Kaputa and Tafangombe
Greener Journal of Educational Research Vol. 4(4), pp. 007-118, July 2014
Manuscript Number: 0527014252
Distance Education an Empowering Discipline or just a Passing Rage: A case of ODL Institutions in Zimbabwe
1*Thomas M. Kaputa, 2Judith Tafangombe
1 Faculty of Applied Social Sciences.
2Materials Development Unit, ZOU.
*Corresponding Author’s Email: kaputatm @zou .ac .zw
This study is on graduates' perceived feelings on how Distance Education (DE) offering institutions in Zimbabwe have empowered them. We asked the question: Is DE an empowering discipline or a passing rage which is being used by most institutions as a raison d’être. The development of Open and Distance Learning (ODL) institutions in the world has largely been done by conventional Universities. Distance educators agree that distance education includes both distance learning and teaching. With the advent of changes in industry’s demand for more qualified personnel that may need to be trained whilst on the job, conventional universities and colleges have failed to cope. The economies of scale of this approach saw many people getting qualifications whilst they were on the job. Governments who are the recipients of most of the graduates get concerned when most of their people are not educated. This has resulted in the development of the single and dual mode institutions of distance education to a large extent with the latter preceding. In this study which was carried out in the beginning of 2013. A qualitative research paradigm was used focusing on the graduates of DE from both conventional and ODL institutions. This was a phenomenological design because it dwelt on a careful description and analysis of the participants’ life world and the meaning extracted thereof. Participants who included graduates, employers and lecturers were conveniently selected from the different institutions in Zimbabwe. The sample consisted of ten graduates from eight institutions. We used an on line open ended interview schedule, personal accounts and document analysis to collect data. This provided us with an opportunity to look at different worldviews of the empowerment phenomenon. The findings show mixed reactions from graduates on their empowerment status. Fierce competition is rife between institutions raising ethical, business and quality issues. We recommend that policy be put in place to fine tune this DE to empower all graduates regardless of their institution.
Keywords: Distance Education, discipline, empowering, qualitative research, single and dual modes
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