DEHub/Research Themes/Access equity and ethics

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Research themes
1. Theories and models
2. Globalisation of education and cross-cultural aspects
3. Access, equity, social inclusion and ethics
4. Professional Development & Faculty Support
5. Learner support and development approaches
6. Curriculum design
7. Interaction and communication in learning communities
8. Distance teaching systems and institutions)
9. Research methods in distance education and knowledge transfer
10. Quality assurance
11. Innovation and change
12. Costs and benefits
13. Management and organization
14. Educational technology
15. Learner characteristics
16. Open Education Resources (OERs)

Access, equity, social inclusion and ethics

Research in this area will address issues afforded by new ICT and determine ways to deliver high quality education to learners who have limited resources and poor infrastructure.

Guiding question

What are the barriers and affordances in the Australian context of using new and emerging ICT mediated distance learning for social excluded groups?

Research Questions

  • What are the ethical and legal issues surrounding the use of information provided by students in different environments (written material, photographs, videos, etc)?
  • What ICT access do distance learners have to undertake learning in their workplace and communities (as different from their homes; e.g. community access centres)? What percentage of students use/rely on work or community access?
  • What is the role for Open Education Resources on access to education in Australia?
  • Can distance education provide opportunities for education for socially excluded groups?

Dr. Julie Willems, part of the DEHub academic team, is currently conducting research to find responses to each of these questions. Some of these responses will be shared at the Education 2011-2021 SUMMIT. If you would like to join the special interest group on equity, access, social inclusion and ethics in higher education, please consider being a member of the special interest group Multiple equity issues in education and share relevant experiences.

Highly Recommended Priority Links

National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education

The National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education is a Centre of the Hawke Research Institute. The Centre's research focus is on

  • What is equity
  • Gaps in current knowledge
  • What works in pursuit of equity
  • Required policy setting to achieve equity.

This research focus aligns with those of Distance Education and with the aspirations and research focus for the DE Hub.

Instructional Technology Council

Distance Education Survey Results-Trends in eLearning: Tracking the Impact of eLearning at Community Colleges.
The Instructional Technology Council (ITC) established the annual distance education survey in response to the growing need for national data related to distance learning program creation and development and for key issues related to faculty and students. Distance education practitioners have used data from the U.S. Department of Education and the annual series of reports by Sloan-C, but the landscape seemed to lack a reliable source of longitudinal data gathered on a regular basis. The ITC survey was designed to fill that gap in data.

Commonwealth of learning (COL)

The Commonwealth of Learning provides an extensive range of publications on Access, Equity Social inclusion and Ethics.

JISC: Accessibility & Inclusion

JISC: Social Inclusion is committed to achieving greater accessibility and inclusion for all students and staff, by stimulating innovation and providing expert advice and guidance on enhancing accessibility and inclusion through technology. This is achieved through the JISC TechDis1 advisory service, and by funding projects that explore ways of using both mainstream and assistive technologies to more effectively meet the needs of all learners.

Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U)

The association has a draft literature review on underserverd students in the USA titled Outcomes of High Impact Practices for Underserved Students:A Review of the Literature[1]. While not directly related to distance education the focus of the review is in:

learning communities, service-learning, undergraduate research, first-year seminars, and capstone courses and projects,

which is very relevant to consider in the Australian and global contexts.

Australian Government: Social Inclusion

The Resources section of the Commonwealth Government's Social Inclusion site provides an range of pdf documents mapping the state of social inclusion issues, research and policy. An excellent site as a started point to map the Australian context for Social Inclusion issues.

Universal Design for Instruction

Universal Design for Instruction in Postsecondary Education.

Universal Design for Instruction at the University of Connecticut. Our current project, UDI On-line, is a collaborative project between the Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability and the Center for Students with Disabilities. Our focus is on the application of the Principles of UDI © to online and technology blended courses in postsecondary education. The UDI toolbox will contain a range of e-tools and instructional modules that postsecondary faculty members can use in the design, delivery, and assessment of on-line and technology blended courses.

National Centre for Student Equity (NCSEHE)

NCSEHE submission to the Bradley Review, 2008.


The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2009 . This study: a longitudinal extension of the 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 studies. It is based on quantitative data from a spring 2009 survey of 30,616 freshmen and seniors at 103 four-year institutions and students at 12 two-year institutions; student focus groups that included input from 62 students at 4 institutions; and review of qualitative data from written responses to open-ended questions. In addition to studying student ownership, experience, behaviors, preferences, and skills with respect to information technologies, the 2009 study also includes a special focus on student ownership and use of Internet-capable handheld devices.

Other sites to explore

TED (technology, Entertainment and Design)

Hector Ruiz on connecting the world a TED video filmed in June 2007.

Hector Ruiz is executive chairman of Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. Born in Piedras Negras, Mexico, Dr. Ruiz is passionate about the role of technology in education and empowering the underprivileged. At the 2004 World Economic Forum in Davos, he announced AMD's 50x15 Initiative, a commitment to provide 50 percent of the world's population with basic Internet access by the year 2015

Whither the Digital Divide?

This 2008 Chapter In D. L. Kleinman, K. A. Cloud-Hansen, C. Matta, and J. Handesman (Eds.) Controversies in Science & Technology: From climate to chromosomes. New Rochelle, NY: Liebert. provides a good background to what constitutes the 'digital divide' and can be found at Mark Warschauer's web site along with a number of articles related to technology, literacy etc. Mark Warschaur is Professor of Education, Department of Informatics at the University of California (Irvine).

Observatory on borderless higher Education

The Observatory on borderless higher Education while its focus is in the higher education policy, models and issues it does provide some material on Access and Equity issues, particularly as it relates to various aspects on new models and technology.


The The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, Vol 10, No 4 (2009), provides a recent paper titled Designing to Promote Access, Quality, and Student Support in an Advanced Certificate Programme for Rural Teachers in South Africa. Quoting from the article:

The following research questions guided the design and development process:

  • What strategies should be used for the re-design and re-development of an existing advanced certificate distance education programme in order to promote access, quality, and student support?
  • What processes should be followed in the re-design and re-development of the programme?
  • What training is required to equip academic staff members to re-conceptualise their teaching and assessment strategies and to write effective learning materials?
  • How can ICTs be incorporated in the re-designed programme to provide additional enrichment materials and electronic support to rural students?

This article is important in that the poor internet connectivity disallowed the use of interactive web-based technologies but cell phones were seen as a possibility.

ICDE: Conference papers

The parallel sessions of the 2009 23rd ICDE World Conference has a number of papers dealing Access, Equity and Social Inclusion. Each parallel session was structured around a number of themes including:

  • Cultural diversity
  • Breaking Barriers – Widening Participation through Distance Education
  • Removing constraints-Institutional Challenges within Distance Education.

Relevant papers from the first parrallel session include [2]:

  • Breaking down the barriers to reach new learners using flexible, support open learning with the UK Open University
  • Aboriginal culture awareness: Finding a common place in advanced education
  • In Partnership with You and Your Community". Opening Doors for Parents, Families and Communities.


Staying the Course: Online Education in the United States, 2008 by the Consortium of Institutions and Organizations Committed to Quality Online Education is worth investigating for the enrollment patterns and state of online learning in colleges and universities.

Mobile Technology has an extensive database on mobile technology project undertaken around the world with a particular focus on empower local, national and international non-profit organisations to make better use of information and communications technology in their work. The database can be searched via regions, or categories such as Education, Agriculture, Government/politics, Human Rights and others.


More related sites can be found at the DE Hub Delicious site.

Julie Willems 13:03, 7 February 2011

Alan Wylie 07:05, 4 November 2009 (UTC)