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

Recent Submissions

  • The disruptive potential of the Massive Open Online Course: A literature review

    Jacoby, Jean (Public Knowledge Project, 2014-08-14)
    The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is a rapidly evolving phenomenon which has stimulated discussion in universities around the world. A central theme of these discussions, and much of the published literature on the phenomenon, is the potential of the MOOC to disrupt the way universities do business. The aim of this narrative literature review is to clarify disruptive innovation theory, and to examine the influence of MOOCs on higher education. Evidence from this review suggests that although MOOCs might have had a significant effect on a range of issues (including definitions of completion pedagogical approaches, delivery methods, certification, and business models), more systematic research is needed to evaluate the level, extent, and permanence of any disruption that may occur.
  • The Changing Roles of Online Deans and Department Heads in Small Private Universities

    Halupa, Colleen M. (Public Knowledge Project, 2016-11-17)
    This paper provides an overview of best practices and challenges for deans and department heads of online programmes in the ever-changing world of higher education. It concentrates on the challenges for small private universities and tertiary education institutions in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. Department heads must consider new roles and innovate constantly to offset the impact of global competition in online and distance learning. These changing roles include innovation in managing programme enrolment, retention, marketing, and the creation of innovative offerings to meet student needs to prevent obsolescence. Other topics discussed include potential alternate sources of revenue, partnerships, and how service and research can lead to new opportunities for small tertiary providers.
  • A Framework for Developing and Implementing An Online Learning Community

    Khoo, Elaine; Cowie, Bronwyn (Public Knowledge Project, 2011-06-21)
    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.
  • Supporting adults to address their literacy needs using e-learning

    Ministry of Education; Fletcher, Jo; Nicholas, Karen; Davis, Niki (Public Knowledge Project, 2011-06-21)
    Many adults need help with literacy learning. This is extremely challenging for the tertiary education sector and workplace-situated learning organisations. E-learning may be an effective and efficient way to improve the delivery of teaching basic skills learners. Our research study included five embedded case studies within one tertiary institution, and a series of stakeholder interviews with representatives across New Zealand. The study found that e-learning opens up greater interaction between adults’ study, work, home, and community environments, simply because the learning environment can be extended into those places.
  • The challenges of supporting staff and adult students in an eLearning environment

    Smith, Ruth Caswell (Public Knowledge Project, 2012-05-23)
    First experiences of online learning can be daunting for adult students and tutors alike. This study looks at relevant literature on this topic, and explores the responses of four new adult online learners to third-year Teacher Education papers that recently were adjusted to include online elements. It shows where the students sought help and why, describes the areas of most struggle, and suggests how these could be ameliorated. It explores the students' first metacognitive impressions of their online experiences and their self perceptions as learners. It recommends ways in which future online encounters could be enhanced, both in relation to course design and in the emotional and practical support provided for students' learning.
  • Professional development across the islands of the South Pacific: A perspective of a blended learning facilitator

    Hoffmann-Dumieński, Kamila (Public Knowledge Project, 2016-11-17)
    Access to information and communication technology (ICT) is becoming an increasingly important factor for education and training in the South Pacific region. While many studies have examined the attitudes and understanding of educators towards using ICT in their profession and for their professional development, studies that specifically deal with these matters in the socio-economic and cultural context of the South Pacific island states are rare. This study aims to address the gap in the literature by examining the professional development of blended learning facilitators working in remote and isolated communities of the Cook Islands. The research outcomes of this study are based on the analysis of in-depth, semi-structured interviews, and the theoretical foundation of this project is grounded in the social and situated theory of learning. The central finding of the study suggests that participation in online communities of practice offers ongoing opportunities for learning and development, and reduces the feeling of isolation associated with the geographical conditions of the South Pacific region.
  • Using Online Lectures to Promote Engagement: Recognising the Self-Directed Learner as Critical for Practical Inquiry

    Henrikson, Robin (Public Knowledge Project, 2019-07-02)
    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.
  • Inhabiting the Multiple Places, Spaces, and Time for Learning

    Massey University; Hartnett, Maggie; Carvalho, Lucila; Lamond, Heather; Murray, Fiona; O'Hara, Duncan; Fields, Alison (Public Knowledge Project, 2018-12-13)
    This editorial of the Journal of Open, Flexible and Distance Learning (JOFDL) provides an overview of the FLANZ2018 biennial conference held at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand, 9–11 April, 2018. The conference theme, From Inception to Infinity:Inhabiting the Multiple Places, Spaces and Time for Learning provided the context for the five keynote speakers to explore the opportunities for learning that are emerging from the rapidly changing world of digital technologies. An overview of their presentations is discussed below. These, in addition to the two extended conference papers in the issue, offer insights into emerging learning opportunities. The other contributions in this issue extend our understanding of how digital technologies are influencing learning and teaching in different contexts.
  • Designing for distance learning in developing countries: a case study

    Heredia, Jimena De Mello; Carvalho, Lucila; Vieira, Eleonora Milano Falcão (Public Knowledge Project, 2019-07-02)
    Teaching and learning in higher education are being transformed through complex configurations of people, tasks, material and digital resources. Successful designs for innovative learning require understanding how these complex configurations relate to learner’s activity. This paper illustrates the application of a networked learning approach to frame the design of distance learning in higher education in developing countries. A case study based in a Bachelor subject offered at a Brazilian university is discussed. Its analysis unveils how design fits into a broader social context that influences structural elements related to learning materials, the learning management systems adopted, and the social arrangements for students in this case study. The paper shows how the networked learning approach allows us to explore the complexities of distance learning in developing countries, offering an analytical ground to identify, explore, learn and adapt key re-usable design ideas, with the aim of improving distance teaching and learning in higher education.
  • Using Personal Mobile Devices to increase flexibility and equity in learning in resource constrained contexts.

    Brown, Cheryl; Haupt, Genevieve (Public Knowledge Project, 2018-12-13)
    This paper examines how in a resource constrained context, access to personal mobile devices for first year university students increases their flexibility of learning and creates a environment of greater inclusivity at University. In 2016, at the start of their first year 201 students in an extended degree program in the Humanities at the University of Cape Town were surveyed about their access to Personal Mobile Devices (PMDs). Based on need, 68 students were given an entry level tablet to use as their own for the duration of their studies.  As a consequence of establishing a learning context where students all had access to a PMD the lecturers could engage students in multimodal blended learning and teaching approach. This paper draws on data in the form of student surveys and focus groups and explores not only the challenges and opportunities for students in using PMDs for their learning both in and out of the classroom but the flexibility of learning enabled through PMDs. The study shows that creating an equitable context in terms of physical access to digital technology enables students’ learning but also presents some new challenges.
  • Addendum: Reading and studying on the screen

    Nichols, Mark (Public Knowledge Project, 2018-12-13)
    In 2016 the article “Reading and Studying on the Screen: An Overview of Literature Towards Good Learning Design Practice” was published in the Journal of Open, Flexible and Distance Learning (Nichols, 2016b). The article overviewed comparative studies related to reading from the screen and reading from print, and proposed recommendations for on-screen learning design. This addendum to that article considers various additional studies analysed in subsequent blog posts (see and up to end November 2018. As this is an invited addendum, I 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 across the scholarly and polemic.
  • Manu Tukutuku, ma te huruhuru ka rere te manu - empowering learners to soar. Phase One; Opening the doorway for Māori to succeed in a digital community where cultural capacity and knowledge is valued and respected.

    Te Kiri, Christine (Public Knowledge Project, 2018-12-13)
    This paper discusses Māori student achievement and how the first step to enable this is engaging the whānau and the student in situations where their mana and tuakiri remains intact. The paper identifies steps for culturally critical and sustaining practice when engaging whānau and students. It highlights some positive examples as well as reflecting on lessons learnt. This is phase one of a multi layered project - Ngā Manu - Manu Tukutuku empowering learners to soar.
  • Source Use by Second Year Psychology Students in Online Distance Learning

    none; Weaver, Nancy Evans; Barnard, Estelle (Public Knowledge Project, 2019-07-02)
    Previously we used citation analysis on reference lists from beginning psychology students in online distance learning (ODL).  Now we examined second year students’ source use.  Sources increased across assignments. Most used were the textbook, instructor and library sources.  The mark achieved increased with number of sources, instructor sources, and library sources.  Instructor and library sources were frequently referenced by both sets of students, and source use related positively to mark.  This research expands the literature by comparing beginning and more advanced students; by replicating results from other researchers; and by examining two assignments from ODL students.
  • What are the key attributes of effective online teachers?

    Rose O.P. (Angela Lavin), Sister Mary (Public Knowledge Project, 2018-12-13)
    This article explores the key attributes of effective online tertiary educators. Using qualitative research methods, data were collected via semi-structured interviews which were conducted with a small group of university academics in New Zealand and Australia and analysed using an inductive approach and open and closed coding techniques. Results from the analysis identified the following five key attributes: effective online teachers avoid a didactic approach, vary their pedagogy, use productive failure, facilitate the learning process and provide a seamless structure. Given the limitations of the study, the findings cannot be generalised without further work, but do provide a roadmap which may support innovative adaptions to the teaching and learning process in an online space.  
  • Taking Stock of Our Journal’s Journey: A Statement of Impact

    Fields, Alison; Hartnett, Maggie (Public Knowledge Project, 2019-07-02)
    Pausing to take stock of progress on a journey can achieve many things, including identifying how far you’ve come, which way you’ve come, and which way you want to go. A statement of impact for the Journal of Open, Flexible and Distance Learning (JOFDL) has been prepared, taking stock of the Journal at the current time in its journey. This statement identifies the Journal and its impact in terms of reach, use, and contribution to global academic research and publishing. The Editorial is rounded off with an overview of the articles in this issue.
  • Emotion: the ‘e’ in engagement in online distance education in social work

    Deakin University; Goldingay, Sophie Jennifer (Public Knowledge Project, 2014-08-14)
    Many social work students approach the pre-practicum practice skills unit with dread, due to the required role-play exercises designed to prepare them for practicum.  Online distance students may be seen to be challenged even further in their preparation for practicum due to a perception that they are learning practice skills on their own. A survey of online distance education social work students who had completed the practice skills course in 2012 showed that a number struggled to remain engaged and felt isolated.  A large percentage did not engage in all the set tasks, which may have contributed to them feeling unprepared for their first practicum experience. A pedagogy involving extensive online peer interaction linked to formative assessment of role plays was implemented for a subsequent cohort in the practice skills unit, with the aim of improving online distance students’ opportunity and motivation to practice the required skills prior to their practicum. Learning platform usage data for students in the 2013 cohort showed that the number of times students accessed online readings and used interactive technology increased. Interestingly, while both cohorts expressed a positive emotional experience in relation to their learning in the end of trimester Student Evaluation Survey, only the 2013 cohort spontaneously articulated the content of what they actually learnt despite both groups being asked the same questions.  This suggests that the ongoing peer interaction generated by the intervention resulted in a deeper and enduring learning experience. In addition, students in the 2013 cohort demonstrated a feeling of being connected with the unit and the teaching staff. It is posited that a combination of reduced isolation and alienation, and ongoing peer feedback and self-reflection, has a multipronged positive impact on the process of learning, including a positive emotional experience as well as a developing sense of pride in one’s professional identity and competence.
  • “To flip or not to flip, that’s the question” – Findings from an exploratory study into factors that may influence tertiary teachers to consider a flipped classroom model

    University of Otago; Chellapan, Lakshmi; Van der Meer, Jacques; Pratt, Keryn; Wass, Rob (Public Knowledge Project, 2018-08-23)
    The concept of ‘flipping the classroom’ is relatively recent, although elements of it have been around for many years. It is generally accepted that the ‘flipped classroom model’ consists of replacing direct instruction, or lectures, with video-clips to be watched at home, and the use of face-to-face class time for engaging students in active learning activities. This development was brought about by the enhanced and easy access to video technologies. This model was initially adopted for use in secondary education, but is now increasingly considered by teachers in higher education. However, there is both confusion and scepticism about what this concept is, and whether there are any benefits of adopting this. In this exploratory study, the main focus was on seeking to identify what staff in three institutions of higher education in New Zealand considered to be the reasons for adopting and/or for not adopting, or challenges in adopting, this model. In this article, we will report on the findings from the survey aspect of this mixed methods study. The findings suggested that amongst the respondents there were three distinct groups, 1) those who saw no value adopting a flipped classroom model, considered there was nothing wrong with lectures, and that students would unwilling to engage in a flipped model; 2) those who considered that active learning was the main idea behind the flipped model, and that this was an old idea in a new guise; and 3) those who had or would like to implement the model, but had encountered or were anticipating some issues. The findings also suggested a range of understandings of what the ‘flipped classroom’ means. This highlighted the importance to clarify in any research project and reporting exactly what is meant by ‘flipped classrooms’ in order to avoid conceptual confusion.
  • Increasing Online Information Retention: Analyzing the Effects

    Zeglen, Eric; Rosendale, Joseph A. (Public Knowledge Project, 2018-08-23)
    While online education offerings continue to grow in the higher education marketplace, issues of student achievement and course rigor remain challenges to the underlying instructional model and alignment with institutional missions. Pedagogically, instructors and course designers can mitigate these issues by leveraging technology to further enhance students’ cognition and knowledge retention within the online domain. This study analyzed the effects of visual hints and elaborate feedback embedded in serious educational games to determine the effects on student learning and information recollection. Using a quasi-experimental design and quantitative testing methods, significant differences were found among 3 groups of students within an online educational environment based on differing forms of feedback within the game.  Supporting information processing theory, mean scores on comprehension tests indicated that participants exposed to elaborate feedback and visual hints performed better than control groups in an online learning environment.
  • Addendum: Reading and studying from the screen

    Nichols, Mark (Public Knowledge Project, 2018-12-13)
    In 2016 the article “Reading and Studying on the Screen: An Overview of Literature Towards Good Learning Design Practice” was published in the Journal of Open, Flexible and Distance Learning (Nichols, 2016b). The article overviewed comparative studies related to reading from the screen and reading from print, and proposed recommendations for on-screen learning design. This addendum to that article considers various additional studies analysed in subsequent blog posts (see and up to end November 2018. As this is an invited addendum, I 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 across the scholarly and polemic.
  • 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, 2017-07-01)
    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.

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