Effectiveness of Study Centres in Supporting Open and Distance Learning at Makerere University
In open and distance learning (ODL), the teacher and student are separated in time and space for most of the time. To ensure continuity of teaching and learning, learner support mechanisms are required. Rumble (1992) contends that for effective support these mechanisms should be decentralized and accessible to students. It is with this understanding that this study examined the effectiveness of Makerere University’s study centres in supporting teaching and learning in its ODL programmes. Following a survey design, data was elicited from 422 respondents who included students and staff of the University. This was done using questionnaires, interviews, focus group discussions and documentary analysis. The findings were that the centres are relevant to offering remote learner support, especially given the low level of technological advancement in Uganda. However, due to a number of factors, the centres are not offering satisfactory support to the students. These include the centres’ indistinct status and mandate; gaps in the University’s policies and understanding of ODL; inadequate funding of the centres; communication gaps between the centres and their coordinating unit at the University’s main campus; inadequacy of study, ICT and human resources at the centres; and unconducive location and opening hours of the centres. Recommendations for the better performance of the centres are discussed.