From lockdown to blended learning: Opening opportunities for remote students. A case of the Institute of Accountancy Arusha.
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The Coronavirus disease outbreak in 2019 famously known as the COVID 19 brought new perspectives when it comes to education systems in many countries in Africa, Tanzania included. This outbreak was accompanied by unexpected prevention strategies which included countries going on full or partial lockdowns. These lockdowns resulted into schools and higher education institutions temporally closure for unspecified period of time. The situation in Tanzania was similar to many other countries in the world. Though in their case the lockdown was partial, schools and higher education institutions remained closed for unspecified period of time. In this situation the Institute of Accountancy Arusha was the only higher education institution in Tanzania that remained operational by shifting all its academic activities online. Despite the temporally closure due to the outbreak, students continued learning online while at home. This means their academic progress was not disturbed by the pandemic and they remained on schedule. This was not achieved without any challenges but, students and facilitators had a positive attitude towards it. This positive attitude was a great contribution towards the online leaning program’s success. With this success on online learning during the pandemic, the Institute of Accountancy Arusha continue with the efforts of moving learning online even after the lockdown was over. This resulted into innovating blended learning programs that allows students from remote areas continue with their academic achievements despite physical distance and other inconveniences. As this blended learning innovation done by the Institute of Accountancy Arusha is one of its kind in Tanzania, this study is going to present experiences from both the benefiting students and the Institute itself. The study will describe the opportunities presented by the blended learning program for remote students and also explain blended learning experiences from both students and facilitators. Finally, the study will also present identified Institutes success factors on blended learning. This will facilitate sharing of experience that will pave way for other African higher education institutions which would also like to shift from traditional learning systems to blended and eventually full online programs. This is a qualitative study that will use cross sectional survey research design where simple random sampling will be used to select the study sample.