Common or different curricula

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Do you think open schools should offer different programmes of study from conventional face-to-face schools?
Give reasons for your answer.
You can post your answer in the discussion forum. Do you agree or disagree with other students’ ideas? Comment on at least one other post.

In my opinion, it is not possible to offer all the f2f programmes of study in remote or online mode. At least the quality will drop. Because some courses and some contexts are practical and need to be supported by some hands-on learning activities. However, by developing the technologies, these issues are been solving.

Well, it depends on the nature and priority needs of a country. For most developing countries like Kiribati, there are no open schools, but during the closure of schools due to the covid19, the Ministry of Education saw the importance of using a remote learning mode as an alternative to the conventional face-to-face mode. The Ministry of Education delivered all subjects to all school levels (ECCE, Primary, Junior & Senior Secondary) through remote learning mode to ensure that education of students is not stopping but continue during the covid19 pandemic. The remote learning approach adopted by the Ministry of Education involved the use of available technologies to reach out students across the country by using TV, radio, asynchoronus online learning and take home learning package. Therefore in such kind of situation like the spread of a deadly pandemic that led to closure of all schools, it seemed that there is a choice and it gave us a lesson to learn that it is possible to offer a f2f programme through online remote learning.

It is not possible as open schools are alternatives to a conventional face-to-face learning mode. The only difference is that in open schools, students can learn in different time and their own pace. The curriculum is exactly the same.

Yes, that is generally the trend - that the curriculum matches that of the conventional schooling system. In fact, in some countries learners can switch from one system to another.

However, some open schools also offer vocational courses to learners who are interested in acquiring skills for work. The Namibian College of Open Learning offers such programmes at Certificate, Diploma and Degree levels. That is in addition to the schooling curriculum.

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I personally do not agree with the question. I believe that for open schools face to face mode of learning is important and easy. In face to face mode there is more of teacher student interaction. This makes the class more interactive. Teachers can keep track of the students and their learning as well. In distance learning , it will becomes very challenging for a teacher to keep track of students and their learning. There are many constraining factors that prohibits distance learning in open schools. One of them is the availability of resources. Not everyone can afford internet. So it becomes hard for students to attend classes. Secondly is the availability of laptops or mobile phone. Students can’t attend classes without it or do their assignments. Thirdly is the time. At home children’s are wondering everywhere. They do not keep track of their class time, where they miss the class. In school teachers keep track of them and they attend all the classes.

I disagree with this since few programs cannot be fully run in open school like competency based programs, say vocational programs where face to face brings in more convenient way to deliver and transfer of knowledge from instructor to learners. workshops and labs are few components where we need to have face to face interactions to gauge performance and evaluate hand on practical knowledge before they actually hit the floor.

I agree Lawrence that learners face a lot of challenges when they learn through the distance mode. However, the term “open” in itself suggests flexibility in terms of how, where and sometimes what learners learn. The argument for open learning, which offers such flexibility is that a wide range of learners are accommodated in the education system, including those who, for one reason or the other, are not able to physically attend school. Notwithstanding the challenges you mention, there is evidence to show that open schools enhance access.

Given the challenges you mention, which are common in many developing countries, there needs to be thorough planning for and enough investment in running open school systems.

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Open schools may offer different programs of study to meet the needs of a diverse student population, including students who may not be able to attend traditional schools due to geographical distance, work commitments, or other reasons However in my personal opinion Face-to-face education allows for high-quality learning and better understanding.

In an education system, learners are trained in line with occupational standards and curriculum, and are assessed to demonstrate competencies. The Open Schools provide for flexibility for trainees to acquire the same skills, as they would in a traditional face to face. Some of the programs of study require practical activities, and thus the blended mode would provide for learners to access the knowledge content online, and do the practicals in a laboratory or workshop, even when simulations are provided for in the LMS. I propose that there should be no different programs, as standards are being followed, and the assessments shall be uniform to verify competencies.

The blended mode can work, where open schooling allows participants to access the content online and remotely, and possibly interact with practical aspects using simulations or modeling where possible; and then they access workshops or labs for the actual practicals for currency with technical skills.

You have very interesting points concerning the challenges/constraints when distant learning is used in the schooling system. I agreed that traditional face-face mode has great strengths but in other educational contexts, there is a need of distant education especially for circumstances where a face-face mode is unable to attend.

Open schools and face-to-face schools should not offer different programmes of study so long as quality standards are assured in both types of school. Though the mode of content delivery is different, similar quality standards should be applied.

I agree with you. So long as similar quality standards are applied, similar programs can be implemented.

Yes, open schools should offer different programmes of study from conventional face-to-face schools. This is because, the Ministry has overall oversight of the quality of provision to ensure parity between open schooling and conventional face-to-face schooling. Common certificates are issued to learners of both systems and there is no discrimination when it comes to progression to higher levels of education between learners from open schools and those from conventional face-to-face schools.

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I agree with you based on your reasons.

Yes, the learners face a lot of challenges when they learn through distance learning. Face-to face learning allows high concentration, quality learning and improved learning achievement.

During Covid -19, online teaching was forced to become a part of the new ‘normal’. At the end of this period, data collected indicated many students had learning loss and many other issues because of this way of teaching. It must be stated that this method of teaching was not not implemented properly and had many shortfalls, although many schools that had high academic performance before Covid -19 showed signs of positive outcomes with student results but, schools where internet connection was lacking, no devices and lack of device to open app and documents caused frustration. Parents in some cases could not support student learning path so it became frustrating for them too.
If open school can offer different programs of study then it will be beneficial to persons who have all resources to do classes online. Therefore, persons who are working, and persons with experience who did not finish school can now try courses that they are interested in now. I do believe open schools where the programs cater for learners who have the ability to create their own learning path and opportunities will do well.
The program must have good feedback and tracking of students progress to keep them focused and encouraged.
When issues come up and they are identified, immediate and timely feedback is a critical factor.
I believe having group discussion or some time to meet with other students and teacher will be useful.
The times can be flexible to accommodate the students.
Many schools have stop doing technical vocational areas and this area can be useful to get skilled persons back in the field with some practical aspects, but with the use of technology many areas can still be taught effectively.

I don’t think there is a need for ODFEL to offer programmes of study different from conventional ones but can add new courses of study which are not available at conventional schools.

The reason is hinged on the fact that most of the students are study same courses. The same regulators are regulating technical education in Nigeria. So, if open schools should offer different programmes, it will cost the government another money of settling up the regulatory body. Infrastructure may be lacking also.,

In my opinion, I thinks it possible for open school to do all courses offered by the conventional face to face programme. The difference will be the duration allocated to the course. Since it is easy to break down courses to modules, I thinks more support should be given to vocational and practical course. Learners should be able to take courses of their choice in respective of the nature of their study.