Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Business and Management.

Publication Details

Successfully submitted for the award of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) to the Technological University Dublin, May, 2011.


This study describes the systematic creation, application and evaluation of a
comprehensive framework for the design of distance graduate programmes, the goal of which is to inform decision-making for sustainable curricula that suit the growing demand for flexible learning options. A wide range of challenges face educators, and existing models appear to be insufficient to guide such endeavours. Successful distance learning is rooted in the values of the institution and requires a significant amount of organizational support, needs assessment of stakeholders, strategic planning, implementation and evaluation. This first international study of distance masters degree programmes in Tourism and Hospitality Management (T&HM) employs an exploratory mixed method research design in a comprehensive investigation of the interrelated elements that contextualize and are part of the distance graduate curriculum. Director interviews and online surveys of alumni contribute insights into the graduate distance learning experience. A short case study within an Irish higher education institution pilots the draft framework; triangulating data by adding the perspective of traditional
instructors transitioning into a blended learning format. This study provides a robust curriculum model linking new findings and rich eclectic sources that can assist distance programme planners in the selection of technologyenhanced
approaches to meet the unique needs and interests of learners while
balancing change. Extending the academic plan of Stark and Lattuca (1997, 2009), this timely study offers a design framework to formatively stimulate quality interaction, foster high-level thinking and motivate both learners and instructors in a student-centred paradigm. Holistic design, not technology alone, opens the way to enhancing flexibility and programme competitiveness and resilience in a borderless academic community.