Factors Influencing Adult Distance Teaching and Learning Processes: The Case of the Open University

By Maria N. Gravani, Vassilia Hatzinikita and George K. Zarifis.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The paper reports the findings of a research project that seeks to explore and understand adult educators’ and learners’ experiences and perceptions of distance learning courses in the Open University of Cyprus and the Hellenic Open University. The ultimate aim of the paper is to unveil and illuminate some of the adult distance teaching and learning processes at work in these courses. The research harnesses a case study approach within a qualitative paradigm. It draws upon the experiences of 16 learners (open university students) and 8 educators (open university tutors) who embarked on an undergraduate programme in Greek civilization and a postgraduate programme in education studies in the two case study universities. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with the above participants. For the analysis of the data, a heuristic was used that brings together a set of key stages on adult programme development. These are: needs identification, planning, design, climate, and evaluation. The findings highlighted a number of issues/factors that relate to the above stages of programme development and proved as influencing adult distance teaching and learning processes in the contexts under exploration.

Keywords: Open University, Teaching and Learning Processes, Distance Learning, Adults

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp.307-320. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.057MB).

Dr. Maria N. Gravani

Lecturer in Continuing Education and Adult Education, School of Human and Social Sciences, Open University of Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus

Dr. Maria Gravani is a lecturer in continuing/adult education at the Open University of Cyprus. She previously worked in the UK (Bristol University, University College London), in the Republic of Ireland (Trinity College), and Greece (University of Peloponnese, Hellenic Open University). Her research interests include: continuing/adult education, teaching and learning in higher education, ICT in continuing and adult education, teacher’s professional development, and open and distance learning. She has published in international peer-reviewed journals (Educational, Technology and Society, International Journal of Digital Literacy and Digital Competence, Teaching and Teacher Education, Learning and Instruction, Compare, Journal of In-service Education, Adult Education, Educational Review) and chapters in books, and has presented her work in international meetings and conferences.

Prof. Vassilia Hatzinikita

Professor in Education, School of Humanities, Hellenic Open University, Patras, Greece

Professor Hatzinikita Vassilia is currently Dean of the School of Humanities in the Hellenic Open University (HOU), academic leader of the Master of Education and academic coordinator of the Educational Research in Action module. Her research interests concern science teaching and learning as well as the analysis and development of educational materials. She has published a considerable number of research papers in journals, books and conference proceedings and has developed educational material for HOU. She has participated in a great number of research programs and has been a member of the Board of the Greek Education Research Centre and of the Greek Teacher Training Organisation. She is National Project Manager of the PISA program of OECD and a member of the PISA Governing Board for Greece.

Dr. George K. Zarifis

Assistant Professor in Continuing Education, School of Philosophy and Education, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece

Dr. George K. Zarifis is an assistant professor in continuing education in the Department of Education, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, and an associate tutor at the Open University of Cyprus, Educational Studies Programme. His area of expertise is continuing education, with specific interest in the development of educational methodologies for accommodating adult learning. He is an elected member of the ESREA Steering Committee (2008-present), and he is the convener of the new ESREA Research Network on Adult Educators, Trainers and their Professional Development—ReNAdET. He has published several peer reviewed papers and chapters, and presented his work in international meetings and conferences.


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