International Distance Education Trends and Issues: Open and Distance Learning Teacher Education in Uganda

By DeVary, Sharon | Distance Learning, March 1, 2008 | Go to article overview

International Distance Education Trends and Issues: Open and Distance Learning Teacher Education in Uganda


DeVary, Sharon, Distance Learning


INTRODUCTION

The world is evolving into a global village as a result of the rapid development of information and communication technology (Adam, Awerbuch, Slonim, Wegner, & Yeshea, 1997). Economics play a major role in the move toward a global economy. Exports and imports account for about 50% of the U.S. economy. The ability to compete globally is dependent on the innovation, the skill, and the knowledge of people and their learning organizations. This force is being felt across the globe and touches all economies including those of the third and fourth world.

In addition, the emergence of "knowledge" as an economy is creating an increasing demand for education. This is seen when companies move their training into global arenas. The biggest challenges that are faced are those in the worldwide variations in social, cultural, political, and economic circumstances (Wellins & Rioux, 2000). Language differences, educational systems, learning and teaching styles, government regulations, and infrastructures are also examples of these variations. To adapt training to multicultural settings requires a new paradigm that includes an understanding of the deeper psychology of culture and the uniqueness of the differences culture brings to the global workplace.

This article explores the issue of distance education and the development of teacher education in Uganda. Ely (1996) defines an issue as a fact or matter that is in dispute between two or more parties. For example, a question is debated among the experts who are trying to find a solution. In order to find a solution, individuals often look for data about the issue, and draw on past experiences for additional insight, clarity, or guidance in developing a solution.

FUNDING ISSUES

Education is the means to build human capital. Today, both developing and industrialized countries recognize that global productivity and competitiveness are enhancing the caliber and resilience of the workforce (Shive & Jegede, 2001). For many countries, distance education provides the sole opportunity for their populations to have access to education. This is particularly true for third- and fourthworld countries. These countries most often do not have the resources to support the needs of a distance education system.

ISSUES OF INCREASED DEMAND

According to Hulsmann (2004), there is an ever-increasing demand for distance education in developing countries. However, because of the lack of funding and commitment to educational investments, the quality of education has suffered and has not produced enough trained teachers to meet the demand. This can be seen in the Improving Access and Quality of Teacher Education in Africa Program. This program faces critical challenges including an increasing number of students seeking access to education while simultaneously facing a lack of adequately qualified personnel.

RESEARCH ISSUES

According to Shive and Jegede (2001), research must be distance education's next important development. Distance education has a history of being applicationdriven rather than research-driven. Past research has drawn on theories and methodologies from multiple disciplines.

Some of the problems facing distance education that must be overcome in order to improve the quality of education are how to expand the reach of distance education, reduce inequalities in meeting global learning needs, enhancing the learning experience by fitting the learner's context, and the availability of technology (Daniel & Mackintosh 2005).

Perhaps by establishing an international research agenda that features systematic in-depth analyses, theoretical comparisons of strategies for fostering transformative learning, and the use of alternative methodological designs, some of these problems can be addressed. Distance education research needs to focus on particular components that are known as essential to distance education, such as course design, pedagogy, interaction, class size, and active learning.

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International Distance Education Trends and Issues: Open and Distance Learning Teacher Education in Uganda
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