Technology in Distance Education: The Quality of Support in Distance Education at the Secondary and Collegiate Levels
The results were obtained by the analysis of a corpus of interviews conducted with students registered in distance education (DE) at the secondary and collegiate levels in the province of Québec, Canada, as part of a research project aimed at analysing the interactions between the actors in DE – students, tutors and program builders – in order to determine support practices and quality factors in the DE process. Data was obtained by conducting four interviews with 13 students enrolled in a DE program. The interviews were carried out over the duration of their courses. Analysis of the data was carried out by confronting the student's discourse with a grid of interactions and quality indicators in DE elaborated by the GIREFAD, the inter-institutional research group on distance education. The analysis deals with the perception of support activities and their perceived influence on quality. We have attempted to ascertain which aspects seemed to have the greatest impact on the perception of the quality in DE. We examined the relationship with the tutor, the learning material, assignment evaluation and feedback as well as communication tools. We can ascertain that the concept of quality expresses itself through certain well-determined dimensions of DE, especially when it comes to communication tools and interpersonal relations. In this respect, the students place their relationships with the tutor at the core of their perception of quality. Furthermore, technology is not a determining factor of quality in DE. Technology is considered useful and important only if it facilitates communication between the actors of the learning situation, such as the tutor or peers. It is also considered useful as an aid to complete more efficiently assigned tasks. In this regard, technology is perceived mainly as a tool and is not at the core of the student's perception of quality in DE.
Keywords: Distance Education, Technology, Support, Quality
Professor of Humanities, Director of secondary education program, Department of Education, Université du Québec à Rimouski
He is also interested in distance education and collaborates with the Interinstitutional Research Group on Distance Education (Groupe Interinstitutionnel de Recherche en Formation à Distance, GIREFAD).
Ma Morel Magalie
Lecturer, assistant researcher, Department od Education, Université du Québec à Rimouski