Track Policies

Macro-level: ODeL Systems & Theories

1. Access, equity, and ethics

  • The democratization of access to education through open, distance and elearning as afforded by new media and technologies
  • Finding ways to deliver high quality education to those who have limited resources and poor infrastructure.
  • The (sustainable) provision of education using ODeL in developing nations. For example, what is the impact of distance education (e.g., via mobile learning) on narrowing (or broadening) the digital divide?
  • What is the role of ICT (information and communication technologies) and/or OER (open educational resources) or MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) in terms of access to education?
  • Should distance education have an inherent and explicit goal to reduce inequality and promote both high quality and affordable educational opportunity?

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2. Globalization of education and cross-cultural aspects

  • aspects that refer to the global external environment and drivers;
  • the development of the global distance education market;
  • teaching and learning in mediated and multicultural environments; and the implications for professional development and curriculum development.
  • Policy implications for various aspects of cross border education such as accreditation, internalization
  • Implications for access and opportunity such as presented by MOOCs and OERS?

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3. Open, distance and eLearning systems and institutions

  • ODeL delivery systems, the role of institutional partnerships in developing transnational programs and the impact of ICT on the convergence of conventional education and distance education institutions (hybrid or mixed-mode).

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4. Theories and models

  • Theoretical frameworks for and foundations of ODeL e.g., the theoretical basis of instructional models, knowledge construction, interaction between learners, and
  • the impact of social constructivism, connectivism, and new learning theories on current practice.

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5. Research methods in ODeL and knowledge transfer

  • Methodological considerations,
  • the impact of ODeL research and publication on practice, and
  • the role of professional associations and higher education institutions in improving practice.
  • Literature reviews and works on the history of distance education as well as new and emerging models and concepts are also subsumed within this area.

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Meso-level: Management, Organization & Technology
6. Management & organization

  • strategies, administration, and organizational infrastructures and frameworks for the development, implementation, and sustainable delivery of ODeL programs.
  • What is required for successful leadership in ODeL?
  • Policies relating to continuing education, lifelong learning, and the impact of ODeL on institutional policies, as well as legal issues (copyright and intellectual property).

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7. Costs and benefits

  • to financial management, costing, pricing, and business models in ODeL
  • Efficiency: What is the return on investment or impact of ODeL programs?
  • What is the impact of ICT on the costing models and the scalability of ODeL delivery?
  • How can cost-effective but meaningful learner support be provided?

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8. Infrastructure

  • physical infrastructure and access points to ODeL programs ( e.g. learning centers, ODeL design & development centers)
  • power availability (electricity, solar)
  • technical infrastructure, and equipment for ODeL learning environments including computers, mobile devices, virtual labs)
  • ICT capacity and internet infrastructure

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9. Educational technology

  • new trends in educational technology for ODeL (e.g., social media or mobile learning) and their affordances for teaching and learning.
  • the benefits and challenges of using OERs, media selection (e.g., synchronous versus asynchronous media),
  • skills and competencies to use and support technology integration

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10. Innovation and change

  • issues that refer to educational innovation with new media and measures to support and facilitate change in institutions (e.g., incentive systems for faculty, aspects referring to staff workloads, promotion and tenure).

  • emerging innovations and their implications for ODeL e.g. learning management systems, OERs, MOOCs, online data analytics, online examination systems, certification and tags
  • Keeping abreast with research and innovation with implications for ODeL
  • Issues that refer to educational innovation with new media (e.g. mobile learning)
  • measures to support and facilitate change and innovation in institutions (e.g., research, incentive systems for faculty, aspects referring to staff workloads, promotion, and tenure).

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11. Professional development and faculty support

  • Professional development and faculty support services as a prerequisite for innovation and change.
  • What are the competencies for teaching online and in various ODeL contexts (blended, hybrid),
  • What are the competencies needed for counselors and support service staff, and how can they be developed?

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12. Learner support services

the infrastructure for and organization of learner support systems (from information and counseling for prospective students to library services and technical support, to career services and alumni networks).

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13. Quality assurance

  • accreditation and quality standards in ODeL
  • the implications of quality assurance and high quality learner support on enrolments and drop-out/retention
  • the reputation and acceptance of ODeL as a valid form of educational provision.

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Micro Level:Instructional or learning design
14. Instructional or learning design

  • issues that refer to the stages of the instructional design process for curriculum and course development.
  • pedagogical approaches for tutoring online (scaffolding), the design of (culturally appropriate) study material, opportunities provided by new developments in ICTs for teaching and learning (e.g., social media applications and mobile devices),
  • assessment opportunities and practices in ODeL.

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15. Interaction and communication in learning communities

  • closely related to instructional design considerations is course design that fosters (online) articulation, interaction, reflection, and collaboration throughout the learning and teaching process.
  • Special areas include the development of online communities, gender differences, and cross-cultural aspects in online communication.

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16. Learner characteristics

  • the aims and goals of adult and younger students studying in ODeL
  • the socio-economic background of ODeL learners, their different approaches to learning, critical thinking dispositions, media literacies, and special needs.
  • How do learners learn online (behaviour patterns, learning styles) and what competencies are needed for learning (e.g., digital literacy)?
  • Gender differences?

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