Author Topic: Distance Education  (Read 2262 times)

Offline jafar_bre

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Distance Education
« on: September 26, 2010, 05:02:32 PM »


"Distance education is beset with a remarkable paradox - it has asserted its existence, but it cannot define itself." (Shale, 1988, p. 25).
How distance education is best defined or differentiated from other educational approaches has been the subject of much debate. From the perspective of many educationaltechnologists, distance education is "inexorably linked to the technology" (Garrison, 1987) and seems to be viewed as different from other forms of education, a factor which may contribute to course development and acceptance problems.
Focusing on the distance factor and on technology takes the emphasis off the "dialectical relationship between teacher and student" which Shale feels is the foundational principle in the educational process (Shale, 1988, p. 25). To Shale, "distance" (and the technology which accompanies it) is an incidental consideration and not a "defining criterion" for education.

A broadening of the definition of distance education is urged by Barker, Frisbie and Patrick (1989) who acknowledge correspondence study as the historical foundation of distance education but suggest that there is really two forms of distance education. One is the traditional correspondence- based distance education which is independent study oriented and the second is telecommunications-based distance education which offers the teaching and learning experience simultaneously (1989, p. 23).

The Garrison and Shale definition of distance education (1987a, p. 10-11) offers a minimum set of criteria and allows more flexibility. They suggest that:

distance education implies that the majority of educational communication between teacher and student occurs non contiguously
distance education involves two-way communication between teacher and student for the purpose of facilitating and supporting the educational process
distance education uses technology to mediate the necessary two-way communication.

JAFAR IQBAL
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Offline jafar_bre

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Re:Distance Education
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2010, 05:03:16 PM »
Philosophy and Organization of Distance Education
The organizational pattern and operating practices of a distance education facility are generally based upon the educational philosophy of that institution as well as economic and political restrictions (Verduin & Clark, 1991). Most educators would prefer a more student-centered model while politics and economics might dictate a more institution-centered approach with greater control and a larger number of students.
Three different modes of operation under which distance education can operate are identified by Rumble (1986), including:
Sole responsibility - where the institution and its administration have distance education as their sole responsibility and purpose, such as with the Open University in the United Kingdom. Administration and faculty focus on distance education teaching methods and student needs, and are not controlled by other programs or purposes. Development of teaching techniques and innovative practices are seen as primary benefits.
Mixed mode - institutions where both distance and conventional education occur, such as the University of New England in Australia and most traditional American universities. Organization may fall under a single department with university administration being responsible, several departments may offer distance education with each department administering its own program, or a distinct unit may offer distance education in a variety of areas and be solely devoted to this purpose. The mixed mode approach may have the advantage of being able to draw upon the resources of the resident faculty and services, but a disadvantage is that some faculty and administrators may consider distance education to be less effective and less important than campus-based instruction.
Consortium - a group of institutions or distance education programs devoted to distance education as a means of broadening or sharing distance education programming. Students may register with their own institution and use centrally-developed learning materials with credits being easily transferable. This is one of the fastest growing segments of distance education (Verduin & Clark, 1991) but it also experiences administrative problems when it comes to collaboration between universities and conflicts in philosophical differences, teaching resources, and cost sharing. The University of Mid-America failed in its attempt at a consortium but efforts such as the Mind Extension University(r) are viewed as a success.

Any organizational or administrative structure must have effective communication for it to succeed. Distance education, with its diversity of activities and staffing, the nature of its students, and externally based instructional programming, requires very effective communication. According to Verduin and Clark (1991), information must flow in such a manner that all involved are aware of common goals, activities and procedures, and the appropriate feedback is possible whenever necessary.

Kaye and Rumble (1981) cite the problems of educational institutions in introducing distance learning programs, and suggest that a major issue confronting many universities is how to resolve the conflict between distance education, which often requires the management and structure of a business enterprise, and traditional academic areas which have a completely different style of governance. These differences "often find expression in a conflict between academic 'freedom of action' and the necessity for maintaining effective production mechanisms" (p. 179) necessary for distance education course development and distribution.

The separation between innovation and organization can "converge" as the innovation moves toward institutionalization through boundary expansion and resolution of conflicts (Levine, 1980, p. 14). It is this integration process which is the goal of most distance education programs at traditional universities, but studies suggest that there are often institutional barriers to the convergence of distance and mainstream education.

To focus on technologies without considering their role as a catalyst for change can adversely affect the ability of technologies to enact change (Heinich, 1982). Heinich suggests that we tend to treat all technological innovations almost the same, yet technologies such as television can affect the power structure in education, and faculty prefer the power structure the way it is.

Power and politics are primary forces in the implementation process; and school systems, like other social systems, have to be viewed in terms of the seeking, allocation and use of power (Meyer & Rowan, 1978). According to Sarason (1990), the communication network, which is dependent on personal contact and on who knows whom, often identifies the path for implementation of an innovation.

Innovators have been accused of being so passionate about their innovation that their reality is distorted and they fail to consider the importance of building constituencies to help support their cause (Sarason, 1990) and Rogers (1983) even identifies a "pro-innovation bias" which often appears in the implementation of an innovation and any related research which follows. Educational innovations seem to receive strong support from a relatively small segment of adopters but may have limited support from the group effected. Bardach (1978) suggests that even when an effort is made to develop support from constituents, it is difficult to find a cause with "a broad commonality of interest that would form the basis for coalition building" (p. 42).

Educational change is technically simple and socially complex, and definitely not a linear process. Educational innovations such as the early distance education programs were probably motivated by a "vision" that Fullan (1991) would suggest "permeates the organization with values, purpose, and integrity for both the what and how of improvement ... its formation, implementation, shaping and reshaping in specific organizations is a constant process" (p. 81-82). For a vision to become a reality, Miles stresses that it must be "shareable" and be shared with others; "it provides direction and driving power for change, and the criteria for steering and choosing" (1987, p. 12). And this vision must include a shared vision of the change process which can provide a strategy for implementation.

Although there are clear strategies for implementing innovations, change is often at the mercy of organizational culture. "Attempts at innovation in schools have usually ignored the cultural and structural traditions of the sociocultural system ... If a school has a culture in place, and there is ample evidence to suggest it does, those involved in the rigorous maintaining of the status quo are not going to be eager candidates for innovation" (Schrum, 1991, p. 37).

A case study of Athabasca University in Alberta, Canada by Shale (1985) showed some surprising results. Although the university was an "open" distance education facility and with a commitment to trying innovative educational approaches, over time it had become more and more traditional. In the beginning, the core of the academic program was the instructional designer with few academic staff, and multi-media was used heavily. But this emphasis on innovation changed and now the role of the instructional designer is not as important as that of the teacher, courses follow a more traditional lecture approach, and little use is made of media except to enhanced written materials.
Shale suggests that understanding this shift back to the traditional lies "in a deeper understanding of what a university is" (1985, p. 11) and whether a traditional university allows for change and innovation. The educational technology point of view appears to regard education as "packageable" while universities are traditionally characterized by process, academic staff, and research. Costs andthe time required to produce distance education courses are two factors suggested for this tendency to the traditional, but Shale also feels distance education has not dealt with some of the natural boundaries such as jurisdiction and coordination, factors which impact on the institutionalization of distance education programs.

Directions in Research
Much of the research done to date has centered around the use of new technologies for teaching and distance education's effectiveness as a teaching medium. A predominance of this research has used survey questionnaires with closed-ended questions with the range of options determined by the researcher (Morgan, 1984). This empirical research is useful for studying drop-out rates, learning about student preferences, and attempting to compare the variety of media used for delivery, but Morgan (1984) has urged that qualitative research methods be used to study distance education as a whole. Coldeway (1988) acknowledges that the focus of most distance education institutions is on the technology but suggests that the research is shifting to "the more human side" of the system as the programs age.

Holmberg (1984), as an international authority on distance education, strongly urges undertaking inductive studies of distance education "organization" to look at administrative framework, processes of developing and distributing learning materials, interaction between system members, and other activities required by society and the educational establishment. This type of study has not been done and seems to have value for establishing new distance education programs or making comparisons with other traditional and nontraditional programs.

JAFAR IQBAL
 ID: 091-27-128
Department of Real Estate
Daffodil International University

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Offline jafar_bre

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Re:Distance Education
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2010, 05:04:38 PM »
Roles in the Instructional Process

A team approach to the development of learning materials is often considered the most appropriate for distance education. The team would be responsible for assessing adult needs, designing learning packages, providing guidance, and assessing performance, and it would include academic content specialists, instructional designers, writers and editors, media specialists, and specialists in adult learner behavior and curriculum development (Verduin & Clark, 1991). These instructional development activities should support the institution's philosophy and goals, and the mission of the distance education program.
If anything is evident in this team approach, it has the potential to be complex and open to interpretation. The roles of academic content specialists, instructional designers, writers and editors, media specialists, and specialists in adult learner behavior and curriculum development can be seen to overlap and to not be very clearly defined. An educational technologist may have skills in instructional design, as a media specialist, in adult learning behavior and in curriculum development, and their job may begin with assessing program needs and end with product implementation. But their role may be perceived as someone working primarily to implement electronic technology into the learning system or simply be misunderstood. The counter problem is that "use of computers, television, teleconferencing, and other means of transmission does not make one an educational technologist" (Wagner, 1990, p. 62).

The relationship between distance education and educational technology is viewed as strong, but the problem of defining roles for instructional designers/ developers is difficult. And the role of the educational technologist may be defined, not by the field, but by the organization's philosophy of education and their broader educational goals. Wagner (1990) suggests that an issue to consider is whether "distance education can afford to emphasize technology" or whether "it must emphasize instruction" (p. 62). Wagner suggests that educational technology can serve as a holistic approach where process and product are both components of the system.

JAFAR IQBAL
 ID: 091-27-128
Department of Real Estate
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Offline jafar_bre

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Re:Distance Education
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2010, 05:05:56 PM »
            Teachers in Distance Education
The likelihood of significant increases in distance learning enrollments within the next decade will have a profound impact on faculty members' instructional roles, according to Beaudoin (1990). The changes that he envisions are tied to distance education's more learner-centered system, and he predicts that teachers accustomed to more conventional teaching modes will have to "acquire new skills to assume expanded roles not only to teach distance learners, but also to organize instructional resources suitable in content and format for independent study" (Beaudoin, 1990, p. 21)
A key player in the distance education team should be the teacher since the use of telecommunications inhigher education requires faculty acceptance (Dillon, 1989). But "negative faculty attitudes, ranging from apathy to open antagonism, remain a major barrier" to implementation of distance education programs (Brock, 1987, p. 40). A growing acceptance among university faculty is acknowledged by Brock and he blames faculty attitude on a resistance to required changes in familiar teaching patterns and the faculty having to relinquish a degree of control over the teaching-learning process.

A survey of Oklahoma administration, faculty and telecourse coordinators led Dillon to suggest expanded rewards and more faculty development efforts, and to express the belief that the success of distance education will "require changes in the practices and attitudes of faculty in an environment that is still suspicious of or threatened by the nontraditional. Only the system which effectively rewards it will succeed at change" (1989, p. 42). A survey of teachers using satellite delivery methods showed a significant growth in credit course delivery since 1984, but it also identified several problem areas. According to Albright (1988), needs assessments were rarely conducted prior to course development, interactivity was minimal due to the practice of uplinking videotaped lectures, the visual components of most courses were underutilized, faculty training was limited to technical considerations, and faculty efforts were largely unrecognized for promotion and tenure. A study by Clark (1993) has also attempted to measure faculty attitudes toward distance education and specific media used in distance education. Among Clark's finding were: 1) that university faculty who were slightly positive about the concept of distance education were more negative about their personal use of distance education, 2) faculty who were more familiar with distance education were more receptive, and 3) faculty was more positive toward telecourses and video conferencing, and less positive toward correspondence and audio conferencing. Respondents expressed the normal concerns about course quality, student-teacher interaction, and faculty rewards for teaching distance education courses. Clark suggests that, with faculty still being ambivalent about distance education, a cautious optimism regarding the future of distance education in the U.S. is appropriate.

JAFAR IQBAL
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Offline jafar_bre

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Re:Distance Education
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2010, 05:07:09 PM »
       Technology and Teaching
Most educational technologists do link distance education to technology (Garrison, 1987) and may view it as different from other forms of education. Claims about the affect of new technologies on learning have caused many people to suggest a change in the way new technologies are evaluated for distance learning (Clark, 1989). Although Salomon (1981) and Clark (1991) make the point that instructional strategies and not the medium are the key to effective learning, technology and production considerations rather than teaching-learning theory or the instructional development process are often the driving force behind distance education programs.
The interest in utilizing "instructional technologies" to accomplish a variety of educational delivery needs has grown to the point where "preparing teachers to use technologies is assumed to be the main function and primary intellectual interest of the educational technologist" (Heinich, 1982). While Heinich feels that teacher preparation is needed, he points to this as a problem in defining the field of educational technology. Romiszowski (1981) suggests that the educational field "has been plagued with more than its fair share of solutions looking for problems" and suggests that developers often reflect a vested interest in technology or make premature decisions to the instructional solution before fully understanding the problem.

Studies on the use of various media in distance education have supported Schramm's view that "learning seems to be affected more by what is delivered than by the delivery medium" (1977, p. 273) and Clark's analogy of media "not influencing learning any more than the truck that delivers groceries influences the nutrition of a community" (1983, p. 3). Also, studies comparing education in the classroom with technologically-deliveredclasses (Beare, 1989; McCleary and Egan, 1989) showed no significant differences in academic performance.

Recent developments in technology are believed to be removing some of the disadvantages associated with media in distance education. Bates (1984) suggests that new technologies promise "a wider range of teaching functions and a higher quality of learning, lower costs, greater student control, more interaction and feedback for students" (p. 223). In fact, the 1990s are experiencing the emergence of digital media which has the potential to blur the lines which separate various media, as predicted by Baltzer (1985).
The issue of media vs. method is likely to continue to be debated in relation to distance education, but there is no doubt that distance education is different from other instructional approaches. A study by Gehlauf, Shatz and Frye (1991) on the reaction of teachers to the teaching experience in the traditional classroom compared to interactive television shows teachers wanting to cling to more traditional approaches but finding these methods not as effective, teachers feeling the need to be better organized, and feeling the need for training for distance education teaching.

JAFAR IQBAL
 ID: 091-27-128
Department of Real Estate
Daffodil International University


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