A Framework for ICT Intergration for Distance Education Programmes of the University of Nairobi

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The telecommunication infrastructure in Kenya is low; therefore distance learning via the Internet alone is not viable in many parts of the country. This study sought to develop an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) integration framework that would take into account the digital divide in many parts of the country.

     This study was carried out as a case study of Distance Education (DE) department in the Faculty of External Studies, University of Nairobi (UoN). The objectives of the study were to explore the ICTs that are in use and those that can be brought onboard as well as the challenges associated with the use of these ICTs and solutions to the same. The study also soght to establish the ICT readiness of the department. The purpose of the study was to develop an ICT integration framework that is learner centered, i.e. one that takes care of the learners needs regardless of their physical location in Kenya and that will serve as a guideline on the how of effective integration.

     The study methodology included collection of data from DE lerners, tutors, administrators and learner support centers. This was done by use of questionnaires, interviews and observations.

     The findings of the study revealed that the department is still in the first three generations of Distance Education which are characterized by heavy use of printed materials for delivery of course content, telephony and postal mail for communication bestween the tutors and learners. The current model of DE was noted to be lacking in most of the modern ICTs. These include use of computers, audio-visual media, internet, web-based, TV, radio, satellite, etc.

     The study recommends that UoN should move fast to integrate modern ICTs to teaching and learning in DE programs so as to reap their benefits. Their integration will make the delivery and administration of DE more effective and efficient. The study also recommends that the University should draw up an ICT integration policy for DE that should be inline with other iternal policies of the institution and national policies. Such a plan should address areas of funding and sustaining such an ICT initiative, training of staff (tutors and technical staff), among others.

     Finally the researcher developed the suggested framework for ICT integration that can be applied by any other institution that would wish to offer DE in Kenya.

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