Saturday, January 20, 2007

Accredited Remote Learning (ARL) (Distance Learning, DL) to maximize Deep Learning

Accredited Remote Learning (ARL) (Distance Learning, DL) to maximize Deep Learning

Dr Gideon Polya

1. Aims

The previous blog involved review and critical assessment of existing Distance Learning (DL) systems in relation to how well they provide good teaching and good learning outcomes in comparison with on-campus (OC) teaching.

This analysis will build on this review by devising a DL scheme that (subject to resources) will be directed to providing better learning outcomes.

2. Introduction:

As summarized in the previous blog of global DL systems, good teaching (whether via DL or OC modes) encourages high quality, "deep" approaches in student learning with a resultant ideal outcome of a fundamental, qualitative change in student understanding of the area being taught. The following model derived from Ramsden (2000) summarizes how students perceive the pedagogical context and consequently approach learning:

Student characteristics & background AND Course & departmental learning context

(e.g. course design, teaching methods, assessment & feedback) -> Student perception of context (e.g. clear goals, good teaching) -> Student approaches to learning (how they learn) -> Student learning outcomes (what they learn qualitatively & quantitatively).

Ramsden (2000) has identified 6 key principles for effective teaching (i.e. teaching leading to deep student approaches and consequent understanding and conceptual change), namely:

1. clear explanations and stimulation of interest,

2. concern and respect for students,

3. appropriate assessment and feedback,

4. clear aims, objectives, expectations and intellectual challenge,

5. fostering student independence, control and flexibility in learning and

6. responsiveness to student feedback

While the above approaches have a general applicability, there are going to be all kinds of special conditions relating to particular disciplines and areas within disciplines. However the key determinant of success in good teaching as defined above is evaluation from student responses, reflection and change as summarized in the following “feedback loop” (Fig. 7.1, Ramsden, 2000):

Theory of teaching -> thinking in specific situations <- -> context of teaching -> teaching in action -> reflection on teaching and student learning outcome experience -> feedback to Theory of teaching AND thinking in specific situations.

It is useful to bear these teaching and learning (T&L) models in mind in the following development of a DL system that aims at maximizing deep student learning by applying these principles. At the outset it should be noted from critique of existing DL systems (see existing global Distance Learning systems blog) ) that the physical separation of teacher and student in DL may compromise requisite progress and evaluative feedback from students, the students may be too isolated from teachers, tutors and peers and “specialist” DL teaching commitments might compromise the teacher research excellence that should ideally enhance student confidence, interest and enthusiasm.

3. A successful model of OC teaching

There are many ways in which DL can be achieved. The major systems used globally (Keegan, 2000; Peters, 1998; Yates & Bradley, 2000) involve:

I. class-based, tutor-assisted instruction by radio- and television-delivered lectures from academics (e.g. in notable Chinese and Japanese systems);

II. individual learning with DL materials expertly prepared by academics with the assistance of media specialists at specialized open universities (notably the British Open University);

III. individual learning with specially prepared DL materials from established universities operating in isolation or collaboratively in consortia (as in numerous examples around the world and notably in the USA);

IV. individual learning with minimal student support and minimal specialized pre-prepared materials as exemplified by the University of South Africa (UNISA) and the University of London.

I have decided to make my task more difficult by adopting the latter minimalist model (IV) as my base-line starting condition on top of which I will add components to improve student learning; my “novel” DL system will thus hopefully exceed the good teaching and learning ideally obtaining in the presently “validated” OC mode.

In building up my scheme I want to exploit the good aspects of DL (low cost, high information transfer efficiency, student learning independence, lack of “make-work” impositions on students and economic and other major social flexibilities and conveniences for the students, especially those suffering economic, locational, physical and other disadvantages). Conversely I also want to apply the best aspects of OC tuition to the DL student (notably social involvement, carefully prepared handouts, student-teacher interactions, student-student interactions and counselling support). This approach is consonant with the view of Peters (1998), the doyen of global DL experts, that ideally students should have maximal learning autonomy and that universities should not be simply DL or OC but should be organized to enable “mixed mode” delivery options.

4. DL and OC service parity

It is difficult to evaluate how good the learning outcome has been and even more difficult to assess the differential benefits of DL versus OC modes in teaching the same sort of material (Morgan & O’Reilly, 1999, 2001). However one empirical approach to this problem is to determine at the outset that the DL student should effectively get everything that is available in a good OC teaching context. This objective can be satisfied in relation to “theoretical” subjects but “practical components” of particular disciplines (e.g. laboratory-based training in science) pose peculiar difficulties that I will address separately at the end of this paper. However a related problem to be found in both science and non-science disciplines relates to teacher-student dialogue, discussion, argument and exploration of ways of arguing and exploring. The problem of how to achieve effective student-teacher dialogue (and indeed student-student interaction) in DL will be seriously addressed. Paradoxically it transpires that S-T dialogue can be much better in the DL mode.

5. Current OC teaching and learning

I will heavily base my DL scheme on the type of “traditional” OC teaching with which I am familiar and in doing so empirically maintain parity of the DL system with “good” OC teaching. However it must be stressed that there are many ways of teaching (Ramsden, 2000) and in particular many innovative ways of enabling DL (Collis & Moonen, 2001; Evans & Nation, 2000; Laurillard, 1993; Lau, 2000; Lockwood & Gooley, 2001; Mantyla, 1999; Oliver, 2000; Oliver et al., 2001; Parer, 1993; Porter, 1997; Rowntree, 1991).

My way of delivering OC teaching certainly gets results - the students are very happy with the delivery mode, they seem happy with their lecturer and they do exceptionally well. The teaching provision in the following “idealized” example could apply to a one full semester course of 3 lectures a week for 13 weeks with 3 one-hour tutorials for a class of about 100 undergraduate (e.g. second year) students.

a. Lectures

The lectures summarize the essence of the equivalent of 15 out of 30 chapters in a large, up-to-date, latest edition, 1000 page, prescribed textbook in the discipline.

The lectures are handwritten or partly typed (16 font) and double-spaced on A4 paper (about 200 pages in total).

Each student gets a complete set of the lecture notes (as well as ancillary material).

Each page of the carefully devised and set-out lecture notes is put up on an overhead projector during the lecture (about 5 pages per lecture) (and hence the large font and spacing of the lecture notes). There is plenty of space for students to make ancillary notes during the lecture.

Students can sit back and take it all in (without having to spend the lecture frantically scribbling notes) and there is plenty of time for questions (teacher to students, students to teacher).

The lectures (50 minutes with several brief interruptions) are delivered powerfully and relatively slowly with maximal clarity and with a powerful voice.

The lecture notes are handed out in several batches immediately before the relevant one-month lecture slabs. Only about 50% of the students come to lectures regularly (presumably the other 50% have jobs). Thus the OC system is already effectively a DL system for half the class. It is felt that the student knows best in this trade-off between lecturer pedagogy and student economic necessity.

b. Tutorials

The tutorials are optional for students and about 25% attend.

Tutorials are prefaced with several handout sheets setting out theory and “worked examples” presented in the same double-spaced style as the lectures. (There are plenty of spare copies available for those who do not attend the tutorials).

The tutorials are class-based (rather than based on small groups or individuals) but there is a relaxed atmosphere and plenty of time for student questions.

The tutorials ensure that everybody understands the “stuff” and we do not proceed further until everybody is “happy” with the explanations.

While the tutorial is initially structured around handouts and questions, there is plenty of time for student questions about other aspects of the course.

c. Informal individual or small group office consultations.

Students typically “grab” the lecturer immediately after lectures or tutorials. Students are actively encouraged to see their lecturer who is basically available from 8 am to 6pm (with a sign up on his door when he is not there).

However relatively few students avail themselves of this opportunity for circa 20 minute consultations (maybe 1 individual and 1 group per semester week and 1 individual and 1 group per day during “swot vac”).

These informal consultative sessions are about the course but I am happy to “ear bash” them about other things which makes for a relaxed and informal session.

d. Telephone, e-mail, post and other student-teacher interactions

Telephone communications are relatively rare (mainly to set appointment times, circa one per fortnight); postal communications are zero; and e-mail communication is extremely rare (circa twice per semester). Occasionally I am “waylaid” by accident on campus and may have to take the students back to my office or laboratory (several times per semester).

e. Study questions

Study questions are provided in several ways. Informal suggestion are made in lectures; computer-based question banks are set up deriving from an excellent multi-media textbook (see below) (students are given a 5% mark “gift” for merely attempting the question bank); and numerous past exam questions are handed out (together with model “minimal” answers by the lecturer with the injunction to the students that they should try them themselves before looking at the worked answers).

f. Projects and assignments.

Half of the contact hours overall derive from practical sessions, some of which are “dry” (i.e. non-experimental). The practical course problem will be addressed at the end of this paper. Nevertheless the practical course and lecture course are connected and the students have project assignments” involving research on particular topics conducted in small groups (2-6 people) that are followed by oral reports (posters, overhead transparencies and multiple presenters). These projects and presentations are done with great enthusiasm by the students.

In the absence of “practical course” components similar individual-group-based assignments would certainly be used because the students respond with such enthusiasm to applying what they know and to the autonomy of the context.

g. The student “contract”

What the student “needs to know and understand” is essentially defined by the handouts (lecture notes, synopses, other handouts and worked examples of past examination questions).

The mark breakdown (theory exams, practicals, participation, reports, assignments etc) is precisely defined.

The breakdown of subject matter in several exam papers (involving several lecturers and their courses) is explicitly provided. There is plenty of choice but no section can be avoided (see below).

Excellent textbooks are recommended and multiple copies are made available for 3 hour loan in the library.

The aims and objectives of the course are explicitly spelt out at the outset, reinforced periodically during lectures and other interactions and underscored by the detailed handouts (most notably by worked past exam questions that give the students a good idea of lecturer expectations in this aspect of the process).

Deep learning is encouraged by having a reasonable workload; avoiding unnecessary “rote” impositions; stressing the importance of students getting a good, integrated, “big picture” understanding of the material; reiterating lecturer availability for questions during, immediately after and between lectures; and maximizing student confidence and lecturer approachability. Approachability is enhanced via the practical class interactions and, when feasible, by an initial class “coffee and biscuit” session.

h. Textbooks and other material.

An excellent, latest edition textbook (cost ~ $100) is recommended (with multiple copies of this and related good textbooks placed in the “heavy use collection” of the library) (see below). These texts are well-illustrated, comprehensive and have excellent end of chapter summaries, references, problems and worked problems.

The textbook has a superb CD-ROM accompaniment that is licensed to the Department, can be addressed via the Departmental student computer room (a dozen PCs) and can also be borrowed for use in the Library. This CD-ROM provides superb graphics (including movies) to illustrate most things in the textbook.

Another textbook has an accompanying “pictures and notes” summary book which is a powerful equivalent of the lecture material (i.e. by presenting pictures with minimal words for maximal comprehension) (for the virtues of this approach see Rowntree, 1991).

The Web resources are excellent and use of the Web is encouraged through assignments (see above).

i. Assessment.

Assessment is in small part from assignments and from the practical course (see below). For the theory course nearly all the “marks” come from exams (1-2 papers).

There is plenty of choice, the students know whose sub-course is on which paper and exams are designed so that no particular sub-courses can be ignored by the students.

Past exam questions are available in the library. Students also receive handouts of past exam questions with “succinct model answers” provided by the lecturer so that they have a reasonable idea of the standard expected to get a very good mark.

Exam questions recognize the anxiety of many students on such occasions and are often relatively straightforward, variously examining understanding of the really important basics or understanding of the “big picture” depending upon the course and the students.

Additional “take home” assessment components are variously provided that derive from: assignments; collective or individual projects; electronic quizzes (with about 5% of total course marks being given if the student simply attempts the questions); and practical course laboratory work and reports (see later). A potential downside to “take home assessments” is the opportunity for plagiarism (which can be checked for by careful reading and also by electronic “detector” programs if the assignment is delivered by e-mail).

j. Student collaboration and socialization

A major source of effective learning by students can derive from collaborative learning (studying in groups, group-based assignments and presentations and collective consultations to resolve difficulties). The lecturer can encourage this by putting up group projects and encouraging group consultations between lectures. Student socialization is one of the most important aspects of OC life. Socialization not only helps learning through group studying and other learning cooperation but also provides a highly desirable sense of confidence in the student. Socialization also makes for a happy experience and supports the social connectedness of the OC T&L experience. Clubs and societies represent major venues for OC socialization but socialization is also effected at the course level through joint projects, oral presentations, practical work and other joint activities (e.g. industry trips, field trips).

k. Autonomous learning

Autonomous learning is encouraged by giving the students a “good set of notes”, having an excellent textbook with additional attractive PC-accessible options and having confidence-building literature research-based assignments (in which “the student is the expert”) with individual and collective oral presentations to the class.

l. Course refinement from student feedback and evaluation.

Departmental or independent university-based surveys of student attitudes to courses are conducted and the data collated allowing for modification of approaches by the lecturer.

The lecturer also receives on-going feedback from students from interactions and assignments during the semester and of course the exam answers and results are an important feedback source.

Such feedback allows for sensible refinements. Thus even small changes (e.g. increasing the spacing and font size in lecture note handouts and overheads) can have a large effect on student comprehension (e.g. in lectures).

However, most important is the “pervading consciousness” of the primary imperative to assist student understanding. Student recognition of that concern and imperative in the teacher is a significant stimulus for deep learning by the student. It is this level of student-teacher interaction that may be lacking in DL in some cases and is a particular component that will be addressed (together with many others) below in my attempt to ensure that the best of the OC context (and more), together with the best of current DL, is available to the DL student.

m. Student connection to the research and professional culture of the discipline. A fundamental aspect of OC T&L is the involvement of the lecturer in research and the professional life in the discipline. Students are connected to the research culture via: visits to lecturers’ laboratories; research-oriented assignments and projects; the discipline Web pages; other information on what research is done in the department; introduction to the research culture and research career possibilities; lecture comments on, for example, “Sydney” or “Australian” discoveries in their area if the course derives from Sydney; seminars by industry or research leaders; invitation to research seminars; and other lectures by distinguished visitors.

n. Practical applications of the course. The practical, applied aspects of the course are emphasized in: lectures and particularly in examples given in lectures; practical sessions; assignments; special lectures and seminars; vocational orientation advice; research orientation advice; and industry trips. The applicability of what is being learned is a great help to learning and the utilitarian example is a powerful didactic element. Being able to explain things to others is a powerful confidence-builder and this goal certainly encourages deep learning (e.g. being able to explain technical, medical, economic matters of public interest to lay relatives or friends).

o. Student counselling. OC students have access to expert financial, health and personal counselling and can also have access to counselling specifically relating to their courses (e.g. specific course counselling and advice on academic progression, university regulations, study skills and language skills).

p. Practical work. Particular disciplines and accredited professional courses will demand appropriate OC practical courses and in the case of medicine and nursing, for example, practical training components associated with a teaching hospital. Nevertheless some practical course component equivalents can be envisaged in a DL mode and linked to local institutions and industry as explored briefly later in this analysis (section 6(p)).

6. Distance learning course

I have devised a system that provides all the above elements of a “good” OC course and the best elements of current DL systems. The aim of the course is to encourage deep learning in the students. However because the students are variously economically, locationally, socially and physically disadvantaged a major goal has been to maximize student convenience and to minimize student and institutional cost of delivering this DL experience. Accordingly some elective add-ons that are more expensive in terms of student/teacher (S/T) time and money are presented in the notes at the end of each sub-section in the following one semester course proposal.

In essence the course is provided by a research-informed academic at a regular university (or research institute linked to an accredited university) and corresponds exactly in content, standard and validating assessment to that provided in the OC mode (see section 5 above) (following the example of the top quality University of London DL courses).

My system is accordingly conservative as opposed to systems in which open learning materials are especially developed for DL students (e.g. see Rowntree, 1991). The equivalence of OC and DL courses in my system not only has huge cost savings but also gives confidence to both teacher and student because of the parity of the two modes.

The syllabus of the course is precisely defined by the aims and objectives, the complete set of carefully prepared lecture notes, textbook references, answers to model examination questions and other defining handouts provided to both the DL and OC the students.

a. Lectures. The one semester course (about 40 lectures, three per week for 13 weeks) is exactly that provided for OC students. Each lecture is summarized clearly in about 5 A4 sheets corresponding to 5 A4 transparencies used on an overhead projector in the OC mode. The lectures clearly summarize the essentials of the equivalent of the good prescribed “500-page equivalent” textbook. The lecturer in this scheme is very substantially an expert explicator. A good understanding of the clearly-presented lecture material will result in a very good grade. To build student confidence the course would roughly divide into two half-semester blocks (e.g. with a basic theory/deeper analysis dichotomy).

Rowntree (1991) argues that self-instruction (as in DL) requires special materials (notably “pictures”) to overcome the absence of the explicatory teacher. However as amplified below there can actually be greater S-T interaction in the DL mode than in the OC mode and 50% of OC students in reality are already operating in DL mode. Nevertheless his point is taken and summary “cartoons” and “pictures” are recognized as very useful devices in both modes.


i. A really minimal system would involve detailed provision of a syllabus, detailed synopsis and chapter/page/textbook details for the student together with model answers to past exam questions to set the standard. However the provision of copies of carefully-prepared lecture notes is cost-neutral in this scheme because the lecturer should ideally be doing this already in the OC mode. Issues of expensive security and copyright of lectures could arise (e.g. in my view copyright belongs to the author) but this should not be allowed to interfere with transmission of knowledge and ideas (existing copyright laws can always be invoked if need be).

ii. Other modes of lecturing/teaching such as problem-based learning (PBL), class discussion, technical demonstration and student presentations can be accommodated within this scheme by, respectively, translating question/answer/hypothesis/evidence, proposition/counter-proposition, diagram/procedure details and student talk overhead summaries into clear A4 text/diagram summaries.

iii. Questions/answers (student (S) to teacher (T) and vice versa) and FAQs/answers can be incorporated within the lecture material to mimic the (relatively rare) OC occurrence of questions in lectures (see also sections below on S-T and S-S communication). Thus the “reward mark” for tutorial questions (section 6b(i) below) is effectively an encouragement for asynchronous question-answer participation in the lectures (noting that there is simply not enough time for students to be thus involved in OC lectures). Of course DL asynchrony means that the student can consider the response carefully and is otherwise largely protected from embarrassment.

iv. Add-ons would include making available: videotapes of OC lectures ($100/lecture); audiotapes of lectures ($3/lecture); audio-video CD-ROM disks ($100/lecture); and the very inexpensive option of post-lecture electronic transmission of a lap-top PC-captured audio record of each lecture ($0.1/lecture). The cost of such recordings greatly decreases if a central, skilled recording service and good taping equipment is available.

v. Other modes of transmission involving progressively increasing expense would range from asynchronous TV/radio lecture presentation to individuals or groups to the ultimate virtual classroom of synchronous presentation to an electronically audio-visually-linked class (Evans & Nation, 2000; Lau, 2000; Laurillard, 1993; Lockwood & Gooley, 2001; Porter, 1997). The very high technology modes are variously inconvenient and expensive and (as will be outlined below) there are cheap and effective ways of using these technologies to achieve better T&L. Of these options the CD-ROM audio lecture or audiotaped lecture are by far the cheapest and most useful options - they are didactically effective (Laurillard, 1993) and you can listen to the tape (with an instant replay option) with the lecture notes in front of you just about anywhere and indeed can be performing other tasks simultaneously (Hauhuie, 2000).

b. Tutorials. Optional whole-class tutorials (a common reality with full-time- or part-time-employed students in our cash-strapped universities) can be delivered asynchronously (i.e. non-concomitantly) in the same way as lectures with questions, model answers and FAQs/answers being clearly presented on electronically-deliverable A4 handouts as in the OC mode. However subsequent questions from individual students sent by e-mail to the teacher/tutor (and copied to the rest of the class) about the tutorial problems (or indeed other queries) can be dealt with in the same way (the timing of such communications being determined by routine T-S e-mail communication).


i. In a typical OC whole-class-based tutorial there might be 50/200 students (25% of the class) attending and questions from 5 students (i.e. 10% asking questions). In the DL system 100% of students will get the tutorial handouts and 100% could be encouraged to participate (e.g. ideally by asking a question or suggesting an alternative) by a “reward mark” for any sort of e-mail participation.

ii. Notwithstanding the “reward mark” for participation, the DL tutorial allows for all students to participate sensibly - because of asynchrony they all have time to phrase succinct questions or propositions whereas even if they were all bold and enthusiastic there would simply not be enough time for all in the OC mode.

iii. The whole-class tutorial is an “efficient” way of helping large numbers of students. However the asynchronous DL whole-class tutorial increases this efficiency very substantially, effectively making everyone participate and allowing everyone (including the teacher) to benefit from this participation. Indeed the teacher now gets a vastly better on-going feedback on student understanding.

iv. There may be an “ethical” constraint on identifying the e-mail participants (they might not want to appear “stupid” or gauche; one would have to take advice on this). Nevertheless this problem can be solved by provider-supplied first name e-mail addresses, the teacher acting as a filter for student inputs, offering anonymity, acting on requests for anonymity and re-transmitting the relevant questions and answers. As with the lecture copyright issue it would make things much easier if legal constraints were avoided through sensible cooperation and flexibility. Of course, the students are immediately identifiable in class in the OC mode i.e. the DL mode offers greater anonymity and “personal space” for the student.

v. Add-ons with increasing technological sophistication and increasing financial/time cost could range up to the currently very expensive synchronous virtual classroom mode mentioned in 6a(v) above.

c. Informal or small group office consultations. Many students and teachers would be critical of large, formal, semi-structured “tutorials” of the kind described in (b) in the OC mode but such arrangements are now heavily economically determined in Australian universities. However such tutorials are effectively “personal” in the DL mode because there is no impediment to individual student participation and the teacher is obliged to reply to each student e-mail (personally or collectively). More personalized asynchronous individual and “small group” interactions are all quite feasible by e-mail (noting that their questions/propositions could also be usefully transmitted to the whole class on an anonymity basis). Such e-mail consultations are feasible because they can be dealt with independent of “business hours” (of both student and teacher).


i. Add-ons for such e-mail interactions would include faxing or posting handwritten material and audio-video transmission (see below in part c).

ii. When I have such informal OC interactions I typically write out my answers, solutions and ideas in note form on sheets of paper. The cheapest e-mail equivalent would be to scan such handwritten material, save as a jpg file and then transmit it as an attachment.

d. Telephone, e-mail, post and other student-teacher (S-T) and student-student (S-S) interactions. Informal e-mail consultations are by definition unstructured and because of different time zones, business commitments and so on it is difficult to organize synchronous interactions. Telephone, post and fax are cheap and appropriate means of informal communication (although attaching documents and attaching scanned material to e-mails as in c(ii) above is the cheapest mode).


i. As indicated in parts 5(c) and 5(d) above, such communications are typically rare in OC mode but would be much more common in the DL mode. Of course many e-mails will be teacher-initiated (and Bcc-ed to the class), dealing with matters such as corrections, timetables, assignments, tutorials, special lectures and other information.

ii. Synchronous S-T, multiple S-T and S-S conversations could be variously cheaply effected by telephone, conference telephone (in the case of class or group interactions) and electronically in “chat club” mode. A further very cheap possibility for ready, synchronous S-T interaction involves use of a PC-linked camera and associated software (cost about $100) that would provide synchronous audio-video connection between the teacher and a student or indeed between a teacher and a collection of similarly-equipped students. Unfortunately the resolution, image size and image stability in this cheap mode are relatively poor at present but no doubt this will dramatically improve in relation to quality and cost in the future.

e. Study questions and quizzes. Study questions involving past exam questions will be provided together with model answers, this process providing students with a very good idea about standards, the level of understanding desired and realistic expectations (both for student and teacher) in the examination process. Students would be encouraged to attempt the study questions before looking at the model answers. Electronic quizzes can be readily delivered by e-mail (or otherwise accessed from the course Website) with “reward marks” (e.g. 5% of the total course assessment) offered for merely attempting all of the questions by a particular date (after which the answers can be provided by e-mail).


i. The attendant “reward marks” would ensure that all reasonable students would engage in this very useful process (which would coincidentally generate useful feedback for the teacher on student learning and understanding).

ii. The model exam answers are extremely useful in meeting student concerns about teacher expectations, course standards and their personal progress. This process can also reduce student anxiety about examination.

iii. Many textbooks (especially in the sciences) have study questions and problems. A notable Biochemistry example is Lehninger Principles of Biochemistry (Nelson & Cox, 2000) which has an associated CD-ROM with marvellous teaching aids (notably moving cartoon videos) and huge banks of electronic quizzes.

iv. A variety of sophisticated add-ons are possible here (i.e. different types of periodic assessment) but it is desirable to minimize “make work” periodic impositions on the DL students (who will variously have job, child care, domestic, family, social, sporting and cultural commitments). Further, “whole-of-course” approaches to assessment are important for ensuring deep, “big picture” learning (Morgan & O’Reilly, 1999, 2001).

f. Projects and assignments. It is important to allocate a significant slab of marks (e.g. 20%) for a library- and Web-based “take home assignment” (in addition to the “reward marks” offered for tutorial involvement and participation in quizzes). Take home projects have some very beneficial effects: decreased anxiety about “sudden death exams”; opportunity for empowering self-teaching, researching, collaborative learning, analysing, synthesizing, self-actualization, self-realization and reporting; encouragement of interest-motivated deep learning, understanding and real scholarship; increased confidence, sense of achievement and independence associated with autonomous learning; and student independence achieved by giving students a choice in the type of project to be attempted.

A variety of such assignments can be considered; word length limits, formatting, referencing and time-frame would be defined; and this would be another avenue for e-mail/telephone communication between student and teacher. Ideally the projects would be such that the student becomes an expert and a teacher, doing the research and reporting to the lecturer in the final report. In the OC mode the student could well get up and make a presentation to the class; in the DL mode the student could prepare an electronically-transmitted summary for the benefit of the rest of the class. The assignment would be marked, corrections and comments appended and the annotated work returned electronically to the student. Electronic communication allows for a submission of the draft assignment and consultation with the teacher before submission of the final, “matured” assignment (i.e. another very useful learning experience).


i. The student could prepare, for example, a circa 2500 word essay (with additional figures, tables, references and a summary as required). The summary could be transmitted with the author’s credits to the rest of the class.

ii. In addition, the student could make a simple Powerpoint-type 10 minute lecture presentation that could be transmitted to the “virtual class”.

iii. Add-ons could include: synchronous audio-video transmission (see a cheap version of this in section 6d(ii)) but this involves time constraints for participants; a full-colour and exciting Power-point slide show (exciting and enthralling for some but possibly irritating for DL students with numerous heavy time commitments); or a Web page display on the student’s personal Web-page that is linked to a course Web-page. There is obviously a major trade off here between student empowerment, pride and enthusiasm on the one hand and getting a sensible job done in the context of heavy curricular and extra-curricular commitments.

g. The student contract. As with OC students “what the student needs to know and understand” is very precisely defined by the handouts (lecture notes, synopses, worked examples of past examinations and statements of aims and objectives). For example, the mark breakdown could be: tutorial “electronic attendance” (5%), attempting the electronic quiz (5%), assignment/project (20%) and end of semester examination paper(s) (70%)). If more than one exam paper is used the precise breakdown of subject matter in the two halves of the overall course will be specified.

The selection of a good textbook is very important but student anxiety is diminished if the relevant chapters and required depth are specified. Nevertheless the DL mode context makes it even more important to define the basic “aims and specific objectives” of the course which in general amount to getting a good, integrated, global or “big picture” understanding of the area covered. As with OC T&L, clear statements of aims and specific objectives, required standards and examination expectations are very helpful for the student. Such statements could include specific examination intentions e.g. “you will not be asked to reproduce rote-learned chemical structures or mathematical equations in the exams”. The supply of study questions (and model answers) based on previous or intended exam questions provides a very good idea of the depth desired and what students can expect in the exams.


i. Two examination papers may be useful if the course can be sensibly divided into two digestible bits. Deep learning is encouraged by having a reasonable workload; having two half-semester slabs can help the student get on top of the course.

ii. The model of teaching in my system involves the lecturer as a summarizer and explainer (explicator) of the area. The paradox is that good, clear teaching might result in diminished textbook and other reading by the DL students (who have many other calls upon their time and many of whom may be in full time employment). The assignment/project partially overcomes this difficulty by encouraging immersion and deeper and wider reading in the area.

h. Textbooks and other material. Excellent textbooks are prescribed for the course. Ideally there is an excellent text that covers the whole course enabling solution of didactic problems by wider reading in the text. The strictly relevant bits of the prescribed text must be specified. Ideal texts would have chapter summaries, study problems, worked problems, problem answers, good indexes and references. Some excellent texts in, for this example, Biochemistry, have an accompanying summary book (e.g. Uzman et al. (2000), Student Companion to accompany Voet et al. (2000) Fundamentals of Biochemistry) or a CD-ROM with a wealth of material such as summaries, diagrams, quizzes, animated diagrams and other T&L aids (e.g. Nelson & Cox (2001) Lehninger Principles of Biochemistry). Textbooks that summarize the course material are very helpful for students, good examples being the US College Outline series or the UK Instant Notes series (e.g. Hames et al. (2001) Instant Notes Biochemistry). A distinction must be made between “prescribed texts” (carefully selected for the reasons outlined above) and “recommended texts” (that may be strictly relevant only in parts).


i. People learn in different ways (Ramsden, 2000) and the desired student “Damascene” experience in relation to revelatory deep understanding of something may come about through presentation in a different way. Accordingly recommended texts as well as prescribed texts are very useful.

ii. As outlined in 6g(ii), the project component may encourage in-depth reading by the student who may otherwise be tempted to concentrate solely on the “superb” lecture notes at the expense of collateral text reading.

iii. A useful suggestion to the students is to initially “skim” the prescribed and recommended books to get a broad coverage of the area and its ramifications and to further identify particularly relevant bits (see section 6(k) below for the SQ3R “trick” for “active” book reading).

i. Assessment. A mix of assessments (participation reward, quiz attempting, projects, group/individual presentations, peer-assessments and exams) as discussed above provides on-going feedback on student progress (for both teacher and student) and decreases student anxiety. It is important in relation to accreditation, standards and perceived quality if the DL assessment is exactly the same as the OC assessment (as practised by the University of London).


i. There is a temptation to go for multiple choice examination questions in a computer-based DL mode of T&L. However it can be argued that true and false propositions can be very misleading for students (they may mistakenly re-learn incorrect propositions in the final exam).

ii. It is important to assess students using a variety of methods for reasons of fairness and for useful feedback about the quality of student learning (Morgan & O’Reilly, 1999).

iii. A variety of testing add-ons can be very easily provided for on-going student self-testing and for overall “grading” (e.g. systems involving modest rewards for participation in computerised self-testing)

j. Student collaboration and socialization. Many students benefit from collective learning and students rather haphazardly aggregate to varying degrees in the OC mode. In the DL mode the students can interact via course discussions (on-line asynchronous tutorials, asynchronous group tutorials, e-mail and “chat” mode interactions).

Various mechanisms (subject to privacy constraints) can be envisaged for enabling and encouraging student collaboration including: limited identification on a course Web page; a message board on the Web page (e.g. can anyone help me with this? would you like to join a study group?); grouping of students together in asynchronous tutorials so that they come up with group questions and answers; and grouping of students together for joint projects so that they sub-divide the research load, synthesize the “big picture” summary, “electronically” present separate parts and then write their own version of the whole.

Socialization can be encouraged (subject to privacy constraints) through the course Web page by, for example, referral to the home university Home Page, Student Union Home Page; provision of lists of OC clubs and societies and OC events (such as lectures); and other useful links such as linking students by locality.


i. These possible arrangements enable 100% involvement of students in some form of beneficial group learning as compared to the haphazard, discontinuous, ad hoc groupings in the OC mode. While some DL groupings might arise in an electronic equivalent of OC group formation, other groupings (e.g. for group-based research for assignments) might be designed or random selections by the teacher.

ii. If students want to “chat”, swap details about themselves or meet (they may coincidentally come from the same suburb or city) it is up to them. Their designated e-mail addresses (e.g. course-specific and institutionally arranged addresses) are available to all the class and proper behaviour is substantially ensured through e-mail record “permanence” and institutional “ownership and guardianship”.

iii. Add-ons could include: optional actual face-to-face group meetings (e.g. via a short workshop, study skills lecture or social get together); and local honours graduate “mentors” having group sessions with local students (e.g. a Ballarat mentor having tutorials with local students doing a nationwide DL course).

k. Autonomous learning. Autonomous learning encourages deep, absorbed learning and in turn is encouraged of necessity by the DL mode. Having the lecture notes, the other handouts and the text means that the student sees the breadth, scope and detail of the course at the beginning and has accordingly a lot of choice in how to proceed (e.g. a person with a familial interest in diabetes doing a biochemistry course might initially dive into diabetes-related sections as well as proceeding systematically from the beginning to the end). The tutorial, informal tutorial, group learning and project sections all encourage autonomous learning in the confidence-building and empowering “see what I know” sense.

Study skills for autonomous learning and tips for DL can be provided as part of the course (e.g. see Habeshaw et al., 1987; Hastings, 1984; Orr, 1992; Percy, 1989; Schonell & Anderson, 1975). Thus useful “tricks” include the “not too short, not too long” “half hour unit of studying” (Hastings, 1984) and the SQ3R system for active reading of books (Survey the book, list Questions to be answered, Read and note answers, Recall answers to questions and Review what has been learnt) (Habeshaw et al., 1987).


i. A potential problem arises through “incorrect” interpretation of material by the DL student. However “honours graduate mentors” and the numerous ready S-T and S-S interactional mechanisms set up in this model system should be able to “weed out” such interpretational errors.

ii. Add-ons could include access to: “banks” of potential local tutors (e.g. good, articulate honours graduate tutors who have done the same course); central institutional study counsellors; and support group mechanisms (see 6(j) above).

l. Course refinement from student feedback and evaluation. Student evaluation of the course can be obtained through a carefully and professionally designed questionnaire that can be e-mailed out from an evaluating body separate from the teacher with a request for an anonymous response by return airmail or local surface post. In the OC mode maybe only 50% of students will have been around to complete such forms and the time available (e.g. the last ten minutes of a lecture slot in the absence of the lecturer) may not be enough for a properly considered response. Potentially 100% of DL students are readily able to give considered, anonymous, asynchronous responses, the results of which are communicated to the teacher after the course grades have been posted.


i. This evaluative mechanism: potentially involves 100% of the class; can provide comprehensive evaluative feedback from the students to the teacher (in addition to the various assessments of student learning outcomes described in (i) above); avoids some current inexpert, inaccurate and misleading OC evaluations; and avoids abuses such as use of such information for industrial and employee-harassment purposes.

ii. Add-ons (especially given the extra time for reflection in the asynchronous DL mode) could include suggestions from student respondents for changes to the course (e.g. new areas to be covered, “hands-on” possibilities and useful books discovered by the student). DL students typically have peculiar needs and impositions and hence special evaluative assessment is required from such students (Morgan & O’Reilly, 1999, 2001; Rowntree, 1991)

m. Student connection to the research and professional culture of the discipline. The Web page of the teacher’s department will ideally provide a wealth of information about: the department staff (including the specific teacher), their background, publications and research interests; new initiatives; useful discipline and professional links (e.g. conferences, professional society links and professional news); public seminar programs; special OC lectures by distinguished visitors; and vocational information. Similar information can be obtained from the Web page of the “home university”.

The course Web page can also direct students to: other useful links relating to publicly-accessible radio broadcasts, TV programs, videos, Web links, public lectures, conferences and other events relating to the course and discipline; summer job vacancies; international exchange possibilities; and professional job opportunity links. Particular newsworthy events (e.g. the latest Nobel Prize in the area) can also be posted.


i. The use of Web pages together with the possibility of ready communication with the teacher means that the DL students will be much better connected to the research and professional culture of the discipline than many current OC students. Such involvement can only increase the involvement and enthusiasm of the student.

ii. More specific information about progression to honours or research degrees in particular research areas can also be readily linked to the course Web page (enabling the student to envisage further progression and professional development).

iii. Add-ons could include debates (either “for real” or in a “debating” sense) about important public issues relating to the discipline or course; links to local institutions, departments and scholars (e.g. via publications of professional associations); and assignment components (e.g. at a higher level) involving research grant applications for funds to do a research project.

n. Practical and vocational applications of the course. The older DL students are typically in the “real world” and would particularly appreciate the practical aspects of the course. Relating course material to practical matters is very useful pedagogy anyway. As indicated in part (m) above, the course Webpage will make numerous links to the department, research, professional and industrial aspects of the discipline.

In the case of specific areas where there is official professional accreditation (e.g. law, medicine, engineering, accountancy, pharmacy, nursing, physiotherapy and other paramedical disciplines) or membership of a professional society (e.g. clinical biochemistry, microbiology, biochemistry, botany, cell biology, biophysics, mathematics etc) the course Webpage will provide appropriate links. Where the course is an accredited part of a professional course, specific continuing advice would be provided by those responsible for such students in the OC mode. The special case of “practical work” is considered below in section 6(p).

o. Student counselling. DL students can have ready access to financial, health and personal counselling and counselling specifically relating to their courses (e.g. course progression, university regulations, vocational possibilities, study skills and language skills) through Webpage links to the relevant OC people. Because of the “special” situations of many DL students, they must be particularly made aware of these support services that can be readily addressed by simply picking up the phone.


i. By being particularly apprised of such OC counselling services it seems more likely that DL students will take greater advantage of what is being offered than the regular OC students.

ii. Add-ons could include detailed general (as well as specific) counselling information for DL students as indicated above being placed on the Web with suitable links.

p. Practical work. Particular disciplines and accredited professional courses will demand appropriate exposure to practical courses that ultimately may require OC attendance (or in some instances, an equivalent attendance-based experience acquired at local institutions). Thus one could imagine DL nursing courses with the student working as a trainee nurse at a local hospital and building up “credit” involving a requisite set of competencies (although eventually some more formal, common OC program might have to be involved).

The general proposition would be that on-the-job practical training in requisite competencies would be a feasible way of getting substantial (if not complete) “practical course” credit. Another way of gaining significant “practical course credit” would be concentrated, OC “weekend courses” or “summer practical courses”. A further way of exposing students to particular practical skills is via videos (e.g. relating to nursing operations, surgical procedures etc).


i. Exposure to particular skills can be readily and rapidly achieved through preparatory notes and videos with subsequent combinations of “hands-on” operations and “demonstrations” in a local research or industry context. A professionally certified list of acquired practical competencies would be a big step to meeting professional requirements, while recognizing that ultimately a form of hands-on laboratory, hospital or industrial “apprenticeship’ would ultimately be needed.

ii. Add-ons would include institutional library or electronically-accessible video libraries relating to practical competencies; and combined institution-industry competency check-lists with “weekend” “top-up” practical courses to fill in “gaps” for employees with some “missing” competencies.

7. Critical analysis of the proposal

My proposal simply represents one way of enabling DL predicated by low cost, convenience, ready implementation and an equivalence of the “service” offered to students in either the DL or OC mode. The “equivalence” simply establishes the legitimacy of the proposal i.e. it is no worse (and indeed can be a lot better) than the “good teaching” equivalents in the OC mode. However it must be recognized that, as outlined in the Practicum #1, there are many other ways of delivering DL and notably through dedicated, specialist-developed DL materials (Rowntree, 1991; Laurillard, 1993). This point and some other issues relating to my proposal are briefly discussed below with reference to some of the current literature.

a. Other DL systems, accreditation and degree “legitimacy”

As reviewed in the associated blog about global DL systems, the major types of DL are:

I. Class-based TV/Radio systems (notably the Chinese Dianda and Japanese University of the Air systems).

II. Open Universities (notably the UK Open University, the German Fernsuniversit├Ąt of Hagen, the New York university system Empire State College and a number of huge open university systems elsewhere in the world e.g. those of India, Indonesia, Thailand and Pakistan.

III. Regular universities offering DL.

IV. DL systems with minimal DL-oriented course design (notably that of the extremely high quality University of London and the minimal cost UNISA system of South Africa).

My system basically involves regular universities offering DL (system III) but with minimal “specialist DL” course design and an offering that is essentially the same as the OC equivalent (system IV, University of London). The careful course and lecture overhead design is exactly the same as that provided for OC students. The “specialist DL” aspects of my system involve creative use of standard PC-based electronic technology to maximize the quality of off-campus student learning.

Accordingly my system has the advantages of being low cost and highly accredited through “traditional” intimate scholarly connection because of delivery by research- and scholarship-based academic departments (unlike more “specialist” open university providers). Further “legitimacy” derives from the exact equivalence of the DL and OC offerings from a research-active university.

b. Different DL systems and cultural compatibility

The various DL systems around the world have arisen in particular cultures and are accordingly compatible with those cultures. Thus the Chinese and Japanese TV/Radio DL systems fit in with cultural mores relating to professorial pedagogy and non-phonetic scripts requiring audio-visual accompaniment for more effective transmission; the long-standing University of London system refers back to the Empire looking to its metropolitan heart for authority and standards; the UK Open University reflects democratic, egalitarian and learning ideals in British society; and the numerous US electronic-based DL systems reflect American enthusiasm for the latest high technology and “getting on”. Haihuie (2000) argues that while the colonial DL system I Papua New Guinea had a “divide and rule” segregating element, the present audiotape- and CD-assisted DL initiatives are thoroughly consistent with traditional Melanesian learning cultures of “observation and orality”.

My scheme is quite compatible with current Western culture involving isolated individuals in “little boxes” increasingly linked to society as a whole through television, radio, print media and the Web. Evans and Nation (2000b) (p160) observe that “Students, a bare majority of whom remain full-time and attend classes on campus, are reminded that the electronic university is about to emerge”. The “global virtual universities” based on top major institutions such as Harvard have arrived.

c. Using new technologies for student-centred learning

Oliver (2000) argues in general for “the value of using new technologies in forming and sustaining learning partnerships with students” but recognizes that many students value the “face-to-face mode”. However sensible use of technology can allow for simultaneous “teacher-directed learning” and “student-centred teaching”. Oliver (2000) describes an “experiment” in which a course was presented in a “face-to-face” mode but involved extensive involvement with Web searching and student-student interaction. However the student responses were conservative - they placed a high value on structured teaching and S-S and S-T interactions and less value on student Web-based activities. One senses that the students were wary of “contrived” exercises involving their exploration of the Web and were happier with teacher-validated offerings.

Imaginative use of electronic technologies and the Web can foster student independence (Oliver, 2000) but students typically also need interactions with each other and with their teacher to build confidence in the utility of their learning path. Such interactions “break the ice” and demystify the material to be learned i.e. students realize from good teaching that it is not so difficult to understand after all and get the same message from recognizing understanding by their peers.

In my scheme the student can have the best of both worlds: DL enourages student self-learning and autonomy; carefully-devised assignments can encourage individual- and group-based research; synchronous and asynchronous S-T and S-S interactions are actively encouraged through “chat” and e-mail; and the active encouragement of ready electronic communication driven by student need (rather than teacher contrivance) empowers the DL student who in this sense is less alone in practice than the OC equivalent.

d. Web resources for DL teachers

The DL teacher is not alone either. There is now such a large DL-based education and associated literature that DL teachers do not have to “reinvent the wheel”. There is a big range of recent books on DL (for a limited and focussed selection consulted in this practicum see section 9, reference list). In addition there are various Websites that are particularly useful as outlined below.

i. World association for on-line education (WAOE):

WAOE is a Web-linked international association of teachers involved in on-line education.

ii. Peterson’s Education Portal ® Distance Learning:

This site provides a wealth of information about US colleges and universities and in particular about graduate programs, financial aid, test preparation, private secondary schools, distance learning, corporate training, career education, summer opportunities and study abroad. It provides details of on-line courses and degrees at over 200 US institutions. The DL section details DL programs, DL courses, entry test preparation, financial aid, books and other resources and notably has numerous excellent articles on many aspects of DL.

iii. Course Share:

This site enabled rapid linkage to OC and DL institutions and their course details as well as providing links to other DL-related resources. It is a particularly useful site for teachers involved in DL programs, providing links to e-learning associations, books, journals, information and other DL resources and teachers.

e. Use of cheap, basic, universal electronic technology

Haihuie (2000) describes the use of CD-ROMs and audiotapes as DL add-ons to basic print material provision in a basic DL system in Papua New Guinea. A whole range of sophisticated add-ons are possible but the audiotape is extremely effective for the typically very busy DL student who can listen to the tape while doing other tasks. The CD-ROM is an extremely efficient and cheap way of delivering audio-visual, print and illustrative material relating to a course. The cost-benefit ratio for add-ons such as video conferencing and real-time satellite linkage is just simply too high. An enormous amount of flexibility is provided by the basic e-mail, Internet, scanner and CD-ROM facilities that are now “standard” issue for PC users. The audiotape is an extremely convenient low-cost add-on that is very useful for busy DL students.

Laurillard (1993) has analysed the effectiveness of various technologies in meeting a desirable “discursive” and “teaching refinement” mode in her ideal teaching model involving T-S interaction, feedback and modified teaching. The audio-visual mode (e.g. an audio-tape to complement the PC-displayed or printed lecture note material standard to my system) is actually much better than the more expensive and elaborate audio-conferencing, video conferencing and computer conferencing modes.

f. Assessment of DL, assessment authenticity and plagiarism

With options of on-line assessment and electronically-delivered assignments, the problem arises of submissions that are wholly or in part not the student’s own work. On-line assessment is not secure and accordingly examinations should be held in the traditional manner with appropriate invigilation at a suitable local venue.

Plagiarism in assignments is a potential problem with both OC and DL modes and can involve a range of abuses from unattributed use of print- or Web-based text and excessive assistance in the writing of the assignment right up to submission of whole assignments that are the work of others. A useful site addressing these matters is from the University of Melbourne:

Apparently computer packages have been devised that can pick up plagiarism (e.g. within a set of class assignments) and accordingly can be applied to electronically delivered DL mode assignments (but not to hard-copy OC mode assignments). Other partial solutions can be applied, namely: student certifications of authenticity are supplied (the above site provides examples of such approaches); the matter should be raised by the teacher as an ethical issue of fundamental importance; sensible reading of the class assignments will lead to “bells ringing” when close similarity is encountered; and regular alteration of assignment questions (Morgan & O’Reilly, 1999).

g. Costs

The costs of DL have been analysed by many people (e.g. Keegan, 2000; Rumble, 1997; Taylor & White, 1992). The provision of DL via the UK Open University can be about 40% of the OC cost of equivalent higher education (ignoring the financial benefit to DL students in part-time or full-time employment) (Keegan, 2000). This surprisingly high figure comes about because of the commitment to provide carefully designed, “best practice” open learning courses to the students. A similar high proportional cost can be estimated from inspection of the DL offerings made in the US (accessed via the Peterson’s site listed in 7(d) above).

In my scheme, assuming that the lecturer is giving the students copies of his OC lecture notes (either in hard-copy or printable from an e-mail attachment or Website), there is effectively no added cost to the “provider” of this most expensive part of the teaching.

All the other Internet and e-mail costs are “normal” costs for the student. The major cost for the student will be the prescribed textbook (circa $100). The cost of a CD-ROM disk carrying the lectures (audio plus accompanying lecture material) is circa $1. If the student wishes to have standard audio tapes (for bedtime, kitchen, garden, car or study use) the cost will be circa $3 per lecture x 40 lectures = $120. Local tutorial or mentoring assistance (as opposed to electronic S-T and S-S dialogue) may cost circa $20 per hour as required.

Of course there are huge savings to the DL student in terms of being able to be in full time employment and study at home.

h. Evaluating teaching and assessment practices in DL

Morgan and O’Reilly (1999) have provided a detailed analysis of the special requirements in evaluating DL courses. Thus DL involves a wider variety of options than the OC mode. Further, the DL cohort of students are most likely to be older, more varied in background and with much more complicated commitments, reasons for learning and criteria for learning success.

My system allows for much more considered and detailed replies from students to questionnaires simply because the asynchronous communication allows time for sensible reflection.

8. Summary and socio-political implications of my proposed system of DL

My system can dramatically increase access to high quality tertiary education for everyone. My system has the following advantages over the existing relatively expensive OC mode:

i. Low cost (several hundred dollars as compared to $1000 OC per semester unit or $10,000 per OC semester unit for proposed “full fee mode” courses at a top university).

ii. High quality teaching (equivalent to the best OC teaching and OC service)

iii. High quality interactions (electronic communication means that overall DL students will paradoxically have better and more considered access to the teacher and indeed to other students than those in the OC mode)

iv. Rapid implementation (it simply requires a Federal/State government injunction that all theoretical courses offered at all our institutions should be automatically offered in this fashion as of now)

v. Greatly increased access (for everyone but notably for those disadvantaged by location, economics, family commitments, job commitments or disability e.g. in its minimal form it is capable of giving access to top quality tertiary education to impoverished refugees trapped in refugee camps)

vi. Greatly increased teaching quality in the OC mode (because of lecture note-lecture overhead provision and the pressure to “lift” all OC teaching services to the level applying in this mixed OC-DL mode)

vii. Greatly increased social inclusiveness due to lowered cost and increased access (and contrary to the current exclusivist and neoliberal trends)

viii. Greatly increased respect for thoughtful, intellectual and humane positions in our society (contrary to current illiberal, anti-intellectual and inhumane trends and deriving from greater access and the fundamental reality that degree value will depend upon the research- and scholarship-based reputations of the teachers and their institutions).

9. References

Collis, B. & Moonen, J. (2001), Flexible learning in a digital world. Experiences and expectations, Kogan Page, London.

Evans, T. & Nation D. (Eds) (2000a), Changing university teaching: reflections on creating educational technologies, London: Kogan Page.

Evans, T. & Nation, D. (2000b), Understanding changes to university teaching, Chapter 13 in Evans & Nation (2000a).

Habeshaw, T., Gibbs, G. & Habeshaw, S. (1987), 53 interesting ways of helping your students to study, Technical & educational services, Bristol.

Haihuie, S (2000), Fears and ambitions: adopting audiotape and compact disc approaches to teaching at the University of Papua New Guinea, Chapter 8, pp98-107 in Evans & Nation (2000a).

Hames, B.D. & Hooper, N.M. (2001), Instant notes biochemistry, Bios, Oxford.

Hastings, E. (1984), How to study at tertiary level, Nelson, Melbourne.

Keegan, D. (2000), Distance training. Taking stock at a time of change, Routledge Falmer/Taylor & Francis, London, New York.

Lau, L.K. (2000), Distance learning technologies: issues, trends and opportunities, Idea Group Publishing, London.

Laurillard, D. (1993) Rethinking university teaching: a framework for the effective use of learning technology, London: Routledge.

Lockwood, F. and Gooley, A. (Eds) (2001) Innovation in open and distance learning. Successful development of online and Web-based learning, London: Kogan Page.

Mantyla, K. (1999), Interactive distance learning exercises that really work!, American Society for Training & Development, Alexandria, VA.

Morgan, C. & O’Reilly, M. (1999), Assessing open and distance learners, Kogan Page, London.

Morgan, C. and O’Reilly, M. (2001), Innovations in on-line assessment, Chapter 16, pp 179-188 in Lockwood & Gooley (2001).

Nelson, D.L. & Cox, M.M. (2000), Lehninger Principles of Biochemistry, Worth, New York

Oliver, R. (2000), Using new technologies to create learning partnerships, Chapter 12, pp147-159 in Evans & Nation (2000a).

Oliver, R., Towers, S., Skippington, P., Brunetto, Y., Farr-Wharton, R. and Gooley, A. (2001) Flexible toolboxes: a solution for developing online resources? Chapter 9, pp100-110 in Lockwood & Gooley (2001).

Orr, F. (1992), Study skills for successful students, Allen & Unwin, Sydney.

Parer, M.S. (ed.) (1993), Developing open courses, Centre for Distance Learning, Monash University, Melbourne.

Percy, D. (1989), Adult study tactics. A springboard to learning, Macmillan, Melbourne.

Peters, O. (1998), Learning and teaching in distance education. Analyses and interpretations from an international perspective, Kogan Page, London.

Porter, L.R. (1997), Creating the virtual classroom. Distance learning with the internet, John Wiley, New York.

Ramsden, P. (2000), Learning to teach in higher education, Routledge, London.

Rowntree, D. (1991) Teaching through self-instruction: how to develop open learning materials, London: Kogan Page.

Rumble, G. (1997), The costs and economics of distance learning, Kogan Page, London.

Schonell, F. & Anderson, J. (1975), How to study at the university, University of Queensland Press, Brisbane.

Uzman, A., Eichberg, J., Widger, W., Voet, D., Voet, J.G. & Pratt, C.W. (2000), Student Companion to accompany Voet et al. (2000), John Wiley, New York.

Voet, D., Voet, J.G. & Pratt, C.W. (2000), Fundamentals of biochemistry, John Wiley, New York.

Yates, C. & Bradley, J (eds) (2000), Basic education at a distance. World review of distance education and open learning: Volume 2, Routledge, London.

This analysis was completed in 2002. Since then a major relevant advance has been the rapidly growing phenomenon of Educational Services Outsourcing (ESO) e.g. involving on-line graduate Indian tutors assisting American college or high school students at very modest financial cost (see: ). Further, the Massaachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that boasts 63 Nobel Laureates (see: ) has put all its teaching materials on the Web for free access. All Governments need to do (as a minimal approach) is to simply order their existing research-informed academics to set accrediting examinations for the MIT courses (indeed a collective of research-informed academics could do the same).

Credentials: Credentials: Dr Gideon Polya published some 130 works in a 4 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text "Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds" (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London, 2003), and is currently editing a huge book on global avoidable mortality - numerous articles on this matter can be found by a simple Google search for "Gideon Polya" and on his website:

and ). In addition to continuous association with tertiary education in various capacities since 1961, his scientific qualifications and 4 decade scientific career, he has a postgraduate qualification in higher education teaching.