Transforming Universities with Digital Distance Education: The Future of Formal Learning, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Transforming Universities with Digital Distance Education

The Future of Formal Learning, 1st Edition

By Mark Nichols


192 pages | 19 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9781138614703
pub: 2020-05-19
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Transforming Universities with Digital Distance Education explores the ways in which higher education stakeholders can apply and leverage the benefits of online learning. Systems-wide access, scale, and quality are achievable goals but require forms of teamwork and financial modelling beyond those at the instructor or program level. This book’s organizational view tackles the systems and practices that will help senior managers and decision-makers guide an entire institution away from dysfunction—incremental progress, insufficient capacity, high costs, and generic products—and toward the macro-level implementation and operations of effective online pedagogies.


"One of the most revolutionary ideas about education to emerge in the 20th century was the application of systems methods to teaching as well as resource management, most notably in the open universities. In response, traditional universities have focused attention on the adoption of revolutionary technologies while deflecting attention from structural and pedagogical reform. Mark Nichols has added his voice to the (short) list of those in higher education who have acknowledged the dysfunctionality of the traditional university. In a very personal and sometimes passionate argument, he lays out his vision of a systems approach to higher education. As a long-time advocate of the systems approach in distance education, I am delighted to welcome this fresh, expansive elaboration of both the imperative for reform in higher education and the systems approach as the only viable solution." Michael G. Moore, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Education at The Pennsylvania State University, USA; Editor of the American Journal of Distance Education; and co-author of Distance Education: A Systems View of Online Learning

"Mark Nichols’ book offers a very significant reflection on higher education in a digital age. His discussion of how digital technologies might transform higher education and, within that, distance higher education in positive and progressive ways brings together a wide range of ideas and a genuinely new synthesis. One of the many strengths of the book is that it avoids being trapped either by being technology-led or by assuming that campus and online modes have nothing to do with each other. On the contrary, this volume could valuably be read by colleagues working in campus, blended, and distance modes." Alan Tait, Professor Emeritus of Distance Education and Development at The Open University, United Kingdom

"This book provides an excellent, no-holds-barred discourse on developing digital distance education based on the author’s experience working in a range of online higher education institutions around the world. It carefully deconstructs the current on-campus, lecture-based offerings and the challenges of delivering at scale, especially in light of challenges in resourcing and increasing student expectation. It goes on to thoroughly outline the various components needed to create an effective online student learning experience based on engaging, enlightening, and empowering students rather than just providing content. More importantly, it acknowledges the challenges of personalisation of learning at scale. The book is thoughtfully designed to take the reader on a journey of discovery of digital education with activities that ask readers to reflect on their experiences and where they are in this journey. I would recommend this book to anyone involved in the digital transformation of higher education." Peter Taylor, Emeritus Professor in Organic Chemistry at The Open University, United Kingdom

Table of Contents

Preface: Would We Start Where We Are? Introduction: The Last Bastion of the Pre-Internet Economy  1. On Learning and Formal Education 2. Foundations for Effectiveness 3. A Framework for the Future 4. Designing for Cognitive Development 5. Pedagogies for the Accessible Online Experience 6. (Post) Industrial and Formal? 7. The University of the Present

About the Author

Mark Nichols is Executive Director of Learning Design & Development at The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand. Before returning to Open Polytechnic, he was previously Director of Technology Enhanced Learning at The Open University, UK.

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