Distance education has and continues to play an essential role in educational access. It is characterized as teaching and learning via technology, where the students and instructor are not in the same space and time during learning. The integration of technology provides the mechanisms to facilitate interaction between the students and the professor, and the learning infrastructure. Whatever the methodology, distance education is a mode of delivery that ensures access to education to those not able to attend traditional education venues, or denied access based on social or ethnic status. Distance Education in South Africa, An analysis of access is an analysis of the challenges of accessibility overshadowed by the veil of Apartheid. The methodology involved an extensive historical overview of pre- and post-Apartheid, and a review of the concept and practice of distance education.
Distance Education Challenges
South Africa established the first distance learning university, and known as the largest distance learning provider, albeit with challenges to access, such as:
lack of government regulations and policies,
language barriers that restrict or limit student access,
access to print and learning resources,
quality of programs challenged by growth and,
lack of resources to compete with other universities and organizations to retain and matriculate students,
challenges integrating and sustaining innovative technology/ computers, internet connectivity,
The changes and continuities in South Africa's educational landscape produced both negative and positive effects (Jansen, 2004), to student retention and access. The challenges listed above create trickled down effects to educational sustainability, as well as access. The need for funding is critical, and a major problem if/when not available, and affects enhancement to, and quality and access to programs. Funding also allow provisions for access by integrating alternative delivery modes in the learning environment. In South Africa, these included the integration of collaborative technology found in course chats and Web 2.0 technology such as facebook. The use of transmission technology found in videoconferencing, audio, television, radio, and mobile devices, also broadens access and student outreach (Aderinoye, Siaciwena & Wright, 2009). The involvement of government and private agencies' in the management, governance, autonomy and accountability to universities in South Africa had challenges but later proved beneficial to access. This was realized in the merging of universities that created mega universities to accommodate growth, and student access. As universities began to emerge— public and private—the integration of technology also increased the modes of delivery and access resulting in the critical need for innovative delivery modes and programs.
Alternative modes of access from the Literature
The concept of distance teaching and learning is...