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ࡱ> #` hbjbj\.\. 1>D>D`*>>>8vTDgh(B"ddd???ggggggg$hhak6g6??666gddKg===6ddg=6g==6X[d u;>9hY\ ag0gY7l0<7l8[[&7l[D?%=+0???6g6g*=v???g6666>> 22nd ICDE World Conference on Distance Education, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 3 6 September 2006 Promoting Quality in Distance, Flexible and ICT-based Education G. S. Ntloedibe-Kuswani, (MS) University of Botswana, Department of Distance Education  HYPERLINK "mailto:ntloegs@mopipi.ub.bw" ntloegs@mopipi.ub.bw O. S. Tau, (Ed.D) University of Botswana, Department of Distance Education  HYPERLINK "mailto:tauos@mopipi.ub.bw" tauos@mopipi.ub.bw ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Topic The Challenge of Introducing Distance Education as an Instructional Innovation in Conventional Institutions Abstract The introduction of distance education comes as a radical innovation and a major instructional change, especially in conventional institutions. It is radical in the sense that it is a challenge to many characteristics of conventional institutions such as structures, rewards, norms, resources, policies and teaching strategies. However, some institutions introduce distance education, not because they are ready for change, but because of political pressure to increase access. This might compromise the quality of distance education as it is introduced in an environment that is not ready to embrace it Abedor and Sachs (1984) observed that distance education as a radical innovation calls for a high degree of readiness, especially from conventional institutions that have already developed their own cultures of doing things. They suggest that for any major instructional change to take place in an institution it requires considerable staff and organizational development (or preparation), before adoption can be possible. Thus, the aim of this paper is to discuss the importance of conducting front-end analysis by institutions that plan to introduce distance education, in order to establish their readiness including re-focusing the reasons and benefits of such a move. The paper will use examples and experiences from the University of Botswana to illustrate how the level of readiness can promote or hinder efforts to introduce distance education, thereby affecting its quality. Introduction Distance education has been defined in different ways by different authors. For instance, some define distance education through the use of computer, telecommunications and others through print media and correspondence (Samonson, et al, 2000). However, the fundamental characteristic of distance education is that instruction and learning take place at different times and/or places (Moore & Kearsley, 1990). As a result of different times and places of instruction, there is need to mediate the communication in order to create a link between the instructor and the learner, hence distance education is a technology (print, telecommunication, computer) driven form of education. As such, distance education can be defined as a process of using a wide spectrum of technologies to link learners with (human and non-human) remote resources for instructional purposes and certification of learning, without requiring students to be physically present in the same location as the instructor(University of Botswana, 2005). Many institutions, such as universities and businesses have accepted to introduce distance education as an alternative mode of teaching and learning that addresses issues of equity and access in higher education and as a human performance intervention of an instructional nature (Stolovich & Keeps, 1992). Wagner (1992) associates distance education with access and performance because, a) it offers potential increase in learning opportunities regardless of location or time, and b) it is now increasingly used by corporations and businesses to deliver instruction at the worksite without workers having to leave their jobs to go to school, affording them the opportunity to apply what they learn immediately. This has led some people to view distance education as having the potential and the promise for developing economies, which do not have enough resources to build more schools and to release many people from work to go to school. Tertiary distance education holds forth the promise of three primary benefits for Africa. These are increased access to education, improved educational quality and more efficient use of limited resources (Saint, 1999:12). Further, distance education, as a technology driven mode of teaching and learning, takes both education and technology to distances and to different work places and as a result developing both people and their environments. However, distance education systems demand a high degree of readiness, which cannot be presumed. Failure to take into consideration the importance of front-end analysis can compromise the quality of distance education programs. This can lead to the rejection of distance education by some for not adequately meeting their expectations. Therefore, any planning without front-end analysis is poor planning. The Need for Front-End Analysis (FEA) Wagner (1992) states that when introducing distance education, a number of variables must be addressed at the planning stage. Wagner outlines the variables as a) analysis, b) design and development and c) evaluation. These variables are also components of the instructional development process, which are generically described in the ADDIE Model as Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation and Evaluation (Gustafson & Branch, (1997)). Context or front-end analysis is identified as a critical factor. Wagner (1992) has raised all the smart questions (Harless, 1979) that can be answered by this critical factor the analysis process as depicted in the checklist below. Checklist for Analysis Phase Why do you want to use distance education? Is it a need? Has the need been empirically demonstrated? Is the need based on knowledge/skills or performance improvement? Is there a cost saving to be expected? Can you reach more people, teach more courses? Can you teach/train better u sing distance education? Who are to be the primary users? What do they require to know in order to be effective users? Any other audience/users to benefit? Can your organization support for the technical systems requirements? Are facilities available to house distance education systems, including off-site locations? Are the following available: Engineers and programmers, instructional designers/developers to assist with message design and materials development, managers and support staff for maintenance and operation of the overall distance education system? Are you to build or remodel facilities to accommodate distance education equipment and staff? Can you hire and train the personnel needed for distance education? Dou you know what kind of skills, motivation and environment will be needed to implement distance education? What type of user support services are necessary for the distance education system to operate smoothly? Will there be need for texts, manuals, library resources, data base resources, course registration, and support personnel? Will there be support from central/executive management and what kind? Are you aware of the organizational changes that may be caused by the introduction of distance education system? Have key player been informed at all levels? Have you involved your intended users in the preliminary discussion of systems implementation? Have steps been taken to provide users with proficiency training? Will there be technical support? Will there be instructional design/development support? Have incentives been considered to encourage system use? Have disincentives been removed, where possible? Have you given yourself enough time to develop technology integration plan suited to your institution and its needs? Do you have enough money to carry out your plans? Will you be able to do the necessary front-end work to develop a system that meets your needs? (Source: Wagner, 1992, pp523-524) All the smart questions for analysis raised by Wagner are summarized into four (4) points by the Kearsley Feasibility Model of 1982. The Model identifies four areas of concern that influence the success of distance education. They are Technology integration: how the environment is feasible for technology driven innovation such as distance education. Organization readiness: to blend in distance education with the status quo Instructional design and development: to ensure that distance education is as good, if not better, than existing instruction. 4. Economic development: what is the actual cost of implementation? The Handbook of Human Performance, (Stolovitch & Keeps, 1992), classifies distance education as a human performance intervention of an instructional nature. In agreement with Wagner (1992), Stolovitch and Keeps (1992) state that the recommended first step in designing human performance (HP) improvement interventions is analysis, (p. 381) what Harless calls front-end analysis (Ripley, 1997). The concept of front-end analysis, developed in the context of human performance, is appropriate for the interrogation of the success factors for distance education (DE) because DE is a human performance intervention. What is front-end analysis? Some people have explained analysis and its purpose (Harless, 1979, Rossetti, 1986, Gentry, 1994, Jonassen, 1999). Harless (1979), states that front-end analysis has many definitions, depending on the purpose for conducting it, the context in which it is performed, and the performers involved. He indicates that definitions of front-end analysis range in clarity from the breakdown of performance into detailed levels of specificity, description of mastery performance and criteria, breakdown of job tasks into steps, and the consideration of the potential worth of solving performance problems. In simple terms, Harless refers to front-end analysis as all the smart questions a trainer or manager or consultant asks before addressing solutions to a human performance problem (Ripley, 1997, 94). More light isshed on what front-end analysis is. Rossett (1987) defines analysis as the systematic study of a problem or innovation, incorporating data and opinions from varied sources in order to make effective decisions or recommendations about what should happen next (Rossett, 1987, Mager & Pipe 1984; Romiszowski, 1995). The purpose of front-end analysis, states Rossett, is to seek information about the Optimal: What ought to be happening and what knowledge, skills and attitudes must people have in order to do the job well? The Actual: what is happening and what might be the gaps, needs, discrepancies to be resolved? Feelings: what are the feelings of the employees/staff about the old and the proposed system? Causes: why is there a problem that necessitates the introduction of distance education? Solutions: how do other people/professionals think the problem may be resolved? Gentry (1994) for his part, describes needs analysis as a process of establishing the validity of needs and goals for existing or proposed instruction, and assigning priorities among them. He identifies the purpose for needs analysis as Identifying within a system any discrepancy between what should be and what is. Restate those discrepancies as needs or goals. Prioritize the goals in terms of their relative importance to the operation of the system. However, front-end analysis is basically about analysis whether it is context analysis, task analysis, assessment or needs assessment. Analysis is motivated by the need to know and comes at the beginning of an effort and informs the effort. Doing front-end analysis is just doing first things first. The Experience of the University of Botswana The University of Botswana has its origins in the Pius XII Catholic University in Roma, Lesotho, which had its first students intake in 1946. In 1963 the Catholic University became the University of Bechuanaland, Basotholand, and Swaziland (UBBS), the three Southern African British colonies that later became the independent nations of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. Thus UBBS changed to the University of Botswana Lesotho and Swaziland (UBLS). In 1975 UBLS became the University of Botswana and Swaziland (UBS) after Lesotho had established the National University of Lesotho. Finally Botswana established its independent and a fully-fledged university - the University of Botswana (UB) in 1982. Upon its establishment the University of Botswana introduced distance education as an alternative mode of teaching and learning in order to address issues of equity and access in higher education. The first distance education program to be offered was at UBS and was a single Diploma in Theology offered from 1979 (discontinued in 1990) by the Department of Theology and Religious Studies. The second program was the Certificate in Adult Education at the University of Botswana offered from 1983 through the Institute of Adult Education (discontinued in 2001). At this stage, the introduction of distance education into the University of Botswana was done piece-meal through the initiative of individual departments without direct involvement, at the institutional level, except for the approval machinery as in all academic programmes, by the University Senate & Council. The growth of distance education in terms of numbers of programmes on offer and the corollary, increment in enrolment figures came with the creation of the Centre for Continuing Education (mid 90s) with a specialist unit with a University mandate to offer distance education programmes. Currently five distance education programmes are on offer and five are at various stages of development. However, the introduction of distance education both at the departmental and institutional levels was not preceded by a front-end analysis to determine not just the need for distance education programmes but also the readiness of the institution in terms of organizational structures and successfully to embrace distance education for its success. Croft (1992) identifies the success factors for the introduction of distance education into an existing conventional university as: a) authority of the administrative unit charged with providing distance education programmes; b) cooperation from other units in the institution; c) well-trained staff in adequate numbers; and d) sound funding base on a consistent basis (p. 58). Croft admits that these conditions will not necessary allow distance education units to be congruent with the resident organizational culture (op cit) because congruence with resident organizational culture is what makes it truly succeed, for then it becomes institutionalized and a regular part of a university mission. But these factors, as stated by Croft, can only be accomplished if they are preceded by front-end a analysis. Structures needed to provide distance education and its administration are somewhat different from those needed for traditional campus-based programmes. Distance education requires teamwork that involves people in different functions of the conventional university. This makes it imperative for front-end analysis to be carried out to determine the state of readiness of the different functions of the institution to embrace distance education. Further, an analysis provides information on what it will take an institution to move distance education to the point where its introduction can have a level of success and quality. The experience of the University of Botswana in the late 90s, after the creation of the Centre for Continuing Education, aptly illustrates the need for the introduction of an innovation such as distance education into an existing conventional institution to be preceded by front-end analysis. The mandate of the Centre for Continuing Education through its Department of Distance Education is to work collaboratively with faculties and academic departments to convert some existing programmes into distance education mode. As such, the Department needed to work with the university departments to realize its mandate. However, since no situational analysis had been carried, out there was no clear direction and guidance on how stakeholders were to be involved, the structures for the introduction of distance education were not identified nor were the operational systems and their processes. Tau (2002), in her study of distance education at the University of Botswana concluded that an implementation strategy was absent. The attempt to sell the Department of Distance Education and inform faculties and departments about its mandate was not based on empirical knowledge. Thus Tau (2002) found that an attempt by the Department to sell itself at the time met, at best with a cool or nonchalant response. Thus her study identified the lack of an implementation strategy to guide the work of the Department as one of the major flaws that negatively affected the quality of its work (p. 155). Tau concluded that the University of Botswana put the cart before the horse as it were, by attempting to implement an innovation without adequate and appropriate preparation. Self-marketing did not quite succeed. The first distance education programme attempted by the Center for Continuing Education at the University of Botswana came as a request from the Ministry of Education to develop an upgrading programme of the serving teachers, holders of the Certificate in Primary Education to the Diploma in Primary Education at the University. The Department was unable to persuade the relevant academic departments to provide the academic home for the programme. There was nothing binding the Department of Primary Education at the University of Botswana to accede to the request. The CCE together with the Ministry of Education had to come up with an alternative structure to offer the DPE by distance mode, which was faced with many challenges. A comprehensive attempt to redeem the situation came in June 2005 with the passing of the University of Botswana Distance Education Mainstreaming Policy (DEMP) (University of Botswana 2005). The policy provides implementation framework for the provision of distance education at the University of Botswana. This is a formal policy document whose absence Tau (2002) had decried. The future of distance education at the University of Botswana does look promising but the lesson learned from implementing an innovation before a situation/front-end analysis is conducted cannot be forgotten. The Department is just now engaged in the process of implementing the Distance Education Mainstreaming Policy. As the driver of the policy, the Center for Continuing Education hopes the faculties and departments will accept their roles. The Department, at least for now, has something to guide the implementation of distance education at the University of Botswana. Front-End Analysis and Quality in Distance Education It is known that distance education meets a lot of resistance in conventional institutions, as it requires substantive change in academic culture (Saint, 1999:30, 33). This is why a front-end analysis is very important before any distance education program can be designed, developed and implemented. Front-end analysis prepares an institution to address potential challenges that might negatively impact the quality of distance education. Saint, (1999), and Abedor & Sachs (1994) agree that the results of the analysis have a potential of assisting an institution to identify problems and solutions in order to re-engineer organizational structures to accommodate the unique requirement of quality distance education. Gentry (1994) states that because educators, trainers and instructional developers do not know how, or dont take the time to perform needs analysis, a lot of energy is lost to organizations when newly developed instructional units and programs suffer an early demise. But what then should be done to sustain distance education programs and ensure their quality? There are many things that can be done but here the focus is on front-end analysis as the first step and a critical factor towards problem solving in the sense that a problem exists when someone desires a certain state of affairs and does not immediately know how to attain it. For instance, some institutions desire to use distance education to increase access to education but lack a clear strategy on how to attain that state of affairs. As a result there might be few departments participating, few programs running, few students enrolled or few stakeholders involved, as many might hesitate to engage in a process without the assurance of quality. Though Saint (1999) associates distance education with access, quality and efficient use of resources, it is not always the case as there are instances, probably because of political pressure. Sometimes novice institutions embrace distance education and immediately move on to implement it without understanding the context within which it is introduced. i.e. before taking stock of themselves. In other words, where the value accorded to task analysis is low it creates a potential challenge to the quality of the distance education programs in conventional institutions. This is because all the attention and resources are given to the existing traditional programs. An innovation without an implementation strategy to guide and monitor it makes it difficult to evaluate and measure the quality of its performance. Reference Abedor, A. J., & Sachs, S. G. (1984). Faculty development (FD), organisational development (OD), and instructional development (ID): Choosing an orientation. In R. K. Bass & C. R. Dills, Kendall-Hunt (Eds.), Instructional Development: The State of the Art, II. (pp394-403). Iowa. Croft, M. (1992). Single or dual mode: Challenges and choices for the future of education. In I. Mugridge (Ed.), Perspectives on distance education: Distance education in single and dual mode universities (pp.49-62). Vancouver: Commonwealth of Learning. Gentry, C. G., 1994, Introduction to Instructional Development. California: Wadsworth Publishing Co., Belmont. Gustafson, K. L., & Branch, R. M. (1997). Revisioning models of instructionl development. ETR&D, 45(3), 73-89. Harless, T., 1975. An Ounce of Analysis is a Pound of Cure. Newman. CA: Harless Performance Guild. Kearsley, G., 1982. Costs, Benefits & Productivity in Training. Reading: Addison-Wesley. Mager, R., & Pipe, P., 1984. Analyzing Performance problems (2nd Ed.) Belmont.CA: Pitman. Moore, M. G. & Kearsley, G. (1996). Distance education: A systems view. Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing Company. Republic of Botswana. (1997). Long Term Vision for Botswana: Towards prosperity for all. Gaborone: Presidential Task Group for a Long Term Vision for Botswana. Republic of Botswana, (1994). The 1994 Revised National Policy on. Gaborone: Education, Ministry of education. Ripley, D. E. (1997) Joe Harless, Ed.D. An Ounce of Analysis. In P. J. Dean and D.E. Ripley (Eds.). Performance improvement pathfinders: Models for organizational learning systems. Washington, DC: The International Society for Performance Improvement. Romiszowski, A. J. (1995) Designing Instructional Systems, London: Kogan Page. Rossett, A., (1987). Training Needs Assessment. Englewood Cliff. NJ: Educational Technology Publications. Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M. & Zvacek, S. (2000). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Saint, W. (1999). Tertiary distance education and technology in Sub-Saharan Africa. Washington D. C: The World bankBank. Stolovitch, H. D. & Keeps, E. J. (Eds.). (1992).Handbook of human performance technology: A comprehensive guide for analyzing and solving performance problems in organizations. Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Tau, O. S. (2002). An Analysis of Distance Education at the University of Botswana from a Systems Perspective. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University. Tuinman, J. and Petter, M. (2000). Removing Institution-Born Barriers to Learning. Presented at Toward the Global University II: Redefining Excellence in the Third Millennium Conference, Cape Town, South Africa, April 1620, 2000. University of Botswana, (2005). Distance Education Mainstreaming Policy. Gaborone: University of Botswana. Wagner, E. D. (1992). Distance Education Systems. In Stolovitch, H. D., & Keeps, E.J., (Eds.). Handbook of Human Performance Technology (pp.513-527). Jossey-Bass Publishers. San Francisco..     PAGE  PAGE 10 ^  ! 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ࡱ> #` hbjbj\.\. 1>D>D`*>>>8vTDgh(B"ddd???ggggggg$hhak6g6??666gddKg===6ddg=6g==6X[d u;>9hY\ ag0gY7l0<7l8[[&7l[D?%=+0???6g6g*=v???g6666>> 22nd ICDE World Conference on Distance Education, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 3 6 September 2006 Promoting Quality in Distance, Flexible and ICT-based Education G. S. Ntloedibe-Kuswani, (MS) University of Botswana, Department of Distance Education  HYPERLINK "mailto:ntloegs@mopipi.ub.bw" ntloegs@mopipi.ub.bw O. S. Tau, (Ed.D) University of Botswana, Department of Distance Education  HYPERLINK "mailto:tauos@mopipi.ub.bw" tauos@mopipi.ub.bw ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Topic The Challenge of Introducing Distance Education as an Instructional Innovation in Conventional Institutions Abstract The introduction of distance education comes as a radical innovation and a major instructional change, especially in conventional institutions. It is radical in the sense that it is a challenge to many characteristics of conventional institutions such as structures, rewards, norms, resources, policies and teaching strategies. However, some institutions introduce distance education, not because they are ready for change, but because of political pressure to increase access. This might compromise the quality of distance education as it is introduced in an environment that is not ready to embrace it Abedor and Sachs (1984) observed that distance education as a radical innovation calls for a high degree of readiness, especially from conventional institutions that have already developed their own cultures of doing things. They suggest that for any major instructional change to take place in an institution it requires considerable staff and organizational development (or preparation), before adoption can be possible. Thus, the aim of this paper is to discuss the importance of conducting front-end analysis by institutions that plan to introduce distance education, in order to establish their readiness including re-focusing the reasons and benefits of such a move. The paper will use examples and experiences from the University of Botswana to illustrate how the level of readiness can promote or hinder efforts to introduce distance education, thereby affecting its quality. Introduction Distance education has been defined in different ways by different authors. For instance, some define distance education through the use of computer, telecommunications and others through print media and correspondence (Samonson, et al, 2000). However, the fundamental characteristic of distance education is that instruction and learning take place at different times and/or places (Moore & Kearsley, 1990). As a result of different times and places of instruction, there is need to mediate the communication in order to create a link between the instructor and the learner, hence distance education is a technology (print, telecommunication, computer) driven form of education. As such, distance education can be defined as a process of using a wide spectrum of technologies to link learners with (human and non-human) remote resources for instructional purposes and certification of learning, without requiring students to be physically present in the same location as the instructor(University of Botswana, 2005). Many institutions, such as universities and businesses have accepted to introduce distance education as an alternative mode of teaching and learning that addresses issues of equity and access in higher education and as a human performance intervention of an instructional nature (Stolovich & Keeps, 1992). Wagner (1992) associates distance education with access and performance because, a) it offers potential increase in learning opportunities regardless of location or time, and b) it is now increasingly used by corporations and businesses to deliver instruction at the worksite without workers having to leave their jobs to go to school, affording them the opportunity to apply what they learn immediately. This has led some people to view distance education as having the potential and the promise for developing economies, which do not have enough resources to build more schools and to release many people from work to go to school. Tertiary distance education holds forth the promise of three primary benefits for Africa. These are increased access to education, improved educational quality and more efficient use of limited resources (Saint, 1999:12). Further, distance education, as a technology driven mode of teaching and learning, takes both education and technology to distances and to different work places and as a result developing both people and their environments. However, distance education systems demand a high degree of readiness, which cannot be presumed. Failure to take into consideration the importance of front-end analysis can compromise the quality of distance education programs. This can lead to the rejection of distance education by some for not adequately meeting their expectations. Therefore, any planning without front-end analysis is poor planning. The Need for Front-End Analysis (FEA) Wagner (1992) states that when introducing distance education, a number of variables must be addressed at the planning stage. Wagner outlines the variables as a) analysis, b) design and development and c) evaluation. These variables are also components of the instructional development process, which are generically described in the ADDIE Model as Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation and Evaluation (Gustafson & Branch, (1997)). Context or front-end analysis is identified as a critical factor. Wagner (1992) has raised all the smart questions (Harless, 1979) that can be answered by this critical factor the analysis process as depicted in the checklist below. Checklist for Analysis Phase Why do you want to use distance education? Is it a need? Has the need been empirically demonstrated? Is the need based on knowledge/skills or performance improvement? Is there a cost saving to be expected? Can you reach more people, teach more courses? Can you teach/train better u sing distance education? Who are to be the primary users? What do they require to know in order to be effective users? Any other audience/users to benefit? Can your organization support for the technical systems requirements? Are facilities available to house distance education systems, including off-site locations? Are the following available: Engineers and programmers, instructional designers/developers to assist with message design and materials development, managers and support staff for maintenance and operation of the overall distance education system? Are you to build or remodel facilities to accommodate distance education equipment and staff? Can you hire and train the personnel needed for distance education? Dou you know what kind of skills, motivation and environment will be needed to implement distance education? What type of user support services are necessary for the distance education system to operate smoothly? Will there be need for texts, manuals, library resources, data base resources, course registration, and support personnel? Will there be support from central/executive management and what kind? Are you aware of the organizational changes that may be caused by the introduction of distance education system? Have key player been informed at all levels? Have you involved your intended users in the preliminary discussion of systems implementation? Have steps been taken to provide users with proficiency training? Will there be technical support? Will there be instructional design/development support? Have incentives been considered to encourage system use? Have disincentives been removed, where possible? Have you given yourself enough time to develop technology integration plan suited to your institution and its needs? Do you have enough money to carry out your plans? Will you be able to do the necessary front-end work to develop a system that meets your needs? (Source: Wagner, 1992, pp523-524) All the smart questions for analysis raised by Wagner are summarized into four (4) points by the Kearsley Feasibility Model of 1982. The Model identifies four areas of concern that influence the success of distance education. They are Technology integration: how the environment is feasible for technology driven innovation such as distance education. Organization readiness: to blend in distance education with the status quo Instructional design and development: to ensure that distance education is as good, if not better, than existing instruction. 4. Economic development: what is the actual cost of implementation? The Handbook of Human Performance, (Stolovitch & Keeps, 1992), classifies distance education as a human performance intervention of an instructional nature. In agreement with Wagner (1992), Stolovitch and Keeps (1992) state that the recommended first step in designing human performance (HP) improvement interventions is analysis, (p. 381) what Harless calls front-end analysis (Ripley, 1997). The concept of front-end analysis, developed in the context of human performance, is appropriate for the interrogation of the success factors for distance education (DE) because DE is a human performance intervention. What is front-end analysis? Some people have explained analysis and its purpose (Harless, 1979, Rossetti, 1986, Gentry, 1994, Jonassen, 1999). Harless (1979), states that front-end analysis has many definitions, depending on the purpose for conducting it, the context in which it is performed, and the performers involved. He indicates that definitions of front-end analysis range in clarity from the breakdown of performance into detailed levels of specificity, description of mastery performance and criteria, breakdown of job tasks into steps, and the consideration of the potential worth of solving performance problems. In simple terms, Harless refers to front-end analysis as all the smart questions a trainer or manager or consultant asks before addressing solutions to a human performance problem (Ripley, 1997, 94). More light isshed on what front-end analysis is. Rossett (1987) defines analysis as the systematic study of a problem or innovation, incorporating data and opinions from varied sources in order to make effective decisions or recommendations about what should happen next (Rossett, 1987, Mager & Pipe 1984; Romiszowski, 1995). The purpose of front-end analysis, states Rossett, is to seek information about the Optimal: What ought to be happening and what knowledge, skills and attitudes must people have in order to do the job well? The Actual: what is happening and what might be the gaps, needs, discrepancies to be resolved? Feelings: what are the feelings of the employees/staff about the old and the proposed system? Causes: why is there a problem that necessitates the introduction of distance education? Solutions: how do other people/professionals think the problem may be resolved? Gentry (1994) for his part, describes needs analysis as a process of establishing the validity of needs and goals for existing or proposed instruction, and assigning priorities among them. He identifies the purpose for needs analysis as Identifying within a system any discrepancy between what should be and what is. Restate those discrepancies as needs or goals. Prioritize the goals in terms of their relative importance to the operation of the system. However, front-end analysis is basically about analysis whether it is context analysis, task analysis, assessment or needs assessment. Analysis is motivated by the need to know and comes at the beginning of an effort and informs the effort. Doing front-end analysis is just doing first things first. The Experience of the University of Botswana The University of Botswana has its origins in the Pius XII Catholic University in Roma, Lesotho, which had its first students intake in 1946. In 1963 the Catholic University became the University of Bechuanaland, Basotholand, and Swaziland (UBBS), the three Southern African British colonies that later became the independent nations of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. Thus UBBS changed to the University of Botswana Lesotho and Swaziland (UBLS). In 1975 UBLS became the University of Botswana and Swaziland (UBS) after Lesotho had established the National University of Lesotho. Finally Botswana established its independent and a fully-fledged university - the University of Botswana (UB) in 1982. Upon its establishment the University of Botswana introduced distance education as an alternative mode of teaching and learning in order to address issues of equity and access in higher education. The first distance education program to be offered was at UBS and was a single Diploma in Theology offered from 1979 (discontinued in 1990) by the Department of Theology and Religious Studies. The second program was the Certificate in Adult Education at the University of Botswana offered from 1983 through the Institute of Adult Education (discontinued in 2001). At this stage, the introduction of distance education into the University of Botswana was done piece-meal through the initiative of individual departments without direct involvement, at the institutional level, except for the approval machinery as in all academic programmes, by the University Senate & Council. The growth of distance education in terms of numbers of programmes on offer and the corollary, increment in enrolment figures came with the creation of the Centre for Continuing Education (mid 90s) with a specialist unit with a University mandate to offer distance education programmes. Currently five distance education programmes are on offer and five are at various stages of development. However, the introduction of distance education both at the departmental and institutional levels was not preceded by a front-end analysis to determine not just the need for distance education programmes but also the readiness of the institution in terms of organizational structures and successfully to embrace distance education for its success. Croft (1992) identifies the success factors for the introduction of distance education into an existing conventional university as: a) authority of the administrative unit charged with providing distance education programmes; b) cooperation from other units in the institution; c) well-trained staff in adequate numbers; and d) sound funding base on a consistent basis (p. 58). Croft admits that these conditions will not necessary allow distance education units to be congruent with the resident organizational culture (op cit) because congruence with resident organizational culture is what makes it truly succeed, for then it becomes institutionalized and a regular part of a university mission. But these factors, as stated by Croft, can only be accomplished if they are preceded by front-end a analysis. Structures needed to provide distance education and its administration are somewhat different from those needed for traditional campus-based programmes. Distance education requires teamwork that involves people in different functions of the conventional university. This makes it imperative for front-end analysis to be carried out to determine the state of readiness of the different functions of the institution to embrace distance education. Further, an analysis provides information on what it will take an institution to move distance education to the point where its introduction can have a level of success and quality. The experience of the University of Botswana in the late 90s, after the creation of the Centre for Continuing Education, aptly illustrates the need for the introduction of an innovation such as distance education into an existing conventional institution to be preceded by front-end analysis. The mandate of the Centre for Continuing Education through its Department of Distance Education is to work collaboratively with faculties and academic departments to convert some existing programmes into distance education mode. As such, the Department needed to work with the university departments to realize its mandate. However, since no situational analysis had been carried, out there was no clear direction and guidance on how stakeholders were to be involved, the structures for the introduction of distance education were not identified nor were the operational systems and their processes. Tau (2002), in her study of distance education at the University of Botswana concluded that an implementation strategy was absent. The attempt to sell the Department of Distance Education and inform faculties and departments about its mandate was not based on empirical knowledge. Thus Tau (2002) found that an attempt by the Department to sell itself at the time met, at best with a cool or nonchalant response. Thus her study identified the lack of an implementation strategy to guide the work of the Department as one of the major flaws that negatively affected the quality of its work (p. 155). Tau concluded that the University of Botswana put the cart before the horse as it were, by attempting to implement an innovation without adequate and appropriate preparation. Self-marketing did not quite succeed. The first distance education programme attempted by the Center for Continuing Education at the University of Botswana came as a request from the Ministry of Education to develop an upgrading programme of the serving teachers, holders of the Certificate in Primary Education to the Diploma in Primary Education at the University. The Department was unable to persuade the relevant academic departments to provide the academic home for the programme. There was nothing binding the Department of Primary Education at the University of Botswana to accede to the request. The CCE together with the Ministry of Education had to come up with an alternative structure to offer the DPE by distance mode, which was faced with many challenges. A comprehensive attempt to redeem the situation came in June 2005 with the passing of the University of Botswana Distance Education Mainstreaming Policy (DEMP) (University of Botswana 2005). The policy provides implementation framework for the provision of distance education at the University of Botswana. This is a formal policy document whose absence Tau (2002) had decried. The future of distance education at the University of Botswana does look promising but the lesson learned from implementing an innovation before a situation/front-end analysis is conducted cannot be forgotten. The Department is just now engaged in the process of implementing the Distance Education Mainstreaming Policy. As the driver of the policy, the Center for Continuing Education hopes the faculties and departments will accept their roles. The Department, at least for now, has something to guide the implementation of distance education at the University of Botswana. Front-End Analysis and Quality in Distance Education It is known that distance education meets a lot of resistance in conventional institutions, as it requires substantive change in academic culture (Saint, 1999:30, 33). This is why a front-end analysis is very important before any distance education program can be designed, developed and implemented. Front-end analysis prepares an institution to address potential challenges that might negatively impact the quality of distance education. Saint, (1999), and Abedor & Sachs (1994) agree that the results of the analysis have a potential of assisting an institution to identify problems and solutions in order to re-engineer organizational structures to accommodate the unique requirement of quality distance education. Gentry (1994) states that because educators, trainers and instructional developers do not know how, or dont take the time to perform needs analysis, a lot of energy is lost to organizations when newly developed instructional units and programs suffer an early demise. But what then should be done to sustain distance education programs and ensure their quality? There are many things that can be done but here the focus is on front-end analysis as the first step and a critical factor towards problem solving in the sense that a problem exists when someone desires a certain state of affairs and does not immediately know how to attain it. For instance, some institutions desire to use distance education to increase access to education but lack a clear strategy on how to attain that state of affairs. As a result there might be few departments participating, few programs running, few students enrolled or few stakeholders involved, as many might hesitate to engage in a process without the assurance of quality. Though Saint (1999) associates distance education with access, quality and efficient use of resources, it is not always the case as there are instances, probably because of political pressure. Sometimes novice institutions embrace distance education and immediately move on to implement it without understanding the context within which it is introduced. i.e. before taking stock of themselves. In other words, where the value accorded to task analysis is low it creates a potential challenge to the quality of the distance education programs in conventional institutions. This is because all the attention and resources are given to the existing traditional programs. An innovation without an implementation strategy to guide and monitor it makes it difficult to evaluate and measure the quality of its performance. Reference Abedor, A. J., & Sachs, S. G. (1984). Faculty development (FD), organisational development (OD), and instructional development (ID): Choosing an orientation. In R. K. Bass & C. R. Dills, Kendall-Hunt (Eds.), Instructional Development: The State of the Art, II. (pp394-403). Iowa. Croft, M. (1992). Single or dual mode: Challenges and choices for the future of education. In I. Mugridge (Ed.), Perspectives on distance education: Distance education in single and dual mode universities (pp.49-62). Vancouver: Commonwealth of Learning. Gentry, C. G., 1994, Introduction to Instructional Development. California: Wadsworth Publishing Co., Belmont. Gustafson, K. L., & Branch, R. M. (1997). Revisioning models of instructionl development. ETR&D, 45(3), 73-89. Harless, T., 1975. An Ounce of Analysis is a Pound of Cure. Newman. CA: Harless Performance Guild. Kearsley, G., 1982. Costs, Benefits & Productivity in Training. Reading: Addison-Wesley. Mager, R., & Pipe, P., 1984. Analyzing Performance problems (2nd Ed.) Belmont.CA: Pitman. Moore, M. G. & Kearsley, G. (1996). Distance education: A systems view. Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing Company. Republic of Botswana. (1997). Long Term Vision for Botswana: Towards prosperity for all. Gaborone: Presidential Task Group for a Long Term Vision for Botswana. Republic of Botswana, (1994). The 1994 Revised National Policy on. Gaborone: Education, Ministry of education. Ripley, D. E. (1997) Joe Harless, Ed.D. An Ounce of Analysis. In P. J. Dean and D.E. Ripley (Eds.). Performance improvement pathfinders: Models for organizational learning systems. Washington, DC: The International Society for Performance Improvement. Romiszowski, A. J. (1995) Designing Instructional Systems, London: Kogan Page. Rossett, A., (1987). Training Needs Assessment. Englewood Cliff. NJ: Educational Technology Publications. Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M. & Zvacek, S. (2000). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Saint, W. (1999). Tertiary distance education and technology in Sub-Saharan Africa. Washington D. C: The World bankBank. Stolovitch, H. D. & Keeps, E. J. (Eds.). (1992).Handbook of human performance technology: A comprehensive guide for analyzing and solving performance problems in organizations. Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Tau, O. S. (2002). An Analysis of Distance Education at the University of Botswana from a Systems Perspective. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University. Tuinman, J. and Petter, M. (2000). Removing Institution-Born Barriers to Learning. Presented at Toward the Global University II: Redefining Excellence in the Third Millennium Conference, Cape Town, South Africa, April 1620, 2000. University of Botswana, (2005). Distance Education Mainstreaming Policy. Gaborone: University of Botswana. Wagner, E. D. (1992). Distance Education Systems. In Stolovitch, H. D., & Keeps, E.J., (Eds.). Handbook of Human Performance Technology (pp.513-527). Jossey-Bass Publishers. San Francisco..     PAGE  PAGE 10 ^  ! 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