In 2002, Kenya Methodist University (KeMU) which is one of the fastest growing private institutions of higher learning in Kenya, introduced open and distance learning ODL programmes in order to reach clientele who were not able to access full time programmes due to various constraints. At KeMU ODL is an alternative mode of instruction which provides learners with an opportunity to access education and training without leaving their work and families to study in a confined institution of higher learning. It targets qualified and self-motivated learners who are constrained by time, location, age, disability, work and family roles.
ODeL provides academic programmes through a diverse multimedia approaches to learners who lack the opportunity to study as regular fulltime students. Such students are able to study at their own time and pace, as they carry out their other responsibilities. Due to this flexibility, a third of the students enrolled on various courses at KeMU study via the distance mode of study using either print and or online/eLearning content.
The Teaching Learning System
Students who study through ODel Mode receive the same content as full time students except for the delivery mode. A blended learning approach is used where print materials and eLearning content are blended with limited face to face contact sessions that are convenient to the busy schedules of distance learners. Mobile learning is also used to reduce learner isolation. This equivalency of both content and certificate and the flexible mode of delivery has made ODeL programmes a first choice for many learners at KeMu. The University is currently exploring possibilities of digitizing the courseware in order to deliver it online as eContent so that it can be available to distance learners instantly, upon registration
ODeL Academic Programmes
Academic programmes at KeMU are offered from two Schools and two Faculties. Many full time diploma, undergraduate and masters programmes at the School of Business and Economics, the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, the Faculty of Computing and Informatics and the Faculty of Education, Science and Agriculture are made available to distance learners through print and elearning modes.
Academic Support for Distance Learners
Supporting distance learners starts at the materials development stage where subject experts convert content that is normally taught eye-ball to eye-ball in the conventional classroom to self-instructional materials. This means that since ODL is largely a learning experience where the teacher and the learner are separated in time and space most of the time, the ODL materials contain not just content but also the teaching and learning strategies. This process entails understanding the characteristics and needs of distance learners and their learning environments, selecting appropriate media that are accessible to and appropriate to distance learners different learning styles and geographical locations. In converting content into self-instructional materials subject experts are encouraged to use a conversational language and style, visualise content through the use of illustrations and build activities in the text so as to promote dialogue, interactivity and two-way communication during the learning process.
Regional Support services
KeMU has Campuses at Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Nyeri, Meru (the main campus) and Kisii and satellite study centres at Maua and Marimanti from where distance learners receive service efficiently. This decentralization enables distance learners to access services close to their homes and reduces travel distances and related costs.