Preserving the Social Mandate of Distance Education
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Preserving the Social Mandate of Distance Education

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Presentation made to the CREAD conference, Niteroi, Brazil, July 2005

Presentation made to the CREAD conference, Niteroi, Brazil, July 2005

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Preserving the Social Mandate of Distance Education Preserving the Social Mandate of Distance Education Presentation Transcript

  • Preserving the Social Mandate of Distance Education Mark Bullen BC Institute of Technology Canada July 21, 2005 Niter ó i, Brazil
  • Freireian Principles
    • Dialogue vs. curriculum
      • “ banking” view of education
    • Praxis
    • Conscientization
    • Situating educational activity in lived experience
    • Emancipatory role of education
  • Freireian Principles
    • No specific reference to distance education
    • Current thinking about distance education
      • Constructivism not “banking”
      • Learner-centered
      • Dialogic
    • Social/emancipatory role of distance education
      • Access
      • Equality
      • Economic development
  • Distance Education Under Attack
    • DE threatened by new movement: e-learning
    • Ironically, focus on efficiency, effectiveness and quality has made DE vulnerable
      • Our focus on these issues has blinded us to the emergence of this new movement
      • More significantly, it is the prevailing organizational and management model of DE that is making it vulnerable to this new movement
    • Threat is to DE in conventional higher education but has implications for all of DE
  • Distance Education Under Attack
    • What is the threat?
    • What is e-learning?
    • How are quality, management, sustainability and organizational issues related to this threat?
    • What can we do about it?
  • Qualifications
    • Argument based on:
      • observations and experiences with DE in Canada & US
      • In conventional universities
    • Relevance to Latin American DE?
    • Relevance to single mode DE?
  • What is e-learning?
  • The Meaning of E-learning
    • E-learning means different things to different people
    • Massy & Zemsky (2005) suggest three categories of e-learning:
      • E- learning as distance education
      • E-learning as facilitated transaction software
      • E-learning as electronically-mediated learning
  • The Meaning of E-learning
  • The Meaning of E-Learning
    • The term “E-learning” has been appropriated by people whose main interest is in e-learning as technology-enhanced teaching, not distance education (ELTET)
    • This new movement has little interest in the distance learner or the historical mandate of DE to provide access
  • The Meaning of E-Learning
    • Main priority is providing technologically-enhanced teaching to on-campus learners
  • What is the threat?
  • The Threat to Distance Education
    • E-learning is emerging as a movement in conventional universities
    • Competing for same resources
    • Gaining attention of university administrators and academics
    • New movement is much closer to the core mission of traditional universities
    • Threatening to displace DE
    • Distance educators need to pay attention to this new force or else gains may be lost
  • Social Mandate of Distance Education
    • DE has had a mandate to provide access to underserved populations, particularly in developing countries
    • DE has been extremely successful at providing quality education to disadvantaged groups
    • Existed on the “margins” of conventional universities for many years
  • Social Mandate of Distance Education
    • Acceptance of DE grew as more and more conventional universities began using it
    • Most North American universities now have DE programs
  • The Threat to Distance Education
    • Status and respectability of DE due in part to the acceptance it has achieved in conventional universities
    • Single mode institutions like UNED, UOC, UKOU have contributed greatly to the legitimacy of DE
    • But the legitimacy has been enhanced by growth in DE in conventional universities
  • The Threat to Distance Education
    • Why is e-learning a threat?
    • ELTET has a different philosophical orientation than e-learning as DE
    • No social mandate
    • If resources are diverted from distance education to ELTET, the social goals of DE may be longer be addressed by higher education
  • The Threat to Distance Education
    • Growth of ELTET will cause DE to lose its newly-gained status and recede to the margins of conventional universities
    • This will have an impact on the DE professional community and ultimately the status of DE
    • The future of distance education as a socially-progressive movement is in danger
  • How are quality, sustainability and management of DE related to this threat?
  • Organizational Issues
    • Modern DE has been obsessed with quality, efficiency and effectiveness
    • Organized very differently from traditional higher education
    • Creates an inherent conflict in traditional universities
  • Organizational Issues
    • Two types of e-learning tend to be organized differently:
    • E-learning as distance education:
      • organized and funded centrally
      • managed approach with professional staff
      • courses developed by teams
      • attention to quality and sustainability
  • The Project Development Process
  • Organizational Issues
    • E-Learning as technology-enhanced teaching (ELTET):
      • Faculty/department-based
      • Driven by individual professor
      • Funded on a grant or project basis
      • Quality is variable
      • Sustainability not usually a consideration
  • Sustainability, Quality & Management
    • Organizational culture is a key issue
    • Berquist (1992) - institutional cultures:
      • Managerial
      • Collegial
      • Developmental
      • Negotiated
    • Clash between two distinctly different organizational cultures: collegial & managerial
    • Sustainable, high quality distance e-learning requires a managed approach
  • Sustainability, Quality & Management
    • Requires course development that is organized using a project management approach
    • Teams of experts: professor, instructional designer, web designer, multimedia developer
    • The distance e-learning course is a collective effort
  • Sustainability, Quality & Management
    • Quality is ensured through the use of professionals, by building in external academic review and by building in formative and summative evaluation
    • Sustainability is ensured by paying attention to quality and cost which is intimately linked to managed approach that is used
  • Sustainability, Quality & Management
    • Most faculty are more comfortable with the “collegial culture”
    • Course development is seen as in individual endeavor
    • The course “belongs” to the professor
    • Online course development tends to be experimental
  • Sustainability, Quality & Management
    • Costs are not monitored
    • Quality is difficult to control because of approach used
    • No built in academic review or evaluation
  • Organizational Issues
    • E-Learning as technology-enhanced teaching much closer to the core mission of the university
    • Given higher priority than distance education which serves “other” learners who are often not considered “real” university students
    • Organizational model more consistent with traditional university
  • Organizational Issues
    • DE in conventional universities has borrowed its organizational model from single mode DE institutions
    • Garrison & Anderson (1999) distinguish between “big” and “little” distance education
  • Big Distance Education
    • Industrialized form of higher education
    • Teachers are all-powerful
    • Students are passive receivers of information, in a "dominated and alienated" position within the distance teaching and learning.
    • Uses mass technologies like broadcast television, the large-scale production of correspondence materials, and computer assisted instruction
  • Big Distance Education
    • Capital (technology of curriculum production) is substituted for labor (classroom teacher)
    • Flexibility for the student is provided at the cost of severely reducing interaction and increasing learner isolation
  • Little Distance Education
    • Maximizes interaction
        • collaborative learning, pacing, learning communities
    • Focuses on meaningful learning outcomes
        • challenges the student to dig deeply into the subject content and explore the implications of this knowledge with regard to personal and societal constructs
    • Maximizes active learning
        • extensive use of active learning activities, including simulations, explorations and explanatory assessment
    • Flexible in design
        • course materials are created in hyper-linked, hypermedia format and stored such that they can be easily modified, augmented, annotated, or printed by both instructor and learners as needed
  • Little Distance Education
    • Supports a systems view
        • effective little DE systems provide for learner support services, registration flexibility, credit transfer, accreditation, provision of learning and research resources through electronic delivery and virtual libraries
    • Compatible with research practice
        • creates learning environments focused on problem solving, collaborative projects, and exploration of complex environments
    • Cost-effective
        • substantially increases access as courses become available at any time of the day or night and anywhere that Internet access is available.
  • Big vs. Little Distance Education
    • Most DE in conventional universities is not “big” but perceived as such
    • Seen as alien to the prevailing organizational culture
  • Competition for Resources
    • Resources are being diverted from distance education to support e-learning as technology-enhanced teaching
    • Organizational restructuring around the needs of ELTET
    • One of the side effects of decisions made without a full understanding of DE and how it differs from ELTET
  • Examples: UBC
    • Successful DE department with nearly 60 years of experience
    • Attempt to “decentralized”
    • Rationale: only way that university can increase its use of e-learning and integrate with ELTET
    • Reveals a lack of understanding of the differences between two types of e-learning
  • Examples: UBC
    • Reorganization fails to recognize that DE learners have distinct needs
    • Supported more effectively and efficiently by centrally-organized department that specializes in DE than by having each Faculty deal with DE separately
  • Examples: BC Open University
    • Part of Open Learning Agency (OLA)
    • OLA closed
    • BC Open University now part of Thompson Rivers University (TRU)
    • TRU a dual mode university
  • Examples: T élé-Université
    • T élé-Université: autonomous campus of Université de Québec
    • Now being absorbed into main campus
    • No longer an autonomous distance teaching institution
  • Concluding Remarks
    • Distance educators have been so focused on quality, cost, and sustainability that they have not recognized the significance of ELTET
    • ELTET represents a new movement in higher education
    • Poses a threat to social mandate of distance education
  • Concluding Remarks
    • ELTET has stronger connections to the core mandate of conventional universities
    • Distance educators need to cultivate support, build connections, seek allies
    • Need support at senior levels
    • Need to “appropriate” the term e-learning
    • Can no longer rely on “marginal champions”
  • For Further Information
    • Mark Bullen
      • [email_address]
      • http://www2.cstudies.ubc.ca/~bullen/
    • BCIT Learning & Teaching Centre
      • http://www.bcit.ca/ltc/