Definition of Terms
The term "distance education"
refers to teaching and learning situations in which the instructor
and the learner or learners are geographically separated, and
therefore, rely on electronic devices and print materials for
instructional delivery (Keegan, 1983; Holmberg, 1981; Sewert,
1982). Distance education includes distance teaching -- the instructor's
role in the process -- and distance learning -- the student's
role in the process (Keegan 1982, 1983).
"In the images we hold of American
education, none is as prominent as the self-contained classroom.
The classroom is an island on which a teacher, a group of students,
standardized textbooks and other limited resources determine
the educational process. From time to time, the teachers and
students make forays into the world outside to do research or
take field trips to relevant sites. On the whole, though, the
educational process is focused inward on the resources that exist
within the classroom and the activities that occur there (NEA,
"The use of telecommunications technology
in classrooms literally inverts the typical locus of educational
activities. Classrooms face the world outside rather than the
world inside. Instead of islands, classrooms have become links
in communication highways transmitting data, video and voice
to thousands of other sites. Teachers and students have easy
access to vast databases and participate in joint activities
that involve classes in other states and countries by traveling
on these highways," (NEA, 1991).
A major movement in K-12 and higher education
in the United States today is the use of telecommunications technologies
to teach students at many sites or at a distance from the campus.
The theme that runs through all of the literature about distance
education is the contribution that it will make to educational
reform. The current crises in funding for education is a long-term
change. This calls for a fundamental change in the dominant model
and mode of operations of educational institutions. "Fundamental
adaptation is needed, as well, in our modes of instruction which,
at this time, are neither pedagogically nor financially effective,"
(Lynton, 1992). Coupled with a responsibility to help practitioners
acquire and maintain their competence is the need to change the
balance between didactic instruction, self-directed learning
and collaborative learning.
The electronically mediated courses which
have evolved to serve the student are composed of live and taped
video programming which varies in time up to 48 hours and replaces
the traditional classroom lecture. The video program is augmented
by textbooks, study guides, anthologies, audio tapes, computer
programs, computer and audio conferencing, multimedia and other
instructional material required by course content. Variations
combining media and made available through the Internet are released
frequently. Instructors are generally assigned to a course and
may require other meetings with the students including laboratories
and seminars which may be conducted in traditional ways or by
audio, video or computer teleconference.
Delivery technologies for the video program
include broadcast television (including public television stations),
cable, satellite, fiber optic cable, computers, CD-ROM, CDI/DVI,
video disc and radio. Through these technologies, institutions
reach learners who are at other sites or are unable to attend
campus classes due to distance time, or disability constraints,
and make education accessible to them.
An accompanying development is the electronic
campus, classroom and dormitory. These rooms and buildings have
a wiring infrastructure connected to a central hub delivery system
for audio-visual materials, access to learning resources, access
to local and national on-line databases, on-line library catalogsand
e-mail. Faculty, students and administrators frequently share
these systems which can be accessed by computer, modem, telephone
and video equipment.
Another development is the delivery of
instruction entirely through computer conferencing. Accredited
universities and colleges are offering undergraduate and graduate
degrees, including the doctorate through computer conferencing.
These classes are also augmented by textbooks, study guides,
additional readings, audio conferences with the instructor, videoconferencing
or face to face meetings. The use of computers may be bringing
about a fundamental change in teaching methods at the institutions
and in the homes and offices of students.
The establishment and acceptance of the
validity and effectiveness of distance education courses, together
with the production of more and better course materials, will
increase student demand and institutional interest in offering
them. The ability of educational institutions to reach more students,
wide though it already is, will be multiplied almost beyond imagination
by the proliferation of relay technologies, the growth in regional
and national consortia, digital fusion and the technical merger
of computers to television.
An additional factor in the growth of distance
education is the cost of building new campuses and maintaining
existing campuses. Distance delivery allows the institution to
continue to meet its mission cost effectively. Institutions have
decided that there is a need to share courses, enrollment and
instructors between campuses, and are able to increase the number
of courses being offered without increasing the number of instructors.
This allows the delivery of education to the home and the workplace.
Without distance education, low enrollments at one site would
force the cancellation of the course. With distance learning,
that rarely happens as courses can be broadcast to a variety
of campus, home and workplace sites, and students can study independently.
A recent development in collaboration for
distance learning has been the Western Governors' University
which includes a number of states. Courses begin in 1998. The
WGU won't offer its own courses, rather it will draw from existing
institutions and other providers. It will offer certifications
and degrees. The local centers "franchised" by the
WGU would provide support services and would serve as an access
point for people wanting to take advantage of the various educational
California has set up the California Virtual
University which allows residents to take any of the courses
offered by distance learning from any of the state's universities
During the early stages of distance education
planning on some campuses, there was a perception that distance
education would replace instructors. This has not been the reality.
In fact, through distance education, instructor positions have
been saved because once students perceive that the course will
be taught, the demand for the course will rise. Distance education
adds additional avenues to the education process as it enables
the expansion of the campus outreach. Through distance education,
many people are taking courses who simply would not have enrolled
for a traditional course because of their work, home or distance
Once distance learning systems are installed,
they also save money on in-service training and administrative
conferences by reducing travel time. Systems can be used for
instructor certification and a wide variety of other continuing
education courses such as real estate certification, IRS training,
regional, state and national meetings, fire and police personnel
training, and a variety of other community and state needs.
Unwin (1969) suggests that through these
technologies we communicate in the idiom of the age and argues
that if the development of an educational system is to be in
line with the technologies and truths from which it draws its
reason for existence, then teachers must reconcile traditional
methods of instruction with new ideas by integrating new methods.
Mediated instruction is a new domain. The
primary use of mediated instruction has been to duplicate the
traditional face-to-face classroom. Some institutions have made
or are in the process of a paradigm shift from thinking of mediated
instruction as a replacement for the traditional classroom, to
thinking about distance education and mediated instruction as
a new educational domain. The enabling tools are the technology,
a mix of media, and a focus on learner centered learning rather
than teacher centered classes. Through the use of self-directed
learning methods, the responsibility for learning is shifted
to the student and the instructor facilitates the learning by
acting as a coach, resource guide, and companion in learning.
Through this attitude shift, the student becomes proactive rather
The Baby Boom Echo will continue. In 1997,
total public and private school enrollment rose to a record 52.2
Between 1997 and 2007 public high school
enrollment is expected to increase by 13 percent, while elementary
enrollment is projected to increase by less than one percent.
The number of public high school graduates will increase 18 percent.
About half of the states will have at least a 15 percent increase
in the number of public high school graduates, with an 80 percent
increase projected for Nevada, 49 percent for Arizona, and 41
percent for Florida. Largely because of the high school enrollment
increase, over 150,000 additional public and private high school
teachers will be needed - a 14 percent increase;
Full-time college enrollment is projected
to rise by 21 percent.
Beyond the year 2007, unlike the decline
after the previous baby boom, where births dropped down to 3.1
million in the early seventies, the number of births is not projected
to fall off, but remain fairly stable at around 4 million. Long-range
projections by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, indicate a rising
number of births thereafter, rising to 4.2 million in 2010 and
4.6 million in 2020.
In higher education, we are experiencing
dramatic shifts notably toward a move to lifelong learning as
a result of the need to retrain individuals whose skills are
no longer marketable but will also experience a major enrollment
increase due to the Baby Boom Echo. From 1987 to 1997, full-time
and part-time enrollment increased at fairly similar rates, 9
and 12 percent, respectively. That situation is projected to
change as large numbers of high school graduates enter college
during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Between 1997 and 2007,
full-time enrollment is projected to increase by close to 21
percent, while part-time enrollment is projected to increase
6 percent (See Table 1.)
Total Enrollment in Public
and Private 2-year and 4-year Colleges, by Sex, Attendance Status
and Control of Institution: Fall 1996 to Fall 2007
(U.S. Department of Education,
National Center for Education Statistics, Projections of Education
Statistics to 2007; and Digest of Education Statistics, 1997
Although school attendance rates among
5- to 17-year-olds have remained relatively steady over the past
10 years, the proportion of 18- and 19-year-olds attending high
school or college rose rapidly from 52 percent in 1985 to 59
percent in 1995. The proportion of 20- to 24-year-olds enrolled
in school rose from 24 percent to 32 percent during the same
Americans have become more educated. In
1995, 82 percent of the population 25 years old and over had
completed high school and 23 percent had completed 4 or more
years of college. This represents an increase from 1980, when
69 percent had completed high school and 17 percent had 4 years
of college. In 1995, about five percent of persons, 25 years
old or over, held a master's degree, slightly more than one percent
held a professional degree (e.g., medicine or law), and one percent
held a doctor's degree.
Of the 15 million college students in 1994,
nearly one in five were age 35 or older, compared with one in
10 in 1974. Adult students now constitute over 83 percent, or
10 million of the nation's 12 million college students. The stereotypical
18-22 year-old, full time, residential college student is greatly
in the minority at 17 percent (2 million) of this population.
In 1970, older students constituted only 28 percent. United States
institutions primarily use distance education to reach the same
adult audience that is returning to the campus to complete course
work (Daniel, et al., 1982; Frankel & Gerald, 1982; Lewis,
1983). The adult population increase indicates a continued growth
in the demand for distance higher education as it better meets
the needs of adults (Mayor & Dirr, 1986). Another chapter
contains case studies and a discussion of higher education utilization
of distance education.
In kindergarten through twelfth grade,
distance learning has been embraced by public school systems
which can no longer fund the luxury of specialized teachers at
all schools. The shortage of math and science teachers has fueled
the utilization of distance education technologies for K-12.
Other courses are offered nationally, such as German by Satellite
and Calculus by Satellite which originate at Oklahoma State University.
It is not unusual for K-12 distance education instructors to
have 900-1200 students. By year 2004, we will have approximately
55.7 million students going to school, seven million more than
in 1994. Teachers will be in very short supply with only one
million available for two million teaching positions. The shortage
will be most acute in science and foreign languages with rural
schools suffering more. Well placed distance education technology
will be needed to fill the void opened by the teacher shortage.
The Star Schools program has lead the K-12 field nationally in
the use of distance technologies.
Sixty-five percent of U.S. public schools
had access to the Internet in fall 1996 according to a study
conducted by the US Department of Education. This represented
a gain of 15 percentage points in each of the last two consecutive
years. While 61 percent of all public elementary schools had
Internet access, about three-fourths (77 percent) of secondary
schools had Internet access.
Large schools were more likely to have
Internet capabilities than their smaller counterparts. Eighty
percent of public schools with 1,000 or more students had Internet
access compared with 57 percent of schools with fewer than 300
students and 66 percent of schools enrolling between 300 and
Urban fringe (or suburban) schools reported
higher rates of Internet access than schools in rural locales
or towns. Seventy-five percent of urban fringe schools were connected
to the Internet, compare with 60 percent for rural schools and
61 percent for schools in towns.
Public schools with high levels of students
in poverty were less likely to be connected to the Internet.
Internet access was available in about half (53 percent) of schools
in which 71 percent or more students were eligible for the free
or reduced-price lunch program and in 58 percent of those in
which 31 to 70 percent of students were eligible. In comparison,
72 percent of schools with 11 to 30 percent student eligibility
for the lunch program had Internet access and 78 percent of those
with less than 11 percent free or reduced-price lunch eligibility
were connected to the Internet.
Eighty-seven percent of public schools
that did not have access to the Internet had plans to obtain
access by the year 2000. Thus, 95 percent of the nation's public
schools were expecting to obtain Internet access by the end of
In fall 1996, 14 percent of all public
school instructional rooms (classrooms, computer or other labs,
and library media centers) were connected to the Internet. This
was more than a fourfold increase since fall 1994, when three
percent of all instructional rooms had access to the Internet.
In five percent of public schools on the
Internet, Internet access capabilities were not installed in
instructional rooms (including classrooms, computer or other
labs, and library media centers). Forty-three percent of schools
with Internet access provided this access in one instructional
room (figure 2). Twenty-two percent had access in two or three
rooms, 4 percent reported four rooms, and 25 percent were connected
to the Internet in five or more instructional rooms.
Among all public schools, 20 percent of
teachers used advanced telecommunications for teaching.
Thirteen percent of all public schools
reported that training for teachers in advanced telecommunications
was mandated by the school, district, or teacher certification
agencies. Thirty-one percent of schools indicated that incentives
were provided to encourage teachers to obtain advanced telecommunications
training, while in about half (51 percent) of the nation's public
schools it was left up to teachers to initiate participation
in advanced telecommunications training. Support for advanced
telecommunications in all public schools was most frequently
provided by local school districts.
Eighty-three percent of public schools
reported that the school district provided funds for advanced
telecommunications. Funds from state or federal government agencies
helped support advanced telecommunications in 38 percent of public
schools, and 18 percent reported that parents or other community
members provided monetary support for the schools' advanced telecommunications.
School access to the Internet was examined
by the level of poverty in the school as defined by the proportion
of students eligible for the free or reduced-price lunch program.
Schools with higher proportions of students eligible for the
free or reduced-price lunch program were less likely to have
Internet access than those with smaller percentages of students
eligible for this program. About half (53 percent) of schools
in which 71 percent or more students were eligible for the free
or reduced-price lunch program had Internet access and 58 percent
of those schools with 31 to 70 percent of eligible students had
Internet access. In comparison, about three-fourths (72 to 78
percent) of schools with smaller proportions of students eligible
for free or reduced-price lunch had Internet access.
Schools connect to the Internet in a variety
of ways. Although modems remained the most common means of connection,
use of higher speed connections had increased since 1994. In
fall 1996, 74 percent of schools with Internet were connected
by modem. Twenty percent used higher speed SLIP or PPP connections,
12 percent had a T1 connection, 11 percent had a 56Kb connection,
and four percent connected to the Internet with an ISDN. This
represents a change from 1994 when data were first collected.
In 1994, 97 percent of schools with Internet connected by modem;
three to four percent used each type of high speed connection
such as a SLIP/PPP (3 percent), T1 (3 percent), or 56Kb (4 percent).
Through the Telecommunications Act of 1996,
and the landmark decision in May 1997, the Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) voted to fund Universal Service to schools,
libraries and rural medical facilities. This ruling provided
the funding and policies to implement the Snow-Rockefeller-Exon-Kerrey
amendment of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The amendment
requires that schools and libraries be provided access to telecommuications
services for educatinal purposes at discounted rates. This will
provide everything from a telephone at a teacher's desk to computers
which are networked throughout the school and linked to Internet.
The 1934 Communications Act did not include schools in the provisions
for universal access; 60 years later, this has had a major impact
on providing telecommunications to educational organizations.
The e-rate (its nickname) ranges from 20-90
percent off the lowest negotiated non-residential rate available
on all commercially available telecommunications services, Internet
access and internal connections. The level of the discount depends
on the collective economic disadvantage of the students using
the school or library and whether it is located in a rural or
urban area. Post-secondary institutions were excluded.
Schools and libraries are required to participate
in a competitive bidding process in order to apply for discounted
services. The FCC Web site has details http://www.fcc.gov/learnnet
Corporate and business educational programs
are also using distance learning to make their programs more
accessible and cost effective, and to increase the timeliness
of delivering new information. Where traveling trainers used
to take six months to a year to deliver training sessions to
their sites, one trainer can deliver the same information to
all sites (national and international) in one day. Utilization
of distance education technologies by business for training is
an enabling factor in maintaining global competitiveness. Institutions
are confronted with the need to deliver more educational activities
despite shrinking resources and the increasing cost of delivering
services with traditional methods (Meierhenry, 1981). Economic
considerations will continue to act as a force on post-secondary
institutions to find ways to use telecommunications. In the mid
`80s, the Carnegie Commission stated that if higher education
does not integrate telecourses, the private sector will. Galagan
(1989) and Bowsher (1989) liken this to the situation in industry
where economic considerations forced companies to cut training
costs and utilize distance education techniques. Designing courses
with advanced technology is more cost effective than traditional
courses. Distance education is an economically feasible way for
post secondary institutions to confront shrinking resources and
the increased cost of delivery of educational services by traditional
As the pace of technology change continues
to increase and employees are constantly faced with new ways
to process and distribute information, it is changing the process
of work. The way that learning occurs has changed due to technology.
Even the way that information and knowledge are maintained and
disseminated has changed. The changes in skills required to work
in the information workplace are dramatic. Employees must learn
technical skills and critical thinking abilitities that allow
them to integrate technology into the organization's work and
their own personal work processes. Never has it been more important
that the use of technology become seamlessly transparent to the
Technology has become the work process.
The work has become mediated just as learning has become mediated.
Just as we have learned to use learning
styles and technology because of the inherent way in which they
bring a synergy to learning that touches all learners, we are
moving toward increasing uses of on-the-job training (OJT) and
just-in-time training (JIT). As the technologies become increasingly
easy to use because of their sophistication, and as workers learn
how to learn and become self-directed and independent in their
learning, learning will increasingly become part of work. We
have long been in the information and communications age, but
we have seldom paused to recognize how learning has become part
of our daily work. Companies have moved to become learning organizations
and knowledge-based organizations, yet the employee's role in
this has been lost in the process of change.
We are at a door where we'll pause to redefine
work and the worker, and perhaps have the time to consider how
early childhood education, K-12 and higher education can be reworked
through technology to create generations of learners who enjoy
not only the process of learning and thinking, but see how it
moves them towards creativity and growth in their chosen field.
Media and technology can provide the packaging
and delivery of educational programs. Knowles (1983), Galagan
(1989) and Bowsher (1989) conclude that by the end of the 1990s
most education will be delivered electronically. It is likely
that through the National Information Infrastructure (NII) these
early predictions may become reality, but at a slightly later
Adult educators (Moore & Shannon, 1982)
reported that their interest in video was due to programming
availability, video's ability to expand the service area, reusable
videotapes, and its being less expensive than traditional classes.
In 1989, 66 percent of American homes had at least one VCR and
industry projections forecast 90 percent by the late 1990s (Ladd,
Fiber optic cable installed in homes will
vastly expand phone company services to include information,
video, education, and other developments we cannot even imagine.
With the FCC ruling in July 1994, approval was given to Bell
Atlantic to offer interactive television service for 38,000 homes
in New Jersey. Video transmission to homes is the big promise
of the next two decades. At press time,the FCC was expected to
act on a backlog of 21 similar requests from other regional Bell
companies that would cover millions of homes nationwide. Cable
companies have filed a blizzard of objections against their well-financed
Flanigan (1989) predicts that fiber optic
cables will be the industrial highways of the information age.
Brey's (1988) study showed that broadcast television is the most
important delivery system but video tape and cable would soon
overtake it. New types of services which are most likely to be
available nationally and internationally include access to local,
state, national and international libraries and databases, pay
per view on demand, full news text, community information, banking
by mail, global e-mail, and video dial tone which will allow
the wide use of video telephones and/or desktop videoconferencing
and document sharing. All telecommunications plans include the
ability to provide voice, data and video. Education is a part
of the new communications systems, but of the 500 cable channels
that may ultimately be offered, it is unclear whether there will
still be only one educational access channel or if there will
be many. Cable in the Classroom has made dramatic inroads to
rearrange the public image of cable, but the local cable operators
will have to provide more educational access and support to make
cable truly viable for community service.
Because of the move toward distance learning,
research has led to findings on the nature of learning. Experts
in education agree that there is a need to reinvent education
in America. The reasons are twofold: Academic performance is
inadequate, and our understanding of how people learn has shifted
dramatically. We now perceive learning as a transformational
process where the student is changed as opposed to mimetic where
information is merely transferred or distributed to the student.
To a great extent, the Goals 2000: Educate
America Act passed in 1994 will add to the impetus to use new
instructional methods and new educational technology tools. The
Act is the most sweeping educational legislation that has been
passed in America.
The thrust in this paradigm shift in learning
theory is that education means two-way communication, both inside
and outside of the classroom. The typical classroom today is
cut off from other academic environments. It does not have access
to knowledge centers such as museums, universities, libraries
or other databases and it is isolated from the working world.
The majority of classrooms are not equipped with a telephone,
computer, television or any other means to learn about the outside
world. The challenge in transformation learning is to help students
make intellectual, social, emotional, and physical connections
to make knowledge meaningful.
During the last two decades, theorists
and researchers have developed a new understanding of the nature
of learning. Here are some of their insights (Gomez, 1992):
Other research has indicated that interaction
may be either synchronous (in real-time) or asynchronous and
still be successful.
Audioconferencing and audio technologies
are greatly underutilized for delivery of instruction. Audio
conferencing is an efficient way for instructors to communicate
with students in real time and at a distance. By having a set
agenda, encouraging interaction, sharing of information and experiences,
it provides a class situation without having the students and
instructor physically in one place. It is also cost efficient
to use audioconferencing instead of the more costly videoconferencing
when the course content does not require visual contact or visual
Voice mail (also called voice messaging),
has become one of the most important business productivity tools
and can increase productivity by as much as 30 percent because
it lets people communicate with other people in their absence.
Industry studies indicate that 60 percent of all calls can be
completed without a two-way conversation. Voice messaging allows
information to get to the recipient quickly, accurately, and
with the nuances of voice inflection intact.
Interactive voice response (IVR) technology
allows people to talk with a computer via a touch tone telephone.
The IVR unit answers the call, greets the caller, and guides
the caller through possible responses with a series of voice
prompts. The desired information is provided via prerecorded
voice fragments (words) or computer-generated speech.
Inexpensive new computer software programs
now allow the user to dictate messages and memos to the computer.
This also will lead to a voice command interface with the computer.
It has long been possible for the computer to speak the words
appearing on the screen and this has been used well in literacy
programs such as that provided by the Outreach and Technical
Assistance Center (OTAN) http://www.otan.dni.us
Computer conferencing is another grossly
underutilized distance education technology. It will support
a number of students asynchronously and can be quite interactive
when appropriate methods are utilized in the instructional design
process. It is an easy and convenient method to use for messaging,
homework transmission, and grading. For adult students who must
travel, laptops have been a boon which enables them to interact
with classmates and communicate with their instructor from any
part of the world. Instructors who have taught in the medium
feel that the level of interaction is superior to traditional
classroom interaction for two reasons; students are required
to participate and cannot hide behind the class stars who easily
assimilate information and whose verbal skills enable them to
shine. Computer conferencing is a significant way to orchestrate
class discussion where all are able to participate equitably.
Teachers often fail to plan the use of video, and effective ways
to support instructional objectives with video (Gueulette,1988),
audio or computer. Since the decision to use distance education
usually rests with administrators and faculty who are unlikely
to have media expertise, there is a need to train them in media
selection and utilization.
New versions of the electronic classroom
are being created regularly. University Access http://www.Universityaccess.com,
a new online university working with California State University
at Hayward and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
is using a program called ICHAT. This allows the instructor to
present PowerPoint slides on the right side of the computer screen,
and chat with students in real time on the right side of the
The University of Phoenix Online Program,
widely recognized as the prototype model for full degree programs
offered online, uses a program called Convene. Convene uploads
and downloads from a variety of mailboxes created for each class,
then allows the student to respond to the new material when it
is convenient. This method of asynchronous class delivery has
been well received by UOP's 3000 online students.
Bates argues that institutions should define
overall objectives for integrated media at a program level including
how programs affect students and how students can easily integrate
programs into their mode of learning.
Improved media selection procedures can
change the current situation (Sive, 1978, 1983; Niemi, 1971;
Teague, 1981). An adoption process which includes an evaluation
instrument for distance education based on media selection methods
would ensure that adoption personnel evaluate materials using
the best available media selection methods to help ensure the
selection of resources that will make genuine contributions to
student learning (Teague,1981). Many educators maintain that
we are just beginning to learn how to use media for educational
purposes (Knowles, 1983; Hewitt,1982; Lane 1989).
In its 1979 report on the future of public
broadcasting, the Carnegie Commission stated, "Television
and radio have great unused potential for learning, and new technologies
are on the verge of greatly enhancing this potential. We believe
it is time to launch new efforts to tap the power of broadcasting
and the new telecommunications media for learning" (Carnegie,
1979, pp. 255-256). The report concluded that, "It is clear
that with careful planning, skillful execution, and thorough
evaluation, telecommunications will play an increasingly fundamental
role in the learning processes of Americans of all ages"
Two national studies (Lane, 1989, 1990)
developed media selection and evaluation models.
from "A Technical
Guide to Teleconferencing and Distance Learning," 3rd edition