The Journal of Open, Flexible and Distance Learning is the flagship refereed scholarly journal of the Flexible Learning Association of New Zealand (FLANZ). The Journal of Open, Flexible and Distance Learning (previously The Journal of Distance Learning) invites scholarly submissions related to open, flexible and distance learning, broadly defined. Original contributions related to distance education that relate to the four streams of scholarship proposed by Boyer (1990) are all welcome: Discovery – investigative research, with supporting evidence for new ideas. What is to be found? Discovery research is typically study-based, grounded in existing literature and with sound methodology. Integration – the bringing together of existing ideas in a summarised form, with key themes identified. What does what is found actually mean? Integration involves working with existing ideas, based on extensive literature review across disciplines. Application – accounts of how distance education theory has been implemented in operational contexts. How can what is found be used? Application firmly rests on literature, providing an account of how theory has been applied and providing transferable lessons and opportunities for further research based on the experience. Teaching – accounts of innovative practice, preferably informed by student evaluation. How can what is found be understood by others? Teaching research is more than a ‘look at what we did'; it is informed, reflective and ultimately useful in other settings.


The Globethics library contains articles of the Journal of Open, Flexible and Distance Learning as of vol. 15(2011) to current.

Recent Submissions

  • Computational Thinking in Junior Classrooms in New Zealand

    Irons, Jeanette Marie Margaret; Hartnett, Maggie (Public Knowledge Project, 2020-12-15)
    From 2020, the New Zealand technology curriculum will include computational thinking. The new curriculum content is being introduced to students from five-years-old onwards. In preparation for its introduction, online resources have been developed for teachers, including junior teachers (who teach new entrants to year three), that contain progress outcomes, lesson plans, exemplars and assessments. However, it is unclear whether New Zealand junior teachers are sufficiently prepared to teach computational thinking and what factors influence their preparedness to teach the new curriculum. This research explored the experiences of a small group of junior school teachers in the year prior to the official introduction of the technology curriculum. Research findings highlight that factors including professional development, assessment, schoolwide support, and time availability influence the uptake of the computational thinking curriculum by teachers in New Zealand junior classrooms.
  • Raranga te Kete Aronui—Weaving the Basket: Continuing With Open, Flexible, and Distance Learning

    Fields, Alison; Hartnett, Maggie (Public Knowledge Project, 2020-12-15)
    This issue of the Journal uses the metaphor of raranga te kete aronui (weaving the basket of the pursuit of knowledge) as it continues the conversation of developing areas of open, flexible, and distance learning (OFDL). It comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted traditional face-to-face teaching in classrooms on a global scale, and the value of open, flexible, and distance learning has become starkly apparent. This issue has five articles which contribute to the ongoing knowledge presented in this issue. There are two articles based on educational theory: Higgins explores the theoretical history of OFDL, and the work of Nichols et al. is based on Mezirow’s 10 stages of transformative learning. Three research articles provide insight into a range of specific areas: Sime et al. use networked learning theory to investigate the design of a social exploration MOOC, Irons and Hartnett present exploratory research into the teaching of computational thinking in junior classrooms in New Zealand, and Nyugen describes the design and development of qualifications in early childhood education and care to meet a demand for New Zealand home-based early childhood educators to be qualified. These are all contributions to our weaving and filling of te kete aronui.
  • Exploring transformative learning in vocational online and distance education

    Nichols, Mark; Choudhary, Neeru; Standring, Doug (Public Knowledge Project, 2020-12-15)
    reformulation of their experience, and new ways of acting in the world) is widely understood as an important outcome of adult education (Mezirow, 1990, 2018). Various studies have been performed over the last 30 or so years since Mezirow’s theory was first proposed, confirming its presence and importance in higher education. However, it is questioned as to whether transformative learning takes place in vocational distance and online education, particularly if not explicitly promoted.  This paper investigates the extent of transformative learning taking place in adult learners studying at a distance, online. Drawing on King’s (2009) Learning Activities Survey (LAS), Open Polytechnic students (n=499) across 7 qualifications (6 discipline areas) responded to a survey asking about their experiences of perspective transformation. The instrument also sought insight as to how vocational providers of vocational online and distance education might promote transformative learning outcomes in learners.Survey results show evidence of perspective transformation in students, to varying degrees mainly determined by the qualification being studied. The results also reveal which instructional design approaches and teaching activities might contribute to transformation.
  • Designing a Social Exploration MOOC - Visual Literacies: Exploring Educational Practices and Technologies

    ERASMUS+ Programme of the European Union; Lancaster University (UK); Danube University Krems (Austria); WIDE Services (Greece); CARDET (Cyprus).; Sime, Julie-Ann; Themelis, Chrysoula; Arapoglou, Yiannis; Marantou, Asteria; Theodoridou, Katerina (Public Knowledge Project, 2020-12-15)
    Social exploration is the key to how ideas spread through networks (Pentland, 2014).  When people talk with others outside their immediate group, they can bring fresh ideas into the group leading to improved outcomes.  So, to improve impact on educational practice we should increase communications within the professional community as well as increase the knowledge and competences of individual professionals.  To improve social exploration opportunities for educators, we have developed a massive open online course (MOOC) with a technology-enhanced learning perspective on Visual Literacies.  The two main challenges were to: gather content suitable for a multi-disciplinary audience; and design a MOOC that supports social exploration.  The content was derived from analysis of interviews with 21 experienced educators about their use of visuals in education and communication.  The educators came from a wide variety of disciplines and educational settings thereby offering multi-disciplinary case studies.  The design of the ‘social exploration MOOC’ is based on Networked Learning theory, a pedagogical approach that emphasises openness, democratic relationships between teachers and learners, and support for diversity and inclusivity of participants.  Participants can explore the MOOC content, share ideas and reflect on their own practice in a learning community that emphasizes sharing and discussion.  Issues of engagement, drop-out, completion and retention rates are discussed in this descriptive case study using learning analytics and feedback from participants on their experience.  The design of the MOOC promoted strong engagement and retention rates with the live webinar, in particular, enhancing participation, discussion and a feeling of community amongst participants.
  • Paradigms, Distance Learning, Education and Philosophy

    Nil; Higgins, Andrew (Public Knowledge Project, 2020-12-15)
    The purpose of this article is to illuminate some of the difficulties experienced by distance educators in the philosophical sense. It will show  distance learning practice is still a highly pragmatic enterprise that is academically successful. Despite its academic success distance learning is not accepted by the education profession generally because it challenges the most fundamental paradigm of western education, namely, the co-location in time and space of teachers, students and resources.  Distance learning challenges the need for a place or institution for study, for example, a school. This appears to disrupt the social and economic imperatives of having a place to work. Finally, distance learning challenges the socialisation purposes used by society through schools to enculture young people.
  • Programme Design for Online Learning Environment Stories from Designing and Developing the New Zealand Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care Level 4 Programme

    Nguyen, Nhung; Everiss, Liz; Rosewarne, Sonja; Vladinova-Aylor, Kalina; Ippel, Johanna G.; Boyd, Melanie (Public Knowledge Project, 2020-12-15)
    The New Zealand Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care Level 4 programme was designed and developed in the context of a Level 4 early childhood education qualification becoming a requirement for educators in home-based sector, and the Open Polytechnic transformation. The programme is delivered fully online. This paper is to share our stories of designing and developing the programme. The stories focus on pedagogy that empowers learners in an online flexible distance learning environment, our innovative of team work, and initial feedback from stakeholders. The pedagogy is underpinned by the integration of sociocultural and constructivist theories with information communication technology (ICT), specified by the CSI Model (The Pedagogic Model of Integrating Constructivist and Sociocultural Learning Principles with Information Communication Technology), the key educational design principles and the assessment approach. Based on the pedagogy, the programme was created in two phases: Design and development. The work of the first phase was on designing at a programme level while the work of the second phase was on developing the three courses of the programme. With the pedagogy and innovative team work, initial feedback from stakeholders was very positive. It is recommended that feedback from stakeholders is formally collected later this year and in the new year.
  • Engaging learner support: An investigation of faculty-library collaboration to provide live course-specific learner support within the online classroom environment

    Fields, Alison J (Public Knowledge Project, 2020-04-26)
    Collaboration between faculty and learner support can create platforms for delivering seamless services for e-learners. Providing access to learning materials and activities with collocated tailored learner support creates an environment where e-learners are able to easily access everything needed for an enhanced, supported and more focussed learning experience.The emerging practice of embedding live librarians within online tertiary classrooms provides a new avenue for such learner support, and forms a natural extension of the library links and resources which are routinely found in online campuses, library websites and some online course pages. Embedded librarians can actively direct students to tailored library resources and tutorials and assist students directly, often in a library discussion forum, with their specific information and referencing questions.This paper reports on research in progress into the nature and effectiveness of using embedded librarians within online classrooms in New Zealand. It takes a multi-faceted view of this emerging practice, investigating the experience of students, faculty and the embedded librarians within the online classroom setting, and also considers how the library forum discussions operate and evolve over a trimester and what value they may have to the students in that class.Embedded librarians have been appearing in a small but growing number of online classrooms around the globe for the past decade, and in New Zealand are still the exception rather than the rule. Best practice has not yet been standardised globally and in the New Zealand environment has not yet been identified. There is opportunity to maximise the benefits of this new form of e-learner support and avoid potential pitfalls to enhance the learners’ experience and achievement by increasing engagement with relevant and pertinent information resources to support their learning.
  • Relationships between online motivation, participation and achievement: More complex than you might think

    New Zealand Tertiary Education Commission; Hartnett, Maggie (Public Knowledge Project, 2020-04-26)
    With the increasing importance and rapid growth of online courses, diversification of the student population, and the growing concern over retention rates, exploration of learner online participation and possible relationships with motivation and achievement behaviour is becoming increasingly relevant in higher education. Previous studies (Gerber, Grundt, & Grote, 2008; Picciano, 2002) have tended to explore links between learner activity and performance in online environments. But the relationships that may exist between motivation and participation (both in terms of quality and quantity of activity) in online contexts are not well understood. Indeed, participation, particularly active participation such as posting messages to online discussions, is frequently used as a proxy for motivation, with more active learners being perceived as more motivated.This paper presents findings of one aspect of a larger study (Hartnett, 2010) that explored the motivation of pre-service teachers situated within two separate and distinct online distance learning contexts. Self-report motivation data, achievement, and online usage statistical data, in conjunction with asynchronous discussion-forum transcripts, were used to explore possible relationships between motivation, participation, and achievement in these contexts. Analysis revealed important differences between and within the two cases (e.g., nature of the task and assessment approaches) that indicated situational factors played a key role in determining whether any significant relationships were present. In other words, various factors within the specific learning environment combined in complex ways to influence motivation to learn and the nature of student participation. In an age of increasing exploration and interpretation of online learner behaviour via automatically collected systems statistics (Beer, Jones, & Clark, 2009), these findings highlight the need to be cautious about using online activity as the only gauge for assessing student motivation in online contexts.
  • Supporting Distance Learners: Making Practice More Effective

    CALT grant, University of Otago; Pratt, Keryn (Public Knowledge Project, 2020-04-26)
    This paper reports on a qualitative evaluation of the postgraduate courses offered by distance in one university department. The types and amount of support provided to students was evaluated and compared with Simpson’s (2008a) Proactive Motivational Support model (PaMS). While students were largely satisfied with the support they received during their studies, their perceptions of the levels and effectiveness of that support varied. They also perceived a variation in the levels of support between individual courses. A number of areas where support could be improved were identified, including those that met the characteristics of the PaMS model.
  • Social media and e-learning in response to seismic events: Resilient practices

    University of Canterbury; Tull, Susan P.C.; Dabner, Nicki; Ayebi-Arthur, Kofi (Public Knowledge Project, 2020-04-26)
    The motivation to adopt innovative communication and e-learning practices in education settings can be stimulated by events such as natural disasters.  Education institutions in the Pacific Rim cannot avoid the likelihood of natural disasters that could close one or more buildings on a campus and impact their ability to continue current educational practices. For one university, the impetus to innovate was a series of seismic events. This paper presents findings from studies that identified resilient practices within this ‘late adopter’ university in New Zealand. The findings indicate that the combined use of social media and e-learning to support teaching, learning, communication and related organisational practices fosters resilience for students, staff and organisations in times of crises. Recommendations are presented that have relevance to all educational organisations which could be impacted by similar events.
  • Social Presence and Online Communication: A response to Mersham

    Kehrwald, Benjamin (Public Knowledge Project, 2020-04-26)
    This article draws upon contemporary social presence theory and research into presence, social presence, and computer-mediated communication to highlight the role of social presence in mitigating the perceived deficiencies in online communication highlighted by Gary Mersham in the preceding issue of this publication. The case discusses issues of mediated experience, the development of interpersonal relations between online communicators, and the function of social presence. It concludes with advice for practitioners in promoting effective online communication in technology-enhanced learning.
  • Reading and Studying on the Screen: An Overview of Literature Towards Good Learning Design Practice

    Nichols, Mark (Public Knowledge Project, 2020-04-26)
    As distance education moves increasingly towards online provision, and because of the benefits provided by online approaches, students will be expected to engage with more resources available on screen. Contemporary forms of reading from the screen include reading from tablet devices, LCD monitors, and smartphones. However, print remains the preferred means of reading text, and student preference for print is accentuated when reading involves thorough study (Ackerman & Lauterman, 2012; Foasberg, 2014). Education providers face an interesting challenge. Although many learners prefer having access to printed materials, on-screen reading can improve education’s convenience, portability, media-richness, engagement, support, and data-evidenced practice. In this context it is timely to consider the potential for on-screen reading from the perspective of learning design. This article considers studies related to reading on screen, and suggests good practice principles for on-screen-only learning design.
  • Maori Mentors: Expectations and perceptions

    Barnett, Shirley Jean; Te Wiata, Ina (Public Knowledge Project, 2020-04-26)
    This article is informed by a kaupapa Māori methodology and reports on a “by Māori for Māori” peer mentoring programme. The programme, offered by the College of Business at Massey University, focuses on Māori students who are studying at a distance. We outline the programme and the experiences and perceptions from kanohi ki te kanohi (face-to-face) interviews and discussions with seven Māori student mentors who are studying internally. Using Durie’s (2009) model of Māori student success we identify a number of attributes that mentors developed by participating in this programme and providing help and support to distance students. Results suggest that mentoring programmes can provide mentors with opportunities to develop in areas such as leadership, which may not have been previously identified and discussed in the literature.
  • A Framework for Developing and Implementing An Online Learning Community

    Khoo, Elaine; Cowie, Bronwyn (Public Knowledge Project, 2020-04-26)
    Developing online learning communities is a promising pedagogical approach in online learning contexts for adult tertiary learners, but it is no easy task. Understanding how learning communities are formed and evaluating their efficacy in supporting learning involves a complex set of issues that have a bearing on the design and facilitation of successful online learning experiences. This paper describes the development of a framework for understanding and developing an online learning community for adult tertiary learners in a New Zealand tertiary institution. In accord with sociocultural views of learning and practices, the framework depicts learning as a mediated, situated, distributed, goal-directed, and participatory activity within a socially and culturally determined learning community. Evidence for the value of the framework is grounded in the findings of a case study of a semester-long fully online asynchronous graduate course. The framework informs our understanding of appropriate conditions for the development and conduct of online learning communities. Implications are presented for the design and facilitation of learning in such contexts.
  • Student Engagement in Distance-based Vocational Education

    Victoria University of Wellington; The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand; Yates, Anne; Brindley-Richards, Wendy; Thistoll, Tony (Public Knowledge Project, 2020-04-26)
    Students enrolled in distance education courses tend to have lower course completion rates than those who attend face-to-face classes (Simpson, 2013). This article reports on a collective case study undertaken at a vocational, distance education provider in New Zealand, whose course completion rates have risen over recent years to match those of similar face-to-face institutions. This research investigated institutional factors that have contributed towards this improvement, from the perspectives of the staff involved. Results show staff believe there are key enablers and barriers to student engagement and course completion, but the barriers are not insurmountable. The implication is that distance education providers can improve student engagement and completion rates through effective interventions.
  • Using Online Lectures to Promote Engagement: Recognising the Self-Directed Learner as Critical for Practical Inquiry

    Henrikson, Robin (Public Knowledge Project, 2020-04-26)
    This study analyzed the relationships between teaching presence, social presence and cognitive presence in online learning environments (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000), with an emphasis on examining ways in which the design of instructor presentation formats relates to student responses within discussion forums. Both quantitative and qualitative analyses were used to determine the nature of student responses, primarily through the lens of the Practical Inquiry Model (Garrison, 2007) by coding all text within the initial student responses to content-based questions. Twenty students were randomly assigned to two sections in a graduate level, teacher education course. One group was provided metacognitive prompts throughout the asynchronous lecture presentation and told to pause the presentation and document their thinking relative to the prompts. The other group was not asked to pause and write during the presentation nor were there any metacognitive prompts embedded within the presentation. A Pearson’s Chi-Square analysis was used to analyze the coding of the text and a form of text analytics was used to seek out the nature of student learning and cognitive presence. There were no significant associations found between the design of the instructor presentation and levels within the Practical Inquiry Model. Furthermore, the themes, number of total themes and word count also remained consistent between the two groups.
  • Online teaching and learning: COVID-19 Special Issue

    Fields, Alison J; Hartnett, Maggie (Public Knowledge Project, 2020-04-26)
    JOFDL is supporting the education community worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic by making available a collection of high impact, previously-published articles on online and eLearning in a single issue. This resource adds to the online teaching and learning ideas, inspiration, information and application for educators in these unprecedented times.
  • Reading and Studying on the Screen, and, Addendum: two articles

    Nichols, Mark (Public Knowledge Project, 2020-04-26)
    As distance education moves increasingly towards online provision, and because of the benefits provided by online approaches, students will be expected to engage with more resources available on screen. Contemporary forms of reading from the screen include reading from tablet devices, LCD monitors, and smartphones. However, print remains the preferred means of reading text, and student preference for print is accentuated when reading involves thorough study (Ackerman & Lauterman, 2012; Foasberg, 2014). Education providers face an interesting challenge. Although many learners prefer having access to printed materials, on-screen reading can improve education’s convenience, portability, media-richness, engagement, support, and data-evidenced practice. In this context it is timely to consider the potential for on-screen reading from the perspective of learning design. This article considers studies related to reading on screen, and suggests good practice principles for on-screen-only learning design.In 2016 the article “Reading and Studying on the Screen: An Overview of Literature Towards Good Learning Design Practice” was published. The article overviewed comparative studies related to reading on screen and reading from print, and proposed recommendations for on-screen learning design. This addendum to that article considers additional studies that have been analysed in subsequent blog posts (see “An Update to ‘Reading and Studying From the Screen’” [] and “A Further Update to ‘Reading and Studying From the Screen’” []) up to the end of November 2018. As this is an invited addendum, I’ll take the opportunity to adopt a more personal and self-disclosing style to talk more about my own position and experience regarding digital education and on-screen reading. This piece alternates is both scholarly and polemic. 
  • Aware, But Don't Really Care: Students' Perspective on Privacy and Data Collection in Online Courses

    Vu, Phu; Adkins, Megan; Henderson, Shelby (Public Knowledge Project, 2020-02-12)
    The purpose of this study was to examine student viewpoints about privacy and personal data collection in online courses. Results of data analysis revealed that students were aware that their learning behaviors such as login frequency, pages viewed or clicked, and learning profiles could be monitored and recorded by their instructors. Additionally, they were not concerned about their learning behaviors being monitored, recorded, or collected for academic research, and used for instructional/teaching improvement purposes. No significant difference between gender (female and male) of students in terms of their awareness and concern about their privacy in online learning settings was evident.
  • Digital Inclusion in New Zealand

    Hartnett, Maggie; Fields, Alison (Public Knowledge Project, 2020-02-12)
    Digital inclusion—having what we need to participate in, contribute to, and succeed in the digital world—is becoming a priority for individuals, groups, and governments around the world. Not having the necessary motivation, access, skills, and trust to engage with all things digital can result in both individuals and groups being digitally excluded. In this Editorial we look at what is encompassed by digital inclusion, who is most likely to be excluded, and the New Zealand government’s recent publication of the Digital Inclusion Blueprint. Following this discussion, the papers included in this issue are introduced.

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