Is assessment of student learning in ODeL the silver bullet for reforming African higher education?
The introduction of ODeL into the teaching and learning processes within African higher education is rapidly expanding but it has come with major challenges to curriculum development, pedagogical approaches, lecturer and instructor training, assessment of learning outcomes and research. However, the capacity of universities to monitor and evaluate/ assess the impact of ODeL on the teaching and learning environments and outcomes is weak. Key among the challenges facing institutions are: (i) lack of effective and reliable Monitoring (M&E) systems, (ii) weak culture of assessment of student learning and (iii) lack of periodic training and retraining of new and experienced lecturers and instructors in innovative pedagogy. It has now been established that teaching in an ODeL context is complex as it requires multiple pedagogical approaches such as designing/developing content and self-learning course materials for students, conducting online tutorials and short and periodic face-to-face sessions, and fostering virtual and/or face-to-face collaborative learning among students. These pedagogical approaches require different learning assessment techniques; they include the continuous and formative evaluation of the students’ home environment, the periodic face-to-face sessions and the online environments to see how they affect the learning process. This demonstrates that monitoring and evaluating how ODeL is making a difference in the quality of education is an interactive process between lecturers and students. Hence, the need for them to become reflective actors of their teaching and learning.