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Distance Education Theory
Michael G. Moore
The recent publication of two books, one by Verduin and Clark (1991) about distance education and the other by Candy (1991) about self-directed learning, both of which include discussion of theoretical work that I wrote in the early 1970s, has led to the suggestion that I might summarize those theoretical ideas in this journal. I was recently invited to give a talk on the concepts of distance education at a conference organized by the State College and University Systems of West Virginia, and found a greater interest than I had expected in ideas about the conceptualization of distance education. Since it is possible this subject might indeed be of some general interest, I will proceed to elaborate on the idea of transactional distance. The subject of learner autonomy, or self-direction, will be given a minor place in what follows; perhaps we can take it up on another occasion.
Over the past twenty years I have enjoyed the interaction with colleagues around the world as we have struggled to conceptualize our new field of study; I hope that what follows will both extend interest in the subject, and also widen the circle of fellow students who will correspond about this fascinating subject.
The Need for Theory
We must not hide the fact that there is a great deal of confusion about terminology in the distance education field. In particular the use of the term "distance learning" is troublesome since it suggests actions of one person, i.e., the learner, that are independent of the actions of teachers. Yet every so-called "distance learning" program is in fact a teaching program as well as a learning program and, therefore, can only correctly be referred to as distance education. The point is not that the concepts of distance education have not been defined and explored, nor that there is unanimity among scholars about their meanings. In this journal there have been several articles that have both contributed to the progress in conceptualization, and identified the areas of disagreement. What is needed is more discussion about and understanding of these efforts to organize our knowledge, as well as more careful and thoughtful use of terms. Understanding how we "organize our knowledge" means to understand our theory. That's what theory is: the summary and synthesis of what is known about a field. It is the reduction of our knowledge to the basic ideas, presented in a way that shows their underlying patterns and relationships. Understanding theory makes it possible for us to speak with a common vocabulary. Understanding it should have the effect of helping practitioners see where their piece of the action fits and interfaces with others and thus should lead to better ways of working with others. The theory also helps us understand what we don't know and, therefore, is the only guide to research. R esearch that is not grounded in theory is wasteful. It might solve an immediate problem, but it doesn't fulfill its promise. Relating it to theory, however, increases its ability to solve other problems in different times and different places. In our theorizing we rise above immediate and local concerns and find out what is general and long lasting. This gives us a broad perspective that enables us to analyze the particular instance more effectively; it helps us make decisions that are guided by fundamental teaching and learning principles rather than by the pressure of a particular crisis or the dazzle of a fresh opportunity.
The first attempt in English to define distance education and to articulate a theory appeared in 1972 (Moore 1972) and in 1980 was named as the theory of transactional distance (Moore 1980). Analysis of the literature that was summarized by this theory led to the important postulate that when we talk about distance education we are referring to a distance that is more than simply a geographic separation of learners and teachers. It is a distance of understandings and perceptions, caused in part by the geographic distance, that has to be overcome by teachers, learners and educational organizations if effecti ve, deliberate, planned learning is to occur.
The concept of Transaction was derived from Dewey (Dewey and Bentley, 1949). As explained by Boyd and Apps (1980) it "connotes the interplay among the environment, the individuals and the patterns of behaviors in a situation" (p. 5). The transaction that we call distance education occurs between individuals who are teachers and learners, in an environment that has the special characteristic of separation of one from another, and a consequent set of special teaching and learning behaviors. It is the physical separation that leads to a psychological and communications gap, a space of potential misunderstanding between the inputs of instructor and those of the learner, and this is the transactional distance. Little is known about transactional distance and much research is needed to understand it better. What follows are conjectures that have at least s tood the test of over twenty years' discussion among distance education scholars in several countries, and that might be further elaborated and more formally tested.
It now appears that transactional distance is a continuous rather than a discrete variable, a relative rather than an absolute term. In any educational program there is some transactional distance, even where learners and teachers meet face to face. What is normally referred to as distance education is that subset of educational programs in which the separation of teacher and learner is so significant that it affects their behaviors in major ways, and requires the use of special techniques, and leads to special conceptualization. The relative nature of transactional distance means also that within the subset of educational programs that we call distance education programs there are many different degrees of transactional distance. When we recognize that distance education is education, we can apply much that we know about teaching and learning from c onventional education in both our theory and practice of distance education. In practice, however, we discover that transactional distance in many programs is so great that the teaching we deliver cannot be just like conventional teaching. On the contrary, the transactional distance is such that special organizations and teaching procedures are essential.
These special teaching procedures fall into two clusters, and what determines the extent of distance in a program is a function of these two sets of variables. These are not technological or communications variables, but variables in teaching and in the interaction of teaching and learning. The two sets of variables are labeled dialogue and structure.
Dialogue describes the interaction between the teacher and learner when one gives instruction and the other responds. The extent and nature of this dialogue is determined by the educational philosophy of the individual or group responsible for the design of the course, by the personalities of teacher and learner, by the subject matter of the course, and by environmental factors. The most important of these is the medium of communication. For example, an educational program in which communication between teacher and learner is solely by television permits no dialogue; the student might make a response to a teacher, but no consequent response by the teacher is possible. A program by correspondence is more dialogic, yet not to the same extent as one taught by computer conference because of the pace of interaction. Even in programs that have been describ ed as having no dialogue, such as when the learner is working with print, audio, or video-recorded media there is a form of highly structured learner-instructor dialogue. In such situations the learner's dialogue is with the person who in some distant place and time organized a set of ideas or information for transmission to, and interaction with, an unknown distant reader, viewer, or listener. At the other extreme, the interactive electronic media permit dialogue that is more dynamic than that between expert and learner using a recorded medium, and such programs are therefore less distant.
The second set of variables that determine transactional distance are elements in the course design; they are the ways in which the teaching program is structured so that it can be delivered through the various communications media. Programs are structured in different ways to take into account the need to produce, copy, deliver, and control these mediated messages. Structure expresses the rigidity or flexibility of the program's educational objectives, teaching strategies, and evaluation methods. It describes the extent to which an education program can accommodate or be responsive to each learner's individual needs. A recorded television program for example is highly structured, with virtually every activity of the instructor and every minute of time provided for, and every piece of content predetermined. There is little or no opportunity for devia tion or variation according to the needs of a particular individual. This can be compared with many teleconference courses, which permit a wide range of alternative responses by the instructor to students' questions and written submissions.
Putting together the dimension of dialogue and structure, it can be seen that a typical television program is highly structured and teacher-learner dialogue is nonexistent, so that transactional distance is high. In the correspondence program there is more dialogue and less structure. At the other extreme, the extent of transactional distance is likely to be relatively low in those teleconference programs that have much dialogue and little predetermined structure.
The above discussion should make it clear that the extent of dialogue and the flexibility of structure varies from program to program, rather than from one medium to another. In programs with little transactional distance, the learner receives directions and guidance through both the structure of the course and dialogue with an instructor. In more distant programs, learners have to make their own decisions about study strategies. Even where a course is structured to give directions and guidance, if there is no dialogue, students may decide for themselves whether the instructions will be used and, if so, when, where, in what ways, and to what extent. Thus, there is a relationship between transactional distance and learning style, since the greater the transactional distance, the more autonomy the learner has to exercise. Thus it can be argued that whi le transactional distance is a characteristic of every educational program, and that programs differ in transactional distance according to the extent of dialogue and structure within them, there is also variability in the transactional distance between teachers and learners within each educational program, resulting from the interaction of dialogue, structure, and the characteristics of each learner.
What determines the success of distance teaching is the extent to which the institution and the individual instructor are able to provide the appropriate opportunity for, and quality of, dialogue between teacher and learner, as well as appropriately structured learning materials. Frequently this will mean taking measures to reduce transactional distance by increasing the dialogue through use of teleconference, and developing well structured printed support materials. Unfortunately what is appropriate varies according to content, level of instruction, and learner characteristics, especially the optimum autonomy the learner can exercise. Much time and effort therefore has to be devoted to understanding the needs of learner populations, and individual learners, to analyzing the content to be taught, to determining the exact learning objectives, the type and frequency of learner exercises and activities and evaluation procedures, and the relationship between the learner and instructors. In other words, much care should be given to determine both the structure of the program and the nature of the dialogue that is sufficient and appropriate for each set of particular learners and, ideally, each individual learner. There are no quick or ready-made answers to the question of how much dialogue or structure is needed and desirable for effective learning. Nevertheless, addressing this question is likely to provide a better basis for making decisions about when and how to use media and other resources than any other strategy available at the present time.
The impulse for the interpretation of distance education as an industrialised form of teaching and learning, or as the most industrialised form of teaching and learning, came thirty years ago (Peters 1967). Interest in this has never waned but on the contrary increased. In recent years, the discussion on this attitude towards distance education has even been intensified (Peters 1989, Peters 1994, Campion 1993, Farnes 1993, Raggatt 1993, Rumble 1995a, 1995b, 1995c). This discussion is therefore of some importance because the aspect of industrialisation is not found in pedagogical literature with regard to any other form of teaching and learning. The discussion underlines once again the special character of distance education.
Description of the concept
In the 1960s, when distance education was still being disregarded by pedagogic, in spite of the fact that it even then had a seventy-year long history to look back on, and was even terra incognita for research, it was difficult to take a look at this form of teaching and learning, let alone to make it the subject of academic research. However, in the face of the increasing interest it was high time that its pedagogical advantages and deficiencies were recognized and people made aware of its special features. Of course, it could be described using traditional pedagogical categories. But attempts of this nature (Peters 1967) remained unsatisfactory. Where was the gain if the restricted subject-matter, the special role of the media and, under the anthropological conditions, the advanced age and employment of students were considered? Or where was the gain if distance education was characterized by the separation o f students from teachers and fellow-students, indirect communication by means of correspondence and the predominant use of the medium of printed material? It was always seen merely as a special form of traditional study, although it differs from this to a considerable extent.
To grasp what was special and "essential" about distance education, it was necessary to take a look at its structural differences. It was helpful here to examine the reasons for and circumstances of its creation. For example, the question might be asked why distance teaching had developed in the mid-19th century outside the institutions which the state had established for educating and training its citizens. Why was it able to gain in importance in the following decades although it was neither intended, nor desired, let alone planned, by those responsible for the nation's education? If we follow this line of questioning we come across the first indications of the different structural nature of distance education. In fact, we come up against a fundamental difference. In the case of distance education, funds were not to be applied, as is usual with state education, so that people could be educated and trained. Pe ople were supposed to learn so that the institute providing the instruction could make money or, in other words, make a profit. There were commercial reasons for the creation of distance education. Its pioneers were businessmen.
But there was yet another pointer: as businessmen, the first operators of correspondence schools in the age when industrialism began to flourish recognized the extraordinary opportunities available to those who were no longer satisfied with the traditional methods of teaching and learning. Private schools were prepared to use the new methods of industrial
goods production in the teaching and learning process.
It is difficult to imagine how the complete change in teaching and learning methods could have been any more radical: beforehand, everything on the teaching side had been in a single hand, now there was division of labour. For example, planning, developing and presenting the subject-matter and correcting assignments was now done by different persons at different times and at different locations. The development of written courses before the start of teaching itself became more and more important, and corresponded to production planning in the industrialised production process, which was carried out by specially qualified experts. Where teachers had previously literally used their physical presence to present the subject-matter, this was now done on a mechanized (and later automated) basis. Beforehand, teaching had been individualised to a great extent by the pers onality of the teacher. Now it was standardized, normalized and formalised. If teaching had previously been at all times a unique "event" in the subjective experience of participants who were in interplay with a learning group, it was now objectivised, or offered to all participants of a defined course in the same way and could be repeated at will. The most important consequence of objectivisation was that teaching became a product which could be altered and optimized, and above all sold. And not just sold locally but, like an industrially manufactured product, anywhere. In fact, people began to advertise the product "teaching" and to open up cross-border markets to improve its sales results.
Because of these structural characteristics, distance teaching in the 19th century and distance education in the 20th differ in decisive points from traditional face-to-face teaching with a group of learners. Its organisers rationalised teaching to a much greater extent than was usual in traditional teaching. To do this they used machines - the printing press - to make use of the benefits of mass-production, as well as transport mechanisms, to distribute instruction, and they also aimed at acquiring as many students (as paying customers) as possible. In fact the number of students was regarded as a guide to success. All the special features make it obvious that distance teaching at this period is to be regarded as a structurally fundamentally different system of teaching and learning. This justifies seeing it, in fact, as the most (intensively) industrialised from of teaching and learning.
The concept of industrialised teaching was confirmed by the work of the distance teaching universities which have been founded since the 1970s, above all by the Open University in Great Britain (cf. 7.2). What was so spectacular in the work of these new institutions? The application of the principle of mass-production and mass-consumption of goods to academic teaching. It is no accident that distance teaching universities are among the largest universities in their respective countries; in some cases, they have to cope with hundreds of thousands of students (cf. 7.4). In this way they cooperate in the world-wide transformation process that is making academic education not just accessible to society's elite, as before, but to as many people as possible who are willing and able to study.
Peter Raggatt (1993, 21) characterised the working methods of these distance teaching universities using the example of the British Open University, which he knows well as he is a member of its School of Education. He regards the following features of industrialisation as being characteristic: restriction to a limited number of standard products, application of methods of mass-production, automation, division of labour to carry out specialised part tasks, centralized controls and a hierarchically structured bureaucracy. In Raggat's judgement, the teaching and learning process at the Open University has exactly these features. Here, the number of distance education course was restricted, as many as possible were then printed in a single printing run, which achieved the effect of mass-production (high volume, low cost). For cost reasons, these courses are used for several years, in fact, they often have a working life of eight years. Considerable cost savings through the increased production of longer standardised courses for relatively large homogeneous groups of students make a significant difference. Raggatt described this development stage of industrialisation as Fordism. All distance teaching universities work more or less in accordance with this form of industrialisation.
Some authors have attempted to relativise the validity of this characterisation. David Sewart (1992, 229) pointed quite rightly to the application of principles of mass-production in today's mass universities in which there are certain forms of division of labour, specialisation and increasing alienation between teachers and students. And Nick Farnes (1993, 10) has even shown how the different phases of industrialisation had an effect on the overall educational system and enabled it to cope with the problems of mass. This was the only possible way to establish general primary school education on the basis of compulsory schooling, and from there to advance to the expansion of secondary education and tertiary education, a development that is culminating at present in efforts to establish mass higher education. Greville Rumble (1995a, 19) is also of the opinion that regarding industrialisation as typical of distance education i s incorrect, because proof can also be shown of the industrialisation of teaching and learning in classrooms and group instruction. If trends towards industrialisation can be verified in traditional universities, these critics claim that the characterisation of distance education as industrialised teaching and learning loses its force. In addition, characterising distance education as the most industrialised form of teaching and learning is also regarded as out of proportion and criticised because it is claimed that this characterisation is obsolete because for some time now we have been in a post-industrialist age.
The effect of industrial
methods at traditional universities as well cannot be disputed. Why should it be? These developments merely confirm once again how industrialised methods of thinking and acting penetrate all areas of life and work, infiltrate them and alter them. But the concept of industrialised teaching and learning no longer refers to the application of individual or even several principles of industrialisation, but to the analogy between the teaching and learning process and the process of industrial
production. In both cases, all their constitutive features are concentrated and linked to one another in a systematic sequence. Industrialised teaching therefore means, and this must be repeated here, at the same time, careful prior planning on a division of labour basis, costly development, and objectivisation through media, all of which makes academic teaching into a product which can be mass-produced in the same way as an industrial
good, which is kept in store, distributed over a wide area, evaluated and optimised. Where else in the academic world can a comparable form of teaching be found? Nowhere, even if professors responsible for a field demarcate their subjects from one another (specialisation), solve accruing problems with members of the middle hierarchy (division of labour), discuss with students on the telephone, transmit their lectures to other rooms via the university's own TV system if lecture halls are crowded, and drive to university by car (mechanisation). However, these effects of industrialisation remain external to teaching and learning at a traditional university. In principle they still take place in accordance with the same structural patterns that stem from the pre-industrial
age. The objections therefore do not hold water.
In addition, as a reaction to these critical relativisations we can also point to the fundamental and far-reaching difference between teaching at a traditional university and at a distance teaching university. No matter how much technological and organisational effort is used to operate and maintain traditional universities, in particular mass universities, teaching itself is - oral - the same as in antiquity in India, Egypt and Greece. In distance teaching universities, on the other hand, it takes place in an additional coded and media form and only on the basis of a bundle of industrialised processes. Is this statement banal? Not at all! All it does is bring to the point the peculiarity of the most industrialised teaching which will be explained by means of a brief industrial
sociological observation with recourse to Habermas (cf. Peters 1968, 62).
Traditional teaching is communicative actions which grew out of traditional oral culture and are therefore elemental. Distance education, on the other hand, is only possible on the basis of instrumentally rational and strategic actions which have to be imparted technologically. To underline the difference still further with some of Habermas' categories, which he used to describe the industrialised society, the communicative structure of oral teaching can be described as follows: it is determined by reciprocal behavioural expectations and societal norms, it brings about the internalisation of roles and uses an intersubjectively divided language of communication. In distance education, the communicative structure is completely different: the actions of teachers and students are determined mainly through technical rules, it is a question of skills and qualifications and a context-free language is use d. This difference is decisive. And it is the result of an industrial
Let me stress once again: work processes at the periphery of teaching and learning can be industrialised to a great extent at traditional universities. In distance teaching universities they must be. Rumble refers above all to these work processes - printing, despatch, etc. - because he is interested in the management of teaching and learning systems. As pedagogues, however, we must concentrate on the process of interaction between teachers and students. If we do this, we can only classify oral teaching at traditional universities as pre-industrial
on the basis of the criteria of the concept presented here; and, with regard to distance education, we must regard the set formula of the most industrialised form of teaching and learning as illuminating.
New concepts of industrialisation
It should be borne in mind that Peter Raggatt did not refer to these Fordist characteristics to eulogise the Open University but to criticise it. According to Raggatt, the Fordism of the Open University, and of course, of other distance teaching universities, is an obsolete model. He is not alone in this opinion but finds support from authors such as Campion (1995), Campion and Renner (1982) and Farnes (1993). In their opinion, distance education must adjust itself to the fundamental changes which all industrial
societies are experiencing at the moment. Today, work is often organised and carried out in a completely different way to that of twenty years ago. The new problems facing distance education cannot be solved with the obsolete methods of rationalisation through mass-production, and new concepts must therefore be developed for its future developments. Approaches are already being discussed: neo< /I>-industrialised and post-industrialised forms of teaching and learning in distance education.
Neo-industrialisation (or neo-Fordism) has led to many changes in working life. The characteristic slogans here are high product innovation, high process variability, but at the same time, low degrees of responsibility for employees (Badham & Mathews 1989, quoted by Campion & Renner 1992, 12). The endeavour to achieve product innovation and process variability is a reaction to the development of the market and the changes in demand. It is possible at present because on the one hand the demands of consumers with more spending power have become higher, more specific and more varied, and on the other hand production and distribution of goods have been adapted to meet this because they have to a large extent been computeris ed. The aim is no longer to produce the same goods of the same quality at the lowest possible price for as many consumers as possible with the same needs. As we know, Ford sold more than 15 million copies of the same car model. This method of production led to a great equalisation of consumption. The problem now is to address many very specific consumer wishes. Goods are therefore produced in smaller volumes and constantly adapted to new requirements. In contrast, and this is typical for this concept, work is still being organised on the lines of the concept of industrialisation. This means: hierarchical graduations of responsibility and centralised control with the help of a bureaucratised administration.
If distance teaching universities wished to meet the challenges of neo-Fordism they would have to stop offering their courses, developed at great expense, standardised and produced in large numbers, which become more outdated from year to year in spite of all good intentions regarding course updating. Instead of this, they would undertake targeted efforts to adapt them rapidly to the new requirements and to "consumer wishes", which in this case are the different requirements of their students. According to this, what is no longer needed are "large-scale" courses for as many students as possible, but a variety of courses with low numbers which are constantly being updated (cf. Farnes 1993 on this).
With post-industrialisation (or post-Fordism), the same aims can be found as with neo-industrialisation, namely high product innovation and high process variability. But in addition, and this is decisive, there is a radically different direction in the organisation of work sequences, because the aim now is "high labour responsibility".
Considerable changes had to be made to achieve this. Goods are no longer mass-produced in the same form and kept in stock with the help of computer. They are now manufactured on demand and just in time. Even the special wishes of smaller consumer groups can be satisfied in this way. At the same time, the organisation of work itself is changed in this phase. Division of labour is limited and, if possible, done away with completely. Instead, smaller working groups with more qualifications and greater responsibility are formed. Hierarchical forms of organisation are replaced by horizontal networks of relationships. Instead of semi-skilled workers trained to operate machinery, there is a smaller number of more highly qualified and more flexible and versatile employees who can be complemented by a varying number of employees who are engaged on a temporary basis only to carry out current tasks. Cost savings are the first commandme nt to increase productivity, which is why companies aim for lean design, lean production and lean supply.
Those who are following this development must ask themselves whether requirements in the world of academic education and continuing education have not increased as well and become more varied and whether they can be satisfied with the previous methods of - industrialised - distance education. If the answer to this question is no, then we must consider whether distance teaching universities should not also attempt to recognise rapidly changing demands for education and continuing education and satisfy them by means of courses that can be drawn and amended easily (product innovation).
This itself would force distance teaching universities to alter their working processes. Instead of a centrally controlled system of development and production on the basis of a division of labour many smaller decentralised working groups would be formed who would be responsible themselves for the development of their own teaching programmes and would therefore be more autonomous - as against the outside world as well. But what is even more important is that the classical forms of teaching and learning in distance education (standardised courses, standardised counselling) would have to be replaced or complemented by forms that were much more flexible with regard to curriculums, time and location (variability of processes). Slogans such as autonomous learning, independent learning in the digital learning environment, teleconferencing, intensive personal counselling, contract learning and the combination with and integr ation of forms of traditional university teaching indicate the direction the development might take. It would be equal to a revolution.
In the context of this work the importance of the concepts of industrialised and post-industrialised teaching and learning sketched in here depends on whether and how far they are helpful for the planning development, control and interpretation of distance education.
This question is often put by sceptics who are unable to see how concepts that work with terms from industrial sociology
- or, even worse, from the field of industrial
production itself - can comprise pedagogical circumstances and reproduce them. To them, what happens in factories and lecture halls seems utterly disparate and incommensurable. In fact, it does appear to be difficult to derive starting points from these concepts, for example for the selection and evaluation of learning aims and contents, which is a main concern of humanist pedagogics. The clarification of genuine pedagogical or adult education questions using these concepts also appears to be difficult, if not downright impossible. The horizon of values does not become visible in theories of industrial
production, if we disregard those with an instrumental mentality such as productivity or efficiency. At the same time, deeper analyses lead to int eresting insights.
First of all a general assessment: many decisions that are taken in the planning, development and revision of teaching and learning systems in distance education in compliance with and taking account of criteria of industrialisation, may first of all serve as the control of the overall process, but can at the same time have an effect on the ways and means with which university teachers teach and students learn. Thus, questions of pedagogics in the narrow sense come into play once again. The systematic connection between teaching and learning systems which are interpreted or developed in accordance with concepts of industrialisation, and modalities of teaching and learning is given from the very start because education and training of students is the "product" that is to be produced. All measures that enable students to learn, make it easier to learn or improve learning are pedagogical from this very intention, no matter whic h criteria of industrialisation or post-industrialisation accompanied those acting pedagogically. The mixture of economical, technological, organisational and pedagogical motives, which can of course be verified in every event organised in traditional university teaching, is simply more obvious in distance education. Because the pedagogical consequences of the three concepts sketched here, which are derived from forms of production, are naturally different, we will be examining them separately.
The concept of industrialised teaching and learning
The following specific pedagogical effects can be seen above all here:
• It opens up a macro-pedagogical perspective to those taking part in the planning and development of distance education. While traditional pedagogics focused during planning and preparation above all micro-pedagogically on the interaction between teachers and students, the view here is extended to cover the totality of all activities of the participants.
• For students it provides deep impressions of the connection between all teaching and learning activities and their integration in the process. The teaching and learning process does not start at the beginning of a lecture or seminar. It starts much earlier. And it does not end when students leave the lecture hall or the seminar room, but much later. The division of labour leads to the following sequence: planning, development, distribution, presentation, counselling and evaluation phases. These are all connected to and affect one another.
• The greatest effect of industrialised teaching is, however, a far-reaching change in teaching behaviour and perhaps even more in learning behaviour. Where specialisation based on the division of labour reduces university teachers to subject-matter specialists and requires distribution of teaching matter with the help of technical media and enables isolated initiated self-study which can only be interrupted occasionally by face-to-face communication with others, these are considerable changes in the field of pedagogics.
• The concept makes it easier for participants to behave in conformity with the system when teaching and learning. Industrialised teaching and learning is constituted through the interplay of many system elements. Only if we prepare ourselves for this and see ourselves as part of this type of system can we be successful in avoiding dysfunctional pedagogical actions. Those who adhere to the attitudes and ideas of pre-industrial
teaching will certainly come to grief with them in distance education. The concepts of industrialised teaching and learning help us to recognise and avoid mixing elements of structurally completely different systems.
• Seen from a macro-pedagogical point of view the direct effects on teaching and learning are particularly serious and obvious. If industrialised working methods mean that tens or even hundreds of thousands are provided with an opportunity to continue their education by studying, although they would never have been able to do this in a conventional system, the effects on adult education and pedagogics cannot be overestimated, even if support for classes remote from the educational system through distance education is at present no longer en vogue.
• For teaching and learning itself, the development of courses on a basis of the division of labour and through the cooperation of specialists is extremely important because high quality material is created which is pedagogically suitable, reflects the latest levels of research and is presented particularly effectively. To a certain extent this enables a considerable improvement of the teaching and learning situation. At the same time, however, this pedagogical advantage turns out to be a disadvantage as well, if we look at it from the aspect of another way of understanding learning. It benefits, strengthens and entrenches the modus of expository teaching and receptive learning, which it is supposed to overcome. Autonomous learning is e xtremely difficult to realise when learners are guided in short steps in courses worked out to the very last detail, apart from the self-determination of the external study process.
• The development of closed curricula and teaching and learning models and learning in paths that are planned and provided for, is benefited. This makes the development of open curricula more difficult. Basically, there are not really any plans for taking off down self-chosen learning paths, creating a flexible system of multi-faceted learning programmes using different situations, media, institutions and taking account of the life and work situation of students. Open learning, in the real sense of the word, cannot take place.
The concept of neo-industrial
teaching and learning
If this concept were realised the range of courses offered by distance teaching universities above all would be changed structurally, because "major" courses with long service lives would be replaced by short-term "minor" courses which can be amended and renewed quickly and are directed at many different learning interests (product innovation). This must of course have an effect on the way in which students learn. Because students must at this stage make their study wishes known, so that they can be considered, it is necessary that they become clear about what they really want to do and about the study programmes that can be most useful to them in their particular situation. This should activate them considerably. This forces them to abandon receptive learning in stretches. By itself, this would already be pedagogical progress. Because the multi-faceted courses must be adapted to the special learning sit uations of students and their study objects, they must also be student-oriented.
Distance education courses would still be developed centrally on the basis of division of labour, but mass-production would be considerably restricted. Organisation of teaching would be local, would be moved to study centres, for example, which would have more face-to-face phases than is possible in industrialised learning. The task here is to develop different forms in teaching (process variability). To achieve this, the establishment of mixed mode universities is aimed at in which comparatively small groups of students work because support for very large groups is neither planned nor possible any longer. The teaching and learning process finds support through more social contacts and more communication.
The concept of post-industrial
teaching and learning
Decisive changes to teaching and learning behaviour would also take place under the influence of post-Fordism. The following scenario should make this clear:
Because advanced division of labour is withdrawn and decentralisation is aimed at, classical course development teams have the ground removed from under their feet. Instead, variable and short-term courses are developed by small working groups in the faculties and departments on their own responsibility. Professors and lecturers belong to these small working groups, which are now responsible for everything to do with their courses, not just for planning and design, but also for production, distribution, evaluation and continuous course care. They would also have to familiarise themselves with production technologies in the field of printing and video, but this has been made much easier by modern technical media for DTP, electronic publishing and media publishing (Kaderali et al. 1994) which are extremely user-friendly. Up to now, technical media have brought about a division of labour more in teaching and development work can now be concentrated again with the help of these new media. However, the responsibility of the teachers is restricted, because chairmanship of the group revolves among group members and representatives of students, tutors and other participants in the teaching and learning, or those affected by it, are included as partners. It is no longer expected that participants in course development are specialised experts but that they are in possession of broad and multi-faceted competence. With regard to curricular work, university teachers would no longer be expected to pass on the results of their research in the form of courses but to find out exactly the learning requirements of defined groups of students and make every effort to satisfy these requirements as quickly and effectively as possible.
This also has an effect on learning behaviour. The traditional relationship between teachers and students is altered in that learning is determined much more by students themselves. The post-modern awareness of life makes a more continuous communication and interaction, (as in life) within the group into a focal point of distance education and allocates a rather attendant and supplementary role to learning in isolation with structured texts. In this way, the previous relationship of the two learning forms to one another, which is a consequence of the concept of independent learning, is turned on its head.
In order to be able to achieve this kind of distance education, supporters of post-industrialised learning are also aiming at the establishment of the organisational form of the dual or mixed mode university. Mixed forms consisting of a distance teaching university and a traditional university would lead to a considerable diversification of the teaching programmes for both groups of students and reduce the cost of studying (cf. Campion and Renner 1992, 11). In this kind of institution learning in small groups would be favoured, which means that the aim of mass higher education would become less important. On the whole, according to Campion at least (1991), distance education would in this way become "more decentralised, more democratic, more oriented to co-determination, more open and more flexible", which means that this teaching and learning would be differentiated from that of industrial
ised distance education from the point of view of pedagogics as well, because it would also provide better conditions for socialisation.
Two tasks for distance teaching pedagogics
Firstly, the validity and binding nature of the concepts of neo-Fordism and post-Fordism would have to be examined. The analogy conclusion that has been indicated might just be unfounded and may even be incorrect. Along with Greville Rumble (1995b, 26), many observers will not believe in an automatic adaptation of the methods of distance education to the latest structural alterations of methods in industrial
production, particularly when they only become clear in some sectors and are exemplified above all in just a few branches, for example, motor vehicle production. If in fact there continue to be correlations between the methods of the industrial
production of goods and those of industrialised teaching and learning, they are certainly not as unheralded as this has been shown. Some of the analogies presented are astonishing, if they are in fact corr ect, just as those which led in the past to the development of the concept of industrialised teaching and learning.
models must be worked out and experiment carried out with them in practice, if the feasibility of the post-industrial
concept is to be verified. These models would have to correspond to the theoretical premises referred to as well as absorbing the concepts of open, autonomous and communicative learning. Above all, however, they would have to make use of the new opportunities made available by digital teaching and learning. We may then be able to see the outlines and structures of a university of the future (cf. 8.2).
Doubts and misgivings
During discussions of the two post-industrial
concepts of distance education some critical points are encountered which up to now have not been included sufficiently in the calculations. These are:
• Universities have survived many reforms unchanged at heart. Distance teaching universities are universities. In particular where we are dealing with autonomous, self-governing institutions it is easy for the openly propagated or even concealed self-interest of professors or institutions themselves to resist the realisation of the post-industrial
• Distance teaching universities are involved in both higher education and in continuing education. While it is possible in the case of continuing education to imagine a variable system of "smaller" courses tailored exactly to the requirements of students, this is more difficult in the case of the more rigid, examination-related specialist degree courses. In any case, resistance would be at its greatest here.
• Distance teaching universities have fixed structures that were designed and developed with regard to industrialised teaching and learning and by and large they have proved their value within the meaning of this system. Many university teachers would strenuously oppose replacing these structures for new one that are either untried or have only been tested in experimental situations.
• The models of post- and neo-Fordist distance education abandon some constitutive advantages of industrialised teaching and learning: the relative independence of time and location is restricted, professional course development and scientific accompaniment is reduced, costs degression with large numbers of students is no longer possible.
• Some of the students at distance teaching universities and open universities will be excluded because their employment cannot be reconciled with attendance at a mixed-mode university.
• Commercial organisers of distance education will not wish to do without the economic advantages of the mass-production of standardised distance education courses and will probably adhere to them.
• Distance education of the future could in certain circumstances be organised along the lines of all three concepts. These seems obvious because theoreticians of post-industrial
production regard it as possible that the three different concepts can exist alongside each other in the economy of a country or region and be in competition with on another (Campion and Renner 1992, 12).
• The post-industrial
concept is criticised by quite a few experts because its influence on social and industrial
transformations is not proven. The optimism that more democratic methods of production will be established with its help does not appear to be justified. Campion and Renner (1992, 13) mention no less than six authors who have expressed doubts on this topic.
• The trend I have referred to of employing only a hard core of highly qualified specialists at a distance teaching university which is then extended as required by staff on short-term contracts (core and peripheral staffing) recalls the practice of private distance schools and cannot be tolerated for reasons of academic quality and organisational requirements, but above all for social reasons.
Perhaps these misgivings will become without foundation when the digital revolution thoroughly mixes up the areas of distance education and traditional university education and forces both to new methods of working. But until then they will continue to play a part in relevant discussions.
The concept of industrialised learning obviously provided many distance education experts and practitioners in the sixties and seventies with an explanatory pattern that made clear to them just how their actions are and must be different from those of their colleagues in traditional university education, and not merely accidentally, but structurally. It starts, as they could see, from other premises, follows other laws and provides in part enormous opportunities which people were able to substantiate logically. Those among them who thought pedagogically were able not only to recognise the particular strengths inherent in distance education because its industrialised structure but also to substantiate them theoretically. At the same time it was easier for them to accept its not inconsiderable deficits as in-built. Above all it could be seen just h ow unsuitable the widespread habit is to evaluate the conception, working methods and results of distance education with the help of criteria that were developed in conventional academic systems and correspond to pre-industrial
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