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AEC 344 Introduction to Distance Education1 Ricky Telg2 1. This document is AEC 344, one of a series of the Agricultural Education and Communication Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date April 1999. Reviewed June 2003. Visit the EDIS Web Site at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu. 2. Ricky Telg, assistant professor, Department of Agricultural Education and Communication, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32611. The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A. & M. University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Larry Arrington, Dean Educating students at a distance has been a major component of many universities' educational programs for decades (Shale & Garrison, 1990). Rooted in correspondence education, distance education has taken on a new flavor in recent years. With the incorporation of new communication technologies, such as satellites, compressed video, CD-ROMs and computers, distance education is being utilized by an increasing number of schools, colleges, and universities. Learning via technology also has been recognized as one of the forces that will affect training and development practices at U.S. corporations (Arnall, 1987; McLagan & Bedrick, 1983). With this emphasis on distance education as a means of teaching students, studies have been conducted on learner needs (Marland, Patching, & Putt, 1992; Moore, 1987; Shohat, 1983). Until recently, though, little attention has been given to faculty training and development, yet distance education researchers stress that new teaching techniques are necessary in the distance education environment (Beaudoin, 1990; Collins & Murphy, 1987; Dillon, Hengst, & Zoller, 1991; Shale & Garrison, 1990; Thach, 1993; Willis, 1993; Wolcott, 1993). That area is where this and other Extension fact sheets in this series will help. The series is designed to provide Extension faculty assistance in the design and development of distance education materials and programs. This fact sheet details the history of distance education and uses of instructional technologies. Other fact sheets in this series on distance education include Instructional Methods for Distance Education, Video-Based Distance Education, Internet-Based Distance Education and University ofFlorida's Distance Education Resources. A for-sale publication titled The Distance Education Handbook: A Guide for University Faculty is available through the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences' Educational Media and Services unit. Request publication No. SP 254. Foundations of Distance Education Distance education is not a new phenomenon. Distance education, in the form of correspondence education, dates to the 1850s in Europe (Sherow & Wedemeyer, 1990). It was adopted in the 1870s in the United States (Verduin & Clark, 1991). The American distance education model has grown past strictly printed correspondence education to include educational material disseminated via
Introduction to Distance Education 2 various technologies, including radio, computer, and television. Integrating various technologies, instead of relying on just one delivery system, is characteristic of a distance education framework (Levine & Doyle, 1994; Murphy, 1992). Many definitions of "distance education" exist; however, all have the following components: Teacher and student(s). Separation by time and/or space (geographic distance). Communication mediated by technology. What distance education really means is that instruction can be moved to the people, rather than moving the people to the instruction. Why Distance Education? Many faculty members have expressed concerns about teaching via a distance education technology. "Why change?" they ask. "We've been doing OK for years teaching our courses the way we've always taught our courses." That may have been true for the past and for the present, but the future may very well belong to mediated education. We're seeing an avalanche of instructional materials provided by educational institutions and industries from across the country and around the world. Already, more than 80 colleges and universities nationwide offer degree programs at the bachelor's, master's, or doctorate level that require a short or no residency requirement (Thorson, 1989). Competition is a driving force in our use of distance education. And there are some basic advantages for using distance education technologies, as shown below: Costs -Faculty can cut their travel budget tremendously with a distance education system. Travel time -A person doesn't have to spend "drive time" on the road to conduct a meeting or class. Effectiveness -Studies have shown that students learn as well or better in a distance education situation than in a "traditional" classroom set-up (Chu & Schramm, 1975; Whittington, 1987). "Reach"-Distance education allows teachers to reach students and resources outside the University of Florida campus. This "reach" can stretch across Florida, the United States, or the world. Improved teaching materials -The materials that teachers develop for distance education purposes are usually better than those that they would design for a traditional "face-to-face" classroom. Tighter/better structured learning environment -Professors have stressed that their teaching methods have become better as a result of providing instruction via distance education (Dillon & Walsh, 1992). Teaching by distance education technologies does have drawbacks, though. Here are a few that must be considered: Impersonal -Interaction seems stilted. It's not "really" face to face. Creative instructional design that encourages interaction can help lessen this drawback. Costs -Start-up equipment costs are quite high, but prices are coming down. "Up-front" time -Distance education requires a great deal of up-front time from teachers to prepare for their classes. However, the materials that are developed usually are of a higher quality than those developed for a traditional class and can be used in other classes. "What's in it for me?" -More universities are addressing this issue by encouraging faculty, through the use of monetary and intrinsic rewards, to teach at a distance. In sum, through the use of technologies, you can now reach a more widely dispersed audience with the same effort (or less effort) than if you had to drive to many sites to give the same presentation. You're also able to incorporate a variety of media in your distance
Introduction to Distance Education 3 education presentations. You can get a lot of "bang" out of one distance education program. Distance Education Media Teaching via distance education incorporates a variety of media. The important thing to remember is the message should dictate which medium you should use, not the other way around. Of course, once you develop your message content and decide on the medium, the constraints of the particular medium must be taken into consideration when you design the entire course. Accessibility to technology must be a consideration in the design of a distance education course or program. In your courses, you want to provide media variety to your students. Use video. Use pre-produced written materials. Use guest panels. In Table 1 and Table 2 below, the major technologies available for distance education and their advantages and disadvantages (Smaldino, 1995) are outlined. References Arnall, G. (1987, June). Satellite-delivered learning. Training and Development Journal, 41(6), 90-94. Beaudoin, M. (1990). The instructor's changing role in distance education. The American Journal of Distance Education, 4(2), 21-30. Collins, V., & Murphy, P. (1987). A new adult student: Learning by interactive satellite. Continuing Higher Education Review, 51(2), 29-37. Chu, G. & Schramm, W. (1975). Learning from television: What the research says. ERIC Document Reproduction Service, ED 109 985.) Dillon, C., Hengst, H., & Zoller, D. (1991, Spring). Instructional strategies and student involvement in distance education: A study of the Oklahoma Televised Instruction System. Journal of Distance Education, 7(1), 28-41. Dillon, C., & Walsh, L. (1992). Faculty: The neglected resource in distance education. The American Journal of Distance Education, 6(3), 5-21. Marland, P., Patching, W., & Putt, I. (1992). Thinking while studying: A process tracing study of distance learners. Distance Education, 13(2), 193-215. McLagan, P., & Bedrick, D. (1983, June). Models for excellence: The results of the ASTD Training and Development Competency Study. Training and Development Journal, 37(6), 11-20. Moore, M. (1987). Learners and learning at a distance. The International Council of Distance Education Bulletin, 18(9), 18-22. Murphy, K. (1992). How to create environments for active rather than passive learning. Proceedings of the JTCA Teleconferencing Yearbook 1992 (pp. 131-136). Washington, DC: International Teleconferencing Association. Shale, D., & Garrison, R. (1990). Introduction. In D. Garrison & D. Shale (Eds.), Education at a distance. (pp. 1-6). Malabar, FL: Krieger. Sherow, S., & Wedemeyer, C. (1990). Origins of distance education in the United States. In D. Garrison & D. Shale (Eds.), Education at a distance. Malabar, FL: Krieger. Shohat, A. (1983). Exploration of the characteristics and competencies dominating the profile of the persistent student in adult distance learning. Unpublished master's thesis, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI. Smaldino, S. (1995). Technology. Paper presented during A Model Program for Staff and Faculty Training in Agricultural Distance Learning seminar, Ames, IO. Thach, L. (1993). Exploring the role of the deliverer in distance education. International Journal of Instructional Media, 20(4), 289-307. Thorson, M.K. (1989). Campus-free college degrees, 4th Edition. Tulsa, OK: Thorson Guides. Verduin, J., & Clark, T. (1991). Distance education: The foundations of effective practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Introduction to Distance Education 4 Willis, B. (1993). Strategies for teaching at a distance. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. EDO IR 928) Wolcott, L. (1993). Faculty planning for distance teaching. The American Journal of Distance Education, 7(4), 26-35.
Introduction to Distance Education 5 Table 1.
Introduction to Distance Education 6 Table 2.