Training needs assessment for teaching staff in open universities and dual-mode higher education institutions in Asia

Ashok Gaba
Indira Gandhi National Open University

New Delhi, India

Sanjaya Mishra
Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for As

New Delhi, India

There has been a phenomenal expansion of distance education (DE) in Asia in the last four decades. There are about 70 single-mode open universities in Asia catering for the largest number of adult learners in the world. Also, many Asian higher education institutions are increasing their use of distance and online learning to provide increased access to quality education. In recent years, the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in distance education has been increasing to support anytime, anywhere education. Such developments have changed the roles of faculty staff in designing and delivering distance education programmes. While there is a growing acceptance and use of technology by teachers, there is also a strong need to provide them with training to become more effective in imparting knowledge through open and distance learning (ODL). As the faculty staff in most ODL institutions are drawn from conventional face-to-face teaching institutions, in-service training for staff development is normally adopted. The importance of training for staff development in distance education has long been recognized (e.g. the Commonwealth of Learning's roundtable meeting and workshop on training in 1990 and 1994). However, due to technological advances, and new ways of teachingg and learning, it is important to undertake a systematic analysis of the training needs of teaching staff currently serving in distance education in Asia.

This study reports the findings of an online survey conducted among the faculty members of distance teaching institutions in Asia. The survey focused on: (a) the importance of training; (b) the perceived gaps in competencies; (c) immediate and long-term training needs; and (d) preferred modes of training. Its objectives were to identify (a) the gaps in the current competencies of teaching staff, and (b) the priority areas for training. The results of the study indicate that respondents prefer training programmes outside their organizations, and also online programmes of a short one-week duration. The areas of priority for training programmes are as follows: developing/using Open Educational Resources; open content licensing/copyright; the design and development of educational multimedia; designing flexible skill training programmes; quality assurance; emerging trends and technologies in ODL; developing online learning/e-learning content; ICT-based delivery systems (e.g the use of LMS); research methodologies for ODL; and costing open and distance learning. This study will help in designing appropriate training programmes and improving performance goals in distance teaching institutions.