School of Education

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Rationale for the Programme

This certificate programme is primarily designed for people who have some experience in adult education and distance education, and who are working for distance education institutions. It is also intended for those aspiring to join the distance education field. The programme aims to equip distance education practitioners and others, with basic skills in open and distance learning (ODL). It is geared towards facilitating professional development in distance education practice, by enhancing personal development in ODL leadership and management, decision making, problem solving and critical thinking and research. The programme focuses on adult education, adult learners, distance education, materials development, learner support provisions, management and administration, research, and the financing of distance education.

Programme Courses Synopsis

Module 1: Adult Education and Adult Learners – AE 011

The module, Adult Education and Adult Learners, introduces you to the field of Adult Education, in terms of what it is and its contribution to education and training. The module further examines the characteristics of adult learners, as distinct from school-going pupils or students. Having exposed you to the adult learners' characteristics, the module then addresses the crucial area of needs analysis amongst adult learners. Finally, the module exposes you to the concept of open learning as a principle, based on learner-centeredness, and how it can help you to meet the needs of adult learners.

Module 2: Introduction to Distance Education – DE 011

This module, Introduction to Distance Education, gives you an overview of what distance education is and the major characteristics of distance education, as compared to conventional learning and its practices. Characteristics of distance learners are adequately discussed, covering the various challenges and how you can overcome them. The module also discusses the benefits of distance learning.

Furthermore, the module explores the educational needs of Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries and illustrates how distance education, as an alternative method of learning, can overcome such needs. This module comes with an excellent Reader, that not only covers what distance education is, but also shows the inter-relatedness of the systems of distance education, thus neatly showing the connectedness of the modules that make up this programme.

Module 3: Distance Education Materials – EM 011

The module, Distance Education Materials, is about the characteristics of good distance education materials. The focus is mainly on print materials. The content in the first topic is in line with what you have learnt in module one, about the characteristics of distance learners, and how the materials should be designed to meet those characteristics. The second topic is about selecting the right materials for different programmes. The third topic deals with assisting learners going through their materials. The last topic, which is topic four, is about effective and efficient delivery of distance education materials.

Module 4: Learner Support Services – LS 012

This module on Learner Support Services discusses learner support. Generally, learning through ODL is by nature challenging and characterized by high dropout rates, student isolation and frustration. It is expected that by the time you finish studying this module, you will be able to explain the reason behind the inclusion of learner support services in solving students’ problems. This module will help you to acquire adequate knowledge of the techniques of applying learner support principles to problem situations. It touches on various ways in which various educational providers apply learner support principles, depending on their context and what is available. Finally, it should be noted that the module is not exhaustive; and so, you are expected to read other books, journals and visit websites on learner support in ODL to gain further knowledge.

Module 5: Management and Administration of Distance Education Organisations or Programmes at the Local Level- MA 012

This module is about the organisation, management, and administration of distance education, particularly at the local level. It is intended to show you the vital role good management and administration play in delivering effective ODL. The first unit focuses on the meaning and role of management and administration. The second covers planning distance education at the local level. The third unit looks at managing distance education resources at the local level.  Finally, topic four deals with the role of monitoring and evaluation in the maintenance of quality products and services.

Module 6: Research in Distance Education – RM 012

The module, Research in Distance Education, is aimed at introducing you as practitioners to the important area of research. It answers the key question: What is research? Thereafter, it explains the types of research, the research process, and concludes with a discussion on practitioner research in distance education. The material is presented in a conversational manner, which enables you as participants to engage more meaningfully with the subject, and apply the new knowledge to typical workplace situations.

Module 7: Financing in Distance Education –FD 012

This module, Financing in Distance Education, explores several important issues concerning the financing of open and distance learning. Topic one introduces the basic vocabulary of cost analysis, explains how costs are incurred in ODL, and how this influences the pattern of expenditure in ODL institutions. Understanding the nature and behaviour of costs is important in budgeting and cost management in ODL. Budgeting and budgeting models are the subject of topic two, which also presents the concept of budget as an important planning and management tool that is directly linked to the sources of finance and expenditures. Topic three looks at various sources of finance and types of expenditure for ODL, which are the two major dimensions of a budget – income and expenditure. Finally, topic four introduces the concept of financial management as a tool for making optimal and timely use of funds. It also shows how existing resources of an ODL institution could be used to create wealth for the institution.

Portfolio Assignment – PF 012

As learners, you are expected to compile a Portfolio showing reflections of what you have gained from the Certificate for Distance Education Practitioners programme. The portfolio should have four pieces of reflection topics, which in your opinion, represent good examples of your capabilities. This work could be an assignment in which you have done very well, and where you have made great progress. It could also be an activity that you compiled during the course, or a whole topic from any module, which shows your specific interests as a learner.

Credit allocation for CDEP Courses: Credit value - 120 credits


Subjects / Units / Modules /Courses


AE 011 Adult Education and Adult Learners


DE 011 Introduction to Distance Education


EM 011 Distance Education Materials


LS 012 Learner Support Services


MA 012 Management and Administration of Distance Education Organisations or Programmes at the Local Level


RM 012 Research in Distance Education


FD 012 Financing in Distance Education


PF 012 Portfolio




Total number of credits


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