On Monday 2 April, Open Polytechnic was pleased to host Professor Paul Bacsich as our guest. Paul has been involved in a wide range of EU and international e-learning projects during the past 20 years and is a visiting fellow at the University of Canterbury e-Learning Research Lab during 2012. He is also a keynote speaker at the upcoming Distance Education Association of New Zealand (DEANZ) Conference in Wellington next week.
Paul’s first session was a keynote presentation for all interested staff and was entitled Virtual post-secondary institutions – Where next? With a particular focus on virtual schools and colleges (VISCED), including those considered to have dual-mode (ie blended) delivery, Paul gave us an overview of the successes, partial successes and failures of distance and virtual universities around the world and briefly introduced us to one successful model, the Open Universities Australia consortium. Various issues affecting the success of these institutions are similar to those faced here in New Zealand, including student retention, completion rates and performance-based funding.
Paul also held informal discussion sessions during the afternoon for our Faculty and Learning and Teaching Solutions staff to attend. The Faculty session was an opportunity for staff to ask Paul more questions about his work as it might relate to Open Polytechnic as well as give him an idea about the structure of programmes we offer. Paul believes that the biggest barriers to learning occur between the compulsory and post-compulsory education sectors – which is not necessarily the same thing as the gap between secondary and tertiary education.