Epilogue: Directions for Future Research

Epilogue: Directions for Future Research

B. Tynan (University of Southern Queensland, Australia) and J. Willems (Monash University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-3978-2.ch021
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This chapter undertakes to provide directions for future research that has been highlighted by the authors and, consequently, the editors of this book. The suggestions made for future research indicate a need for further research that can build on issues and concerns investigated throughout the various chapters. New areas are also raised for investigation that link either indirectly or directly to the research themes.
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This volume has focussed on comparative global issues and perspectives in distance and flexible education, providing a set of emerging perspectives from diverse corners of the world. Section 1 discussed global issues from several important perspectives. Section 2 presented a set of institutional case studies that focussed on collaboration and capacity development.

Zawacki-Richter, Bäcker, and Vogt (2009) found that the major research gaps in distance education are at the macro and meso level, with the most neglected areas of research being the globalization of education and cross-cultural aspects; innovation and change; and costs and benefits of distance education. Even though some contributions within this volume attempted to address these neglected areas the gaps are still evident. With this in mind, the editors felt that each volume required some concluding thoughts that would focus on a set of emerging questions for future research and investigation. These suggestions fall out of the work in this volume. The field certainly requires more qualitative studies to capture a deeper and richer range of data across many areas. We would also suggest that there is scope for numerous meta-analyses of various field areas and particularly of the case study research or ‘war’ stories from practice that could capture generalisable findings.


Case Studies Of Global Responses To Distance And Flexible Education

The case studies in Section 2 of this volume have each provided insights into specific examples of collaboration, partnership and program development to meet needs within specific contexts. While each has lessons for us, they demonstrated a need for clear objectives and outcomes, careful management of the stakeholders and time for relationships to develop. Transnational development is viewed by Thomas Hülsmann and Stella Porto who each describe from their own side a collaborative program between Germany and the USA. While pointing to a success of this program they both highlighted the need for more strategic decision making. Similarly the model described by Michael Crock, Janet Baker and Skye Turner-Walker of the Open Universities Australia demonstrated a commercial enterprise that seeks to transform itself as market pressures and higher education policy alters. They call for increased flexibility because these enterprises operate in the environment which is continually changing. This model highlights some interesting opportunities and raised numerous questions about how universities and the emerging ‘e’ private businesses for profit sector can work constructively to attract students for mutual benefit. There is further research to be done on whether for profit private providers might ‘do distance learning better’ than universities.

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