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With the increasing demand in both lifelong learning and advanced initial training, dual mode has become a necessity. Many individuals are in need of higher degree qualifications, developing new job skills, and developing competence in their current jobs for better survival. In this view many need education of some form. Based on the demand of higher education the government of Tanzania introduced the Open University of Tanzania (OUT), which is a distance learning institution. However, the OUT after considering the demand from the market found itself providing dual mode of teaching. Programmes which currently offer degrees in this mode are Bachelor of Science (ICT), Bachelor of Education B.Ed (Special Education), Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees both evening and executive programmes, Master of Community Economic Development (M.CED), Masters in Social Work and the newly introduced dual mode for the Master of Education in Administration, Planning and Policy Studies (M.Ed.APPS). This paper explores the dual mode of teaching. It intends also to highlight on other aspects related to the mode such as its management, demand, competition, sustainability, perception of the end users of the product and suggests the way forward.
A need to assess dual mode of teaching in the era of globalisation is increasing. Such assessment makes the practicing institution to see how best they perform, what weakness exists and how best to make further improvement on the delivery mode. With globalisation people are prone to learning survival skills and that the pace of changing skills is fast. New skills are needed as a result of ever changing jobs and culture. The survival skills are needed to all people especially the disadvantaged individuals, including those who suffer from disabilities and the individuals who are trained on one type of skill that is likely to become obsolete, as a result of the current globalization issues including ICT. It is this view that forces individuals both literate and illiterate to seek for professional development for purpose of not only specialising, but, diversifying job skills to meet the available market. There are times when skills one holds do not work, for example, one trained as a phone operator or a typewriter, needs other training, including use of computers. As the available market in global world is fragile, likewise learning job skills is no longer stationary. Increased new skill seekers made educational institutions, including the universities to embark on delivering courses that would meet the needs of many for the changing job market.
One of the ways towards meeting the high demand of job skills, skill training, and professional development was the single mode universities to embark on dual and multiple modes. For the conventional universities, they added distance teaching and become conventional universities delivering open and distance education component. The open and distance education added components from the conventional universities, providing a segment of live lecturing to students. In both cases issues of trained human resources, access, outcome, infrastructure, managerial skills, professional expertise, competition, ethical, quality and whether institutions are doing justice to the clientele raises debate ( Aluko, 2007; Du Plessis and Van Merwe, 2005; Bornman, 2004; Braimoh, 2003; Lockee, Moore and Burton, 2001). Some of the issues highly debated include acceptance of open and distance learning to provide quality education. On the other hand it is no doubt that distance education provides flexible learning environments that allows all individuals, including the adults and young (Thomas & Soares, 2009). Issues might now be on the basis of quality of education. Should we believe that education provided in a strict face-to-face educational institution as of high quality? If so, why, in the distance learning institutions there are students who were once educated in conventional universities? Why conventional universities are also engaged in providing distance education? For this paper we feel there is a gap that both conventional and open and distance learning needed to fill. This gap is brought about by the change in the society as a result of many factors, including ICT and globalisation. Individuals need education for the purpose of bettering their life. To better ones life one need to have skills that make the individual work and produce results as required.
It is well known that conventional universities cannot accommodate all the skill and knowledge seekers. According to Umar (2006), Nigeria conventional universities accommodated only 10% of students eligible for higher education. In that without opening up of open and distance education about 90+ of Nigerian higher education clientele would not get access. Similar situation can be observed in many developing countries. Developing countries are said to have barriers to higher education that include failure to governments to recognise and address issues of access, culture, and gender gap especially to the poor population (Lewin & Stuart, 1991; Thomas & Soares, 2009).
In developing countries, where, few conventional institutions are available, the demand in open and distance learning is much higher. As skill training requires intensive learning, and the number of those would be trained is increasing drastically, a need to have dual mode of teaching is increased. This situation is not new, the Open University of Hongkong faced similar challenges that lead to the launch of full-time and face-to-face teaching in order to meet the demand (Hope, 2006). Tanzania, like other developing countries it faces challenges of having few conventional universities, high demand of higher education, few people trained in ICT skills, and a number of communication infrastructural challenges hindering professional development of her people. The demand from the society that lead to establishment of OUT later became a driving force to the dual mode of teaching. This paper critically assesses the dual mode delivery systems as practiced at the Open University of Tanzania for purpose of developing an understanding and suggests how best dual mode could be further improved.
The Dual Mode of Teaching
The dual mode of teaching is said to be embraced by many single mode open and distance learning for reasons that include: increased expansion, creating global resource centres, increasing demand and the shrinking of the government funding to the institutions (Mannan, 2011; Tsolakidis, 2000). Where resources are few to the institutions, the possibility of sustaining large number of learners is reduced. With the increased demand of high skilled job, a need to develop an avenue with much more support and ensuring that learners learn and use the skills and complete their studies becomes a necessity. The dual mode is one of the strategies toward increasing number of learners, increasing quality of learning, increasing support systems and increasing retention and completion rates. Mannan (2009) on addressing issues of quality in ODL is of opinion that dual mode is one of the ways to increase quality in open and distance learning as most people still believe on the education provision that focus on face-to-face interaction. Some have said face-to-face education is the 'real' education (Aluko, Fraser & Hendrikz, 2008).
The use of dual mode of teaching is not a new phenomenon in Universities, for example, by 1999 in Australia there were 30 out of 36 universities delivering learning content through dual mode (Macdonald & Postle, 1999). There are a number of the dual mode teaching institutions which are said to emerge from single mode face-to-face teaching universities (Mannan, 2009). The situation is different from the Open University of Tanzania, where dual mode is to be introduced in an Open and distance teaching university. It should be noted that, the concept dual mode teaching university is becoming complicated in the era of globalisation, where both conventional and ODL institutions use ICT for teaching and learning process. In the view of use of ICT in teaching and learning, both conventional and distance teaching seem to come closer and find all solving similar problems, how to develop and deliver learning content in learning management systems (LMS) which are mediated by ICT. However, open and distance education, remain open to all whereas the conventional universities remain open to the few who get chance to join the universities. The traditional learning, the use of conventional universities is costly, inflexible and impractical for learners who would want to work and study. According to Roberts (2002) inflexibility of conventional universities is attributed by many factors that include space, cost, population, economies of scale and attitudes of producers and consumers.
According to Thomas and Soares (2009) for small and medium open and distance learning institutions working in a competitive environment they require two things: "provision of value-added differentiating services and the development of recognisable brand" (p.24). the first, according to Thomas and Soares can be attained by establishing flexibility in the following: "Admission criteria, programme regulations (recognition of prior learning, block transfer, residency, time for completion), course design (individualised and self-paced learning modules, minimal course pre-requisites), course availability (uncapped and continuous enrolment); and responsive institutional structures for approval of new programs, learner-centred academic regulations, and continuous improvement)" (p.24). On succeeding in the competitive environment through developing recognisable brand, Thomas and Soares (2009) emphasises on quality in academic content, interactions, and student support services and that learners are to be treated as valued customers (p. 25).
According to Thomas and Soares (2009) dual mode increases access, responds to environmental factors, and unlocks the potential of people. However its management is a challenging tasks. In similar ways Davies and Stacey (1998) view dual mode as an approach that is applied in an existing institution for increasing access, for creating lifelong learning opportunities, and that creates affordable professional development. Both scholars (Thomas and Soares 2009; Davies and Stacey, 1998) put emphasis on importance of dual mode as opening access to large population in accessing education. Is it without changes? Daniel (2007) remarks challenges in a dual mode institution to be in management. If the top management in a dual mode decide to be too much centralised in the organisation of ODL services, the faculty do feel disempowered, and if there is too much delegation of responsibility, student support becomes inconsistent. This calls for management that takes into account of both centralisation and delegation as problems. In ensuring accountability and student satisfaction one of the ways is to establish a working quality assurance system (Koul, 2000).
Things to consider
Advantages; Disadvantages; Management; Demand from the market; Sustainability; Competition from the environment; Perception of the end users of the product
Bridging course before admission to programme to increase confidence
Use new technologies to improve quality of learning to motivate students
Orientation to distance education essential for new students
When using ICT, see the whole: it is not about technology but about leadership, participatory management, structures, processes, change management, staff training, usability as well as accessibility
Include as part of strategic planning and resourcing of whole university that is highly participatory and bottom up to increase a sense of ownership and accountability related to collective decisions.