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Welcome to IDE’s Newsletter, Issue 24. The theme of this pub-lication is “Virtual Learning Environments and Online Education”. Prof. Esampally re-minds us of the importance of open learning at UNESWA and Dr Dlamini-Nxumalo explains why open, distance and e-learning are the hallmarks of the twentieth century. IDE continues to offer the Certificate in Online Teaching for Educators (COTE) and this publication covers the certification of cohorts three, four and five. Indian Prof. Abhishek Pandey shares his COTE experience and we are once again reminded of the absence of physical borders which is one of the benefits of online learning. Prof. Ferreira-Meyers exposes us to learning analytics and its benefit to teaching and learning. She also discusses the issue of language teaching through Moodle, in particular for those learning French and Portuguese as a foreign language.

We also meet IDE students who were involved in training and in community work, Ms Mabuza shares their experience.

Do enjoy this publication.

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Thank you.

Siphiwe Shongwe



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The concept of Open Educational Resources (OER) was originally coined during a UNESCO Forum on Open Courseware held in 2002. During a follow‐up, online discussion, also hosted by UNESCO, the initial concept was further developed as follows:

Open Educational Resources are defined as ‘technology‐enabled, open provision of
educational resources for consultation, use and adaptation by a community of users for non‐
commercial purposes.’ They are typically made freely available over the Web or the Internet.
Their principle use is by teachers and educational institutions to support course development,
but they can also be used directly by students. Open Educational Resources include learning
objects such as lecture material, references and readings, simulations, experiments and
demonstrations, as well as syllabuses, curricula, and teachers’ guides.

Since this time, the term has gained significant currency around the world and become the subject of heightened interest in policy‐making and institutional circles, as many people and institutions explore the concept and its potential to contribute to improved delivery of higher education around the world. This paper examines the concept of OER in more detail, offering a simple, clear definition, explaining the economic and educational potential behind that definition, introducing examples of OER practices around the world, exploring legal considerations, and highlighting some of the challenges to releasing the transformative potential of OER….Read more

As highlighted above, all case studies in this publication illustrate the piloting processes that took place within the different institutional contexts. Some are more extensive than others, but there is a lot to learn from each and every one of them. Although all institutions vary in their approaches to their individual case study,
all of them address the following questions:
In what areas did you conduct self-reviews?
• Who was involved in the self-review exercise?
• How did you conduct the reviews?
• What were the results of the reviews?
• What challenges did you face in
undertaking the reviews?
• What key lessons did you learn from the


This Guide comprises three sections. The first – a summary of the key issues – is presented in the form of a set of ‘Frequently Asked Questions’. Its purpose is to
provide readers with a quick and user-friendly introduction to Open Educational Resources (OER) and some of the key issues to think about when exploring how to
use OER most effectively. The second section is a more comprehensive analysis of these issues, presented in the form of a traditional research paper. For those who have a deeper interest in OER, this section will assist with making the case for OER more substantively. The third section is a set of appendices, containing more detailed information about specific areas of relevance to OER. These are aimed at people who are looking for substantive information regarding a specific area of interest…. Read more…

Adapted from Santosh Panda…

The Handbook on In-house Style is intended for all those faculty engaged in developing self-learning materials for distance learners, to enhance their broad knowledge and skills of developing self-learning materials for distance learners. Different examples have been provided which you can relate to your own contexts and discipline/subject area for developing and finalising modules and units… Read more…

On July 8 to 13, 2013, then on 30 September to 5 October, 2013 the Institute for Distance Education and academic staff from collaborating University of Swaziland (UNISWA) departments, who are part of the IDE teaching and learning Community of Practice, gathered for two main workshop sessions that focused on blended learning design. This report is a synthesis of the key ideas, themes, and concepts that emerged from those sessions. The report also includes links to supporting focus session materials, to represent a harvesting of the key elements that we, as a teaching and learning community, need to keep in mind as we work to refine the blended instructional delivery model in higher education for the benefit of open and distance students….Read more….

The Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) hosted this stakeholders’ forum with an overarching aim of reviewing a draft Open and Distance Learning (ODL) national policy framework which was fully sponsored by the SADC-Centre for Distance Education. The Chief Inspector, responsible for Tertiary Education, welcomed the SADC-CDE Director, Dr G Gatsha; the Technical Team that drafted the ODL Policy and all key stakeholders represented at the forum…. Read more

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