Factors in media selection for quality distance education: a survey of issues and recommendations for practice.
This dissertation examines the contribution that media make in quality distance education and seeks explanations for poor media selection processes. Distance education is viewed in policy documents as playing a crucial role in the development of South Africa and the provision of a wide range of education opportunities through distance methods has increased rapidly. There are however grave concerns about the quality of much of this provision. This reflects global disappointment where many technology-based educational operations failing to meet expectations. In Part One, the study scrutinizes the role of media in distance education and concludes that conceptually and in practice technology is indeed viewed as a crucial component of distance provision and consequently decision around the selection and usage of media will be significant in quality distance education. Thereafter the study analyses possible reasons for poor media choices, highlighting aspects such as over-enthusiastic beliefs in technology, a neglect of educational issues and an under theorized approach. Given that there has been considerable research activity into media usage, the study then examines why previous research has not been influential in media decisions, concluding that the research is conceptually flawed and overly crude. Having identified and discussed bad practice, Part Two moves into the positive and identifies basic principles in making better choices (such as examining our own beliefs, conceptualizing the relationship between education and technology and mobilizing team approaches). Developing more sophisticated understandings of education and technology and ways in which can be utilized forms the bulk of this section and includes a focus on current notions of quality education. Rather than concluding with strong recommendations, two specific areas for consideration - convergence and media combinations- are suggested.