Toward a more student-centered mode of teacher training in ODL
Teacher training in Africa is regarded as inefficient partly because of widespread dissatisfaction with the quality of teaching and learning in schools. The focus for some time now has therefore been on how to improve the quality of teacher training and increase the number of teachers in Africa. However, this has proved difficult, possibly due to economic reasons and the high cost of teacher training. One of the suggested solutions to this problem is to use open and distance (ODL) mode of learning as it would scale up teacher training and improve the quality of teaching and learning.
ODL operates without the establishment of traditional teaching and learning institutions and is increasingly viewed as one of the most viable, innovative and competitive ways of providing education services to large groups of learners. Consequently, many countries, especially in the developing world, have adopted ODL as a cost effective way of training large numbers of teachers. Teacher training programs delivered through ODL use a combination of short residential instruction and distance learning mode. Learning materials used in ODL include modules in the subjects (learning content), activities, self-study materials and self-assignments. Despite the positive contributions of ODL in expanding access to higher education in Africa, and especially in teacher training, there are still issues concerning its implementation and students’ perception of the type and quality of support they receive in ODL programs. This was the focus a study by Grace Banda and Elias Kaphesi presented at the 2013 1st International Conference of the African Virtual University. Using the case of a teacher training college in Malawi, the study sought to identify issues concerning the implementation of ODL teacher training programs based on student teachers’ perceptions of the on-campus and off-campus components of the programs, as well as the type and quality of support given to the students.