Open Learning Policy Methods

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Blended learning: The provision of structured learning opportunities using a combination of contact, resource- based, and/or distance education methodologies, with different levels of ICT support to suit different purposes, audiences, and contexts.

Distance education: A mode of education provision based primarily on a set of teaching and learning strategies (or educational methods) that are used to overcome spatial and/or transactional distance between educators and learners. It is not necessary for learners to attend classes fr equently and for long periods. Instead, it may use a combination of face-to-face interactions, different media, learner support mechanisms, discussions, and practical sessions.

e-Learning (also referred to as ‘technology-enhanced  learning’):  e-Learning uses ICT to access programmes or courses.  It involves the use of electronic devices (for example computers and mobile devices) to provide, access or  interact  with  learning  materials,  interact  with  peers  and  lecturers,  participate  in  discussions  and  do assessments. e-Learning can take place online, offline, or in a combination thereof.


Learning management system – LMS: A multi-user software programme for delivering programmes and courses to learners, registering students, administering, tracking, reporting on and documenting their participation, progress, performance and achievement/results. This information is accessible to lecturers, tutors and administrators, and, in most cases, information on each student is made available to the individual concerned, enabling students to track their own progress.

Learning  content  management  system  – LCMS:  A  multi-user  software  programme  enabling  lecturers, instructional designers and course/materials developers to create, develop, modify, store, re-use and organise e-learning content. It includes a centralised repository of learning materials and resources archived so as to be searchable and adaptable for use in any online course. Ideally, an LCMS should be entirely compatible and integrated with the LMS used by the same organisation.

Massive open online course – MOOC: An online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the World Wide Web. Currently most institutions do not award credit for completing MOOCs; however, many award a non-formal certificate of completion on payment of a fee.  There is an international move towards recognising learning obtained through MOOCs in formal learning programmes.

Mode of provision: The method/s by which learning is taking place. There is a move away from traditional, single mode institutions (where all courses and programmes are mediated either by distance or contact-based methodologies) to dual and mixed-mode institutions where courses and programmes are mediated by a range of distance, resource-based  and contact-based methods, with the blend of methods varying from context to context. Internationally there is a move away from individual programmes being accredited either as contact or distance provision.

Online learning: The predominant use of the Internet to learn. Learners have to be connected to the Internet to access and interact with learning materials, interact with peers and lecturers, participate in discussions and do assessments.

Open (and) distance learning – ODL: The use of distance education methods to support the realisation of open learning purposes and principles. Omission of the ‘and’ as in ‘Open Distance Learning’, and possibly the use of the acronym ‘ODL”, imply erroneously that ALL distance programmes are based on open learning principles. This policy framework does not support this term because of the ambiguity associated with its meaning.

Open learning: An educational approach which combines the principles of learner-centredness, lifelong learning, flexibility of learning provision, the removal of barriers to access learning, the recognition for credit of pri or learning  experience,  the  provision  of  learner  support,  the  construction  of  learning  programmes  in  the expectation that learners can succeed, and the maintenance of rigorous quality assurance over the design of learning materials and support systems.

Open Educational Resources – OER: Any educational resources (including curriculum maps, course materials, textbooks,  streaming  videos,  multimedia  applications,  podcasts,  and  any  other  materials  that  have  been designed for use in teaching and learning) that are published under an open licence and are available for use without an accompanying need to pay royalties or licence fees. Openly licensed content can be produced in any medium: text, video, audio, or computer-based multimedia.

Post-schooling (in the South African context): The provision of education and training opportunities to all people who have left school. It includes education and training for out-of-school youth, and institutions offering second chance learning, Technical and Vocational (TVET) colleges, Community Education and Training (CET) colleges, and education and training offered by the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs), universities of technology and universities, private providers and other training colleges and institutes.

Resource-based learning: Learning which actively involves a range of resources (both human and non-human) in the learning process.