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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Achieving Curricular Justice for Marginalised Social Groups in Web-based Distance Learning in Higher Education

Henk Eijkman.

This paper places equity in terms of quality of participation firmly on the agenda of web-based distance learning in higher education, where it is mostly notable by its absence. Furthermore, the paper indicates that to achieve equity, the focus must be on institutionalised curricular practices rather than on the backgrounds of disadvantaged students. For web-based distance learning to be equally beneficial to diverse and educationally disprivileged social groups, new paradigm curricular practices focused on inclusivity via quality of engagement must accompany new paradigm technologies. Accordingly, the paper signals the need for the foregrounding of a participation oriented equity model, and of a critical poststructuralist approach to curricular practices. This is because access and psychologist learning theories, are recognised as necessary but not sufficient. At a deeper level therefore, the study also concludes that quality of engagement requires the foregrounding of participatory rather than distributive justice principles and of critical sociological rather than psychology based theories of learning. Moreover, sociological theorising tends to offer broad, macro-level conclusions without offering micro-level solutions, and is often far from critical. This paper links macro-level concepts to micro-level solutions through Lemke's "Information Access Model" in which critical social-constructionist design principles as embedded. The paper not only stresses the importance of understanding the pivotal role of curricular practices in achieving equitable outcomes, but also presents academic staff a practice-focused model capable of optimising equity in web-based distance learning.


Henk Eijkman  (Australia)
Senior Consultant/Senior Lecturer
e-Learning Unit
NSW Police, Education Services

I am Senior Consultant/Senior Lecturer in the e-Learning Unit at the New South Wales Police College. As program/project manager and e-learning architect, I am responsible for the initiation of online learning in the NSW Police. I specialise in problem-based, online and distance learning. I have a B.A. (Soc. Sc.) with distinction; an M.A. (Sociology) from UNSW, and a Grad. Dip. In Technical Education from UTS, also with distinction. I am completing my doctoral thesis on designing equitable online learning architectures in higher education, at the University of Canberra

  • Equity
  • Curricular practices
  • Online-learning
  • Distance education
  • Higher education

(30 min Conference Paper, English)