Trends and Patterns in Distance Education (2014–2019): A Synthesis of Scholarly Publications and a Visualization of the Intellectual Landscape

Keywords: distance education, open and distance learning, open education, online learning, research patterns and trends


The field of distance education (DE) is dynamic and constantly evolving; it reflects and adapts according to changes in socio-cultural, demographic, political, and technological domains. Thus, there is a need to understand past and present activities in the field, in order to better inform future research. The main purpose of this study was to examine DE research through data mining and analytics approaches, using social network analysis (SNA) and text mining to conduct a bibliographic analysis. The findings highlighted three main strands of DE research: (a) issues related to open education; (b) the design, support, and quality assurance of online DE; and (c) the implementation and use of educational technology, media, and digital tools. SNA of the bibliometric data identified pivotal theoretical contributions, including that the fields of distance education and educational technology converge. The article concludes with recommendations for future research directions.

Author Biography

Aras Bozkurt, Anadolu University, University of South Africa

Aras Bozkurt is a researcher and faculty in the Department of Distance Education at Open Education Faculty, Anadolu University, Turkey. He holds MA and PhD degrees in distance education. Dr. Bozkurt conducts empirical studies on distance education, open and distance learning, and online learning through resorting to critical theories including connectivism, rhizomatic learning and heutagogy. He is also interested in emerging research paradigms including social network analysis, sentiment analysis and data mining.


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How to Cite
Bozkurt, A., & Zawacki-Richter, O. (2021). Trends and Patterns in Distance Education (2014–2019): A Synthesis of Scholarly Publications and a Visualization of the Intellectual Landscape. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 22(2), 19-45.
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