DEHub/Research Themes/Theories and models

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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)

Theories and models

The theoretical framework underlying educational models and the impact of various learning theories on distance education practice will be investigated in order to understand the foundations and future directions of distance education. Learning processes and the theoretical basis for construction of knowledge will also be considered.

Guiding question

What distance teaching theories and models are required to meet the needs of 21st century learners and how do these differ from existing theories and models?

Research Questions

  • Does an institutional pedagogic/philosophic approach to teaching and learning influence the role of business and industry in assessing potential employees? (e.g. on-the job/off-the-job/ face-to-face/ off campus/part-time/full-time).
  • What is the view of government towards integrated on-the-job learning provided by HE institutions? (e.g. for teachers, nurses, other public service professionals)
  • What are the important factors of life-long learning?
  • Is a different structure to higher education and learning required to support life-long learning models? (rather than current discipline structure) What universities (learning institutions) are using a different structure?
  • What is the role of OER in distance learning?
  • What are models of education related to life-long learning processes?
  • Consider Eagan’s three modes: Are these valid for the distance education community? Are there other models of structuring learning environments?
  • Are degrees relevant any longer? Are we now looking for shorter, more focused bursts of learning support? (e.g. learning leaders) If so how are these to be managed?
  • What are current and potential organisational and dissemination models of open educational resources? How are they used by students (and rural workers) in rural and remote areas? …by distance learners (regardless of where they live)?

Highly Recommended Priority Links


Openness and the Future of Higher Education, Vol 10, No 5 (2009) is a special edition of IRRODL on this topic. There are eight articles available ranging in content from the impact of social changes on higher education, barriers to OERs, OERs impact on commercial textbooks, credentialing and sustainability, and how learners interact with OERs.


Effective evaluation models & practices for technology-supported physical learning spaces (2009). The aim of this project was to identify and review the tools, methods and frameworks used to evaluate technology supported or enhanced physical learning spaces.

Review of e-learning theories, frameworks and models (2005). This review by Terry Mayes and Sara de Freitas was a desk study with the purpose to describe what is understood by effective practice in relation to e-learning; to identify and describe the range of models that inform the design and implementation of e-learning activities and to specify a planning tool to aid practitioners in their implementation of e-learning.

Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

Lifelong Learning & Distance Higher Education this 2005 publication in the Perspective on Distance Education deals with distance higher education systems - especially those designed for lifelong learners - in the context of these changes, emphasising the need for international co-operation and for well thought-out policies in areas ranging from funding, appropriate use of ICTs and quality assurance.

Strategies for Sustainable ODL. This is volume 6, published in 2005, of the series: World review of distance education and open learning, The individual papers that make up the this volume are available online. Contributions are form David Sewart, Tony Bates, Bruce King, Hilary Perraton, Andrea Hope and Patrick Guiton to mention just a few. Other topics in the Series include:

  • Higher Education (vol.1)
  • Basic Education (vol.2)
  • Teacher Education (vol.3)
  • Policy (vol.4)
  • Vocational Education (vol.5)

Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology

Addressing diverse learner preferences and intelligences with emerging technologies: Matching models to online opportunities Ke Zhang and Curtis J. Bonk, V34(2) Spring, 2008.

This paper critically reviews various learning preferences and human intelligence theories and models with a particular focus on the implications for online learning. It highlights a few key models, Gardner’s multiple intelligences, Fleming and Mills’ VARK model, Honey and Mumford’s Learning Styles, and Kolb’s Experiential Learning Model, and attempts to link them to trends and opportunities in online learning with emerging technologies.

Open Learning: The Journal of Open and Distance Learning

Teaching English at a distance in China's Radio and Television Universities, Volume 23, Issue 3 November 2008 , pages 171 - 183. he Abstract outlines:

English language teaching (ELT) has played an important role in the Chinese Radio and Television Universities (RTVU) network since its establishment in the late 1970s. Based on a literature review and reflection from an insider's perspective, this paper gives a full account of the RTVU distance ELT model, examining how it supports autonomous language learning, how autonomy features in its English courses/programmes and how well the students respond to the model. It also discusses issues related to the improvement of the model, including student support, course production, curriculum design, course assessment, and staff development. It is argued that ELT in RTVUs should not be ignored in the international academic community although not much is known about it outside China, and that the RTVU model may be of practical relevance to other open and distance learning contexts

What are open universities for?,Volume 23, Issue 2 June 2008 , pages 85 - 93. The abstract states:

This article proposes a framework within which the question as to the purposes of open universities should be examined. It argues that the question has become submerged over time through the establishment of so many open universities that have become natural elements in a higher education landscape rather than remaining radical and innovative institutions. The article looks at a number of innovative distance teaching higher education institutions from the nineteenth century through to the contemporary period, and examines case studies in a wide international range. The outcome of the argument is that open universities should articulate their purposes within a discourse of development, and engage with the ethical and political questions as to how development is understood and advanced.

Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association (AVETRA)

VET in a dual sector context: augury or anomaly?, AVETRA 2008 Conference by Gavin Moodie. The Abstract states:
This paper considers whether vocational education in a dual sector institution is an anomaly or an augury of future developments. It posits a definition of dual sector universities that distinguishes them from predominantly single sector institutions that offer a modest proportion of load in the other sector and from dual sector educational institutions that are not universities. The paper describes the emergence of dual sector provision: initially in Victoria from the bottom up, more recently in Australia from the top down, and by amalgamation overseas. It considers why dual sector universities emerged in Victoria but not in New South Wales where institutions with otherwise similar histories developed as single sector universities. The paper concludes by considering the potential for the development of new dual sector universities in Australia.

First Monday

Insidious pedagogy: How course management systems affect teaching, Volume 14, Number 10 - 5 October 2009 by Lisa M. Lane. The author argues that few faculty use the constructivist pedogogies now available through the features of most LMSs today, but rely on the indstructivist principles underlying most LMSs. She suggest that:

This is because most college instructors do not work or play much on the Web, and thus utilize Web-based systems primarily at their basic level. The defaults of the CMS therefore tend to determine the way Web-novice faculty teach online, encouraging methods based on posting of material and engendering usage that focuses on administrative tasks.

US Department of Education

Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies, 2009.

A systematic search of the research literature from 1996 through July 2008 identified more than a thousand empirical studies of online learning. Analysts screened these studies to find those that (a) contrasted an online to a face-to-face condition, (b) measured student learning outcomes, (c) used a rigorous research design, and (d) provided adequate information to calculate an effect size. As a result of this screening, 51 independent effects were identified that could be subjected to meta-analysis. The meta-analysis found that, on average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.

Other sites to explore


Modelling of Second Life environments. This project investigated the scaffolding and processes needed to enable groups of students in Higher Education to establish their socialisation and engagement for more productive information and knowledge exchange and learning through the medium of online 3D Multi User Virtual Environments using Second Life.


Business Models for Online Learning: An Exploratory Survey May 2006. The survey results yielded some interesting data about which online learning financial models seem to have more or less "control" of which business functions. To obtain a copy you will have to be a Slon-C member or purchase a copy for US$5.95.

First Monday

Theories and models of and for online learning, Volume 12, Number 8 - 6 August 2007. The authors: Caroline Haythornthwaite, Richard Andrews, Michelle M. Kazmer, Bertram C. Bruce, Rae-Anne Montague, Christina Preston:

see changes in teaching and learning emerging from the nexus of a changing landscape of information and communication technologies, an active and motivated teaching corps that has worked to derive new approaches to teaching, an equally active and motivated learning corps that has contributed as much to how to teach online as they have to how to learn while online, with others, and away from a campus setting.

Open source enters the world of atoms: A statistical analysis of open design, Volume 14, Number 11 - 2 November 2009. This paper contributes to the literature on the open source mode of product development by providing a quantitative study (N = 85) of open design projects.

CSHE: Center of Studies in Higher Education

Open Learning: What Do Open Textbooks Tell Us About the Revolution in Education?, Gary W. Matkin, March 2009.

This paper provides answers to the following questions:

  • Why do we need open textbooks?
  • What are open textbooks (in their various forms)?
  • How are open textbooks developed and distributed?
  • And finally, when will open textbooks be produced?

As another model and approach to openness in education this paper sets out what constitutes an open textbook, where if fits within the realm of open education resources and who will be the winners and who will lose out. Quoting Thomas Friedman the author suggests the most open society will win.

Open Learning: The Journal of Open and Distance Learning

Challenges in the adoption and use of OpenCourseWare: experience of the United Nations University, Volume 24, Issue 1 February 2009 , pages 31 - 38. The abstract states:

This paper provides insights on the adoption or use of OpenCourseWare (OCW) to support broader research, training and institutional capacity development goals, based on the experience of the United Nations University. Specifically, it explains the strategic context for the use of OCW in the university through its related efforts in the area of Virtual and Open Learning, and how OCW fits these requirements. Finally, the paper presents the current status, and discusses challenges and future directions of the OCW project at the United Nations University.

Distance & access to education

Distance education in prisons: an educational right or a privilege? The case of "student inmates", 2008, by Fanny Salane. Quoting from the Abstract:
Our research carried out with detainees enrolled in postsecondary education shows that distance education is ill-suited to the prison environment and constitutes a limited right to education that is highly inegalitarian.


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

Alan Wylie 07:05, 19 November 2009 (UTC)