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Challenges Facing Distance Education in the 21st Century: Implications for Setting the Research Agenda

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Challenges Facing Distance Education in the 21st Century: Implications for Setting the Research Agenda

  1. 1. Challenges Facing Distance Education in the 21 st Century : Implications for Setting the Research Agenda Sarah Guri-Rosenblit EDEN, Fifth Research Workshop Paris, 20 October, 2008 06/05/09 sarah guri-rosenblit
  2. 2. Distance delivery in higher education – Clear mission for over 150 years <ul><li>Providing second-chance students the opportunity to pursue academic or professional studies </li></ul>06/05/09 sarah guri-rosenblit
  3. 3. Second-chance parameters <ul><li>Lack of entry qualifications </li></ul><ul><li>Work/family/health constraints </li></ul><ul><li>Remote location </li></ul><ul><li>Being a woman </li></ul><ul><li>…… .. </li></ul>06/05/09 sarah guri-rosenblit
  4. 4. Distance Education Promoted <ul><li>Broadening of access </li></ul><ul><li>Equity </li></ul><ul><li>Quality ??? (depends…) </li></ul>06/05/09 sarah guri-rosenblit
  5. 5. Typical Research Topics <ul><li>Comparison with outcomes in conventional education settings </li></ul><ul><li>Perseverance in studies </li></ul><ul><li>Explanations of drop-out rates </li></ul><ul><li>Use of diverse technologies </li></ul><ul><li>Impact of support systems </li></ul><ul><li>Economies-of-scale…. </li></ul><ul><li>…… .. </li></ul>06/05/09 sarah guri-rosenblit
  6. 6. Current Influential Trends <ul><li>Growing access to higher education </li></ul><ul><li>Globalization </li></ul><ul><li>Emergence of the ICT </li></ul><ul><li>Marketization </li></ul><ul><li>Blurring of boundaries between DE and conventional universities </li></ul>06/05/09 sarah guri-rosenblit
  7. 7. Teaching and Research <ul><li>Are DTUs only/mainly teaching universities? </li></ul><ul><li>If research oriented – what kind of research? (DE related or general and broad?) </li></ul><ul><li>Relevance of league tables (Opting to a ‘world-class university’ status?) </li></ul>06/05/09 sarah guri-rosenblit
  8. 8. The Grand Question: <ul><li>Should research be done ON distance education </li></ul><ul><li>or </li></ul><ul><li>Should research be performed BY distance educators in different disciplines </li></ul>06/05/09 sarah guri-rosenblit
  9. 9. Scope of Operation (Global, National, Local?) <ul><li>Target populations </li></ul><ul><li>Curricula </li></ul><ul><li>Role of academic faculty </li></ul><ul><li>Nature of support systems </li></ul><ul><li>Budgeting </li></ul><ul><li>Language of instruction </li></ul>06/05/09 sarah guri-rosenblit
  10. 10. Scope of Operation (2) <ul><li>The wider the scope of operation, the more challenging it is to set effective quality assurance mechanisms </li></ul><ul><li>The application of ICT is most instrumental in designing a global network, but national infrastructures vary enormously </li></ul>06/05/09 sarah guri-rosenblit
  11. 11. Scope of Operation (3) <ul><li>What kind of effective quality assurance mechanisms are to be used by DE providers in global, national and local contexts? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the optimal ICT uses in global, national and local contexts? </li></ul>06/05/09 sarah guri-rosenblit
  12. 12. Size & Mode of Operation <ul><li>Single-mode </li></ul><ul><li>Dual-mode </li></ul><ul><li>Blended-mode </li></ul><ul><li>Consortia </li></ul><ul><li>----------------------------------- </li></ul><ul><li>Teaching style </li></ul><ul><li>Costs </li></ul><ul><li>Flexibility </li></ul>06/05/09 sarah guri-rosenblit
  13. 13. Size & Mode of Operation (2) <ul><li>Size was most crucial in the industrial mode, but not in the e-learning model </li></ul><ul><li>Is there an optimal size for DE delivery online? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the future leading models of DE? </li></ul>06/05/09 sarah guri-rosenblit
  14. 14. Size & Mode of Operation (3) <ul><li>Are there still cost-effectiveness advantages to DE delivery in the digital age? </li></ul><ul><li>How can the large DTUs restructure their overall operation and underlying premises? </li></ul>06/05/09 sarah guri-rosenblit
  15. 15. Spectrum of Curricula <ul><li>Unique or the same as in conventional universities? </li></ul><ul><li>Broad/comprehensive or in niche areas? </li></ul><ul><li>Academic degrees? Professional and continuing education? </li></ul><ul><li>Undergraduate or graduate focus? </li></ul>06/05/09 sarah guri-rosenblit
  16. 16. Spectrum of Curricula (2) <ul><li>Should DE providers widen access mainly in market-demanded areas or in nationally-needed domains? </li></ul><ul><li>Should DE providers broaden access to undergraduate studies? Graduate studies? Professional development? Personal development? </li></ul>06/05/09 sarah guri-rosenblit
  17. 17. Distance Education Providers: Enabling or Supporting Institutions ? <ul><li>DE- more demanding than F-2-F </li></ul><ul><li>Novices in academia need more guidance </li></ul><ul><li>Students of disadvantaged backgrounds need even more support </li></ul>06/05/09 sarah guri-rosenblit
  18. 18. Distance Education Providers: Enabling or Supporting Institutions ? (2) <ul><li>How to design most effective support systems in multiple contexts? </li></ul><ul><li>Who is to budget the appropriate support mechanisms (state governments, NGOs, philanthropic donors, students themselves)? </li></ul>06/05/09 sarah guri-rosenblit
  19. 19. Public vs. Private Institutions in Distance Education <ul><li>Large DTUs – governments’ initiation </li></ul><ul><li>Market initiatives- danger of ‘diploma mills’ </li></ul><ul><li>Private operation within public institutions </li></ul><ul><li>Quality control mechanisms </li></ul>06/05/09 sarah guri-rosenblit
  20. 20. Public vs. Private Institutions in Distance Education (2) <ul><li>Whose responsibility it is to impose quality assurance mechanisms in private DE institutions? </li></ul><ul><li>How to design effective DE private endeavors within public universities? </li></ul>06/05/09 sarah guri-rosenblit
  21. 21. Employment of Digital Technologies <ul><li>Challenging the industrial mode of DE </li></ul><ul><li>Digital divide (developed vs. developing countries, rich vs. poor) </li></ul><ul><li>Role of NGOs in setting appropriate infrastructures </li></ul><ul><li>Potential of mobile technologies </li></ul>06/05/09 sarah guri-rosenblit
  22. 22. Employment of Digital Technologies (2) <ul><li>Acknowledging that DE and e-learning are not the same thing </li></ul><ul><li>How various-type DE providers harness the ICT to serve their goals? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the appropriate measures to overcome the digital divide among nations and within nations? </li></ul><ul><li>Consolidation of research findings on ICT </li></ul>06/05/09 sarah guri-rosenblit
  23. 23. <ul><li>“ When it comes to technology, most people overestimate it in the short term, and underestimate it in the long term”. </li></ul><ul><li>Sir Arthur Clarke </li></ul>06/05/09 sarah guri-rosenblit
  24. 24. <ul><li>Guri-Rosenblit, S. (2009). Digital Technologies in Higher Education: Sweeping Expectations and Actual Effects . New York: Nova Science. </li></ul><ul><li>ISBN – 978-1-60692-238-5 </li></ul>06/05/09 sarah guri-rosenblit
  25. 25. Competition vs. Collaboration <ul><li>Identification of competitors (DE institutions or conventional universities?) </li></ul><ul><li>Identification of cooperating parties (In academia and the corporate world, within national boundaries and beyond, both in teaching and research) </li></ul>06/05/09 sarah guri-rosenblit
  26. 26. Competition vs. Collaboration (2) <ul><li>How fruitful collaboration promotes widening of access? </li></ul><ul><li>How fruitful collaboration enhances quality assurance mechanisms? </li></ul><ul><li>How fruitful collaboration promotes the creation of research networks on DE and other fields (and contributes to the status of DTUs)? </li></ul>06/05/09 sarah guri-rosenblit
  27. 27. Intellectual Property vs. Intellectual Philanthropy <ul><li>DE institutions as leading academic publishing houses </li></ul><ul><li>------------------------------------------------------ </li></ul><ul><li>Defining the role of DE providers in the Open Source movement </li></ul>06/05/09 sarah guri-rosenblit
  28. 28. Intellectual Property vs. Intellectual Philanthropy (2) <ul><li>To what extent does the open source movement influence the revenues of DTUs as publishing houses? </li></ul><ul><li>How to mobilize the open source movement to widen access to higher education and professional development? </li></ul>06/05/09 sarah guri-rosenblit
  29. 29. Language of Instruction <ul><li>Serving national needs (academic textbooks in national languages) </li></ul><ul><li>English as the academic lingua franca </li></ul>06/05/09 sarah guri-rosenblit
  30. 30. Language of Instruction (2) <ul><li>To what extent does the knowledge of languages (and particularly English) influence: </li></ul><ul><li>Access to higher education? </li></ul><ul><li>Equity in higher education? </li></ul><ul><li>Effective use of the Internet and digital technologies’ potential? </li></ul>06/05/09 sarah guri-rosenblit

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