n South African Journal of Higher Education - Initiating the debate : perspectives on teaching, learning and assessment in ODL contexts : guest editorial

Volume 27, Issue 6
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



There are many changes facing higher education institutions, such as changes in funding regimes, the impact of technologies, changing student profiles and the impact of the economic downturn, to mention but a few. As more and more public and private higher education institutions (HEIs) venture into blended, distance and e-learning, there is an increasing blurring of some of the historical boundaries between traditional face-to-face higher education and distance education. Germane to the current discourses in higher and distance education are references to 'disruptive innovation', 'catalytic change', a 'disaggregation' of higher education, notions of the 'unbundling and unmooring' of higher education; and a need for 'new models of coherence'.

This introductory article provides a rationale for this special issue of the referring to some of the issues necessitating critical reflection and a re-assessment of current practices in open, distance and e-learning practices. Open distance learning (ODL) research includes, but is not limited to research into teaching, learning and assessment praxis in different ODL contexts, the impact and role of technology, student success and retention, issues regarding the design, methodologies and processes in ODL research as well as policy development and implementation.
The thirteen articles selected for this special issue provide glimpses into various issues in the field of ODL in a range of disciplinary, Southern African and international contexts. This issue dedicated to research in ODL should assist academics and educators with important pointers to redefine and re-imagine teaching, learning and assessment in the 21st century.

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