ERIC Number: ED342372
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1991
Reference Count: N/A
A Social History Approach to Research in Distance Education.
This case study of historical research on the topic of higher education focuses on the history of postsecondary distance education in an industrialized nation. The social history of the Open Learning Institute (OLI) of British Columbia is used to analyze how a new higher education institution establishes itself in its community, the consequences of choosing non-traditional methods of doing so, and the impact of external pressures and influences on such an institution. Specifically, OLI's educational and organizational policies and practices are examined as they existed and changed from 1978-1988. The questions under review are concerned with: motives, values, intentions, and visions of the people involved in OLI; their perceptions of social, political, educational, economic, and other constraints and possibilities which affected their policymaking and practice; and how and why these changed over time. In addition to information provided on the OLI, the research methodology surrounding social history is described and explained. It is noted, for example, that a hypothetico-inductive approach is useful, which places events and their interpretation in social, educational, and political contexts. It is also argued that several potentially fruitful avenues exist for the exploration of the genesis of, and changes in, an institution's policies and practices, and for the motives of the individuals and groups concerned. Research data for this study were collected from archival documents and unstructured interviews. Attention was also paid to ethical considerations in the study involving the use of politically sensitive documents, retaining the annonymity of interviewees, and ownership of materials. A 15-item annotated bibliography is attached. (60 references) (DB)
Publication Type: Historical Materials; Information Analyses; Reference Materials - Bibliographies
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Deakin Univ., Victoria (Australia).; University of South Australia, Underdale.