1st Edition

Online Postgraduate Education Re-imagining Openness, Distance and Interaction

By Katharine Stapleford, Kyungmee Lee Copyright 2024
    142 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    142 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Providing a comprehensive examination of the nature of online higher education, this book proposes effective ways in which it can be conceptualised and designed to be more accessible and authentic for adult learners.

    Against the backdrop of differing historical origins, which have resulted in multiple, misaligned understandings, applications and interpretations of online and distance education, this book presents an empirical research study which uses a narrative approach to explore the lived experiences of online postgraduate students. It positions two arguments on the (in-)accessibility and (in-)authenticity of online education side by side, effectively demonstrating how they can be conflict and contradict each other. Using narrative data, the authors re-examine the concepts of distance and interaction in order to present a new understanding of the concept of openness relevant to the for-profit postgraduate distance learning sector. This book illuminates the postgraduate distance education experience and presents a set of alternative theoretically informed conceptions which the authors present as three essential pillars of online postgraduate education: openness, distance, and interaction.

    Carefully presented and supported using real online higher education scenarios, the book will enable higher educators, practising online education in a range of pedagogical contexts, to re-imagine their practices; further, to create more accessible and authentic learning opportunities for their learners.

    1. Conceptual foundations

    2. Historical Foundations and Conflicting Discourses       

    3. Creating Narratives of OPE.

    4. Introducing twelve OPE students and their narratives              

    5. Lived interactions in OPE        

    6. From interaction to transaction in OPE            

    7. Transactional Distance in OPE             

    8. Re-conceptualising Openness, Distance, and Interaction          


    Katharine Stapleford is a Lecturer in Digital Education at the University of Leeds, UK.

    Kyungmee Lee is an Associate Professor in the Department of Education at Seoul National University, South Korea. Previously, she worked at the Department of Educational Research at Lancaster University, UK.

    ‘I am delighted to welcome this addition to the literature of distance education.

    If ever there was an opportune time for a book that stimulates a new conversation about the theory of distance education, the time is now, when so many teachers and educational institutions are coming to terms with the disappointments and disasters of their recent pandemic-induced ventures online.

    Those ventures, as pointed out by the authors, employed “curriculum design requirements and teaching policies (that) are modelled on traditional campus-based HE practice”.

    Step away from this model, say Stapleford and Lee, and consider, and improve upon, what we already know about distance education. Known in pre-digital times as independent study, the starting point for distance education has always been an understanding of the needs of learners in what the visionary educator Charles Wedemeyer called their “surround”.

    I am delighted to see this encouragement to recognize and better understand the potential of programs designed to take into proper account this situational nature of all good distance education.’

    Michael G. MooreEditor, The American Journal of Distance Education and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Education, The Pennsylvania State University, USA

    ‘The complex experiences of students in online distance education are arguably often occluded or oversimplified in educational research and practice. In this meticulously researched book, Stapleford and Lee uncover a rich and detailed set of narrative accounts of how students engage, providing nuanced and critical insights into the key concepts of openness, distance, and interaction. I expect this work will be recognised as a key reference point for educators and theorists of the digital in postgraduate higher education and beyond.’

    Lesley GourlayProfessor of Education, Institute of Education, University College London, UK

    ‘In their opportune and insightful book, Stapleford and Lee transport us back to roots of open and distance education theory and nearly simultaneously teleport us back to the myriad day-to-day issues and challenges repeatedly faced by online learners in the third decade of the twenty-first century. Impressively, they do this in a highly captivating and convincing style that forces the reader to feel the genuine social, emotional, psychological, economic, and technological realities of what open, online, and distance education learners are dealing with in this digital age today that have not always been explained by prevailing theories fashioned in the shadows of correspondence and satellite education.’

    Curt BonkProfessor, Instructional Systems Technology, School of Education, Indiana University Bloomington, USA