Can we, should we, and do we integrate values education into adult distance education? Opinions of stakeholders at the Open University of Hong Kong
Abstract:Because of the changing needs of society, brought about in part by workplace, family and social structures and partly by the decline of moral and ethical values, it is becoming increasingly urgent to address issues of values education at all levels of schooling. Recently there has been an increasing body of literature challenging those who teach adults at universities or other higher education institutions to incorporate values education, either directly or indirectly into the learning environments they create. This challenge extends to distance higher education, although there are many questions about how this can be done in an environment that is typically intended for independent learning with a focus on cognitive development.
This paper reports the outcomes of interviews with three small groups of distance educator stakeholders at the Open University of Hong Kong, namely course co-ordinators, tutors and students, to explore their feelings and beliefs about values education being a component of their programmes. The interviews sought opinions about three broad questions: Should we take responsibility for values education in our distance education programmes? Can we take responsibility for values education in our distance education programmes? Do we take responsibility for values education in our distance education programmes?
Responses suggested that, in the context of this study, we should and that it is possible to do so, particularly directly through the use of counselling and support services and indirectly through incorporating appropriate examples into course materials, but that currently not very much is being done. While the course co-ordinators and tutors were concerned that students might resent the inclusion of values education in their courses, the students themselves appeared to be more open to the suggestion.