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Information Resources Management Association
Advancing the Concepts & Practices of Information Resources Management in Modern Organizations

Cultural Issues in the Globalisation of Distance Education

Cultural Issues in the Globalisation of Distance Education
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Author(s): Lucas Walsh (Deakin University, Australia)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 6
Source title: Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology, Second Edition
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, D.B.A. (Information Resources Management Association, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch139


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This article discusses ongoing cultural challenges faced by distance education providers seeking to deliver programs of study transnationally. Focusing on a key period of distance education during the late twentieth century, this discussion begins by tracing the impact of global economic and technological developments, such as the growth of megauniversity enrolments, privately owned education providers and the Internet. The 1990s saw intense interest in the use of Internet-based applications for distance learning and the subsequent arrival of important new actors in this marketplace, such as Blackboard and WebCT. The author then examines some of the key cultural challenges arising from this convergence of economic, educational and technological dimensions of globalisation, such as the problematic use of models of independent learning in distance delivery. Turning to future trends, three recent developments in the Internet pose significant challenges to these markets and approaches: open courseware and other initiatives seeking to provide open access to educational resources; the diffusion of user-generated applications, tools and environments; and the fragmentation of online information sources. These trends invite education providers to reflect on the cultural dimensions of distance education. It is argued that while new approaches to e-learning present new opportunities to enhance distance learning, certain key lessons from the 1990s should continue to inform the contemporary development of distance education.

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