Towards a framework for addressing diverse learners in international, English-medium, print-centred DE : a Zimbabwean case study

Creed, Charlotte (2000). Towards a framework for addressing diverse learners in international, English-medium, print-centred DE : a Zimbabwean case study. PhD thesis The Open University.



This study examines an increasingly common distance learning context: where tertiary level and English-medium DE courses are produced, tutored and examined in one country but studied by learners in other countries and who have English as an additional language.Empirical work is drawn from a case-study of agricultural extension officers in disparate parts of Zimbabwe undertaking a professional development course which is produced and mainly tutored in the distant UK.

This long-distance cross-cultural writing relationship between academics and students serves as a basis for the examination of difficulties created by taken-for-granted educational practices embedded in the course structure and materials, particularly in relation to language and academic literacy. The study examines contemporary debates around internationalised learning, including cultural and linguistic imperialism and the desirability of locally-produced courses, and provides an insight into black Zimbabwean perspectives on them. It explores a variety of contextual issues including the wider significance of DE in a southern African context, gendered learning patterns, the linguistic repertoire of the students and their academic literacy background.

Drawing on grounded theory, discourse analysis, literacy as social practice and genre theories,this overseas research aims to provide the UK course producers with insight into some of the particularities of the Zimbabwean learning context and some of the learning and teaching resources which exists beyond their control and ambit. It is hoped that more multi-faceted image of some of their learners may help course producers consider more closely the differences and commonalities between course participants; it may challenge the normative pedagogy embedded in the course and prompt the producers to consider appropriate responses;it may raise the policy question of how to establish, within an asymmetrical donor-recipient situation, a north-south academic relationship of an emancipatory kind.

These aims spring from the conviction that as we move towards globalised educational contexts, dominated by market leaders, significant changes and improvements in educational practice are more likely to come about as a result of an emerging reflexivity on the part of the course producers. Learners and importers of course may not have much influence over such decisions.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions