DEHub for Innovation in Distance Learning in Higher Education
Welcome to DEHub
DEHub innovation in distance education is an Australian based institute for research into best sector practices in distance education. It represents a collaborative partnership between Australia’s four leading east coast distance education universities: CQUniversity (CQU), Charles Sturt University, (CSU), University of New England (UNE), University of Southern Queensland (USQ), and Massey University, New Zealand's pre-eminent provider of university-level distance education, plus the global distance higher education community. This space on WikiEducator has been established to facilitate the collegial exchange of information and the development of open learning resources in a collaborative community environment. See About Us for more information.
An emerging research program
Education is transforming at a local, national and international level. There is a move towards an overarching distance education environment mediated by technology and towards a lifelong learning paradigm.
DEHub has been established to facilitate topical research, inform policy development and disseminate critical information in distance education leading to knowledge creation and application by distance education practitioners.
A working definition of distance education
Distance education, also variously referred to as distance learning, e-learning, online learning, online education or distributed learning, can be simply defined as a system of education delivery in which the majority of learning takes place with the learner and the teacher separated by space and/or time, the gap between the two being bridged by technology. A distance learner is one who experiences the majority (80+%) of their learning off-campus at a distance from the teacher and consequently has limited face-to-face interaction with their teachers and peers. Distance education can cater for a wide variety of diverse needs for both on-campus and distance learners and is usually characterised by greater flexibility for the learner, convenience of time and place for learning and the ability to work at one’s own pace. As such, distance education requires special techniques of course/unit/lesson structure and design, distinctive instructional techniques and different methods of communication using electronic technologies. Distance education encompasses a wide variety of technology-based teaching and learning approaches, including blended learning, e-learning and mobile learning. Instruction may be synchronous or asynchronous. Learning technologies utilised by distance educators can include
- print-based media, such as hardcopy study guides or CDs of readings;
- voice-centred media, such as CD or MP3 recordings, teleconferences, podcasts, webcasts, or voice over IP systems (SKYPE);
- video platforms, such as instructional videos, DVDs, vodcasts or interactive video-conferencing;
- web conferencing tools such as Elluminate and Wimba;
- computer-centred support delivered over the internet or corporate intranet through learning management systems or more interactive Web 2.0 social networking technologies such as blogs, wikis, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, del.icio.us; and/or
- multimedia systems.
The implementation of distance learning will continue to evolve to incorporate emerging technologies. This working definition of distance education informs a range of DE Hub research themes/questions, areas of interest and projects. DEHub’s research projects will be guided by particular themes and questions in order to contribute knowledge relevant to policy decisions, as well as researcher and educator interests. These major research themes, further delineated into priority research areas that can be linked to projects, constitute DE Hub’s research program. Our activities will be of relevance and use to academic staff, independent researchers, higher degree research students, research committees and networks, students engaged in distance education study, government agencies and non-government organizations, as well as broader public and private sector community and institutional bodies.