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Athabasca University


MDDE 651: Gender Issues in Distance Education

Delivery mode: Online course using Moodle

Credits: 3 - Elective

Prerequisites: MDDE 601, MDDE 602 for MEd program students only

Instructor Winter 2016: Erin Graham



In this course, you will use feminist principles and theory to explore the practice of contemporary distance education. The course is written from a feminist perspective (i.e. is women-centred), and explores and critiques feminist literature, which in turn it uses to explore and critique distance education.

As outcomes of this exploration, the course is designed to achieve the goals listed below.

Content Goals

  • To apply feminist theory and research in order to explore the gendered impacts of technological innovation

  • To examine how gender can inform distance education

  • To reflect on how gender affects our ways of interacting, communicating, decision making, and educating
  • To use feminist gender analysis to critique existing and planned educational programs

  • To develop gender-inclusive educational content and delivery within a distance educational context

  • To integrate personal experience, feminist theory, and pedagogy and apply them to educational initiative


Process Goals

  • to explore and reflect on the ways in which our gender affects our ways of interacting and communicating;

  • to develop our skills in, and critical awareness of the possibilities and limitations of computer-mediated communication;

  • to experience and reflect on the challenges of working collaboratively;

  • in the light of our discoveries in this course, to reflect on and probe more deeply our own experiences as teachers and learners.

As a participant in this course, you probably have goals of your own which are not reflected in this list. One of the first activities in this course is to articulate these goals to the other participants so that we can work to find ways of attending to them in our exploration of gender and distance education. In this way, the course becomes at least in part your own creation, since it is only through interacting, building on others' ideas, and reflecting on one's own experience, that a 'course' actually comes into existence.


Course Outline

The course consists of four units:

Unit 1: Feminist Theory and Pedagogy

The first unit in the course examines the utility of theory in general and some current feminist theories of education in particular.

Unit 2: Overview of Gender Issues in Distance Education

The second unit considers how technological innovation privileges one gender, and to what extent it is possible for educators to use gender analysis to make informed, gender inclusive choices in program content and delivery. This unit also examines case studies that highlight some of the issues raised in the first two units of the course.

Unit 3: Case Studies

Many of the articles in the Readings, in the textbooks, and on the Web are case studies that deal with a wide range of issues centring on women’s experiences in distance education as learners, teachers, and administrators. These case studies will be the medium for exploring in more depth a number of aspects of women’s relationship to distance education, including the following:

  • access and success to education for women in developed and developing countries;

  • learning design and support systems;

  • technologies;

  • content and curriculum and issues for practitioners.

Unit 4: Project

In the final unit, you will apply your own context and issues to the lessons you have learned from working through the readings and related activities. Your project can take any number of forms. The purpose is to explore significant educational or training feature of your own work environment as it relates to distance education — whether that ‘‘work” is as a learner, teacher/trainer, or administrator — and describe how that feature could be transformed to make it more women-positive.


Student Assessment

Your grade will be based on three assignments and your participation in the course. The assignments are as follows:

Assignment 1: Based on the reading of articles, students will write an essay to present the synthesis of issues arising from the articles.
Assignment 2: Collaborative Case Study, students will work with a partner to develop a presentation on the issues about your chosen topic.
Assignment 3: Explore a significant educational- or training-related feature of your environment that relates to distance education. Develop a plan to transform that feature to make it more women-positive.
Course Participation: Students are expected to participate in the course forums.


Please note that some changes in schedules and/or specifics of assignments may be made from time to time or by individual instructors.


Get Started Early

Early access to the Learning Management System, Moodle, begins one week before the official start date of your course, at that time you will have limited access to the course. On the Official Start Date of the course, instructors will be available and the discussion forums will automatically become active.


Last updated by MM May 27, 2016

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