Saide continues to broaden its collaborative linkages as a strategy to support access to quality education and training in the southern Africa region. In September 2020, Saide supported Maluti Adventist Nursing College in Lesotho through training its staff on distance education pedagogy.
Maluti Nursing College is accredited to offer a Diploma in Midwifery Distance Education Programme using the distance education delivery mode that is technology-supported through the Moodle Learning Management System (LMS). During the training, students remain attached to various health institutions in the country, while under the supervision and guidance of on-site mentors. The students are regularly monitored on the Moodle LMS and through reports from mentors as well as regular visits to students by College tutors. The midwifery students also have occasional five days of face-to-face sessions at the College.
The college takes overall responsibility to ensure that the training provided is appropriate and relevant. Since this was the maiden programme to be offered through distance education, the college sought to train staff on how to handle students at a distance, without compromising training standards.
In order to support Maluti College to develop capacity to deliver effectively the training programme through distance education, Saide developed a short online course on how to support distance learners. The course was uploaded on the Saide Moodle platform and delivered in a two-day workshop attended by 22 midwifery and other general nursing college staff.
The workshop objectives were to:
- acquaint participants with essential elements of distance learning
- familiarise participants with technologies that can be used in supporting distance education learners
- familiarise participants with Moodle tools that can be used to support students
- introduce participants to quality assurance of online learning and quality assurance tools that can be used for that purpose.
In addition to equipping staff with expertise on how to support distance learners, Saide also inducted Maluti College staff on relevant skills and proficiency in how to use technology to support the students.
One of the important aspects accentuated during the workshop was the readiness of the College to deliver technology-supported distance education in a practical-based programme like midwifery.
During the workshop participants conducted a contextual analysis of the college and its midwifery programme in order to establish its readiness. Through this analysis, they identified eLearning facilities, existing college infrastructure and other facilities in the various health institutions where midwifery students are deployed. They also reviewed students’ technological competencies and identified gaps that needed to be addressed for students to work comfortably with the technology.
Participants were also inducted on Moodle; tools to communicate with students, uploading resources, and conducting regular student evaluations. The training covered the all-important aspect of designing authentic student assessment tasks. It was also important for participants to understand how the roles of the teacher and the learner change in online learning. The workshop further underscored the importance of the facilitative and guiding role of the tutor.
The training stressed that tutors should seek to support trainees by providing reading resources, including simulation videos. Through a series of activities, participants appreciated the importance of synchronous and asynchronous tools in online learning. Finally, the workshop dealt with quality assurance of online learning where participants were provided with some of the tools they can use to quality assure online learning.
The workshop provided Saide an opportunity to induct Maluti staff to the value of using Open Education Resurces (OER), and shared with the College some of the Nursing OER that Saide developed through other projects in the past such as midwifery resources developed by the Kamuzu College of Nursing in Malawi. Maluti staff were linked to the Kamuzu College to facilitate further collaboration.
As Saide extends its support to a diverse range of institutions and disciplines, it continues to consolidate its knowledge base and expertise to promote equitable and meaningful access to knowledge and training through the adoption of open learning principles, distance education methods and educational technology.