White Papers

An introduction to distance learning

There are many ways to define what is meant by “Distance Learning”. Our preferred definition is:

A process whereby a student participates in a formal learning process without the instructor being present.

Distance learning takes a variety of forms but all methods have the following characteristics:

  • separation (in place and/or in time) between the instructor and learners and/or between learners and learning resources;
  • interaction between learners and instructor and/or between learners and
    learning resources conducted through one or more media.

Historically, the media used was limited to printed materials, which were mailed back and forth (the original “correspondence” course). Today, technology provides a wide range of alternatives such as audio/video recordings, video-conferencing, broadcasts and online communications…

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Universities, colleges and distance learning: objectives, strategies and surmounting the barriers

Universities are faced with a changing environment, changes in expectations, culture, competition and much tougher financial constraints. This whitepaper focuses on one of the opportunities, distance learning, that is available to universities to help them survive and prosper in the face of these changes.[/box]

The paper first covers briefly the changes that are taking place in the university sector. It then identifies a set of potential objectives and discusses the possible strategies, one of which is distance learning, that a university could introduce to meet its objectives. It then proceeds to identify the external and internal barriers to entry to the distance learning market, and covers in detail issues around internal barriers and strategies for dealing with them. It concludes by emphasising that it is the internal rather than the external barriers that a university can influence and overcome, thus significantly increasing the chances of a successful entry into the distance learning market…

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Market strategies for distance learning programmes

A paper for higher education providers

This paper is intended to raise awareness of some key issues that underpin the provision of successful distance and on-line learning programmes within Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).

The primary concern of an HEI is generally to ensure that the quality and relevance of the programmes themselves are addressed. However, careful selection of the target market, accurate profiling of student needs and a well- matched portfolio of programmes will also have a major impact on potential success. In short, every learning programme should be based on a well thought out market strategy at the institution level, at the department level and at the programme portfolio level…

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Designing Courses for Online Distance Learning

A primer for course designers and authors

Online Distance Learning (ODL) has the potential to dramatically change how we teach and learn. It can greatly improve classroom experiences just as much as it can provide economic advantage by lowering costs for online learners and improving value. Twigg, 2002

This document is a set of guidelines for budding new designers and authors of ODL courses and programmes. Its purpose is to initiate an informed, decision making discussion about how best to do this for the specific target audience of students you wish to deliver successful ODL experiences to…

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Global Online Distance Education

A business primer for universities and business schools

Almost every university or college in the UK has a Strategic Plan that includes ambitions for growth (increased student numbers, particularly at postgraduate level), commercialisation, excellence in learning and teaching and in knowledge management, and, of course, to explore and exploit diverse modes of learning.

There are many possible tactics to meet the many objectives in these plans such as creating spin-out companies and commercial income streams, but one is the development of learning and teaching provision and infrastructure to exploit alternative learning opportunities, including distance and on-line learning…

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