Reflections on Distance Higher Education in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities

Reflections on Distance Higher Education in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities

Luka Mathayo Mkonongwa (Dar es Salaam University College of Education, Tanzania) and Sotco Claudius Komba (Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5472-1.ch108
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This chapter examines literature about distance higher education in Africa, as presented by different scholars. The evolution of distance education has been well explored from the print to the current era of information and communication technology. Challenges and opportunities in the provision of distance higher education have been discussed and better practices for providing quality distance education have been suggested. It is concluded that the provision of distance education must be carefully planned and the technologies employed in its delivery must be reflective of the context in which they are used.
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Distance education or distance learning is understood as a field of education “taking place with the student physically or geographically removed from the instructor using some form of technology to facilitate learning and contact” (Valentine, 2002). It encompasses programmes that allow the learner and the instructor to be physically apart during the learning process and maintain communication in a variety of ways (Keegan, 1986).

Some people think that distance education began with the invention of the Internet; which is a wrong perception (Moore & Kearsley, 2005). Although scholars have diverse views on when exactly distance learning started, many studies indicate that distance education started in the mid-19th century (around 1840s) and that nearly all scholars agree that this education was delivered by correspondence (Keegan, 2005; Moore & Kearsley, 2005; Nasseh, 1997; Taylor, 2006). Moore and Kearsley (2005) identify five ‘historical generations’ through which distance education has evolved from correspondence to internet. The authors summarize the five orderly generations as follows: Correspondence, broadcast radio and television, open universities, teleconferencing, and internet or web.

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