DEHub/Research Themes

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Welcome to the DEHub WikiEducator site in support of the DEHub and ODLAA SUMMIT: Education 2011 to 2021- Global challenges and perspectives of blended and distance learning. The Keynote and Panel session PowerPoint presentations can be found at DEHub and ODLAA SUMMIT Presentation PowerPoints..

Developing Research Themes

In developing the priority research themes for the DEHub a literature scan was undertaken by DEHub staff. This background research and analysis of the recent paper by Olaf Zawacki-Richter,[1] 2009, Research Areas in Distance Education: A Delphi Study, IRRODL, Vol 10, No 3. formed the basis for a focus group inquiry structured around the three key themes of Research and Development, Community and Open Learning and Teaching and Learning. Fifty university distance education practitioners produced recommendations and further questions. The findings were refined and expanded through a two day research planning process with distance education specialists including two international visitors to the DEHub. An extensive set of research possibilities were further refined and distilled into 15 research themes. Seven research themes were then prioritised for action in 2010. The remaining eight themes will develop and evolve as further research and analysis is undertaken.

Research and Development (Macro)

Within this theme, distance education systems and theories will be examined in relation to international, national and state policy agendas. These include access, equity and ethics; globalisation of education and cross-cultural aspects; distance teaching systems and institutions; theories and models; and research methodologies used in, or suitable for, distance education topics and knowledge transfer.

Theories and models

Globalisation of education and cross-cultural aspects

Access, equity, social inclusion and ethics

Distance teaching systems and institutions

Research methods in distance education and knowledge transfer

Community and Open Learning (Meso)

There are eight sub-themes in this major research area: open education resources; quality assurance; professional development and faculty support; learner support services; innovation and change; educational technology; management and organisation; and costs and benefits of distance education models and practices. Additionally, this theme encourages collaboration across a range of stakeholders that include the partners of DEhub, Industry experts, Professional Associations, colleagues around the world, UNESCO and Commonwealth of Learning so as to address research areas of mutual relevance and interest.

Quality assurance

Professional development and faculty support

Innovation and change

Learner support services

Costs and benefits

Management & organization

Educational technology (possible linkage with Innovation & change)

Open Educational Resources (OERs)

Teaching and Learning (Micro)

This micro level theme considers the individuals who provide and use the distance education system/s. Major issues identified include learner characteristics; the student voice and users’ experience with distance learning; professional development; learning design for distance learners; and communities of practice and interaction and communication within these learning groups.

Curriculum design

Interaction and communication in learning communities

Learner characteristics


  1. Zawacki-Richter, O.