Advancing open schooling partnership with PNG

Reading Time: 5 min read

The Flexible Open and Distance Education (FODE) division within the Ministry of Education, Papua New Guinea, provides open schooling. It has seen exponential enrolment growth in recent years and currently serves some 80,000 learners through a print-based and contact-supported model. Given the increasing cost and complex logistics of printing, storing and distributing printed materials, FODE approached the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) for advice about migrating to online provision.

COL’s support in FODE’s migration journey has been offered in three phases. The first two phases were conducted entirely online due to pandemic restrictions, while the third phase included some in-person interaction. The first output was the review and finalisation of FODE’s migration to online provision strategy. COL sponsored a Moodle instance and trained teachers to develop Grade 11 subject content on the Moodle platform.

During the second phase, FODE migrated to its own Moodle platform, piloted the Grade 11 content and made revisions. The current phase involves the development of Grade 12 subject content ahead of a pilot in the second half of 2024. Dr Janet Subagan-Mondez, Deputy Principal-Curriculum, observed, “Our team is making commendable progress in developing Grade 12 draft materials. We are on track to complete this crucial phase by the end of this quarter. Following this, we will conduct a pilot to allow for necessary revisions before the formal launch.”

Dr Tony Mays, Director: Education at COL, recently met with FODE officials in early March 2024 to discuss progress to date and identify the support needed to complete preparations for the launch of the country’s first online open schooling opportunities planned for the start of the new school year in 2025.

Recognising the importance of learner support in the transition, COL organised a comprehensive orientation session designed to help FODE identify the necessary changes in their learner support strategy as they progressively shift from a print-based and contact-supported model to a blended learning and fully online provision.

Dr Mays facilitator for this session, commented, “As with most open schools, the bulk of the work that needs to be done in terms of content development, facilitation and assessment is done by teachers who were trained for in-person classroom-based provision. The transition to effective open and distance learning (ODL) provision, and online ODL in particular, requires careful orientation and continuing professional development for all staff – centralised and decentralised, full and part-time, academic and administrative, management and support services –and for all sub-systems to work together.”

Photo Credits: Dr Janet Subagan-Mondez, Deputy Principal-Curriculum

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