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A moving target


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The opening address by Professor Denise Bradley, AC for the DEHub/ODLAA Education 2011 to 2021- Global challenges and perspectives of blended and distance learning the (14 to 18 February 2011).

The opening address by Professor Denise Bradley, AC for the DEHub/ODLAA Education 2011 to 2021- Global challenges and perspectives of blended and distance learning the (14 to 18 February 2011).

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  • 1. Professor Denise Bradley, AC
    A Moving Target? Open and Distance Education in 2011
  • 2. Coverage
    International context for Higher Education
    Australian context
    Implications for Open and Distance Education
  • 3. Context
    For countries in the vanguard of the world economy, the balance between knowledge and resources has shifted so far towards the former that knowledge has become perhaps the most important factor determining the standard of living – more than land, than tools, than labour. Today’s most technologically advanced economies are truly knowledge-based
    World Bank 1999, World Development Report, Knowledge for Development, 1998-1999, p. 16
  • 4. Implications
    The level of skills and knowledge of citizens – a competitive advantage for nations
    Universities central to national competitiveness as knowledge producers and disseminators
    Unprecedented interest by governments in the missions as well as the performance of universities in research and in teaching
    Recognition by individuals that university qualifications are critical for personal success
  • 5. Implications for nation states
    Participation in Higher Education rising in response to national and individual pressures to increase qualification levels
    Concerns everywhere about the public costs of maintaining research competitiveness and supporting rises in participation
    Concerns everywhere about the impact on quality of provision, support and outcomes as participation increases
    Some public concern (real or feigned) about differential access to Higher Education between social groups
  • 6. Some Public Policy Responses
    Governments everywhere seek to contain costs of expansion by
    Increasing student contributions
    Differentiating institutional roles
    Finetuning funding
    Developing more stringent performance measures
    Encouraging private provision
    Identifying ICT as means to economise on delivery costs
  • 7. Student responses
    Growth of the position that they are customers and want ‘good service’
    The full time on campus student is becoming rarer as part time study while working or part time work while studying full time become the norm
    Students want flexible options, technologically mediated delivery but personal attention- high tech and high touch
  • 8. The Australian scene
    Productivity argument accepted
    HE still a public good and increased numbers to be funded but funding regime under review
    Focus on action to increase participation of marginalised groups
    Major focus on research performance and funding
    Concerns about participation, access and outcomes of rural and remote communities
    Growth in private provision supported
    Dual mode institutions are the past model, flexible delivery to all is now the norm
  • 9. Pressures on open and distance delivery internationally
    Renewed focus on research reinforces existing status gulfs within and between universities and could imperil a focus on teaching performance
    Continuing status gulf between public institutions which educate a predominately full time student population and those where the cohort is predominately part time/ distance and/or open entry- often differentiated in terms of institutional title, funding levels and accreditation requirements
  • 10. Pressures on open and distance delivery internationally 2
    Competition from private, teaching only providers which exploit economies of scale or delivery partnerships. Public providers in danger of becoming residual providers?
    How effectively can we cost various models of open and distance delivery?
    The battle for qualified English speaking academic staff over the next two decades will be intense. Low status, poorly funded institutions will find it difficult to attract staff
  • 11. So what next?
    A clear eyed and honest strategic review of the strengths and weaknesses of the field by practitioners is long overdue
    Institutions need to decide the game they are in and seek to be the best in it- not try to be in several games
    Flexible delivery for all may be the right decision for most but not for all
    Greater collaboration among institutions whose focus is open and distance education would help to build scale, reputation, better research on the field and a stronger community of practice