Master of Education in Distance Education (MDDE) 614

International Issues in Open and Distance Learning

Course cover

Delivery Mode: Group Study

Credits: 3

Prerequisite: None.

Availability: Normally, Winter Term Only

Note: MEd program students must complete Mdde601 & Mdde602 prior to all other courses
Early access to the Moodle Learning Management System begins a few days before the official start date of your course. At that time you will have limited course access.


MDDE614: International Issues in Distance Education. In this course you will explore the provision of online and distance education, not only beyond the walls of your own institution, but also beyond the borders of your country or nation. This course examines the role that development and globalization have played, and continue to play, in the evolution of distance education, and explores the challenges facing distance educators worldwide.

A variety of issues confronting international distance education will be addressed, including the use of technology, provision of learner support, and the costs of program development, implementation, and renewal. Cultural differences will also be discussed. The challenges of serving a diversity of audiences worldwide will be examined and potential solutions explored, as you and others in the class conduct in-depth studies of distance education in selected world regions.

Course Goals

The course is based on the following goals:

  • To develop a reflective and critical approach to the issues arising from transporting distance education programs and approaches from one context to another;
  • To define globalization and discuss its potential impact on distance education;
  • To analyze the cultural, economic, and technological factors that shape distance education in various international contexts;
  • To explore the impact and reality of distance education in various world regions;

Course Outline

MDDE 614: International Issues in Distance Education consists of four units.

  1. Unit 1 provides an orientation to the course, and an overview of the issues explored, with a particular focus on globalization and its potential impact on distance education.
  2. Unit 2 focuses on issues, such as technologies and their appropriateness, levels at which distance education is applied around the world, cultural issues that arise in transporting distance education systems and approaches from one context to another:
  3. Unit 3 explores how distance education is practised in various regions of the world. Unit 4 considers the future of distance education internationally and explores questions such as the following: What lies ahead? What are the trends? What insights have emerged from our work together in this course?

Learning Resources


Visser, Y. L., Visser, L., Simonson, M., & Amirault, R. (Eds.) (2005). Trends and issues in distance education: International perspectives. Greenwich, CN: Information Age Publishing.

Other Resources

Online Study Guide and readings.

Student Assessment

The final course mark will be based on three major assignments and on participation in the computer conferences.

  • Computer Conferencing -- Students are expected to participate in all unit conferences.
  • Assignment 1 -- Using the readings for Units 1 and 2 as well as other resources, students will write a paper discussing a major issue or problem related to transporting ODE materials, systems, or methods from one jurisdiction or audience to another.
  • Assignment 2 -- In this assignments, students work in small groups and review materials related to a particular region, make a presentation on the area in a computer conference, and moderate the ensuing discussion.
  • Assignment 3 -- In consultation with the instructor, students propose and briefly outline a topic related to one or more of the major issues raised in the course. The approved proposal is then developed into a final paper.
Activity Credit Weight
Assignment 1 15%
Assignment 2 35%
Assignment 3 35%
Forum Participation 15%
Total 100%

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.