The Quality of Support in Distance Education (DE) at the Secondary and Collegiate Levels

By Sasseville Bastien and Ma Morel Magalie.

Published by The Technology Collection

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper deals with the results obtained by the analysis of a corpus of interviews conducted with students registered in distance education (DE) at the secondary and collegiate levels in the province of Québec, Canada, as part of a research project aimed at analysing the interactions between the actors in DE – students, tutors and program builders – in order to determine support practices and quality factors in the DE process.
Data was obtained by conducting four interviews with students enrolled in a DE program. The interviews were carried out over the duration of their courses. Analysis of the data was carried out by confronting the student's discourse with a grid of interactions and quality indicators in DE elaborated by the GIREFAD, the inter-institutional research group on distance education.
The analysis deals with the perceived influence of support practices on quality. We have attempted to ascertain which aspects seemed to have the greatest impact on the perception of the quality in DE. We examined the relationship with the tutor, the learning material, assignment evaluation and feedback as well as communication tools.
We can ascertain that the concept of quality expresses itself through certain well-determined dimensions, especially to communication tools and interpersonal relations. The students place their relationships with the tutor at the core of their perception of quality. Furthermore, technology is not a determining factor of quality in DE. Technology is considered useful and important only if it facilitates communication between the actors of the learning situation. It is also considered useful as an aid to complete more efficiently assigned tasks. In this regard, technology is not at the core of the student's perception of quality in DE.

Keywords: Distance Education, Technology, Support, Quality

The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp.51-56. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 565.841KB).

Sasseville Bastien

Professor of Humanities, Director of secondary education program, Department of Education, Université du Québec à Rimouski, Rimouski, Québec, Canada

Bastien Sasseville, professor of Humanities with the Department of Education at the Université du Québec à Rimouski, is interested in the relationships among education, technology and society. He is particularly interested in the discourses in education, especially those concerning the evolution of ideas and practises. At the moment, his research deals with the analysis of the discourses of different participants from the school system towards the integration of information and communication technologies (ICT) in teaching practises and learning. He is also interested in distance education and collaborates with the Interinstitutional Research Group on Distance Education (Groupe Interinstitutionnel de Recherche en Formation à Distance, GIREFAD).

Ma Morel Magalie

Lecturer, assistant researcher, Department od Education, Université du Québec à Rimouski, Rimouski, Québec, Canada

Magalie Morel is an assistant researcher and lecturer with the Department of Education at the Université du Québec à Rimouski. Having completed a Master’s degree on the teaching of history and education in citizenship at secondary schools, she is currently preparing her Ph. D. on intercultural education in a rural environment. She is interested in the ideological, social and professional contexts of teaching humanities subjects. She is an assistant researcher with the Interinstitutional Research Group on Distance Education (Groupe Interinstitutionnel de Recherche en Formation à Distance, GIREFAD).

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