The pedagogical framework of the distance learning programs/courses was developed after resolving the following crucial issues: 1) the location of potential students (local, and/or European, and/or international students), 2) international trends and research developments regarding the mode of delivery of distance learning programs and 3) requirements set by the Cyprus Agency of Quality Assurance and Accreditation for Higher Education (C.Y.Q.A.A.) and the Cypriot Council for Recognition of Degrees (KYSATS) in terms of accreditation of distance learning programs and the recognitions of degrees awarded from such programs.
Pedagogical Framework Pillars - The pedagogical Framework is consisted of the following three pillars:
- Directed Learning Online and Educational Material (Learning Activities) (Mandatory Content) (mandatory and supplementary bibliography/content and digital/multimedia content)
- Dynamic Online Interaction (Weekly Learning Activities – Communication)
- Assessment Activities: (Final, Formative/Continuous and Self-assessment - Weekly Learning Activities)
Directed Learning Online
The aim of directed learning online activities is to introduce and explain the key concepts for each course. These activities aim to engage students in studying, reading, viewing or listening, permanent, static, online materials. These materials include the e-books, digitalized books, notes, readings from various sources (i.e. books, articles, websites, blogs, online newspapers, etc.). The Mandatory bibliography should be available through the Electronic Platform (provided that the principles of copyright are respected) and where there is a need for students to buy/borrow books, this should not be done excessively.
In addition, students are given educational content, or digital/multimedia material that includes digital bibliography, links, open access resources (OERs), eBooks, videos, etc. Also, the digital/ multimedia material includes the teleconferences recordings that take place through the Electronic Platform and/or other educational videos, which are prepared by the teaching staff of the Subject Unit. Digital/multimedia material also includes various forms of presentations: simple, narrated and presentations with notes, video lectures, interactive presentations and interactive videos, audio files, simulations, virtual learning environments, interactive educational games, interactive scenarios for problem solving or other multimedia sources for material delivery (e.g. tutorials). The content included in a course is rich and contemporary, since it is constantly monitored and reviewed by the authors.
The materials used are classified into ‘mandatory content’ that must be studied by students or ‘supplementary’, which could be studied on a voluntary basis by students who wish to delve deeper into the thematic areas of a course. The supplementary/optional bibliography includes a collection of additional bibliographic titles, indicative for further study, but is not the subject of study for the subject module examinations. More specifically, students are also expected to independently engage (independent learning) in further study activities. These activities require students to study additional publications within the field (i.e. readings that are beyond the core content included in Directed Learning Online activities). These materials include Journal articles or key texts in the specific discipline, online videos or podcasts of theorists within the field and any other material that students will locate, on their own, from the vast online resources available. Courses are therefore carefully designed in order to encourage and stimulate students’ independent learning.
Dynamic Online Interaction
The weekly dynamic online interaction activities engage students, in online discussions and collaborations but, not all of them contribute to assessment directly. The online interaction activities are designed in such way to provide students with opportunities to discuss, interact, share opinions, criticize and query their understanding of the key concepts introduced during the delivery of a course as well as to collaborate for the development of content/assignments.
Within this context, online lectures (video and audio sessions) are organized by instructors. The online lectures aim for content delivery and explanation, students’ presentations, discussions among students, and among instructor & student and their duration should be adjusted accordingly. Furthermore, within the context of the teleconferences there are group assignments and discussions, problem solving scenarios, role playing, etc. The duration of the teleconferences is an average of 2 hours. Within the same framework, dynamic online interaction activities include the creation of discussion groups on the subject unit (e.g personal statements, case study discussions, critical commentary of research articles), group simulation games, interactive problem-solving scenarios, the use of online files for collaboration, the development of wikis for collective writing, the utilization of blogs and/or micro-blogs (e.g. Twitter) for discussion, argumentation, critique, commentary, feedback. The DL instructors are encouraged to use build-in platform tools (i.e. zoom for teleconferencing sessions, discussion forums, chat rooms, wikis) as well as tools outside the platform (i.e. websites, blogs, online documents, wikis). These activities allow students to build and participate in online learning communities.