The Convergence of Distance and Conventional Education: Patterns of Flexibility for the Individual Learner

The Convergence of Distance and Conventional Education: Patterns of Flexibility for the Individual Learner

The Convergence of Distance and Conventional Education: Patterns of Flexibility for the Individual Learner

The Convergence of Distance and Conventional Education: Patterns of Flexibility for the Individual Learner

Synopsis

Containing contemporary essays from Australia, the UK, Ireland, New Zealand and Canada, this volume analyzes changes arising from convergence -- changes which axe seen as having the potential to revolutionize the provision of education over the next thirty years. It examines how various technologies have broken down clear distinctions between Open and Distance Learning (ODL) and conventional education.

Excerpt

The convergence of distance and conventional education

Patterns of flexibility for the individual learner

Alan Tait and Roger Mills

This book aims to offer a series of analyses of the current process of the convergence of distance and conventional education. Chapters from a range of countries offer viewpoints which can be characterized as driven by the perspective of the learner; of the teaching process; of institutional management; and of educational and social policy more broadly. They have predominantly been written by colleagues coming from the distance-education side, but with valuable contributions also from colleagues at what are increasingly erroneously termed ‘conventional’ universities.

It is clear from the chapters that a range of convergences is taking place with a rapidity that is bewildering from all perspectives. From the learner perspective we have seen on an international basis the arrival of more and more adult learners, many of them part-time, in institutions of post-secondary education. This has arisen both from demand by adult learners and from the late conversion of institutions to an interest in them as a cohort—an interest driven by the need to recruit larger numbers and fuelled by intermittent anxiety about the supply of school leavers.

Policy initiatives in the field of lifelong learning promoted governmentally in a number of countries, and by international agencies such as the European Commission, have also seen imperatives that learning opportunities for adults be offered on a flexible basis. Pressure on resources within institutions has seen an increasing emphasis on teaching and learning methods that demand less teacher contact and thus pave the way for more independent learning methods. the financial pressures have also been accompanied by progressive views about learning which see independence as a positive aspiration in its own right and part of a learner- rather than teacher-centred approach. While we share many of the values of progressive educators who support innovations in independent and resource-based learning methods, it would be naïve to think that their attractiveness at institutional and governmental levels is not also based on the need to expand within constrained financial climates. Indeed one of the problems in introducing new learning methodologies in conventional institutions is that of inadequate capital investment in learning materials and staff development. This can raise considerable suspicion and resentment on the part of teaching staff

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