Monday, December 11, 2006


Distance learning's past has emerged into a new entity. In the past
decade, higher education has taken on tools for learning faster than
at any other time in its history. Here we look at the beginning of
distance education, its present, and our predictions for the future.

The Past

Distance education, in some form, has been around for decades. Before
1900, the communication system of the Roman Empire set the stage for
distance learning, long before the idea of such a phenomenon was
conceived. Inventions during this time of the printing press and the
postal service made possible the printing of many copies of learning
materials to be distributed to many individuals. Correspondence
education began toward the end of the 19th century, and in the 20th
century, radio, telephone, cinema, television, programmed learning,
computers, and the Internet all became tools of the new method of
distributing education (Daniel, 2000).

Australia and New Zealand

In the 1930s, radio was first used to broadcast educational
programming to schools. Television became a medium of choice for
distance education in the 1960s, and today with the power, speed, and
versatility of the Internet, courses are offered anytime, anywhere.

During the 1930s radio as a medium was used to deliver educational
programming in Australia and New Zealand by the Australian
Broadcasting Company (ABC). In addition to program broadcasts, the
ABC provided financial assistance to the schools for the purchase of
radio receivers. "In 1935,21 percent of all Australian schools were
making regular use of radio. . . [programs]. By the mid 1950s usage
had risen to 90 percent" (Teather, 1989, p. 504).

In 1956, television was introduced in Sydney and Melbourne to deliver
educational programming to schools. The programs were used by
teachers to supplement their curricula and to provide access to
experiences that were beyond the resources of the schools (Gilmour,
1979). More comprehensive pro- grams ill math and science were
developed and broadcast to schools to address a teacher shortage in
these subjects. In the 1960s and 1970s, television broadcasting in
Australia increased significantly, and by 1972 more than 90% of all
schools in Australia were receiving and using both enrichment and
subject-specific television programs.

In the 1960s, when the Open University (OU) was being developed in
the United Kingdom, Australia had four universities that were
providing opportunities for part-time higher education study using
distance learning. At Massey University in New Zealand, approximately
12,000 students were en-rolled in several hundred courses. In the
1980s, more than 35,000 students were taking distance education
courses in Australia from approximately five universities and 30
colleges. In 1961, due to a short supply of evening classes at the
University of New South Wales, lectures were broadcast over radio to
part--time adult students in their homes. Problems arose with this
arrangement, however. The University's radio station obtained a
license to broadcast, but the "transmission frequency allotted . . .

was beyond the tuning range of an ordinary radio receiver, so
students had to have their receivers modified" (Teather, 1989, p.
506). But this did not solve the problem completely. The power
provided to the University radio station (which was about half the
power of a nearby non-University station) did not allow for clear
transmission of the audio. Thus, students ended up hearing only half
of the transmission. To remedy these problems, the University
established centers where students could gather to listen to
broadcasts and have discussion groups afterward. Those who could not
attend the sessions were mailed broadcast tapes. By 1966, the
University added television programming to its radio programming to
offer courses to extension centers. The courses were delivered using
a combination of the two media and supplemented by notes and diagrams
that were mailed to students before the broadcasts. Student-led
discussions and live seminars supported the learning activities. This
arrangement became known as the Division of Postgraduate Extension
Studies, and by 1982 more than 2,300 students were enrolled in the
broad-cast courses. An additional 2,700 participated in courses in
which audio- and videocassettes of the same courses were offered.

Eventually distribution of higher education courses in Australia and
New Zealand became satellite-based. In 1985 and 1986, domestic
Austra-lian communication satellites were launched and educational
networks were established.

The United States

Educational broadcasting in the United States evolved in a similar
fashion. In the 1920s, unsuccessful attempts were made to develop
broadcasting for educational and cultural purposes and to reserve
some radio channels for educational uses. It wasn't until the 1950s,
when states were faced with shortages of teachers and school
facilities, that instructional television was seen as a way to ease
these problems. "Local and state educational authorities established
stations using the reserved channels" (Lyle, 1989, p. 516). The
broadcasts were used to support classroom instruction, and most
programs were developed and produced by local teachers. With the
passage of Title VII of the National Defense Education Act of 1958,
educational broadcasting increased and appropriations by the
legislature provided support for projects in education. However, when
school enrollments began to decline in the 1970s and teachers were in
surplus, the broadcast medium for instruction declined as did local
production of programs for schools.

With respect to higher education, universities were among the first
to have radio stations back in the 1920s. University extension
programs were broadcast using these radio stations and have continued
ever since. Television became the medium of choice for the broadcast
programs in the 1960s. Many college and university systems developed
televised curricula to provide access for more individuals and to
reduce pressure on the physical plants. Systems and consortia alike
cooperated to deliver courses to the public. A 1979 survey by the
Corporation for Public Broad-casting (CPB) and the National Center
for Educational Statistics (NCES) "found that 25 percent of the
nation's colleges and universities offered courses for credit over
television and 36 percent of them used broadcast television to
supplement instruction" (Lyle, 1989, p. 516). A major turning point
in the distance education enterprise came in 1981 when Walter H.
Annenberg announced his $150 million gift over 15 years for the
development of university-level television programming. The CPB was
chosen as the agency to oversee the planning of the programming that
would be funded under this gift.

The United Kingdom

While these developments were occurring in the United States and
Australia, the United Kingdom officially opened the Open University
in 1971 (Cathcart, 1989). Primarily a correspondence institution, OU
used correspondence materials and text-books as its major resources
along with television broadcasts. The institution was open to any and
all who wished to partake of its educational opportunities. Working
closely with the British Broadcast Corporation, au paid for its own
production costs using revenue from the government's department of
education and science.

When the United Kingdom's Open University achieved higher
ratings for its teaching of Engineering than Oxford, Cambridge,
and the Imperial College, London, it was a sign that
that had begun 30 years earlier as a radical and suspect
initiative for second--chance students had now become a
well-respected university. (Daniel, 2000)

Other Countries

The success of OU prompted other countries to adopt its model and
establish their own open universities. For example, in 1972 Spain
created the Universidad de EducaciĆ³n a Distancia using radio
broadcasts. Holland offered multimedia courses to its citizens via
television, and in 1977 Norway established an Institute for Distance
Education that coordinated and produced integrated multimedia courses
on topics of concern to its citizenry. Eventually Norway's live
broadcasts were recorded and distributed to interested constituencies
on cassettes. Their purpose came to focus more on- the materials than
on the broadcast. Likewise, Sweden's Utbildningsradion, established
in 1978, became responsible for preparing learning systems and
producing audiovisual educational media. Its main priority was to
produce programming for underserved, disadvantaged groups (e.g., the
mentally and physically challenged and individuals with limited
education). In addition to its broadcasts (both television and
radio), all programs were available on cassette, along with
educational materials to make up learning packages. These were
distributed to learning resource centers across Sweden.

These efforts and others were part of the foundation for today's
distance education, an evolution in the making. While some of the
programs and projects in broadcast education may not have been deemed
overly successful at the time, "research and experience leaves no
doubt that educational broadcasting can, particularly within
multimedia systems, be an effective educational instrument" (Lyle,
1989, p. 516).

As Sir John Daniel (2000), Vice Chancellor of Britain's Open
University, asserts:

. . . whereas in 1990 only a small proportion of tradi-tional
universities offered any distance learning courses, by the year
2000 very few did not have such offerings. Today no
self respecting university president can admit to not
offering courses online.

(For a comprehensive account of early educational broadcasting, see
chapters by Inquai, Hurst, Teather, Lyle, Hill, Cathcart, and O'Brien
in Eraut, 1989.)


Distance learning is the most significant phenomenon occurring in
higher education today. Everywhere one looks, whether in community
colleges, 4-year institutions, Ivy League colleges, research
institutions, or technical colleges, distance education is on the
rise, and the rise is occurring at a rapid pace. Distance education
and technology are major factors in the contribution to current and
expected changes in the postsecondary education enterprise.

Distance education is expected to grow at a compound annual
growth rate of 33 percent,

according to Inter-national Data Corporation. Analysis
predicts that distance education demand will increase from
five percent of all higher education students in 1998 to 15
percent by 2002. [Indeed] . . . the reported growth rates
(from 1999-2000 to 2000-2001) range from 200 percent
(Pennsylvania State University's World Campus) to over 1,000
percent (University of Maryland's University College) today.
(Oblinger, Barone, & Hawkins, 2001, p. 11)

Never before in the history of higher education has there been a
change that has had such an impact on those involved in this
enterprise. According to Peter Drucker, "Universities won't survive.
The future is outside the traditional campus, outside the traditional
classroom. Distance learning is coming on fast" (Gibson & Herrera,
1999, p. 57).

The idea and advent of distance education have been instrumental in
producing a range of emotions in those involved in higher education.
Many faculty are resistant; some are confused; others are excited
about the new realm of possibilities for their teaching. Some worry
about the future of their livelihood; others see this change as an
opportunity to expand their pedagogy and teaching opportunities.
Critics of distance education say that this mode is inferior to the
more traditional face-to-face, campus-based learning, where discourse
is spontaneous and inter-active, and where the faculty can see the
students and pick up nonverbal body language such as facial
expressions. Skeptical faculty argue that part of the learning
experience is the connection made between student and student, and
student and professor, or the experience of community. However, "in
all fairness, there are few studies that measure the effectiveness of
textbooks and lectures as an educational delivery system" (Oblinger,
Barone, & Hawkins, 2001, p. 19). But because of the newness of
technology and the uncertainty of its use in educating students,
institutions are held captive by questions related to its use.

Proponents of distance learning, on the other hand, argue that
distance education technologies allow for increased access to a
variety of courses. Distance education offers the student more
convenience in scheduling classes, decreases travel time to and from
a campus, and allows for student control over when participation in
classes will occur (Johnson, 1999a). Furthermore, distance learning
technology, such as the Web, is

the first medium that honors the notion of multiple
intelligences-abstract, textual, visual, musical, social,
and kinesthetic. Educators can now construct learning environments
that enable [a student] to become engaged in learning any way the
student chooses. The anytime, anyplace nature of the Web allows
students to spend as much time as they need searching
for in-formation, running simulations, or collaborating with
peers. (Oblinger, Barone, & Hawkins, 2001, p. 5)

Some have found that this new way of delivering higher education is
just as good as traditional ways, and maybe even better (Daniel,
2000; Johnson, 1999b). In fact, as Sir John Daniel (2000) stated in a
speech to attendees at the Taiwan Conference on Distance Learning:

Open universities have learned how to carry out distance
education successfully at scale and I emphasize that this
is not merely a technological success. Through the principle of
course team we have become better at teaching than
conventional universities, on both academic and pedagogical grounds.

Some say that students in distance education courses are more engaged
with the learning process and that interaction happens more than in
traditional face-to-face courses (Carnevale, 2000b; Marchese, 2000).
Researchers also have found that distance education is "more
effective than the classroom lecture and the traditional relationship
between student and faculty member" (Oblinger, Barone, & Hawkins,
2001, p. 6).

A large body of research touts that there are no significant
differences between the learning out- comes of distance education and
those of classroom-based education (Epper, 1996; Oblinger, Barone, &
Hawkins, 2001; Weigel, 2000).

[But] why [argue some] hold up lecture-based class-room
education as the benchmark for evaluating new educational
delivery systems? . . . If there is no significant difference
between distance education and class-room-based education,
advocates of distance education should hardly trumpet this claim;
they should be deeply troubled by it. How could they think of
making the status quo the standard for evaluating learning
technologies that have so much more to offer? (Weigel, 2000, p. 12)

With distance learning technologies, teachers can develop new
teaching methodologies rather than adapting old pedagogy to their
distance courses. The Web is a "fundamentally new medium for
education with the potential to birth new pedagogical methods"
(Weigel, 2000, p. 12).

Charles M. Cook, director of the New England Association of Schools
and Colleges' Commission on Institutions of Higher Education,
comments on distance learning. He asserts that this mode of delivery
"can provide a more active learning environment for students than
traditional education by engaging the student with interactive
technology, instead of relying on a professor's lecture" (Carnevale,
2000d). He feels that this type of educational delivery is more
learner-centered than traditional delivery. In fact, in a survey of
faculty, findings revealed that they "believed web-based courses do a
better job of giving students access to information, helping them
master the subject, and addressing a variety of learning styles"
(Oblinger, Barone, & Hawkins, 2001, p. 19). '

The Web . . . can also be a great new medium for deeper forms
of learning. . . . The beautiful thing is that today's technologies,
with their incredible abilities to connect, search, engage, and
individualize, to prompt performance and assess understanding, are--in
the hands of a teacher with the right ambitions--terrific enablers
for [deep learning]. (Marchese, 2000, p.4) ,

Distance education serves the needs of not only the traditional-age
college student, but also the most rapidly growing segment of the
population, adult learners over the age of 35 years who have
full-time jobs, families, and limited discretionary time. A re-port
by the American Council on Education Center for Policy Analysis and
Educause (Oblinger, Barone, & Hawkins, 2001) cites seven distinct
audiences for distance learning: corporate learners, professional
enhancement learners, degree-completion adult learners, college
experience learners (or the traditional student), precollege (K-12)
learners, remediation and test-preparation learners, and recreational
learners (Oblinger, Barone, & Hawkins, 2001).

Distance education has touched a majority of institutions of higher
education in the United States over the past 5 years. USA Today
(Snapshots, 2000) reports that 75% of U.S. institutions of higher
education now offer distance education courses and pro-grams, and 35%
have accredited distance education programs. It appears, however,
that public institu-tions are using the distance mode of delivery
much more than are private institutions.

In 1997, 79% of public 4-year institutions and 72 % of public 2-year
institutions offered distance education courses, compared with 22 %
of private 4-year institutions and 6% of private 2-year ones
(Carnevale, 2000a, p. A57). Currently, institutions with more than
10,000 students (87%) are more likely to offer distance education
courses than those with between 3,000 and 10,000 students (75%), or
those with fewer than 3,000 students (19%) (Carnevale, 2000a, p.
A57). These numbers are likely to increase substantially over the
next decade with all the advances in technology and the growing
demand by the public for convenient and flexible educational

In this age of technology, future college students (e.g., today's
children) have and are using computers in their schools. "Today's
students, increasingly comfortable with technology, expect online
resources (a digital library, Web resources, simulations, video) as
part of the learning tools and learning experience" (Green, 1997, p.
4). In fact, colleges and universities of today are "dealing with the
first generation of students who have never known life without PCs
(created in the '70s) or the Internet (largely a '90s phenomenon)"
(Oblinger, Barone, & Hawkins, 2001, p. 26). Students entering higher
education today have the knowledge and skills to use technology that
exceed those of faculty and staff working in higher education (Bleed,
2000). Students are not only computer literate, they are
"technophilic" (Cini & Vilic, 1999, p. 38).

Over the past 2 decades, communication using information technologies
has gone from using over-head projectors, audiovisual media, slides,
and the viewing of prerecorded public television programs, to the
delivery of instruction using interactive technologies and
asynchronous modes, with degree pro-grams offered to students
worldwide. Changes in technology today are constant, and faculty,
staff, and administrators must keep pace with new technologies to
ensure that their students receive the best that education has to

REFERENCES available on request.



TOMORROW'S PROFESSOR LISTSERV is a shared mission partnership with the
American Association for Higher Education (AAHE)
The National Teaching and Learning Forum (NT&LF)
The Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning (SCIL)

By Judith L. Johnson


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The 5 Attributes of an Effective Learner

Most anything we do in life, either to satisfy our own interests or lay the groundwork for a career, takes a bit of training. We have to learn specific skills required to perform specific jobs. Some of us learn better than others, but the ability to learn is not entirely based on our genetic makeup. You can actually learn how to become a better learner by internalizing specific attributes. Here is a list of the five attributes of an effective learner:

1. Self-directed
2. Inquisitive/Curious
3. Self-aware/Honest with self
4. Risk-taking/not afraid of making mistakes
5. Open-minded

Self-direction is very important to the learning process. It takes mental effort to really master a skill, meaning that you need to actively engage your mind when in class or while doing your homework. If you can envision how a certain skill or class will help you in the long run, you can motivate yourself to take more pride in your day to day work.

The process of learning involves making connections between disparate ideas in your mind. If you learn something in a class one day and learn something related to the first idea the next day, you need to be able to relate those two common themes in order to internalize them. If you have trouble connecting the dots, you need to ask people to help you. Asking questions and being inquisitive is essential to learning, because the process involved in formulating a question often helps crystallize a new concept in your mind.

Being honest with yourself is essential to learning. Many people, when fuzzy about a certain concept or skill, prefer to gloss over their fuzziness and focus on something less complicated. This only hinders them in the learning process. If you're confused about something, you need to admit that you don't have all the answers and go look for help. This admission may be tough at first, but it will ultimately help you to become better at whatever you're trying to accomplish.

When trying something new, you're taking a risk that you won't get it right the first time. So you're going to make a few mistakes from time to time. If you're too afraid to look silly, you won't engage your mind fully in a training session, and thus won't learn as much in the long run. You need to take your mistakes in stride as part of the learning process.

Finally, a good learner needs to be open minded. New concepts are sometimes hard to grasp. You'll enhance your ability to learn if you're willing to look at a problem from a different perspective even though you may not agree with it.

These five attributes of an effective learner can help you really expand your mind and hopefully more fully appreciate a degree program or class.

Develop your learning skills at a school near you; search by location (city or state), or subject/major. Alternatively, find an online degree program

By Sarah Clark

World Wide Learn columnist. © 2006. All Rights Reserved.

Who Uses Online Learning?

You might wonder if you're an anomaly when it comes to choosing online education and training to further your skills, earn a degree, get some continuing professional education, or simply learn something new. In fact, you're part of a growing trend among learners who are turning to the internet to for all of these things.

Both men and women use online education and training and they come from all age groups, but especially older adults, according to a study done by Les Burr, deputy director of student services at Charles Sturt University (CSU), a university in New South Wales, Australia.

Burr found that as people age, they tend to use the internet more as a source of education. People in the over 50 age group participated more than others, while women were more apt to participate in online discussion groups, regardless of whether they live in an urban or rural environment. The under-20 set is heavily engaged in full-time education now and the trend is growing.

International Data Corporation reports that enrollments in online courses are growing at 33 percent a year and will continue to climb. Another study by the same company indicates that corporate America is turning to elearning evermore as a major source of education and training.

So you're not alone - in fact you're part of a growing family of learners world wide that see elearning as a viable, attractive way to get the education they need.

By Bob Embrey
Contributing Writer to World Wide Learn. © 2005. All Rights Reserved.
Source: CNETAsia, Learning Circuits, 2003

7 Success Strategies for Distance Learners

Distance learning has special challenges. You will probably never see or meet the teacher. You won't have classmates. You don't have a campus full of people studying the same thing.

But you can succeed! Plan on it! Follow the simple tips below, and you'll do better in your learning. They may seem pretty basic, but they'll help keep you focused and on track.

1. Set goals.

Goal #1: "I will succeed in this course."
At the beginning of a new course, look through the materials. Break the lessons/assignments into manageable chunks. You might not have time to do a full lesson in one night, so plan for how much you can do, then stick to it until you're done.

2. Establish a regular study/learning schedule.

Keep a calendar or journal with your study goals and important dates clearly marked-and look at it every day (a calendar can't help you if it's closed!).
Determine what time is best for you to study. Is it after dinner on Wednesdays when your partner is at bowling? Is it Saturday mornings when the kids are at soccer?
Take breaks-walk around and stretch. Drink some water or have a light snack. If you're studying nutrition or health topics, you know how important this is!
If possible, have a dedicated study place with all the supplies you might need (computer, paper, pens, calculator, etc.)
Pace yourself. Don't over extend yourself. There's a reason it takes several years to graduate from traditional university. You're in this to learn, not just to get a certificate, so make sure you're learning, not just racing through the materials.

3. Talk about it!

Tell people what you're doing. You're more likely to stick to a course if your co-worker knows you're doing it. If you are studying high-tech or internet development, the person might just know a programmer he can hook you up with for tutoring.
Ask a friend to check up on you.
Ask someone to proof your work before you submit it.

4. Join a study group-this doesn't have to be stuffy!

Join a club. Aspiring financial planners could join a local investing club.
If you're studying a language like Spanish or Japanese, ask the owners of a local restaurant if they know anyone who might like to do language exchange with you.
Get a mentor. If you're taking a course related to health or medicine, ask a nurse or pharmacist if you can take them for coffee once a month.
Search the Internet for bulletin boards or chat rooms related to your topic.

5. Know your learning style, and use it!

Look for real-world situations and examples of what you're learning about. If you're studying about civil engineering, pay attention to bridges.
You'll be much more interested if you're involved, not just reading about a topic.
Put things into practice as early as possible.
If you're studying accounting, practice by balancing your checkbook.

6. Celebrate successes!

Reward yourself with whatever works for you, along the way. Remember, you chose to do this. Be proud of your accomplishments!

7. Ask Questions

If you don't understand something, ASK. It's been said a zillion times: the only dumb question is the one you don't ask.

It's not about memorizing - it's about learning material that will help you in your hobbies, career, and life. Memorization isn't a bad thing, but make sure you're memorizing because you are really interested in the information, and figure out a way to use the memorized information several times within a few days of learning it. It'll stick if it has real-world meaning.

By Randall Shirley
Contributing Writer to World Wide Learn. © 2005. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Learn More About Distance Education Learning Online

Education, they say, is one of the best investments you can make for your future. This is why distance education learning online is a great way to go about getting educated for the future. It will also help you prepare for the technological challenges that life may hand you. Several websites will help you find the online degree that will help you advance. Due to the speed of changes in the world, distance education is becoming a great field to get in to and to be involved with. A good starting point is to take an online course to familiarize you with the basics of online education.

There is a wide variety of distance education online learning programs available for all occupations and educational preferences. You never know what type of course you could find from using your home computer and an internet connection, so be sure to spend some time browsing the web sites for information. Collecting the information about educational courses available online is the primary job of the sites that specialize in providing this type of information. You can trust them to provide you with ample informational packages in reference to the courses available, as researching the education is their primary purpose.

When you investigate the degrees that interest you, it's important to verify that the institution offering them is legitimate. Some online degrees are fake. You actually buy the degree, transcripts, or employer verification. They even take a payment plan! However, if you plan to use your degree for career advancement, obtaining a fake degree will probably back fire, and put you at risk of losing your job.

Types of Degrees Available

In today's market, there is virtually no limit to what type of education you can obtain through distance education online. You can coordinate any type of educational outcome with a school through online education. You can find your career path without leaving the comfort of home. Many places offer a form of online instruction involving a web cam or chat set up clients that allow you to engage in actual real time discussion without leaving your computer chair. This type of interactive education is part of why distance education learning online so popular.

You can find online associate degree programs, online bachelor's degree programs, online master's degree programs, and even PhD programs from a wide variety of distance education learning online web sites. These sites will offer courses to you in all educational fields. This makes getting your education even easier, as you do not have to leave the comfort of your own home and you can use your skills at the best of their ability within your field of study.

Learn More About Distance Education Learning Online by Gerri Stone.