Strategic Planning for Distance Education
Planning for the implementation of a distance
education program is basic to the success of the program. One
study identified 20 critical factors (Pearson, 1989) which addressed
the need for human and fiscal
sources, as well as the process of diffusion of barriers. It
produced a plan to follow prior to, during, and following implementation.
The top ten critical factors are based on human and fiscal resources.
Planning for implementation requires time, people and funding.
Serious consideration should be given to
the critical factor - identification of the program need. Without
the need, an institution should not move ahead. Faculty involvement,
incentives, motivation and training were ranked as serious issues.
The factors in rank order are:
- Identified need (perceived or real) for
- Faculty supportive; given incentives for
- Funds for capital costs; production, equipment,
- On-going money for operations and expenses.
- Quality of educational content of program
- Adequate support staff to produce the
- Ensure equal learning to remote students.
- Enthusiasm and belief by institution in
the overall distance education project.
- Identification of a visible, spirited
key leader/administrator initiating program.
- Adequate receive sites, facilities, and
- Available equipment to deliver programming.
- Sufficient time for careful needs analysis;
identify service range and programmatic student needs. Ex: Number
of people, course types, ages served, location.
- Ensure equal status for remote students:
i.e., credit, degree.
- Instructional design and TV production:
the inter-active components, length, frequency number.
- Identification of a marketing plan for
the network, system or program. Public relations with the public.
- Cost effectiveness: feasibility and justification
for delivery system to students and institution.
- Identified or gathered support/partners
for the program: industry, corporate, legislative, institutional.
- Ensure continued credibility of the program
with the public, faculty, students, and supporters.
- Knowledge of educational administrators,
teachers and staff at educational institutions on what distance
education is and how to teach and use it effectively.
- Ability to accredit courses, offer credit
or transfer credit across states or institutions.
Predict & Overcome the Barriers to
Implement Distance Education Programs
- Systematic Process to Arrive at Consensus
- Defined Steps and Factors create a Definitive
- Critical Planning Issues
- Follow Specific Adoption Processes
- Ensure Success in Distance Education Programs
Once They Are Implemented
- Require more planning than tech design
- User Acceptance
- Sustained Applications
- Introduction by an Influential Person
Prior to Use
- Importance for Adoption & Implementation.
Consider & Develop Simultaneously
General Barriers to the Use of Educational
- Lack of information about technology
- Length of time for widespread use
- Inappropriate match - technology and service
- Panacea approach with technological solution
- Machine mysticism
- Myth: Tech advance leads progress
- Myth: Cultural lag occurs everywhere as
we try to keep up with technology
- Use technology to answer new patterns
- Lack of money
- Lack of faculty commitment
- Lack of trained support staff
- Faculty Concerns
- Class size
- Discussion and face-to-face involvement
- Lack of faculty support from peers/instructors
- Student Concerns
- Isolation: Access Teachers/Peers/Resources
- Discipline and self-directedness
- Technology access and use
Psychological Barriers to the Use of
- It's never been done that way before
- Suspicion of change
- Telephobia - Suspicion of change involving
- Tele-Nerd - Making a fool of one's self
- Video is only hype or show biz. May only
entertain rather than inform
- TV is a Cold High Tech Medium: Does not
transmit personal high touch. Does transmit body language, chemistry,
- Audience attention span
- Lack of interaction
- Institutional: Course content - quality.
Lack of central grading, testing, measurement
Conditions for Success
- Recognized Existence of Need
- Articulation of Purpose and Guide
- Identification of Structure
- Leadership of the Innovation
- Teacher Participation and Support
- Appropriate Technology
- Evaluation Mechanism
- Continuing Adequate Resources
1. What is the target audience?
2. What courses must be offered?
3. What technology is currently in place?
4. What technology is available through
cable, and ITFS?
5. What existing technology can be opened
to students - audio, computer, learning
6. How soon should the courses start?
7. Are the faculty trained in distance
8. Are the staff and administrative support
trained in distance education technologies?
9. Space for educational technology facilities?
- Return on Investment
- New Sources of Income
- Need reduced for buildings
from "The Distance
Learning Technology Resource Guide," by Carla Lane