Jenna Mittelmeier at Promoting Inclusion Transforming Lives conference

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The proportion of students studying in international distance education programmes has risen dramatically in the last decade, particularly in developing countries (UNESCO, 2012). One such example is South Africa, which has become a regional hub for international students with over one-third now studying distantly. Previous research demonstrates that distance students show low degree attainment (Prinsloo et al, 2015) and learning design affects their retention and satisfaction (Rienties and Toetenel, 2016). However, relatively little is known about international distance learners educational transitions, including academic and social integrations. Although there is a wide body of literature on international student adjustment and integration, this research often makes the assumption that students are physically located at the host institution, and there is a scarcity of research on distance education experiences.

The International Distance Education with African Students (IDEAS) project aims to address these gaps in knowledge through a research collaboration between the Open University in the UK and the University of South Africa. The project explores international distance student experiences in Africa, including their educational transitions through HE and the role of learning design or university support systems in academic and social inclusion. At the Promoting Inclusion, Transforming Lives conference, we will describe the academic and social adjustment patterns of international distance students across Africa. Evidence for learning designs and practices that best support international distance learners, effectiveness of support services for promoting successful transitions and wellbeing, and the current barriers to inclusive distance education practices in a developing world context will be discussed.



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Oct 19 2017

WISH workshop Cape Town

The WISH (Widening Success in Higher Education) workshop was help in Cape Town from the 10th to the 13th of October 2017. The workshop was a joint collaboration between the University of East London and The Cape Town University of Technology, and was funded by both the British Council and the National Research Fund.

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Oct 10 2017

8th ANIE International conference Rwanda

October saw the advent of the 8th African Network for the Internationalization of Education’s international conference in Kigali Rwanda. The IDEAS team took this opportunity to present some of the ongoing work at the conference.

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Sep 21 2017

IDEAS Coming together to learn and share

As part of the International Distance Education and African Students (IDEAS) project, the South African based team went to the United Kingdom to present work at the Royal Geographical Society’s (RGS-IGB) annual conference and then meet the UK based team at Open University for intensive discussions and meetings on the project progress.