DEHub/Research Themes/Distance teaching systems and institutions

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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)

Distance teaching systems and institutions

Under this sub-theme, research will investigate the systemic delivery strategies; the role of institutional partnerships in developing transnational programs; and the impact of ICT convergence on conventional education and distance education institutions (hybrid/blended or mixed mode).

Guiding question

What distance teaching systems and institutions are required to meet the needs of 21st century learners?

Research questions

  • How can fruitful collaboration promote the widening of access to higher education?
  • How might successful collaboration enhance quality assurance mechanisms at the institutional, national and international levels?
  • How can fruitful collaboration assist in creating research networks in distance education related themes and fields, and/or what are the benefits of such networks to participating institutions?
  • How does the institutional voice determine the distance education model and practice?
  • What is the role of accreditation and accreditation authorities in the development of curriculum for professional practice?
  • Is higher education providing relevant/appropriate learning in 21st century? For whom? (in any arena / for distance learners)

Highly Recommended Priority Links

US: Online education growth dwarfs overall enrolment[1]

The 2011 survey by the Babson Survey Research Group highlighting the growth in online enrolments compared to face-to-face enrolements over the last year. The survey has been conducted each year since 2003. The above link is to the University World News site.

The Observatory on Borderless Higher Education

Going Global:Trends in Cross-Border Higher Education for ODL, 2009. This is an interview (in pdf format) with Dr Don Olcott the Chief Executive of The Observatory on Borderless Higher Education for the The Journal of Open Education Research conducted by WEI Qi & WEI Zhihui. At the end of the interview he provides four general points about successful cross border initiatives:

  • Successful cross-border ventures work for universities that do their homework about the host country and higher education system. These universities research their potential partners in depth. Selecting the right partner(s) is absolutely key to success.
  • Successful cross-border universities provide high level student services and support for their students and faculty.
  • Most cross-border initiatives fail because the market analyses were inaccurate and the venture was ultimately not scalable or sustainable from a financial standpoint.
  • Successful cross-border partnerships are long-term, five years or more. This takes very talented planning, patience and co-operation but the mutual benefits for partners have greater probability of succeeding through this long-term sustainable partnership approach.

These four points only skim the surface, there is much more detail, for success and failure in cross border education, within the interview.

European Resources on International Student Recruitment and National Approaches to Internationalise Higher Education. This Observatory site provides: overview of resources and data on national approaches for attracting international students and facilitating internationalisation of higher education in eight selected European countries.

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.

Re ViCa

Review of Virtual Campus. The Re.ViCa wiki has been set up to provide an inventory and to show the results of a systematic review of Virtual Campus initiatives of the past decade within higher education throughout the world. Currently they have identified 450 e-learning initiative around the world.

e-learning & distance education

The well-deserved end of a bad project. Tony Bates comments in his Blog on the demise of U21 Global the online learning project of Universitas 21. Tony's comments below are a good lead into this research area:

Universitas 21 is a blatant attempt at marketing the brand name of the member institutions without providing the teaching or the quality assurance that students would get within the individual member institutions.

Further comment is forthcoming in response to a U21 member.

Tony's Papers. Tony Bates has several texts available in pdf format such as:

  • 2007 ‘A map of e-learning research’ A categorization of research in e-learning, on which the selected bibliography in this site is based.
  • 2005 ‘Policy Issues and Challenges in Planning and Implementing E-learning in Teacher Education’ in Resta, P. (ed.) Teacher Development in an e-Learning Age: a Policy and Planning Guide Paris: UNESCO
  • 2005 ‘Charting the Evolution of Lifelong Learning and Distance Higher Education: The Role of Research’ in Macintosh, C. (ed.) in Lifelong Learning and Distance Higher Education Paris: UNESCO/Commonwealth of Learning.
  • 2008 ‘Transforming distance education through new technologies’ in Evans, T., Haughey, M., and Murphy, D. (eds.) The International Handbook of Distance Education Bingley, U.K.: Emerald Press

ODLQC Online

ODL QC Standards. A set of standard agreed to by the Open and Distance Learning Quality Council. They state that:

These Standards are those agreed by ODL QC as necessary to ensure good quality in open or distance learning, whether it is carried out by correspondence courses, e-learning, blended learning, home study or work-based learning.

These standards were revised in 2005 and released in April 2006.

Orange Grove Text

The Theory and Practice of Online Learning: 2nd edition edited by Terry Anderson covers:

  • PART I: Role and Function of Theory in Online Education
  • PART II: Infrastructure and Support for Content Development
  • PART III: Design and Development of Online Courses
  • PART IV: Delivery, Quality Control, and Student Support of Online Courses

As can be see from the headings to the four Parts of the book these are all vitally relevant to Distance teaching systems and institutions in the 21C.


The following two papers are responses to AUQA's draft discussion paper “Setting and Monitoring Academic Standards for Australian Higher Education”May 2009.

Some Comments on ‘Setting and Monitoring Academic Standards for Australian Higher Education, 2009 a by Gordon Stanley Director, Oxford University Centre for Educational Assessment covers the issues "involved in developing an appropriate basis for assessing and comparing academic standards."

Some comments on the AUQA Discussion Paper “Setting and Monitoring Academic Standards for Australian Higher Education”, 2009 by Emeritus Professor John Dearn, Visiting Fellow, The Centre for Academic Development and Educational Methods, The Australian National University.

Imposing standardised national curricula, assessment and academic achievement standards on all institutions risks stifling the very creativity, personal development, diversity and knowledge creation that is the hallmark of higher education. In addition, the compliance costs of the proposed system would be great and probably unsustainable. A greater focus on articulating and communicating learning outcomes and aligning these with curricula, pedagogy and assessment together with more systemic moderation and benchmarking would address the important concerns raised in the paper without the costs and potentially negative consequences that the proposal seems to imply.

Other sites to explore

TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design)

Ken Robinson says schools kill creativitya 2006 video on TED fillmed in Febuary 2006. Ken Robinson argues:
Why don't we get the best out of people? Sir Ken Robinson argues that it's because we've been educated to become good workers, rather than creative thinkers. Students with restless minds and bodies -- far from being cultivated for their energy and curiosity -- are ignored or even stigmatized, with terrible consequences.


Openness, Dynamic Specialization, and the Disaggregated Future of Higher Education, Vol 10, No 5 (2009) by David Wiley, John Hilton III. The authors argue for greater openness within higher education in response to the developing openness in society and openness within business strategies.

No single response to the changes in the supersystem of higher education can successfully address every institution’s situation. However, every institution must begin addressing openness as a core organizational value if it desires to both remain relevant to its learners and to contribute to the positive advancement of the field of higher education.

International Association of Univesities

Sharing Quality Higher Education Across Borders: A Statement on Behalf of Higher Education Institutions Worldwide, 2005

This document is based on the belief that market forces alone are inadequate to ensure that cross-border education contributes to the public good. Therefore, it lays the groundwork for fair and transparent policy frameworks for managing higher education across borders that are underpinned by a set of guiding principles and a process of dialogue among stakeholders. These frameworks should address the challenges we face in developing and sharing quality higher education across borders for the benefit of all, and ensure that cross-border higher education’s contribution to the broader public interest is not sacrificed to commercial interests.

EQUITABLE ACCESS, SUCCESS AND QUALITY IN HIGHER EDUCATION: A Policy Statement by the International Association of Universities, 2008. This short policy statement sets out the key principles, recommendations to higher education and governments on equitable assess to higher education.

Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

ACCREDITATION AND DISTANCE EDUCATIONoutlines the benifits for an institution in haveing or acquiring accreditation. A pdf version is available at Acquiring Accreditation in Distance Learning part of COL's Knowledge series.

NAFSA: Association of International Educators

Online Guide to Educational Systems Around the World provides a snapshot of the education systems across 80+ countries with more countries to be added.

AU Press

MobilED – Mobile Tools and Services Platform for Formal and Informal Learning by Merryl Ford and Teemu Leinonen outlines 3 pilot projects ie pilot 1 at a private school, pilot 2 a public school and pilot 3 observing the collaborative behaviour of groups of children from different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, undertaken in South Africa using mobile phones.

The results of the pilots show that the use of a mobile phone as technology tool to aid the learning process can work extremely well. The barrier of entry was very low – the learners themselves were very open to using the technology and the teachers could focus on facilitating the learning process, rather than having to grapple with new, unfamiliar technologies (as is the case with traditional computers).


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

Alan Wylie 06:08, 4 November 2009 (UTC)