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Distance education, efficiency and scientific management: Some Doubts

Campion, M. (1986) Distance education, efficiency and scientific management: Some Doubts. Murdoch University. External Studies Unit.



The theme of the 1983 Australian and South Pacific External Studies Association concerned developing efficient teaching-learning systems and efficient management systems. Such an emphasis on efficiency was symptomatic in the United States' educational arena to a commitment to the practices of scientific management. The central role accorded to efficiency by some theorists of educational administration is illustrated by educational principles that use the term "raw materials" for students and "worker" for teachers. Business ideology still dominates Western discourse and those in the education sector still perceive themselves and their institutions as vulnerable to it. Institutions that provide distance education materials feel even more vulnerable than do those that maintain a more cloistered and discrete relationship with their students. The methods adopted in a standard approach to distance education materials resemble the methods of scientific management. In order to complete materials successfully, students are required to submit to an "if you can't beat them, join them" approach because the materials fail to acknowledge the centrality of the possible contributions students can make. Issues such as qualitative, as opposed to quantitative, efficiency have not been sufficiently addressed in discussions about efficiency in distance education methods. Differing political commitments generate differing standards and measures of efficiency.

Item Type: Book
Publisher: Murdoch University. External Studies Unit
Publisher's Website:
Other Information: ESTR Occasional Paper Number 12; Revised version of a paper presented at the 1983 Forum of the Australian and South Pacific External Studies Association
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