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Review of distance education research (2000 to 2008): Analysis of research areas, methods, and authorship patterns

  • Olaf Zawacki-Richter FernUniversität in Hagen
  • Eva Maria Baecker FernUniversität in Hagen
  • Sebastian Vogt FernUniversität in Hagen
Keywords: Review of distance education research, research areas, research trends, Delphi study


This paper presents a review of distance education literature to describe the status thereof and to identify gaps and priority areas in distance education research based on a validated classification of research areas. The articles (N = 695) published in five prominent distance education journals between 2000 and 2008 were reviewed for this study. The conclusion is that distance education research is strongly dominated by issues related to instructional design and individual learning processes; whereas, other important areas (e.g., innovation and change management or intercultural aspects of distance learning) are dreadfully neglected. There is a significant trend towards collaborative research and more qualitative studies. Over 80% of all articles originate from only five countries.

Author Biographies

Olaf Zawacki-Richter, FernUniversität in Hagen
Olaf Zawacki-Richter holds a Ph.D. from the School of Education at Oldenburg University (Germany). Olaf is faculty member in the MBA in Educational Management offered by the Faculty of Education at Oldenburg University. He is also teaching in the rank of an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Online Master of Distance Education programme, jointly offered by University of Maryland University College (USA) and Oldenburg University where he was a member of the academic staff of the Centre for Distance Education from 1999 to 2003. Between 2003 and 2007 Olaf worked as project manager at the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management in Frankfurt. Early in 2007 Olaf returned to the University of Oldenburg and joined the team of the Division of Continuing Education and Educational Management. In September 2009 Dr. Zawacki-Richter started a fixed term professorship in educational technology at the FernUniversity in Hagen.
Sebastian Vogt, FernUniversität in Hagen
Sebastian Vogt FernUniversität in Hagen, Germany Carl von Ossietzky Universität, Germany Sebastian Vogt is a research assistant at the department of Educational Technology, FernUniversität in Hagen/ Germany and at the department of Continuous Education, Carl von Ossietzky Universität/Oldenburg. His academic life is driven by technical innovations in education and media.
How to Cite
Zawacki-Richter, O., Baecker, E. M., & Vogt, S. (2009). Review of distance education research (2000 to 2008): Analysis of research areas, methods, and authorship patterns. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 10(6), 21-50.
Research Articles