There have been few efforts to investigate the concept of quality from learners’ perspectives or to incorporate their needs and perceptions in quality standards in distance education. This is rather surprising, particularly in distance education contexts where the quality of the learning is not derived only from the products and services delivered to the learner but also from the knowledge, understanding, and relationships that are codeveloped by both teachers and learners during the teaching and learning processes. This study proposes and verifies a conceptual model of the 10 dimensions of quality in distance education from the learners’ perspectives and investigates gender differences in the perception of quality in distance education with 1,665 distance learners from 11 Asian countries and one territory. The results show that all 10 dimensions across supportive, pedagogical, and environmental domains in the model are important in judging quality in distance education. Also, gender differences are found in the perceived importance of 10 quality dimensions, barriers to DE, important supporters, and types of support received. The implications of these findings are discussed and suggestions for further research and development are offered.
Online education increasingly puts emphasis on collaborative learning methods. Despite the pedagogical advantages of collaborative learning, online learners can perceive collaborative learning activities as frustrating experiences. The purpose of this study was to characterize the feelings of frustration as a negative emotion among online learners engaged in online computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) experiences and, moreover, to identify the sources to which the learners attribute their frustration. With this aim, a questionnaire was designed to obtain data from a sample of online learners participating in the Master of ICT and Education program of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC). Results revealed that frustration is a common feeling among students involved in online collaborative learning experiences. The perception of an asymmetric collaboration among the teammates was identified by the students as the most important source of frustration. Online learners also identified difficulties related to group organization, the lack of shared goals among the team members, the imbalance in the level of commitment and quality of the individual contributions, the excess time spent on the online CSCL tasks, the imbalance between the individual and collective grades, and difficulties in communication, among other factors leading to frustration. The analysis of the students’ sources of frustration in online CSCL is followed by a list of recommendations to the distance education stakeholders, aiming to reduce students’ frustration and improve the quality of their experiences in online CSCL contexts such as the UOC.
An important element of open educational resources (OER) is the permission to use the materials in new ways, including revising and remixing them. Prior research has shown that the revision and remix rates for OER are relatively low. In this study we examined the extent to which the openly licensed Flat World Knowledge textbooks were being revised and remixed. We found that the levels of revision and remix were similar to those of other OER collections. We discuss the possible significance and implication of these findings.
Open educational resources (OER) are a global phenomenon that is fast gaining credibility in many academic circles as a possible solution for bridging the knowledge divide. With increased funding and advocacy from governmental and nongovernmental organisations paired with generous philanthropy, many OER repositories, which host a vast array of resources, have mushroomed over the years. As the inkling towards an open approach to education grows, many academics are contributing to these OER repositories, making them expand exponentially in volume. However, despite the volume of available OER, the uptake of the use and reuse of OER still remains slow. One of the major limitations inhibiting the wider adoption of OER is the inability of current search mechanisms to effectively locate OER that are most suitable for use and reuse within a given scenario. This is mainly due to the lack of a parametric measure that could be used by search technologies to autonomously identify desirable resources. As a possible solution to this limitation, this concept paper introduces a parametric measure of desirability of OER named the D-index, which can aid search mechanisms in better identifying resources suitable for use and reuse.
This study explores six cases of non-native English speaking students engaged in a distance English-medium course on critical thinking at a university in Iran. Framed within activity theory, the study investigated students’ course-related activity systems with a particular focus on contradictions that underlie any human activity. The construct of contradictions provides a theoretical lens to understand a web of relationships among a number of elements in course-related activities situated in a cultural-historical setting beset with political controversies, technological challenges, and needs for a bilingual curriculum. The findings indicate that all student participants had multiple activity systems within the course environment. Most participants had primary, secondary, and quaternary contradictions that had positive and negative consequences on the expansion of their activity systems. Discussion also includes practical implications for the distance university under study that could potentially be applied to similar distance schools.
Flexibility in learning provides a student room for volitional control and an array of strategies and encourages persistence in the face of difficulties. Autonomy in and control over one’s learning process can be seen as a condition for self-regulated learning. There are a number of categories and dimensions for flexible learning; following professional publications, time, location, lesson content, pedagogy method, learning style, organization, and course requirements are all elements to consider. Using these categories and the dimensions of flexible learning, we developed and validated a questionnaire for an open and distance learning setting. This article reports on the results from a study investigating the relationship between flexible learning and self-regulated learning strategies. The results show the positive effects of flexible learning and its three factors, time management, teacher contact, and content, on self-regulated learning strategies (cognitive, metacognitive, and resource-based). Groups that have high flexibility in learning indicate that they use more learning strategies than groups with low flexibility.
Virtual schooling is a recent phenomenon in K-12 online learning. As such, the roles of the online teachers are emerging and differ from those of the traditional classroom teacher. Using qualitative interviews of eight virtual high school teachers, this study explored teachers’ perceptions of their online teaching role. Teachers expressed a sense of disconnection from their students, the profession, and their peers as a result of limited interactions due to significant institutional barriers. Researchers discuss the implications of this disconnection as well as future avenues for research.
E-learning is part of the new dynamic that characterises educational systems at the start of the 21st century. Like society, the concept of e-learning is subject to constant change. In addition, it is difficult to come up with a single definition of e-learning that would be accepted by the majority of the scientific community. The different understandings of e-learning are conditioned by particular professional approaches and interests. An international project, based on the participation of experts around the world, was undertaken to agree on a definition of e-learning. To this end, two main research activities were carried out. First, an extensive review was conducted of the literature on the concept of e-learning, drawing from peer-reviewed journals, specialised web pages, and books. Second, a Delphi survey was sent out to gather the opinions of recognised experts in the field of education and technology regarding the concept of e-learning with a view to reaching a final consensus. This paper presents the outcomes of the project, which has resulted in an inclusive definition of e-learning subject to a high degree of consensus that will provide a useful conceptual framework to further identify the different models in which e-learning is developed and practiced.
In this study we aim to conduct a complete evaluation of the e-portfolio application in the distance teaching practice course that is part of the Distance English Language Teacher (DELT) program at Anadolu University from the perspective of three groups: university supervisors, preservice teachers, and cooperating teachers. Using a survey on the needs of preservice teachers and how well these were met according to the three groups’ perspectives, we gathered qualitative and quantitative data on the feasibility of the e-portfolio application. Our analysis of the findings revealed that all three groups agreed about the needs of preservice teachers. And despite some minor variance in the perspectives of each group, we determined that e-portfolio applications can meet the majority of the planning, teaching, and reflection needs in the teaching process. We offer suggestions to improve e-portfolio applications so they will better meet preservice teachers’ needs.
Open educational resources (OERs) have the potential to reduce costs, improve quality, and increase access to educational opportunities. OER development and deployment is one path that could contribute to achieving education for all. This article builds on existing information and communication technology (ICT) implementation plans in Africa and on the experiences of organizations and initiatives such as the African Virtual University (AVU), OER Africa, the South African Institute of Distance Education (SAIDE), and the Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa (TESSA) Project, to present one view of the benefits, challenges, and steps that could be taken to realize the potential of OERs in sub-Saharan Africa. Thus, the article focuses on the factors necessary for creating and sustaining a vision for OER development and deployment; developing and distributing resources with an open license; improving technology infrastructure and reducing the cost of Internet access; establishing communities of educational collaborators; sustaining involvement in the OER initiative; producing resources in interoperable and open formats; establishing and maintaining the quality of OERs; providing local context to address national and regional needs and conditions; informing the public about OERs; and taking the initiative to build on the knowledge, skills, and experiences of others. In order to assist educators and decision makers, links to a variety of resources are provided.
The National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) is Nigeria’s only university dedicated to providing education through the use of distance instructional methods. So far, however, the lack of availability and poor distribution of course materials, which underpin instructional delivery at NOUN, continue to be hindrances to achieving the university’s vision and mission. There are delays and difficulties in developing and distributing materials to students and Study Centres. Many pioneer students cannot graduate because of this challenge. This paper examines the process of developing self-instructional course materials at NOUN. It reflects on the challenges associated with the quantity, quality, and timely production of course materials, labelled “the hills, the wills, and the skills” obstacles. The paper concludes that there is a need for better professional development in order to provide efficient ODL delivery.
Notes From Leadership in Open and Distance Learning
Effective educational leadership can make a difference in the resolution of complex issues that impact today’s demand-driven educational marketplace. The ongoing professional and skill development needs of human health resources may be best managed through distributed strategic leadership blended with servant leadership. Together these two approaches may offer the critical bridge for effective educational leadership for e-learning within the healthcare workplace.
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