I am conducting an international Delphi study to outline a curriculum for a Master’s level program in “Open, Distance and Online Learning”. The idea to conduct such a study came from the fact that there are considerable variations in the programs offered by various universities around the world on distance education. The curriculum for IGNOU’s masters program on distance education is very different from UKOU, Deakin University and Athabasca University. If distance education is a discipline worthy of systematic study and research, the contents of such programs should be more or less similar with minor variations to accommodate contextual, and cultural requirements. This study is a three phase one, and at the end of the study it is expected to have a consensus list of content areas that could be developed in detail to include in a masters level program. In the phase one, I requested a large group (above 500 persons) of experts to list at lest 10 topics of their choice to be included in an international masters in Open, Distance and Online Learning. The results of phase one shall be subjected to a web-based survey. The list of topics generated (with multiple responses) is as follows:
- E-learning (13.84%): Includes virtual learning environments; learning management systems; learning objects; computer mediated communication; open educational resources; e-learning standards; online facilitation; online assessment; designing online learning; online communities; computer supported collaborative learning; online tutoring; web-authoring; web accessibility; digital divide; web 2.0, mobile learning, etc.
- Material Development and Production (I3.29%): Including writing aims and objectives; preparing activities; converting materials to online; editing; printing.
- Instructional Design (10.1%): Includes theories of learning; pedagogy vs. andragogy; self-directed learning, autonomous learning; learning styles; models of instructional design.
- Learner Support (9.67%): Includes understanding distance learners; academic advising; retention; mentoring; building relationships; types of learner support.
- Foundations of Distance Education (9.2%): Includes theories of distance education; philosophical, psychological and sociological foundations; history, growth and developments; distance education and national developments; distance education in the developing world, models of distance education; globalization and distance education; distance education for special needs.
- Educational Communication Technologies (7.69%): Includes technology integration; synchronous and asynchronous technologies; emerging technologies; satellite communication; Interactive technologies; radio, TV.
- Research Methodology (7.47%): Includes research in distance education, research as reflective practice.
- Management of Distance Education (6.81%): Including change management; policy development, leadership, marketing; resource sharing; project management.
- Assessment of Learner Performance (5.93%): Including feedback to learners.
- Quality Assurance and Program Evaluation (4.83%): Includes quality standards; benchmarks, performance indicators; national and international scenarios; quality assurance agencies; tools of quality assurance; evaluation of programs.
- Curriculum Design and Development (4.39%): Including course design.
- Staff Training and Development (2.85%): Including competencies of distance educators, online teachers; supporting tutors; training techniques and approaches.
- Cost and Economics of Distance and Online Learning (2.63%): Including budgeting, economies of scale.
- Educational Multimedia (2.19%): Includes audio, video preparation; interactive multimedia development.
- Project Work (2.4%): A research report/ dissertation on a topic/ problem.
- Copyright and ethical issues (1.97%): Includes copyright laws; digital rights management; ethics in distance education; open source and open content issues.
- Case Studies (1.53%): Includes application of distance education in various levels such as Open schooling; open basic education; technical and vocational education training; tertiary education, non-formal education, corporate education.
In the web-based survey, it is now being requested to all the agreed respondents to validate the topics by scoring on a three-point scale (1= It is not necessary to be included in a curriculum of an International Masters level program in Distance Education; 2= It is useful, but not necessary that this topic be included; 3= It is essential to include this topic in the curriculum). Results of Round 2 will follow after the survey.