DFL History - Centre for Flexible Learning (CFL)
In the beginning...
In 1970 the University of the South Pacific (USP) began offering credit courses through distance education. The initiative began in a limited way, focusing primarily on courses for the Diploma in Education taken by in-service teachers in a number of USP member countries. It was based in USP's Department of Education in the then School of Education.
By 1976 a total of 90 students were enrolled in the 16 distance courses offered. They could enrol through one of four USP Centres (Solomon Islands, Tonga, Kiribati, Cook Islands) or through the Education Department in Samoa, Niue, Vanuatu or Tuvalu. At that time, for many of the courses, students had to attend face-to-face tutorials and/or laboratory sessions at their USP Centre.
Since becoming an autonomous unit in the 1970s, the USP distance education programme has expanded tremendously in both the number of courses it offers and student enrolments. For instance, in 2004 there were over 150 courses offered over three semesters, with a total enrolment of over 15,000 students. Initially called Extension Services, University Extension, and then Distance & Flexible Learning Support Centre under the Centre for Educational Development & Technology, today it is known as Course Design & Development under the Centre for Flexible Learning.
Distance & Flexible Learning (DFL) courses today are designed for independent study. Traditionally they have been print-based, sometimes incorporating other media (e.g. audio or videotapes). Increasingly, however, courses are designed for a multimedia approach to teaching and learning, and a number are offered partly or wholly online. Courses are offered at many levels, enabling students to study by distance for predegree (Preliminary and Foundation), subdegree (Vocational) and degree qualifications.
DFL study materials are developed and produced through the cooperative efforts of course developments teams, which comprise staff in Course Design & Development (CDD) and other sections of USP. CDD also administers the programme through its network of USP Campuses located in USP's 12 member countries. The USP Campuses offer additional student support as the venue for local and satellite (audio & video) tutorials, and through study spaces, a library, computer lab and audio and video playback facilities.