Uptake of Open Distance and e-Learning (ODEL) programmes: A Case of Kenyatta University, Kenya
Chege, Fatuma N.
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Despite most universities in Kenya having embraced Open Distance and e-learning (ODeL) that utilise modern ICT technologies in teaching and learning, enrolment in these programmes still remain low. In Kenyatta University, for example, out of a total student population of about 70,000, only about 5,000 (7%) are enrolled in the ODeL programme. The objective of this study was to establish the challenges faced by ODeL students at Kenyatta University and which impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of the programme thereby limiting its growth. The study employed a sequential mixed methods design that allowed collection of both quantitative and qualitative data. Data was collected from a sample of 207 students through a questionnaire while Key Informant Interviews were conducted with five senior members of staff directly involved in the management of the ODeL programme. The study established that ODeL students faced technical, instructional, institutional and personal challenges which impacted on the efficiency and effectiveness of the programme. Key technical challenges experienced are insufficient exposure to computers and ICT technology, lack of finances to buy ICT gadgets, lack of internet connectivity and content hanging or not opening in the Tablets. Key institutional challenges faced were delayed delivery of study materials, poor administrative services such as registering and paying fees and poor student support services. With regard to instructional challenges, the key ones were inadequate academic support as lecturers failed to facilitate units on-line, lack of interactivity and poorly designed course material. Lastly, the individual challenges faced were financial constraints, insufficient study time, conflict between study and family/work balance. The study concludes that there is a need to institute learner support mechanisms to address the institutional, instructional and individual challenges faced by learners in the ODeL programme so as to improve on its efficiency and effectiveness.