RICHARD OUMA, DAVID MUSIIMAAMI
There is a clear indication that the level of adoption of Open, Distance and e-Learning (ODeL) by tertiary institutions is still very low in Uganda. This study examines the barriers and possible strategies to improve the adoption of ODeL in tertiary institutions, which is critical in teaching and learning. This study used a qualitative research approach involving conversational focus discussion groups to explore the institutional administrators’ perspectives on the level of adoption of ODeL. The study results showed a drop in the enrolment levels in most tertiary institutions during the Covid -19 period. Whereas a few ICT facilities were available in all institutions, there was no indication that some were specifically dedicated to ODeL use. Critical barriers to ODeL adoption included the high cost of equipment needed to start ODeL, limited internet bandwidth, the high cost of data, limited skills of the staff and students, practical academic programmes requiring physical presence, declining enrolment levels, programmes examined by external bodies that did not embrace online assessment, and lack of policies for ODeL implementation and assessment. The study recommends a participative approach involving different stakeholders right from management down to individual staff and students, developing institutional policy guidelines for ODeL, conducting institutional readiness for online teaching, learning and assessment, training staff and students, and creating the awareness that integrating ODeL into curricula is critical and a necessity. Therefore, concerted efforts by the tertiary institutions and government are pivotal to enable investment in ICT Infrastructure, the development of ODeL policy, and the training of staff and students of tertiary institutions to appreciate ODeL as a valuable mode of learning delivery in the contemporary world.
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