DEHub/Research Themes/Globalisation of education project 1

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Commissioned Research
Curriculum design
Access, equity, social inclusion and ethics
Globalisation of education
Interaction and communication in learning communities

Globalisation of education

What does the current literature suggest are the implications of the expansion into global educational markets and environments for distance education in the higher education sector?

Summary of narrative syntheses, meta-analyses, meta-evaluations, and best evidence syntheses that currently exist.

Relatively little has been written directly on this topic. Most of the literature on globalisation of education is concerned with face-to-face delivery, either at Australian campuses or off-shore . Short syntheses have been written on the internationalisation of distance education: Evans & Daryl (2003) and Mason (2007). There are also a number of relevant journal articles which summarise relevant research on particular issues. These include:

  • Rumble (2000) – examines issues related to the management and planning.
  • Bates (2001) – considers cultural and ethical issues associated with international distance education.
  • Hovenga (2004) – focuses at the globalisation of medical education.
  • Sherritt & Carbajal (2006) – looks at online virtual education.
  • Kawachi (2008) – reviews current research on the potential of distance education for world-wide education.
  • Skinner (2008) – looks at issues of quality and accreditation in relation to online distance learning.
  • Ziguras (2008) – examines the evaluation of transnational distance education programs.
  • Zondiros (2008) – concentrates on issues of educational access, equity and exclusion.

There is a small, but growing, literature on transnational education: eg McBurnie & Ziguras (2006), Dunn & Wallace (2008) and Miliszewska (2009). The focus is generally on the offshore classroom. However, such works also address cultural and contextual issues relevant to distance education. Transnational education has been the subject of a number of research theses at Australian universities. These include: Doherty (2006), Hoare (2006), Miliszweska (2006), O’Regan (2006). Each of these theses provide valuable syntheses of the literature, although (again) not always from a strictly distance education perspective. The OECD has published a number of useful research papers on the globalisation of higher education (eg Vincent-Lancrin 2004; Marginson & van der Wende 2007). Reference to distance education in these works is brief, serving only to indicate the lack of research. The best recent overview of the impact of globalisation on the Australian higher education sector is Harman (2005). Distance education is largely passed over in silence.

Recommended keywords for searches

borderless eduction, cross-border, cross-cultural, cultural difference, distance education, DE, flexible delivery, flexible learning, global education, globalisation, globalization, higher education, internationalisation, internationalization, online, online transnational education, open learning, transcultural education, transnational education, transnational online, higher education

Recommended search databases

A+ Education, Emerald, ERIC, Google Scholar, IDP Database on Research into International Education, Libraries Australia, PsychINFO, SpringerLink.

Additional references and links

The DE Hub Globalisation of education and cross-cultural aspects research theme page provides additional links to relevant material.


Bates, T. (2001). International distance education: Cultural and ethical issues. Distance Education, 22(1), 122-136. Doherty (2006). The production of cultural difference and cultural sameness in online internationalised education. Queensland University of Technology: Brisbane.

Dunn, L., & Wallace, M. (2008). Teaching in transnational higher education: enhancing learning for offshore international students. New York: Routledge.

Evans, T., & Daryl, N. (2003). Globalization and the Reinvention of Distance Education. In M. G. A. Moore, William George (Ed.), Handbook of distance education (pp. 777-792): Routledge.

Harman, G. (2005). Internationalization of Australian higher education: A critical review of literature and research. In P. H. Ninnes, Meeri (Ed.), Internationalizing higher education: Critical explorations of pedagogy and policy (pp. 119-140). Hong Kong: Comparative Education Research Centre, University of Hong Kong.

Hoare, L. (2006). So near and yet so far: an ethnographic evaluation of an Australian transnational education program. University of Melbourne: Melbourne.

Hovenga, E. J. S. (2004). Globalisation of health and medical informatics education--what are the issues? International Journal of Medical Informatics, 73(2), 101-109.

Kawachi, P. (2008). Future Directions for Distance Education. Paper presented at the Researching and Promoting Access to Education and Training: The Role of Distance Education and e-Learning in Technology-Enhanced Environments, EDEN / UNESCO 5th Research Workshop, 21 October 2008, Paris. from

MacBurnie, G., & Zondiros, C. (2006). Transnational Education: Issues and Trends in Offshore Higher Education. London: Routlege.

Marginson, S., & van der Wende, M. (2007). Globalisation and Higher Education. Paris: OECD.

Mason, R. (2007). Internationalizing Education. In M. G. Moore (Ed.), Handbook of distance education (pp. 583-592). Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Miliszewska, I. (2006). A Multidimensional Model for Transnational Computing Education Programs. Victoria University: Melbourne.

Miliszewska, I. (2009). Effective transnational education programs: concepts, dimensions, perspectives. Saarbrücken, Germany: Vdm Verlag Dr. Müller.

O'Reagan (2006). Local moorings, international visions: fabricating internationalised practices in Australian higher, Queensland University of Technology: Brisbane.

Rumble, G. (2000). The globalisation of open and flexible learning: Considerations for planners and managers. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 3(3).

Sherritt, C., & Carbajal, J. (2006). Trans-national virtual higher education: trends and lessons learned from a decade of practice. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 5th IASTED international conference on Web-based education.

Skinner, R. A. (2008). The challenges of transnational online learning. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks 12(2), 83-89.

Vincent-Lancrin, S. (2004). Cross-border education: An overview. In OECD (Ed.), Internationalization and Trade in Higher Education: Opportunities and Challenges (pp. 17-38). Paris: OECD.

Ziguras, C. (2008). Cultural and contextual issues in the evaluation of transnational distance education. In T. Evans & M. M. Haughey, D. (Eds.), International Handbook of Distance Education (pp. 639-653). Bingley, UK: Emerald.

Zondiros, D. (2008). Online, distance education and globalisation: Its impact on educational access, inequality and exclusion. EURODL: European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, 1.