Distance Learning and Higher Education

Summary: Systems for educating students at a distance (using various combinations of technology -- printed materials, telephone, television, computer, and other media) have become common in various countries over the past 25 years. The British Open University, one of the first and most successful of these systems, has allowed over one million students to obtain a higher education since 1970, with some 150,000 students currently enrolled; 5% of all first degrees in the UK are granted by the OU. Several dozen similar systems around the world have, when well planned and efficiently operated, increased access to higher education for many who otherwise would never have had that opportunity. But distance education is not a panacea, nor is it without costs of its own. Accumulated experience to date suggests that there are a number of factors that must be taken into account for distance education programs to succeed.

Selected References

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Burge, Elizabeth J. (1994). Learning in computer-conferenced contexts: The learner's perspective. Journal of Distance Education, 9(1), 19-43.

Dillon, Connie L., Hengst, Herbert R., & Zoller, Dawn. (1991). Instructional strategies and student involvement in distance education: A study of the Oklahoma televised instructional system. Journal of Distance Education, 6(1), 28-41.

Evans, Terry, & Nation, Daryl (Eds.) (1993). Reforming open and distance education: Critical reflections from practice. London: Kogan Page.

Grundin, H.U. (1983). Audio-visual media at the Open University: Results of a survey of 93 courses. IET Papers on Broadcasting No. 224. Walton, Bletchley, Bucks., England: Institute of Educational Technology. Available as ERIC ED 253 199.

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Johnson, R. (1986). Effectiveness and efficiency in distance education. Paper presented at the Conference on Productivity in Tertiary Education (Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia, July 3-6, 1986). Available as ERIC ED 282 527.

Keegan, Desmond. (1990). Foundations of distance education. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge.

Marland, P., Patching, W., Putt, I,& Putt, R. (1990). Distant learners interactions with text while studying. Distance Education, 11(1), 71-91.

Pool, R.A. (1981). What makes a telecourse? In New Technologies for Higher Education. Current Issues in Higher Education. No. 5, pp. 4-6. Washington, DC: American Association for Higher Education.

Rumble, Greville, & Harry, Keith (Eds.) (1993). The Distance teaching universities. New York : St. Martin's Press.