Visit of the Open University of Tanzania in Dar Es Salaam

On 25-29 March 2019, in the context of the UNESCO chair on Personalized and Adaptive Distance Learning (PADE), the Swiss Distance University of Applied Sciences (SDUAS) carried out an exploratory mission to the Open University of Tanzania (OUT).

One of the purposes of the mission was to identify synergy areas for conducting joint research on how to improve distance learning through technology and make it more accessible for all. Both institutions host UNESCO Chairs and promote high quality distance education since over 20 years.

To identify the synergies and address the challenges and opportunities of technology- based distance learning, a number of activities including workshops, working meetings with faculties, and virtual sessions between the SDUAS and OUT collaborators were organized during that week. The highlight of the mission was a public lecture on the role of technologies in open and distance education given by the experts of both institutions at OUT's Dar es Salaam Campus. During the lecture SDUAS professor and UNESCO chairman on personalized and adaptive learning, Dr. Per Bergamin spoke about educational technological trends, adaptive learning approach to instruction, and opportunities that technology brought for distance education. Deputy Vice Chancellor of OUT, Prof. Dr. Cornelia Muganda pointed to the challenges hindering the easy use of technology at the OUT including unreliable access to internet especially in rural areas, where the network was unstable. For his part, OUT lecturer, Prof. Dr. Christopher Awinia said that through research and identifying challenges they were facing using the digital system for distance learning would be helpful to get the best system of imparting knowledge to students.

The virtual sessions between the both institutions were dedicated to such hot-topics as e-assessments, learning platform Moodle upgrade challenges, and the quality of online didactics.

At the end of the visit, both institutions expressed the wish to strengthen cooperation in the field of distance education as a first step through (a) coordinated and cooperative research in the field of distance education, focusing in particular on technology-based personalised and adaptive distance learning and related new digital applications; (b) sustainable capacity building of talented young and medium-sized researchers, including the implementation of grant based research projects based on research fellowships.