Essays on A Systems Approach to the Exploration of Challenges of Online Distance Education in the Context of Saudi Arabia Literature review

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Existing management approaches in ODE 2.5.3 Existing management approaches in ODE Understanding the current successes and previousshortcomings in the management of ODE requires an analysis of the current state of the industry and the available management practices. This analysis will provide a clear comprehension of the practices in ODE management. It will also provide an opportunity to propose new approaches or modify the existing approaches in managing ODE. The available literatures on the management approaches of ODE have been successful in propagating the practice of ODE. It is, however, imperative that the flaws and limitations of the various approaches be identified so that ODE can be effectively managed better than the traditional learning process.

These management approaches, among others include: - Empirical Approach Social System Approach Socio-Technical System Approach Contingency (Situational) Approach Management Science Approach System Thinking Approach 2.5.3.1 Empirical Approach This management approach of tackling challenges in ODE focuses on the study of managerial experiences in ODE and applying the recommendations and formulae in real life cases. It is therefore a Theoretical approach combined with practical experiences that was originally developed by Earnest Dale, Mooney and Reiley, Urwick.

In this approach the study of Managerial Experiences are distributed from the practicing manager to the student. This is so as to provide a preservation of the particular knowledge management practice. Understanding previous success and failures helps the practicing managers to retain or modify the techniques studied. This approach is however limited by the fact that it does not encourage the advancement of knowledge management as a discipline in ODE. Another challenge that this management approach faces in ODE is the fact that technology has advanced and application of previous techniques in current management of ODE cannot be relevant anymore. 2.5.3.2 Social System Approach The contributor of this management approach, Pareto, Chester Barnard argues that an organization is an integration of several cultures and different people called a cultural system.

This cultural system affects the external and internal environment of the organization. This approach argues that for an organization to achieve efficiency, the people need to cooperate and complement each others efforts. In ODE, the social system approach in management has to ensure that the organizations goals are achieved through cooperation of external and internal subsystems in the organization (Linger and Owen, 2012).

This has enabled the two parties to understand their purpose in the social system; hence, they work together in order for them to achieve their personal goals, which are part of the organizational goals. The major limitation to this approach in the management of ODE has been its lack of principles and techniques. This means that several adjustments have to be made in order to achieve personal goals because it is a practical approach. The management of ODE therefore lacks professional management practices and techniques when using this approach (Koontz and Weihrich, 2007).

2.5.3.3 Socio-Technical Systems Approach The origin of this approach is based on the integration of technology and human beings in an organization and it was contributed by Trist, Bamforth, and Emery. The application of this management approach in ODE has been beneficial because of the need for technological applications of tools such as the internet, video conferencing, audio and telephone communications, as well as the use of websites and portals in ODE. According to Lambropoulos and Zaphiris (2007), this approach focuses on effectively combining the social system, which includes human beings, and the technical system, which includes the procedures, rules equipments and technological resources.

Managing the interpersonal perspective between tutors, students and other stakeholders can be said to be the biggest advantage in ODE. By keeping minimal personal contact and ensuring adequate professional contact, it ensures that there is culmination of a healthy ODE between stakeholders. White, King and Tsang (2011) have also explained how social media is currently being utilized to enhance ODE. By creating a social presence, virtual classrooms are becoming more interactive and ODE management requires that these modern norms are adopted so as to make ODE a social experience too.

This include the use of social platforms such as YouTube, facebook, twitter and the use of instant messaging to enhance communication. 2.5.3.4 Situational (Contingency) Approach The contributors of this management approach, including Lyndall Urwick, Harold Koontz, Newman and Mc Farland argue that this management approach focuses on solving different issues using different techniques. In ODE, various users and stakeholders have various needs and requirements but the role of management remains the same.

These variations are mostly not restricted to different time requirements, different physical abilities and disabilities, different languages, different technological resources, as well as different information/content requirement. Weihrich, Koontz and Cannice (2010) have highlighted that in ODE, educational materials are normally slightly adjusted to fit different users while still aiming at achieving the same overall objective. As much as the contingency approach as combination practical and theoretical approach aims at providing a solution to every problem, this approach also has various limitations.

The fact that every situation is dealt with in a different manner makes it hard to standardize the quality of products. In the education industry, quality is normally associated with set standards and the fact that the contingency approach to managing ODE can barely be standardized poses a great risk to the legitimacy and necessity of applying the approach in ODE. 2.5.3.5 Management Science Approach Management science was conceived by the need to quantify and derive management mechanisms to portray successes and failures in various projects. The original contributor of this approach included Russell Ackoff and Charles Hitch among others categorized this management approach as a practical approach to management.

Management science approach employs the use of mathematical and scientific tools and techniques to provide solutions to the impending projects and problems. As an existing management approach to ODE, management science has provided ODE with an orderly approach which has helped in the maintenance of consistencies (Information Resources Management Association and Khosrowpour, 2006). Maintaining consistency has been known to increase the value and levels of trust from the distributors and consumers of the product as stated by Drugan (2013).

However, management science is limited by several factors including the fact that it requires high expertise to manage the process. It is also a rigid mechanism that does not put into consideration the social and interpersonal requirements in management. These are vital non-quantifiable aspects of management that are essential for ensuring successful undertakings. The last limitation is that of time and resources required in the formulation of procedures. These formulae and procedures cannot be replicated; hence, the approach cannot be standardized. 2.5.3.6 System Thinking Approach System thinking approach can be defined as an analysis that mainly focuses on how the components of a system interrelate to achieve the overall purpose of the system.

As a process management approach, system thinking can be effectively used in analyzing ODE based on the variance in stakeholders (Moore and Kearley, 2011). The approach works best with intelligence and is not individualistic in nature. This ensures collective intelligence, which in turn promotes value addition in the supply chain (stakeholders) and the assurance of quality products (European Conference On E-Learning and Remenyi, 2009).

System thinking is considered as an art, thus its execution requires technical considerations. This is one shortcoming of the system, when it comes to solving an organizations challenge as it depends on the external management to effectively execute the process in an organization (Senge, 2006). This mostly relates to management consultants who offer a one-time advice and disappear until they are needed again, making it difficult to track changes and progress in the operations of the organization.

This also makes it an expensive affair making it a less selected approach by many organizations. Another biggest impediment about system thinking is its inability to be standardized. Since it takes a collective intelligence approach, determining intelligence as credible or not can be a daunting task that leans on socialistic approaches rather than idealistic considerations. 2.5.3.6 Summary of the Existing Management Approaches Applied in ODE Management approach Assumptions Social Systems Organizations are social systems. Integration and coexistence among human beings in an organization will ensure organizational success. Socio-Technical Systems Human beings are the social sub-system; rules and technology are another sub-system. Management Science Problems are solved using formulas, and success is normally in an orderly manner. Its strength lies in the fact that it produces consistent results. Limitations include the high level of expertise required to implement the approach. Systems Thinking System behavior is determined by the reinforcement and support that is given to every component of a system. Collective intelligence increases value in the products and supply chain. Limitations include high costs since it requires outsourcing consultants. Contingency Approach Every problem is unique. Different problems are solved using different means. It is limited by lack of standardization. Empirical Approach Study of previous management successes and failures. Preservation of past techniques and practicing them presently. Limited by the fact that past situations differ from present situations. Figure 1: A table showing the summary of the existing management approaches used in ODE References EUROPEAN CONFERENCE ON E-LEARNING, & REMENYI, D.

(2009). The Proceesings of the 8th European Conference on e-Learning, University of Bari, Italy, 29-30 October 2009. Reading, England, Academic Publishing Limited. WEIHRICH, H., KOONTZ, H., & CANNICE, M. V. (2010). Management: a global and entrepreneurial perspective.

New Delhi, Tata McGraw-Hill. LAMBROPOULOS, N., & ZAPHIRIS, P. (2007). User-centered design of online learning communities. Hershey, PA, Information Science Pub. WHITE, B., KING, I., & TSANG, P. (2011). Social Media Tools and Platforms in Learning Environments. Berlin, Springer Berlin. MOORE, M. G., & KEARSLEY, G. (2011). Distance education: a systems view of online learning. Belmont, CA, Wadsworth Cengage Learning. INFORMATION RESOURCES MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION, & KHOSROWPOUR, M. (2006). Emerging trends and challenges in information technology management. Hershey, Penn, Idea Group. http: //www. books24x7.com/marc. asp? bookid=13270 DRUGAN, J. (2013). Quality in professional translation: assessment and improvement. KOONTZ, H., & WEIHRICH, H.

(2007). Essentials of management: an international perspective. New Delhi, Tata McGraw-Hill. SENGE, P. M. (2006). The fifth discipline the art and practice of the learning organization. New York, Broadway Books.

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