Management guidelines for the implementation of m–learning in an open distance learning model
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Various modern communication technologies are available to higher education institutions involved in distance education to explore and implement for the effective provision of distance education programmes. The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of m- learning as part of distance education and to develop guidelines for the management of m- learning in an open distance learning model. The aims of this study are thus to determine the role of m-learning in open distance education, identifying challenges to implement m- learning as part of an open distance learning model and finally to develop generic management guidelines to implement m-learning as part of open distance education. Quantitative research was undertaken using a survey questionnaire to acquire data for this research. The study population included students enrolled for distance education programmes at the NWU and accredited facilitators/lecturers employed by the NWU at tuition centres throughout SA facilitating distance education programmes. A total of 350 questionnaires (100 facilitators/lecturers questionnaire and 250 questionnaires for students) was sent out to all tuition centres to collect data for this research. Two different questionnaires were developed to suit the needs of each group. A total of 80.5% of completed questionnaires was returned. The literature study of this research included concept clarifications of distance education and m-learning. The need for effective management and organizational structures for the delivery of distance education programmes utilising m-learning were investigated to gain an understanding of the complexities associated with an open distance education modus. The information from the literature study and the empirical section of this research contributed to the development of generic guidelines to implement m-learning as part of an open distance education modus. In addition, aspects having an influence on the effective delivery of distance education programmes, were part of the questionnaires sent to respondents. These aspects included accessibility to resources utilising mobile devices, flexibility of programme delivery, affordability of programmes, interactivity between all role players in distance education and aspects that could influence anywhere and anytime learning. Furthermore, the different modes of delivering distance education programmes were explained. Challenges and barriers possibly having an influence in the delivery of distance education programmes through m-learning were included in the questionnaires sent out to respondents. Advantages and disadvantages as well as the needs regarding the use of cell phones in the delivery of programmes were identified in order to understand the role of m-learning and identifying relevant management guidelines for the implementation of m-learning. Evidently, a response from the questionnaires was that the quality of teaching and learning according to the perceptions of m-learning amongst both groups were of more importance to students than with facilitators/lecturers. Students expressed a need to receive more academic information on their mobile devices and the majority of students and facilitators/lecturers indicated that they prefer receiving information regarding their studies through m-learning. Accessibility, affordability, interactivity and flexibility in delivering distance education programmes were aspects of importance to both groups of respondents. Administrative and academic support and the need thereof in delivering programmes through m-learning were evident in the research. Affordability in accessing information via mobile technologies is a concern for both groups of respondents. The training of all role players regarding the skills of downloading information about teaching and learning on their cell phones is a need for both groups. Once this training need for the utilisation of m-learning is addressed, more students and facilitators/lecturers may use this user-friendly technology to communicate with one another and with institutions. M-learning could fulfil an invaluable role in the communication process of distance education and may be of great assistance to overcome needs, barriers and challenges.
- Education