Building Stakeholders’ Relations in Open and Distance Learning: The Quality Challenges at Play (Published)
Building stakeholders’ relations in ODL has the potential to release untapped potential and transfer of expertise through collaboration. However, there are some sticking challenges at play and this study examined these challenges to building stakeholder’ relations in ODL. This was a qualitative study. Information was collected through a survey of four regional campuses informed by a purposive sample of 284 students and sixty members of staff. Some very glaring challenges in the way of building stakeholders’ relations in ODL were unearthed. Suppressed voices working to scare away potential partners were seen as inhibitors and silent assassins of efforts to building stakeholders’ relations in ODL. There were far more damaging attitudes to ODL stakeholder relations than those that promote it. Some of the manifestations of these damaging attitudes were seen through the otherness of ODL institutions and their students, the low status accorded to ODL and the inherent belief that learning equals face-to-face teaching. The invisible hand of power from a close knit highly conservative old boys’ clique from conventional universities was visible in this study. The study concluded that ODL cannot therefore fulfil its purpose of building stakeholders’ relations without reference to these challenges some of which are inflicting shock and injury to the staff and students. The study thus, recommended a re-thinking on conditions building stakeholders’ relations in ODL considering that this issue is more than an academic argument about definitions of meaning. It is the question of who gets what from the paymaster’s limited pot and why (Doherty, 2008).