We all know that educating and helping students build their skills can play a large role in developing people in any country. But building the capacity of educators to expand and deliver their programmes to larger, more diverse audiences can have an even greater impact on a region or country, something that’s been proven through a partnership between NAMCOL (Namibia College of Open Learning), and the Commonwealth of Learning over the past two years.
It’s with this goal of strengthening capacity of their staff, and expanding access to online learning for their students that Alexia van Harte and the NAMCOL team took on a project focused on delivering the Bachelor of Arts in Youth and Community Development (BA:YCD) online. It didn’t take long before they realized that they were significantly increasing their ability to shift other programmes online in a hurry.
“Before we began this project, we only had a few educators who could do the work necessary to adapt one of our distance education courses to online learning,” says Alexia, whose role is in instructional design. “We now have more than 35 online course developers.”
“In the beginning, we thought we would only be able to develop one programme per year,” says Alexia, who has been an educator for more than 25 years. “But with a larger pool of course developers and facilitators and the increased speed and proficiency they’ve brought, we’ve been able to cascade our process to do more than one per year, which is a huge step for us.”
Focusing on online abilities
But adapting curriculum and updating, contextualising and converting the current print-based distance learning programme online using Moodle was only one part of the equation according to Deputy Director, Programmes & Materials Jan Nitschke, who is grateful for the support that COL, through the Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC), provided to convert the programme for online delivery.
“Our team members have also been trained in online evaluation now, an essential part of delivering our programmes virtually to a growing, geographically dispersed group of learners across Namibia,” he adds.
Offering the BA:YCD programme online isn’t only a matter of being able to engage a greater number of learners. The quality of the educational experience is enriched, leading to more engaged, and connected, graduates.
Supporting youth a key objective to improve Namibia’s future
Being able to support youth across the country by increasing the number of people trained in youth and community development is an important part of improving Namibia’s future.
“Educating and developing people to work in the youth sector is vital to Namibia’s continued success,” explains NAMCOL President Heroldt Murangi. “NAMCOL is proud to play a key role in accelerating this process, one that we take very seriously.”
Growing faster than anticipated
With the BA:YCD programme fully operational now, the NAMCOL team has turned their attention towards offering other programmes online including:
- Certificate in Educational Development
- Certificate in Local Government
- Diploma in Educational Development
“As a lead partner in the Commonwealth Higher Education Consortium for Youth Work (CHEC4YW), COL is committed to promoting Youth Work as a profession through distance education,” says Education Specialist Dr. Mairette Newman. “Our productive, ongoing relationship with NAMCOL is something we’re very proud of, with Youth Workers being pivotal to providing training, counselling and support to ensure youth become active and productive members of society.
“The work that NAMCOL has done to develop and support youth in their country and offer the programme online is truly amazing.”
For more information on the NAMCOL BA:YCD programme, go to https://namcol.edu.na/