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The provision of distance education within the HE sector - some areas for concern

Gerrard, W. and Gerrard, C. (2002) The provision of distance education within the HE sector - some areas for concern. Industry and Higher Education, 16 (6). pp. 379-386. ISSN 0950-4222

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Abstract

This paper presents a summary of the findings of a recent survey of the way in which UK higher education institutions (HEIs) are offering distance education (DE) courses, the types of courses being offered, and their modes of delivery. From analysis of the findings of this survey, it is apparent that the emphasis of HEIs is very much on the exploitation of available teaching technology in the delivery of DE courses. However, teaching at a distance is quite different from face-toface teaching, and the evidence suggests that many HEIs fail to implement any meaningful academic staff training for the new role of DE tutor. The authors consider the difficulties this presents to academic staff who are required to move from face-to-face teaching to online facilitating. The paper concludes with an examination of the current provision of staff development and training within UK HEIs and suggests the type of academic staff training required if DE courses are to become truly core activities.