Teaching and learning in a blended distance education context
Ojo, Oluremilekun Risikat
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Ongoing changes to the global economy have a tremendous effect on available physical and human resources. Adult distance education teaching and learning environments are increasingly used in higher education and by corporations for individual and career development purposes to meet the lifelong learning trend. Consequently, there is a need to continually ensure that the distance education teaching and learning process meets the needs of those within it. Unfortunately, there is a paucity of empirical evidence about DE practices within Sub-Saharan Africa (Ayadi, Adekoya & Ikem, 2005; Chiumbu, 2006). Critical poignant questions about how instructors and learners in Sub-Saharan African contexts experience and navigate their DE teaching and learning spaces remain unaddressed. The study was undertaken to understand the teaching and learning experience of facilitators and learners at a distance education program operated from a Nigerian university. This qualitative case study was guided by the following research questions: (1) How does teaching and learning take place within a distance education program? (2) What instructional design is being used and to what extent does it allow faculty to accomplish its educational objectives for the higher education learners? (3) What is the learner’s experience in the Nigerian distance education context? This inductive study was conducted with fifteen participants, which included five instructors, eight learners, and two administrators using semi-structured interviews, document analysis and naturalistic observation. The teaching and learning experience for DE participants within the Teacher’s Education program was complex. Two main categories each with its own subcategories emerged from the data: Nigerian factors and paradoxical context. Additionally, the findings of each research question drew on aspects from the two main categories as several issues overlap. These findings resulted in three main conclusions for the study: first, the Nigerian context’s DE teaching and learning takes place in an ambiguous, often contradictory and not clearly defined manner. Second, the Nigerian context’s DE lacks consistent DE teaching and learning instructional design because of its laissez faire education system. Third, the DE teaching and learning experience in the context fluctuates (mixed experience) resulting in an unpredictable, unsupported DE process.