Administrative Structures for Distance Education You do not have access to this content

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Commonwealth Secretariat, Hilary Perraton
01 Jan 1991
9781848594869 (PDF)

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A paper prepared for a meeting of the Commonwealth Health Development Steering Group.

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  • Preface

    The purpose of this book is to help anyone considering the use of distance education and trying to decide how it should be organised. The acclaimed success of the world's twenty-five open universities gives the impression that learning at a distance demands the establishment of an open university. But, in practice, there are many different ways in which governments, universities, or private bodies can teach students at a distance.

  • What is distance education and how does it work?

    This book is to help people who want to know whether distance education is useful for them. It is neither a blueprint nor special pleading. Instead it suggests what questions to ask in considering whether distance education makes sense in a particular context, and examines the different ways in which it can be organised.

  • What resources does it need?

    All educational innovations make similar demands: a commitment to risk, the investment of credibility and capital ahead of any likely return, the diversion of staff from the well-tried to the experimental, and political faith in an idea. Within this context a new distance-education programme makes particular demands for resources and support, requiring finance, staff, educational support, and political backing.

  • How does a distance-teaching institution work?

    If students are to learn at a distance, they need effective educational and administrative support. This support differs from that needed by full-time students in an ordinary school or college. The planner therefore needs to identify the services to be provided to students and to have some understanding of the nature of these services before taking a decision about organisational structure.

  • What sort of organisation should it have?

    The choice of an organisational and administrative structure for a distance-teaching institution will be determined within a web of economic, social and political circumstances; these in turn will affect the way in which the institution addresses its various functions. There are, however, likely to be opportunities to choose between alternative ways of setting up a distance-teaching institution. At the risk of over-simplification these alternatives are reduced to six organisational models.

  • What will it cost?

    Questions of both practice and policy arise in considering the cost of establishing and running a distance-teaching institution. It is necessary to answer practical questions about the budget and about the resources needed to launch an institution or programme, and to establish, as a guide to policy, how the costs of distance education are likely to compare with those of conventional education. Similar methods can be used for both purposes.

  • How do you set it up?

    Once a political decision has been taken to look into the establishment of a distance-teaching institution, or to establish one, it is necessary to draw up plans which are at a finer level of detail than the discussion in this book. In some cases governments have decided to establish a new institution after the minimum of preliminary study and paper work. In others, lengthy documents have addressed the broad policy issues discussed here and gone beyond them.

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