• Theoretical Challenges for Distance Education in the 21st Century: A Shift from Structural to Transactional Issues

      Garrison, Randy (AU Press, 2000-06-01)
      Randy Garrison Abstract The premise of this
 article is that theoretical frameworks and models are essential to the long-term credibility and viability of a field of practice. In order to assess the theoretical challenges facing the field of distance education, the significant theoretical contributions to distance education in the last century are briefly reviewed. This review of distance education as a field of study reveals an early preoccupation with organizational and structural constraints. However, the review also reveals that the theoretical development of the field is progressing from organizational to transactional issues and assumptions. The question is whether distance education has the theoretical foundation to take it into the 21st century and whether distance education theory development will keep pace with innovations in technology and practice.
    • Research in Distance Education: A Status Report

      Saba, Farhad (AU Press, 2000-06-01)
      Since the 1950s and expansion of social science research, distance education has been studied in comparison to face-to-face or classroom instruction. Although researchers continue to conduct comparative studies, their usefulness in revealing more information has diminished over the years; invariably, they have returned a “no significant difference” result between various forms of instruction. In recent years, researchers have moved beyond atheoretical, experimental comparative studies and have introduced new methods, such as discourse analysis, and in-depth interview of learners. These new methods overcome many methodological and theoretical limitations of the physical science view of distance education. These studies have further revealed the complexity of distance education, indicating the many variables involved in the concept. Starting with the core issue of instructional interaction and grounded on the theory of transactional distance, a new strand of research using methods related to systems dynamics, hierarchy and complexity theories, promises a more comprehensive understanding.
    • Rethinking the Research Agenda

      Perraton, Hilary (AU Press, 2000-06-01)
      Research is seen as something grounded in theory that can lead to improved practice. Without a theoretical basis it is unlikely to go beyond data gathering. The theoretical insights leading to good research are more likely to come from educational and social theories generally than from an attempt to develop a theory of open and distance learning. An examination of existing research shows that it is often atheoretical and predominantly descriptive. Research on the context of open and distance learning, considering its purposes, outcomes, and relevance to major educational problems, has been relatively neglected as contrasted with research on its application. Significant research issues today include: problems posed by globalisation, including issues of governance and consumer protection; ways of maximising public benefit from new communication technologies; the development of strategies for AIDS education; and the continuing need for educational expansion.
    • Beauty Lies in the Eye of the Beholder

      Calder, Judith (AU Press, 2000-06-01)
      Best practice can be defined as that combination of structure, educational technology and content of a learning opportunity, which, in certain contexts and for particular groups of learners, is most likely to achieve the purposes of the main stakeholders. However, the rate of change of technological, political, economic, social and cultural contexts suggests that best practice may become a redundant concept, in that what is judged as best one day may not be so judged the next. This article considers what some significant contributions to the literature on open and distance learning practice have to say about the development and provision of best practice and about the place of critical reflection by stakeholders. It also considers the challenges facing the development of best practice presented by change, concluding with the identification of the most significant areas of development yet to be made.
    • Current Developments and Best Practice in Open and Distance Learning

      Rocha Trinidade, Armando; Carmo, Hermano; Bidarra, José (AU Press, 2000-06-01)
      Through the many documents regularly emitted by those dedicated to this activity, it is comparatively easy to describe factual developments in the field of open and distance education in different places in the world. However, it is much more difficult to produce judgements of value about their quality. Quality is a subjective rather than an absolute concept and may be examined from different analytical perspectives: consumers' satisfaction level, intrinsic value of scientific and technical content of learning materials, soundness of learning strategies, efficiency of organisation and procedures, adequate use of advanced technologies, reliability of student support mechanisms, etc. These parameters should be put into the context of specific objectives, nature of target populations and availability of different kinds of resources. In a specific geographic, social, economic and cultural situation a given set of solutions might be judged as adequate and deserving the qualification of "good practice", while in a different context it could be considered of rather poor quality. The selection of examples in this article is the sole responsibility of the authors: neither should the chosen cases be considered as clearly better than any other one, nor missing cases be interpreted as lack of appreciation or a negative judgement. Finally, the authors are aware of the risks of interpreting trends and trying to extrapolate them into the near future: readers should use their own judgement in accepting (or forcefully rejecting) these projections.
    • Digital Learning Environments: New Possibilities and Opportunities

      Peters, Otto (AU Press, 2000-06-01)
      This paper deals with the general problem whether and, if so, how far the impact of the digitised learning environment on our traditional distance education will change the way in which teachers teach and learners learn. Are the dramatic innovations a menace to established ways of learning and teaching or are they the panacea to overcome some of the difficulties of our system of higher learning and to solve some of our educational problems caused by the big and far-reaching educational paradigm shift? This paper will not deal with technical or technological achievements in the field of information and communication which are, of course, revolutionary and to be acknowledged and admired. Rather, the digital learning environment will be analysed from a pedagogical point of view in order to find out what exactly are the didactic possibilities and opportunities and what are its foreseeable disadvantages.
    • Editorial

      Cookson, Peter S.; Athabasca University (AU Press, 2000-06-01)
    • Online Delivery of Programmes: A case study of IGNOU

      Sharma, Ramesh (AU Press, 2001-01-01)
      Online education is the most exciting segment in the Indian IT space. A host of e-education sites continue to enter the market with focused offerings, linking up students and teachers, almost on a daily basis. This is happening because the new medium seeks to supplement -- not replace -- traditional teaching-learning methodologies. Keeping in view the global and in country/domestic market changes, India has to play a vital role in terms of software exports, skilled manpower support, and online education. With India currently in the midst of a "dotcom" wave, Indira Ghandi National Open University (IGNOU) has taken the initiative in launching online in January 2000 two of its educational computer programmes. In July 2000 it launched twenty capsule courses (each comprising three courses) in different specialization areas of management [http://www.ignou.com/index.htm]. Each of these capsules addresses one specific functional or specialization area, one basic course pertaining to that specialization and a project course. The Bachelor of Information Technology and Advanced Diploma in Information Technology programmes are offered through a Virtual Campus Initiative (VCI). Management Programme capsule courses are offered through Project MEIDS (Management Education through Interactive Delivery Systems).
    • Deakin University: Going online at a Dual Mode University

      Calvert, Jocelyn (AU Press, 2001-01-01)
      Deakin is a dual mode university with more than half of its students doing at least part of their study at a distance and with an entrepreneurial arm that provides distance education services for even larger numbers. Online provision has been developing over a decade, enriching traditional distance education in programs with mixtures of on- and off-campus students. It has been supported by central services and corporate applications, leading to reasonable consistency in the thrust. A current aim is to ensure that it is sustainable at a high level of quality.
    • The NKI Internet College: A review of 15 years delivery of 10,000 online courses

      Paulsen, Morten; NKI, Norway; Rekkedal, Torstein; NKI, Norway; , (AU Press, 2001-01-01)
      This article presents NKI's experiences with online education from the time the idea was conceived in 1985 to the point when the total number of course enrolments exceeded 10,000 in June 2000. The 15 year period covers three generations. The first generation (1985-1994) was characterised by system development and experimentation with emerging technology. The second generation (1994-96) was a period of transition from the EKKO computer conferencing system, which NKI developed for online education, to Internet systems with text-based user interfaces. The third generation, 1996 to the present, began with the introduction of graphic user interfaces and the World Wide Web (WWW) and is characterised by a vigorous expansion and the introduction of large-scale online education.
    • Converting Student Support Services to Online Delivery

      Brigham, David E. (AU Press, 2001-01-01)
      This case study describes how Regents College (soon to be Excelsior College), an accredited, private, distance education institution with administrative offices in Albany, New York addressed the structural, management, and resource issues that came into play when converting distance education programs from print-based and telephone delivery to online delivery. The study uses a systems framework to describe and analyze the circumstances and issues surrounding the creation of six student support services: electronic advising, an electronic peer network, an online database of distance courses, an online bookstore, a virtual library, and an alumni services website.
    • Converting to Online Course and Program Delivery: The University of South Australia Case Study

      King, Bruce; McCauslan, Holly; Nunan, Ted (AU Press, 2001-01-01)
      The University of South Australia's (UniSA) approach to converting its distance education programs to online delivery is to manage it as a part of establishing an online teaching and learning environment for all of its programs. UniSA's move to online teaching and learning derives from a clear vision of its future, is informed and directed by a comprehensive framework for teaching and learning, and enabled by appropriate structures, processes and resources. The institution has chosen to develop a relatively low-cost, easy to use online teaching and learning environment that has facilitated large-scale conversion to the online mode for all teaching and learning, including traditional distance education.
    • Empire State College: The Development of Online Learning

      Lefor, Patricia J.; Benke, Meg; Ting, Evelyn (AU Press, 2001-01-01)
      Empire State College was founded in 1971 to meet the needs of adult and other nontraditional student populations in the state of New York. Its initial delivery model was individualized instruction with a student working with a full-time faculty member to develop a unique plan of study and learning contracts to support that plan. By 1979, the College established the Center for Distance Learning, which developed and still offers structured, print-based courses to students with no requirement for on-site meetings. It began to experiment with computer-supported learning activities in the late 1980s, employing professional staff to support the exploration of technology and to provide assistance to faculty in instructional design. However, it was not until 1994, with the formal creation of the Center for Learning and Technology, that the development of online courses and programs was systematically pursued. This article outlines the development of online programs since that time, emphasizing the issues and challenges faced by the institution in seeking to provide quality, cost-effective distance education.
    • Athabasca University: Conversion from Traditional Distance Education to Online Courses, Programs and Services

      Davis, Alan (AU Press, 2001-01-01)
      In its 30 years of operation, Athabasca University has witnessed the full impact of the growth of online distance education. Its conversion from mixed media course production and telephone/mail tutoring to a variety of electronic information and communication technologies has been heterogeneous across disciplines and programs. Undergraduate programs in business, computing, and some social science programs have largely led the conversion, and all graduate programs have, since their inception, employed various features of online delivery. The parallel conversion of student services has been equally important to the effectiveness of these processes. The implications of this approach for the quality of offerings, support systems, costing, and the primary mandate of the University (which is to remove barriers, not create them) are discussed.