher, N., Tusubira, F.F.T., and Sibthorpe, C. (2011). Transformation
-
Ready: The strategic application of
information and communication technologies in Africa
-

Education

Sector Study. Prepared for the African Development
Bank, the World Bank and the African Union.

20

1.6

General Areas for Action: Harnessing the Potential of ICT, ODL,
and OER

The status of higher education in Africa continues to be a concern for governments,
hig
her
education bodies and donors as it faces
challenges of enrolment and HE participation rates, gender
disparities, HIV

&
AIDS, brain drain
,

and the digital divide.
However, t
he growth of interactive
technologies opens up a range of opportunities to enh
ance higher education provision in Africa.


ICT has the potential to ensure rapid, cost effective and reliable communication, networking and
access to and publication of information which, in turn,
should
enhance productivity, education and
development
.

Student learning can be transformed through e
-
learning, by giving them more learning

options and flexibility of use, and
e
-
learning can be useful for addressing common teaching and
learning challenges like large classes and diverse

classrooms.

Despite com
mitment to the
development of ICT, the amount needed for investment in higher education in Africa is huge, which
is why ODL and OER are viable and affordable strategies for improving access and increasing the
availability of teaching materials, especially
given the plethora of challenges that impede the rollout
of higher education in Africa.

The most critical influence on the quality of tertiary education is
perhaps the availability of learning resources. All countries and higher education institutions need

to
be making investments in material
s

development to improve the qu
ality of teaching and learning,
and the
most cost
-
effective approach is
to harness OER. This is because OER

eliminates unnecessary
duplication of effort by building on what already

exists
elsewhere, it
removes costs of copyr
ight
negotiation and clearance,
and
o
v
e
r time, can engage open communities of practice in ongoing
quality improvement and assurance.


Given the promise of ICT, OER
,

and ODL, it would be remiss to not seize upon the oppor
tunities they
offer.
The paper therefore
outlines
key areas of action to promote ICT, OER, and ODL in
African
higher education.

1.6.1

Areas for Action

1.6.1.1

Investing in the
Policy Environment

The potential of ICT, ODL
,

and OER can only be realized when it is embedded

in a context that is
open to innovation and supported by a favourable policy environment. Government policy often
determines the parameters of such initiatives through laws, regulations, and allocation of funds.
Integration into broader national and regio
nal policy priorities is thus central to success and
sustainability
.
Perhaps the most effective way to accelerate open licensing and sharing of higher
education resources would be adoption/adaptation and approval of an appropriate national open
licensing f
ramework, with clearly defined options for use by all higher education stakeholders,
ideally as part of an overarching policy framework on IPR and copyright in higher education that
spans both rese
arch and teaching activities.


I
nstitutions
will also benef
it from
clear, detailed plan
s

for implementing technology
,

while
educational administrators
should
be willing to review technological implementation plans regularly
and revise them as necessary. This
will require
strong
leadership to
convincingly communica
te the
se

plan
s

to all constituents
, and the

involv
ement of

all stakeholders so
that
there is a common vision
and shared ownership
of

policies and
plan
s
.

There is also
an
opportunity to develop and implement
formal OER and Open Access policies
and c
ontextua
l differences across institutions present different
levels of opportunity for policy engagement. With regards to OER,
it
may

be worthwhile to provide
incentives for academics to participate in OER initiatives. This
would also entail

ensuring that staff
21

workload models allow for curriculum, course, and materials design and development, as well as
for
research activities. Furthermore, institutions will benefit from establishing and maintaining a
rigorous internal process for validating the quality of educa
tional materials prior to their publication
as OER.


Adequate funding and business planning is required to ensure the long term sustainability of
programmes and institutions.
ICT,
ODL
,

and OER should not be considered as ‘add
-
ons’ but rather be
integrated
into university structures and university funding models to ensure their sustainability.
Funding efforts
might, therefore,
focus on the following

issues, amongst others
:

1)

Sustainable investments in ICT infrastructure, in terms of acquisition, maintenance,
and regular
replacement of obsolete equipment;

2)

Promot
ing

awareness of
potential
cost benefits of OER
, e
-

and m
-
learning,

and ODL (with
concrete examples) to create good understanding of costing
;

3)

From a national perspective, plac
ing

mandates on institutions

to license materials developed
with public funding under an open licence.

1.6.1.2

Development of
S
trategies at the
R
egional
L
evel

Due recognition
should
be given to
RECs and
regional higher education associations, many of which
have already embarked on the proces
s of harmoni
z
ation of higher education and promoting
collaboration among the institutions through academic mobility in their respective region.
R
egional
associations
can
become
critical
building blocks of
a
continental AHERS
, and the
following is
therefore

suggested
:



Regional higher education bodies and RECs may consider developing regional ICT
and ODL
strategies that create an explicit link with higher education. These strategies should maintain
coherence with continental initiatives but seek to
address re
gion specific issues.



The creation of regional platforms for sharing information on ICT policies and courseware and
exchanging experiences
is a

useful
way of

increasing the positive contribution of ICT to
education.



Affordability poses real problems for ac
cessing ICT in higher education institutions in Africa. As a
result, regional collaboration might focus on strategies to determine how limited resources may
best be pooled or used to provide access to hardware, access to affordable/reliable high speed