LIVED EXPERIENCES OF OPEN AND DISTANCE LEARNING IN THE CONTEXT OF COVID 19: THE CASE OF BOTSWANA OPEN UNIVERSITY
Main Article Content
The emergence of COVID-19 led many institutions and schools to hurriedly seek alternative
modes for teaching and learning other than the traditional face-to-face contact mode. In some,
if not most cases, the alternative was open and distance learning (ODL). However, the
Botswana Open University (BOU) was not totally caught unawares. Based, among others, on
the need to enhance society’s knowledge of an institutional response to the pandemic, this study
explored the model of ODL at BOU, teaching and learning at BOU before COVID-19, the impact
of the pandemic on the teaching and learning process and the nature of interventions at BOU
during COVID-19. The study also presents observed challenges and mitigation measures. The
qualitative method was used with reliance on lived experiences of the authors, desktop
research, and examination of institutional documents, policies, and practices of the institution.
Although BOU, as the Botswana College of Distance and Open Learning (BOCODOL) used the
correspondence model at inception, it has, since the establishment of BOU, developed a robust
strategic framework, a strategic plan, an overarching strategy for technology-enhanced
teaching and learning, and an e-tutor model. It has also enhanced its regional centres operations
and student support in its online engagement with its learners. The selection of a Learning
Management System (LMS) is underscored, and the partial use of the Substitution
Augmentation Modification Redefinition (SAMR) model has helped in teaching and learning.
The article recommends full implementation of all policies and guidelines, the provision of
support for students with disabilities, and the formal use of the SAMR model in its operations.