A SARUA community of practice for Continuing Education
Continuing education has become increasingly important over the past few years and especially during the past year; all indications are that it will be even more important in the immediate future.
The close alignment of the focus of SARUA and the work done to date on quality management and good practice in the offering of continuing education by universities makes for an excellent fit. SARUA is pleased to host the CE Community of Practice on its platform, and we look forward to welcoming its members.
The CoP on continuing education will move onto the SARUA platform in March 2021, following a first online event on this topic on 24 February 2021 (see par. 4 below).
- Background to this community of practice
The management of continuing education has long been a problematic issue for universities. The offering of “short courses” tended to grow organically and largely unregulated, and in many instances excellent work was and still is being done to disseminate information and share new ideas in this largely informal way.
The advent of a sharper focus on skills training, and specifically regulation of the funding of skills training for shorter interventions, brought a new scenario that enabled universities to turn the offering of shorter (mostly non-formal) courses into a considerable so-called third income stream.
It is envisaged that global developments will speed up the trend started by the initial formalisation of skills development.
The much needed solutions for global issues as described in the work on the Sustainable Development Goals, and a world in flux amidst waves of the Corona pandemic, will increase the need for skills development and retraining for the new normal. And the reality is that time is not on our side. Where shorter training courses are feasible they should be made available.
While the demand for shorter learning interventions is increasing rapidly, the need for the appropriate recognition in the workplace and by funding bodies grows by the day.
The aim of this project is to take further the work in this regard that has been done over many years.
- Sponsors and supporters
The work is made possible through financial and other support facilitated by UNITAR through the Partnership for Action on Green Economy and the South African Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries.
- Core documents
Together with the critical reading by and discussion with university representatives, the following three documents served as the main sources for the proposed refinement of the Good Practice Guide for the management of continuing learning courses as proposed by the Council on Higher Education (CHE).
- The document that serves as the backbone for this work is the CHE’s A Good Practice Guide for the Quality Management of Short Courses offered outside of the Higher Education Qualifications Sub-Framework(Sept 2016)
- The Quality Assurance Framework published by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) was consulted to ensure alignment between the documents.
- As the CHE document is largely silent on online learning, we leaned heavily on the highly regarded Quality Scorecard for Online Learning developed by the Online Learning Consortium. If we decide to keep all or some of these we will liaise again with this international body to obtain permission to use the principles and to request their instructions for referencing the material. Also see their recently published Delivering High-Quality Instruction Online in Response to COVID-19.
Feel free to suggest sources that may be of interest to this community of practice. Send a link, or suggest a title, and please do a brief write-up to lead us into the document/publication.
Send suggestions and a brief write-up to Ms Phiwo Kgatla at Phiwokuhle.Kgatla@sarua.org