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Testing the systems model in Mexican distance education: The case of the virtual university at the Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey

Luis Galarza Perez, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This study is concerned with the systems approach in distance education. As a modality of instruction, distance education has grown in importance rapidly in the last thirty years. Most theories in the field have been solidified and are part of a sophisticated body of literature addressing learning issues, technologies, administration of programs, instructional design, and models. Systemic thinking has been proposed as a way to operate in distance education to obtain good results in the practice of distance education. Because most theories and models of distance education have been developed in industrialized nations, this dissertation looks at the systems approach in the context of a Latin American university. Some of its postulates are examined to determine if success areas at the Virtual University are the result of systemic practices. The larger context of this dissertation is the analysis of a distance education model within a university in the developing world. The Virtual University of the Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM) in Mexico serves as a case study for this work. In eight years, the unit has grown dramatically offering several graduate degrees, undergraduate courses, and continuing education programs in 26 national campuses and in other locations of North, Central, and South America. Its success and problem areas are worthy of analysis looking at a distance education model developed in the US. Through the use of surveys, review of literature, institutional evaluations, and unstructured interviews, the study looks at the interconnectedness of different process parts of the Virtual University. An assessment of success and problem areas is presented. Through the analysis of data and discussion, I propose that distance education success in this Mexican university is perhaps related to cultural perceptions or the sophisticated technological infrastructure in the 26 campus system. The result questions the adoption of external models in developing countries. It suggests that, rather than continuing to explain practices in distance education with foreign schemes, local approaches need to be developed as the basis for research in the modality. This idea may be of interest for distance educators in developing nations and elsewhere.

Subject Area

Educational software|Adult education|Continuing education|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Galarza Perez, Luis, "Testing the systems model in Mexican distance education: The case of the virtual university at the Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey" (1997). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9721449.