Issuu on Google+

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Reeves (1995) has developed a wide range of evaluation tools, including an anecdotal record form that collects the “human story,” an expert review checklist for gathering feedback on particular aspects of a program, a focus group protocol, an implementation log for collecting information on the actual versus planned use of program features, and a user-interface rating form for assessing the design of an interactive instructional product’s interface with the student. His “evaluation matrix” is an integrating tool that helps evaluators assess the advantages of each individual tool listed above for answering particular evaluation questions. Evaluation Reports Just as evaluators make choices about the process of evaluation, they also need to make decisions about the final product of the evaluation activity: the evaluation report. The Program Evaluation Standards (Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation, 1994) suggests criteria relating to several aspects of evaluation reporting: Report clarity. Evaluation reports should clearly describe the program being evaluated, including context, purposes, procedures, and findings so that essential information is provided and easily understood. Report timeliness and dissemination. Significant interim findings should be disseminated to allow timely use. Disclosure of findings. The full set of evaluation findings, along with a description of pertinent limitations, should be made accessible to the persons affected by the evaluation and those with expressed legal rights to receive the results. Impartial reporting. Reporting procedures should fairly reflect the findings, avoiding distortion caused by personal feelings or biases. The American Evaluation Association’s (1995) “Guiding Principles for Evaluators” further notes that, although “evaluations often will negatively affect the interests of some stakeholders, evaluators should . . . communicate [their] results in a way that clearly respects stakeholders’ dignity and self-worth” (p. 7). Reeves (1995) notes that the long reports written by many evaluators are seldom read. To increase the likelihood that an evaluation report will ultimately have an impact on institutional decision-making, he suggests formatting the report in easy-to-consume “chunks” of information in four sections: (1) an attention-getting headline, (2) a description of the major issues related to the headline, (3) a presentation of data related to the issues, and (4) a bottom-line recommendation or summary of the findings. Comprehensive Evaluation Models A number of sources offer useful and comprehensive guides to evaluation. In particular, two resources based on traditional education provide extensive advice that is applicable to distance education as well. These are described in the following section. Models from Traditional Education Foundational Models for 21st Century Program Evaluation (Stufflebeam, 1999) builds on decades of evaluation theory and professional practice, including the work of evaluation luminaries such as Tyler, Cronbach, Scriven, Guba, and Lincoln. In the book Stufflebeam reviews 22 alternative evaluation approaches, sorting them into those that are “best to take along” into the 21st century and those that “would best be left behind” (p. 1). The 20 “keepers” are sorted into three broad categories: questions/methods-oriented evaluation approaches,


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improvement/accountability-oriented evaluation approaches, and social agenda–directed (advocacy) approaches. To help evaluators choose approaches appropriate to their particular contexts and purposes, Stufflebeam treats the 22 approaches in depth, analyzing each in terms of 10 descriptors: (1) advance organizers, (2) main purposes, (3) sources for the questions asked, (4) representative questions, (5) methods employed, (6) evaluation professionals associated with the type of study, (7) others who have extended the approach, (8) key considerations in choosing the approach, (9) strengths of the approach, and (10) weaknesses of the approach. Numerous other documents and tools related to program evaluation are available on the Web site of the Evaluation Center at Michigan State University (http://www.wmich.edu/evalctr/), which Stufflebeam directs. The Program Evaluation Standards, developed by the Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation (1994), offers four categories of standards for program evaluation: utility standards, feasibility standards, propriety standards, and accuracy standards. Of particular interest is the derivative document “What the Program Evaluation Standards Say About Designing Evaluations,” which synthesizes advice from “hundreds of practitioners in education and evaluation” (Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation, 1994, p. 1) regarding the design of evaluations. This document focuses on a number of key aspects of evaluation design: stakeholder identification, evaluator credibility, information scope and selection, values identification, practical procedures, formal agreements, complete and fair assessments, program documentation, purposes and procedures, information sources, validity of information, reliability of information, analysis of quantitative information, analysis of qualitative information, justifiable conclusions, impartial reporting, and metaevaluation. For each of these areas the authors offer “best practices” suggestions and guidelines keyed to program standards in each of the four areas (i.e., utility, feasibility, propriety, and accuracy). This document and information about other derivative documents in this series are available online at http://www.wmich.edu/evalctr/jc/DesigningEval.htm. Models Specific to Distance Education Over the years, a number of experienced distance educators have developed evaluation approaches that focus exclusively on distance education. The work done in this area by Flagg (1990, as cited in Saba, 2000), Duning et al. (1993), Ehrmann (1997b; 1999a; 2001), Bates (2000), and Cyrs (2001) is representative. Flagg (1990, as cited in Saba, 2000, p. 1) focuses specifically on formative evaluation as a tool for making midcourse corrections. He offers seven steps for planning and implementing a formative evaluation: (1) Clarify; state the purpose of the evaluation study. (2) Select and specify recipients of the evaluation information. (3) List evaluation questions. (4) Indicate the overall scheme or “paradigm” of the evaluation. (5) Select data collection strategy and measurement tools. (6) Identify respondent samples. (7) Select evaluation setting and procedure.

Saba (2000) suggests that, although administrators should be involved in all seven steps proposed by Flagg, the last five steps are “technical in nature” and would be best carried out by experienced evaluators. Duning et al. (1993) approach the evaluation of distance education from the perspective of “assessing and maintaining quality” (p. 187). They begin their discussion with a myth and its corresponding reality:


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Myth: Quality in telecommunications-based education is a matter of combining traditional instructional standards with assessments of technical accessibility, reliability, and interactivity. Reality: The potential reach and instructional impact of educational telecommunications systems require measures of quality that speak to values underlying new relationships with the learner. (p. 187)

Thus these authors neatly integrate the concept of needing new and well-articulated standards in distance education with the concept of value (and values) inherent in any evaluation activity. Duning et al. (1993) suggest that distance learning systems can and should be evaluated at three levels: the functional, the managerial, and the instructional or ethical. They identify the functional level with the technical-design activities involving equipment requirements or specifications as well as the technical support staff. The managerial level focuses on the extent of success in fostering and managing necessary relationships inside and outside the organizational structure of the program. These relationships may be with other organizational units or with faculty, learners, or others crucial to the implementation of the program. Finally, the ethical level focuses on program outcomes. The ethical dimension of this level is reflected in the choices that are made in deciding what to measure and what these decisions show about the values of the institution. As the authors put it, “We become what we measure” (p. 197). Operationalizing distance education program evaluation at the functional, managerial, and ethical levels “necessitates development of credible standards of quality grounded in benchmarks” for learner satisfaction and achievement, instruction, student support services, and integration of institutional values. Throughout Reaching Learners Through Telecommunications, Duning et al. (1993) offer clear guidance on how to establish context-appropriate benchmarks for quality that can serve as the basis for rigorous, value-based program evaluations. Ehrmann (1997a, 1997b, 1999a, 2001) has contributed extensively to the literature on distance education evaluation. As the director of the Flashlight Project, a program of the American Association of Higher Education’s Teaching, Learning, and Technology (TLT) Group, he has spearheaded the investigation of evaluation issues from a variety of perspectives and has taken a leading role in developing a comprehensive “Tool Kit” to guide evaluators of distance education programs. Ehrmann (1999a) builds his evaluation approach around the idea that distance education has and enables general goals that can be isolated and closely studied: Enabling important new content to be taught. Changing who can learn. Improving teaching and learning activities. Lowering or controlling the costs of teaching and learning activities. Using the metaphor of a flashlight, which illumines a small area brightly, he suggests that evaluators begin with a general, usually “almost incoherent” question of interest in one of these areas and then transform it from a formless “blob” to a focused evaluative “triad.” Ehrmann uses the term triad to refer to a focused question or set of questions crafted to examine (1) a particular technology or method (e-mail, paced instruction, etc.) in relation to (2) a particular practice enabled by that technology or method and (3) a desired program outcome. The next step in the process is to ask questions in five related areas: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)

The technology per se. The use of the technology for the activity. The activity per se. Whether and how the activity is contributing to the desired outcome. The outcome per se.


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The Flashlight Project has developed a number of services and tools to help evaluators implement their own focused evaluation studies. The 500-item Current Student Inventory, for example, is a set of questions that relates areas 1, 3, and 5 to a number of teaching and learning issues: Active learning. Collaborative learning. Using time productively. Rich and rapid feedback. Engagement in learning. Faculty-student interaction. High expectations for all students regardless of learning style. Cognitive and creative outcomes. Accessibility. Positive addiction to technology. Prerequisites for using technology. Time on task. Respect for diversity. Application to the real world. An overview of this and other Flashlight resources is available at http://www.tltgroup.org/ resources/index.html. Bates (2000) begins with the assumption that past approaches to and questions about distance education evaluation are no longer relevant to the current context. From his perspective, a continued focus on the relative effectiveness of distance delivery compared to face-to-face instruction is “frankly a waste of time” (p. 198). Like Duning et al. (1993) and Ehrmann (1997b), he challenges evaluators to focus not on similarities to traditional education but rather on differences, particularly on different or new learning outcomes enabled by technologymediated distance education. Bates’ ACTIONS model focuses attention on “a wider range of factors than the ability of technology to replicate classroom teaching” (p. 200). The acronym ACTION represents seven factors to be considered in evaluating the effectiveness of different instructional technologies: Access and flexibility. Costs. Teaching and learning. Interactivity and user-friendliness. Organizational issues. Novelty. Speed. For each of these factors, Bates suggests appropriate evaluation and research questions. In addition to his focus on the instructional effectiveness of technologies, Bates examines evaluation issues relating to software applications, learner impact (beyond learning outcomes), academic technology organization and management, and cost-benefit analyses. He suggests the need for carefully designed evaluation studies focused on answering questions in all of these categories and identifies important areas for study within each. Cyrs (2001) offers evaluators guidelines for developing and implementing distance learning program and course evaluations for audio, video, data, and print programs. He focuses on 10 areas to guide evaluation of all forms of distance education: The purpose of the evaluation. The question to be answered.


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Formative and summative evaluation. Types of evaluation instruments. Course design. Course administration. Learning outcomes. Delivery technology(ies). Presentation skills of instructor. Learning environment. Sample evaluation criteria and rating scales. Use of different teaching (communication) strategies. Within each area, Cyrs suggests relevant questions useful for focusing the evaluation on specific elements of the course or program. Cyrs also provides additional evaluation criteria relevant to courses and programs delivered via the World Wide Web. Specific considerations include class size, the balance between synchronous and asynchronous activities, instructor response time, ease of site navigation, and opportunities to interact with peers and the instructor. Focusing on Costs The models described above provide the basis for a comprehensive approach to evaluating the multifaceted activity that we call distance education. Some authors, however, have focused more narrowly on one specific element of distance education, cost, and have proposed models for evaluating the costs related to distance education. The cost structures of distance education are more complex than those of face-to-face instruction because they are derived from a wider range and combination of factors. Beyond simple analyses of monetary cost, other considerations such as learning outcomes and their expected value for learners, employers, and other stakeholders need to be taken into account (Moore & Thompson, 1997; Rowntree, 1992). Because of this complexity, many distance education evaluators have adopted a cost-benefit approach when evaluating the costs of distance education programs. Distance education costs are driven by fixed and variable costs, the technologies used, the production and delivery systems employed, the number of students served, and the length of time the teaching materials can be used (Bates, 1995). Benefits may be categorized into three groups: benefits that are performance driven (e.g., learning outcomes), those that are value driven (e.g., access, flexibility, or ease of use), and societal or value-added benefits (e.g., decreased unemployment and potential for new markets) (Bates, 1999; Chute, Thompson, & Hancock, 1999). A clear understanding of costs relative to benefits requires an understanding of the relative importance of each cost variable for decision-making. Evaluators will ask a number of questions, including “Will technology-based course materials be used for long enough to justify the costs of production, with sufficient numbers of students to reduce costs?” and “Will the cost of achieving superior learning gains negatively impact students’ access?” Answers to questions such as these are likely to reveal wide variability in the strategies used by organizations to achieve their objectives. For example, an organization with the objective of collaborative learning in a live environment may integrate technologies that allow for socializing, such as interactive satellite, rather than limit itself to less expensive asynchronous technologies or media, such as e-mail. Several studies from the literature provide cost-benefit approaches to evaluating distance education costs. Dillon, Gibson, and Confessore (1991) offer a systems-modeling approach based on cost categories that can be generalized across systems. By highlighting the relationship


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between categories, the model allows a cost comparison of five alternative technology systems and an analysis of the best match between the desired level of interaction, the available budget, and a specific delivery system. At Washington State University, administrators and faculty evaluated the cost per student per week in creating course materials using different technology approaches. They found that, though the Web-based model was the most expensive in terms of total costs, it was much less expensive than an alternative modular approach in terms of cost per student; in addition it had lower developmental costs and resulted in better learning gains (Ehrmann, 1999b). The University of British Columbia is conducting an ongoing project that uses several models to evaluate the costs and benefits of telelearning (Bates, 1999). These models are based on cost per student study-hour, which, according to Daniel (1996), best captures the volume of activity and number of students and provides the best comparison between costs of different technologies. Inglis (1999) questions the emphasis on the cost-benefit approach in a distance education environment that is now so heavily influenced by the World Wide Web, with its associated high development costs. Like Rumble (1997), he argues that an activity-based costing approach in which costs of discrete educational activities are evaluated separately allows a focus on those variables that have the greatest impact on costs. The FlashlightTM Cost Analysis Handbook, developed by the TLT Group of the American Association of Higher Education, applies activity-based costing to analyze how educational uses of technology consume a variety of resources, including time, money, and space. The intent of the model is to provide a basis on which institutions can “improve the way current activities use resources, to forecast resource use by proposed new activities, or to report on total costs (Ehrmann, 2001). An alternative to the two approaches described above is a model developed by Jewett (1999) as part of the Technology Costing Methodology (TCM) project conducted jointly by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems. Jewett’s cost simulation model, BRIDGE, compares the costs of two approaches to institutional expansion, one based on adding more face-to-face courses and the other on adding a mix of face-to-face and distance education offerings: The BRIDGE model compares the projected operating and capital costs of two campuses over a period of years. Both campuses are assumed to begin with the same initial FTE, academic programs, and physical facilities. Both grow by the same amount of FTE over a given period of years. One campus accommodates all of its FTE in classroom-type (lecture/lab) instruction. The other campus accommodates its FTE in a changing mix of classroom, live broadcast, and asynchronous network type courses. The values for initial (beginning) FTE, ending FTE, and the length of the growth or simulation period are specified by the user. The final mix of FTE for the mediated campus among classroom, live broadcast, and asynchronous courses is also specified by the user.

Interested readers can download a copy of BRIDGE from http://www.calstate.edu/ special projects/mediated instr/Bridge/index.html. The ultimate goal of the TCM project is to develop an authoritative methodology and related procedures for calculating instructional technology costs both within an institution (to guide resource decisions) and across institutions (to legitimately compare different instructional or technological approaches). The resulting Technology Costing Methodology Handbook will benefit legislatures, state governing boards, state coordinating boards, and federal agencies in strategic planning and decision making. Updates on the progress of the TCM project are available at http://www.wiche.edu/telecom/projects/tcm/.


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CURRENT AND FUTURE TRENDS IN DISTANCE EDUCATION EVALUATION Development of Standards for Distance Education How can a teaching/learning process that deviates so markedly from what has been practiced for hundreds of years embody quality education? (Institute for Higher Education Policy, 1999, p. 7)

Convincingly answering the question above has been the goal of distance education evaluators for decades. It has also been the source of considerable frustration. Throughout this chapter we have cited authors frustrated by the difficulty of conducting meaningful evaluations in the absence of appropriate and clearly articulated standards for distance education programs and processes. This situation has been exacerbated by the fact that distance education has generally been compared with and asked to “measure up” to resident instruction, itself an activity “too easily satisfied with surrogate measures of its performance” (Pew Higher Education Research Report, as cited in Duning et al., 1993, p. 188). Over the past five years, several organizations have attempted to develop standards for distance education practice that could guide the development, delivery, and evaluation of distance education programs and processes in a rapidly changing educational environment. Examples include the following: Distance Learning Evaluation Guide (American Council on Education, 1996) An Emerging Set of Guiding Principles and Practices for the Design and Development of Distance Education (Pennsylvania State University, 1998) ADEC Guiding Principles for Distance Teaching and Learning (American Distance Education Consortium, 2000) Principles of Good Practice for Electronically Offered Academic Degree and Certificate Programs (Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications, 1999) Principles of Good Practice: The Foundation for Quality of the Electronic Campus of the Southern Regional Education Board (Southern Regional Education Board, 2001) Quality on the Line: Benchmarks for Success in Internet-Based Distance Education (Institute for Higher Education Policy, 2000) Best practices for Electronically Offered Degree and Certificate Programs (Regional Accrediting Commissions, 2000) These guidelines are generally consistent in their focus on issues related to course design, learning outcomes, technology, learner and faculty support, institutional commitment, and assessment and evaluation. However, the question remains as to the ultimate impact such documents will have on distance education practice and evaluation. Is there any evidence of current influence or future impact? Moving Standards into Practice The research report Quality on the Line (Institute for Higher Education Policy, 2000), which contains published benchmarks or quality indicators developed by a variety of organizations involved in distance education, asks among other questions, “Are the benchmarks viewed as essential to quality on-line education by faculty, students, and administrators?” and “To what extent are the benchmarks being implemented in educational institutions?”


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The researchers examined these questions using a case-study approach involving six institutions. Benchmarks were grouped into seven categories: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)

Institutional support. Course development. Teaching/learning process. Course structure. Student support. Faculty support. Evaluation and assessment.

The report noted that “quality benchmarks were considered with great care and embraced by every institution that participated” (p. 13). However, of the 45 benchmarks originally identified from the literature, 13 were omitted from the subsequent list of recommended benchmarks because of the low importance ratings given them by the study respondents. The study also identified several benchmarks that generally were rated as very important but scored relatively low in terms of actual implementation: A documented institutional technology plan. Faculty incentives and institutional rewards. Specific time expectations for students and faculty. Technical assistance and training for students. Technical assistance and training for faculty. Evaluation and assessment. The findings of Quality on the Line indicate that distance educators and higher education institutions are taking guidelines and standards for high-quality distance education seriously and are in most cases incorporating them into their distance education programs. The few disparities between reported importance and level of implementation are themselves useful in identifying areas for future examination and improvement. Standards and Institutional Accreditation Compelling evidence that emerging standards for distance education are having an impact on evaluation can be found in the fact that the guidelines published in the Principles of Good Practice for Electronically Offered Academic Degree and Certificate Programs (Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications, 1999) have been incorporated into the evaluation guide developed for use by all eight regional accrediting agencies for higher education institutions. This action was intended “to address concerns that . . . accreditation standards are not relevant to . . . distributed learning environments, especially when . . . experienced by offcampus students” (Regional Accrediting Commissions, 2000, p. 1). Perhaps of even greater importance in terms of both current practice and future impact is the following statement, which reflects a new awareness of the changing place of distance education in American higher education: “Electronically offered programs both support and extend the roles of educational institutions. Increasingly they are integral to academic organizations, with growing implications for institutional infrastructure” (Regional Accrediting Commissions, 2000, p. 2). This recognition of electronically mediated education and its articulation in a document that will guide distance education program evaluation throughout American higher education will perforce have a profound impact on distance education practice and evaluation in the years to come.


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CONCLUSION The convergence of distance education and traditional education is at once the educational community’s most exciting possibility and its biggest challenge. The excitement comes from the opportunity to extend knowledge and teaching resources to new populations of learners regardless of time or place while at the same time revitalizing and enhancing those resources through the new pedagogical approaches enabled by powerful communications and data technologies. The challenge comes in melding an innovative, rapidly changing area of practice with complex and firmly established structures built on “traditional institutional hallmarks” of quality (Regional Accrediting Commissions, 2000, p. 2). This challenge is reflected clearly in the area of evaluation. In the quotation we cited earlier in this chapter—“We become what we measure”—Duning et al. (1993) concisely point to one of the most important questions facing the educational community today: “What do we want to become?” Answering this question will be facilitated by a careful and creative application of the concepts of integration and balance to our evaluation activities. Ewell (1998) introduces the concept of integration in his discussion of the refocusing that needs to occur in relation to program evaluation. Most evaluations today are conducted in order to comprehensively examine all aspects of a program, as in regional institutional evaluations, or to examine one or more elements in depth, as in most of the formative or summative evaluations conducted by programs themselves. What is missing, Ewell notes, is “attention to how disparate aspects of the institution or program actually fit together,” a focus on the relationships among “various functions in light of their intended and actual contributions” toward intended goals (p. 4). Such a focus is important not only at the institutional level but at the national and perhaps international levels as well: Evaluations “of single institutions operating in isolation from one another become increasingly problematic” as learning resources and processes become “de-institutionalized” (p. 5). Readers of Moore and Kearsley (1996) will recognize in these comments their idea of a systems view of the educational enterprise. However, the educational community, both within single institutions and as a whole, has yet to envision the “new mainstream,” the transformed system that will result from the convergence of two previously disparate forms of education. Decisions regarding the evaluation of distance education programs—decisions that reflect the values held by institutions and societies—can play an important part in shaping this system. The coming transformation will occur more rapidly than some are comfortable with and too slowly for others; it is in the transition process that the concept of balance becomes a key to eventual success. Balancing stakeholder priorities, balancing risks and returns, and balancing innovation and tradition will need to be done with judgement, dedication, and good will if we are to realize the promise of an educational enterprise that seamlessly integrates the best of distance and traditional education. REFERENCES American Council on Education. (1996). Distance learning evaluation guide. Washington, DC: Author. American Distance Education Consortium. (2000). ADEC guiding principles for distance teaching and learning. Available: http://www.adec.edu/admin/papers/distance-teaching principles.html American Evaluation Association. (1995). Guiding principles for evaluators. New Directions for Evaluation, 66, 19–26. Available: http://www.eval.org/EvaluationDocuments/qeaprin6.html Bates, A. W. (1995). Technology, open learning and distance education. London: Routledge. Bates, A. W. (1999). Developing and applying a cost-benefit model for assessing telelearning. (NCE-Telelearning Project No. 2.3). Available: http://research.cstudies.ubc.ca Bates, A. W. (2000). Managing technological change. Strategies for college and university leaders. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


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Bers, T. (1999, Fall). The impact of distance education on institutional research. New Directions for Institutional Research, 103, 61–78. Chambers, E. (1995). Course evaluation and academic quality. In F. Lockwood (Ed.), Open and distance learning today (pp. 342–343). London: Routledge. Chute, A., Thompson, M., & Hancock, B. W. (1999). The McGraw-Hill handbook of distance learning: An implementation guide for trainers and human resources professionals. New York: McGraw-Hill. Council for Regional Accrediting Commissions with assistance from The Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications (2000). Best practices for electronically offered degree and certificate programs. Boulder, CO: Author. Available: http://www.wiche.edu/telecom/Article.htm Cyrs, T. E. (2001). Evaluating distance learning programs and courses. Available: http://www.zianet.com/ edacyrs/evaluate dl.htm Daniel, J. (1996). Mega-universities and knowledge media: Technology strategies for higher education. London: Kogan Page. Dillon, C. L., Gibson, C. C., & Confessore, S. (1991). The economics of interaction in technology-based distance education. In Proceedings of the Seventh Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning (pp. 40–45). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin-Madison. Duning, B. S., Van Kekerix, M. J., & Zaborowski, L. M. (1993). Reaching learners through telecommunications. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Eaton, J. S. (2000). Core academic values, quality, and regional accreditation: The challenge of distance learning. Washington, DC: Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Ehrmann, S. C. (1997a). The Flashlight Program: Spotting an elephant in the dark. TLT Group, One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 360, Washington, DC, 20036-1110 Flashlight Program. Available: http://www.tltgroup.org/programs/elephant.html Ehrmann, S. C. (1997b). What does research tell us about technology and higher learning? TLT Group, One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 360, Washington, DC, 20036-1110 Flashlight Program. Available: http://www.learner.org/ edtech/rscheval/rightquestion.html Ehrmann, S. C. (1999a). Studying teaching, learning and technology: A tool kit from the Flashlight Program. TLT Group, One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 360, Washington, DC, 20036-1110 Flashlight Program. Available: http://www.tltgroup.org/resources/fstudtool.html Ehrmann, S. C. (1999b). What do we need to learn about technology use in education? TLT Group, One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 360, Washington, DC, 20036-1110 Flashlight Program. Available: http://www.tltgroup.org/resources/fquestions.html Ehrmann, S. C. (2001). Evaluation and assessment: Articles and related url’s. TLT Group, One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 360, Washington, DC, 20036-1110 Flashlight Program. Available: http://www.tltgroup.org/ resources/farticles.html Ewell, P. T. (1998). Examining a brave new world: How accreditation might be different. Washington, DC: Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Available: http://www.chea.org/Events/Usefulness/98May/98 05Ewell.html Inglis, A. (1999). Is online delivery less costly than print and is it meaningful to ask? Distance Education, 20(2), pp. 220–239. Institute for Higher Education Policy. (1999). What’s the difference? A review of contemporary research on the effectiveness of distance learning in higher education. Washington, DC: Author. Institute for Higher Education Policy. (2000). Quality on the line. Benchmarks for success in Internet-Based Distance Education. Washington, DC: Author. Jewett, F. (1999). Evaluating the benefits and costs of mediated instruction and distributed learning: Cost simulation model (BRIDGE). Available: http://www.calstate.edu/special projects/mediated instr/Bridge/index.html Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation. (1994). The program evaluation standards: How to assess evaluations of educational programs. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation. (1994). What the program evaluation standards say about designing evaluations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Available: http://www.wmich.edu/evalctr/jc/ DesigningEval.htm Lockee, B. B., Burton, J. K., & Cross, L. H. (1999). No comparison: Distance education finds a new use for “no significant difference.” Educational Technology, Research and Development, 47(3), 33–44. McIsaac, S. M., & Gunawardena, C. (1996). Distance education. In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research for educational communications and technology (pp. 403–437). New York: Simon & Schuster Macmillan. Miller, G. E. (1990). Distance education and the curriculum: Dredging a new mainstream. In M. G. Moore (Ed.), Contemporary issues in American distance education (pp. 211–220). Oxford: Pergamon Press. Moe, M. T., & Blodget, H. (2000). The knowledge web: Part 1. People power: Fuel for the new economy. New York: Merrill Lynch. Moore, M. G. (1999). Monitoring and evaluation. The American Journal of Distance Education, 13(2), 1–5. Moore, M. G., & Kearsley, G. (1996). Distance education. A systems view. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.


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Moore, M. G., & Thompson, M. M. (1997). The effects of distance learning (Rev. ed.). University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University, American Center for the Study of Distance Education. O’Shea, T., Bearman, S., & Downes, A. (1996). Quality assurance and assessment in distance learning. In R. Mills & A. Tait (Eds.), Supporting the learner in open and distance learning (pp. 193–205). London: Pitman. Pennsylvania State University. (1998). An emerging set of guiding principles and practices for the design and development of distance education. University Park, PA: Author. Reeves, T. (1995). Evaluation tools. Available: http://mime.marc.gatech.edu/MM Tools/evaluation.html Rowntree, D. (1992). Exploring open and distance learning. London: Kogan Page. Rumble, G. G. (1997). The costs and economics of open and distance learning. London: Kogan Page. Russell, T. L. (1999). The no significant difference phenomenon as reported in 355 research reports, summaries and papers: A comparative research annotated bibliography on technology for distance education. Raleigh, NC: North Carolina State University, Office of Instructional Telecommunications. Saba, F. (2000). Evaluating distance education programs. Distance Education Report, 4(4), 1. Southern Regional Education Board. (2001). Principles of good practice. The foundation for quality of the Electronic Campus of the Southern Regional Education Board. Available: http://www.sreb.org/student/ srecinfo/publications/principles.asp Stufflebeam, D. L. (1999). Foundational models for 21st century program evaluation. Kalamazoo, MI: Western Michigan University, The Evaluation Center. Thompson, M. (1994). Speaking personally with Alan Chute. The American Journal of Distance Education, 8(1), 72–77. Thorpe, M. (1996). Issues of evaluation. In R. Mills & A. Tait (Eds.), Supporting the learner in open and distance learning (pp. 222–234). London: Pitman. Watkins, R., & Kaufman, R. (2003). Strategic Planning in Distance Education. In J. Moore & W. G. Anderson (Eds.), Handbook of Distance Education (pp. 503–514). Mahwah, NJ. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications. (1999). Principles of good practice for electronically offered academic degree and certificate programs. (Balancing Quality and Access project). Available: http://www.wiche.edu/Telecom/projects/balancing/principles.htm Whalen, T., & Wright, D. (1999). Methodology for cost-benefit analysis of Web-based tele-learning: Case study of the Bell Online Institute. The American Journal of Distance Education, 13(1), 22–44.


V Different Audiences in Distance Education


39 The Involvement of Corporations in Distance Education Diana G. Oblinger North Carolina State University dgobling@unity.ncsu.edu

Sean C. Rush IBM Corporation scrush@us.ibm.com

CORPORATIONS AS CONSUMERS OF DISTANCE EDUCATION Corporate Universities Corporations are involved with distance education for a variety of reasons and in multiple ways. Many corporations operate distance education organizations for their own employees in order to provide up-to-date information and ensure that they maintain the competitive advantage and productivity associated with skilled workers. Sometimes corporations provide education for customers. Well-informed customers make better product selections and tend to be more satisfied. Corporations are also involved in distance education as a business per se. This involvement ranges from providing venture capital to offering products or services that allow others to engage in distance education. Today’s corporate universities function as strategic umbrellas for meeting the total educational requirements of companies; they provide education, training, and human resource development, often tailored to specific business needs. Corporate universities can be found in all sectors—finance, information technology, manufacturing, professional services, and so on. Some corporate universities are entirely based within a single company whereas others may involve partnerships or outsourcing arrangements. Beyond providing training and education, corporate universities are ideal places for team building and for developing corporate culture (Anderson, 2001). IBM provides an example of the variety of activities that could fall under a corporate university umbrella. The IBM Global Campus offers almost 1,000 distributed learning offerings, including Webbased courses. 587


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IBM Global Services Institute provides distributed learning training to new employees in the services business segment. Distributed learning programs, such as Sales Compass for IBM sales professionals, provide just-in-time, just-enough training on products, solutions, and industries. GoingGlobal provides traveling IBM employees with helpful cultural information for doing business in any one of 57 different countries. Web sites such as Video JukeBox offer audio and video presentations for both live and playback learning events. (IBM Global Learning, 1999) In many cases, corporate universities award joint degrees with traditional universities, but they are not themselves accredited. For example, the Bank of Montreal offers an MBA degree through a joint program with Dalhousie University. Bell Atlantic Learning Center also offers joint degrees with a consortium of 23 universities in New England (Morrison, 2000). Worries about how corporate universities and e-learning would fare in a time of economic downturn have proven to be unfounded. A recent survey indicated that 54% of corporate training managers and executives feel the sluggish economy will have no affect on e-learning program budgets (EdNET Week Headlines, 2001). In fact, in difficult economic situations, the rationale for e-learning is more compelling than ever, and e-learning is projected to grow rapidly. According to the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), the average U.S. company is training more of its employees than ever before, and the fastest growing area of corporate training by far is e-learning (e-Learning, n.d.). Another source of stability for corporate universities during cost-containment cycles derives from their source of funds. Over the last few years, a number of corporate universities have migrated from being cost-centers to revenue producers. Corporate University Xchange estimates that 25% of corporate universities receive funding from outside the organization (e.g., external sales). This percentage is expected to increase to 43% by 2003. Most indicate that the funds will be derived from marketing courses to customers and/or suppliers as well as to state and/or federal government agencies (Corporate University Xchange, 2001). Motorola University, perhaps the best-known corporate university, offers a series of solutions to those outside the company. Working adults can take courses from Motorola University at any of its sites in 13 countries. In addition to courses and conferences, the university provides consulting services aimed at helping others plan and implement a corporate university (e.g., advice on operations and outsourcing) or improve the performance of an existing corporate university (Motorola Corporate University, 2001). PeopleSoft provides another example. PeopleSoft combined its internal university with its education services unit; now PeopleSoft University markets courses to the company’s clients. In fact, the company has set up more than 200 classrooms worldwide, with a computer for every student and the possibility of individual mentoring from the company’s tutors (Authers, 2001). Although corporate universities may seem to compete with traditional higher education institutions, few if any companies are in contest with academia. Corporate universities are not seeking to be as rigorous as traditional universities or provide as broad an education (Morrison, 2000). Rather, 62% of corporate universities currently have alliances with four-year colleges— a number that is expected to rise. Fifty percent plan to offer degrees in business/management, engineering/technical, computer sciences, or finance/accounting in partnership with a college or university. Over 70% of the corporate universities surveyed indicated they would grant continuing education credits in similar job families (Corporate University Xchange, 2001). Rather than traditional subjects, corporate universities tend to focus on fostering managerial competence, providing task-oriented education, and instilling the corporate culture. For example, the Borders Group has installed a Click2Coach training system to help train employees on how to handle calls that come through the Border Call Centers. The Web-based system


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can play back recorded calls while a screen-capture feature tracks rep access moves online (Swanson, 2001). Eighty-two percent of corporate universities are used to acculturate their own employees (Twigg, 2000). Corporate universities are not restricted to the United States. Although Europe has fewer corporate universities (around 100, compared with 2,000 in the United States), many European firms have established training centers that are the equivalent of a corporate university. ABB, the Swedish-Swiss manufacturing group, and ABN Amro, the Anglo-Dutch banking group, have both set up “academies.” BAE Systems, the British aerospace group, and Suez, the French utilities company, call their learning centers “universities.” Germany has seen the emergence of corporate universities in the last decade, founded by firms such as Bertelsmann, DaimlerChrysler, Deutsche Bank, and Lufthansa. Whereas some are run as internal business units, others are operated as subsidiaries and profit centers (Andresen & Irmer, 1999). Some European firms are establishing more innovative structures than are typical of U.S. corporate universities. Union Fenosa is a Spanish utility and telecom conglomerate that employs 16,000 people on five continents. Last year it invested 21 million Euros in a corporate university in partnership with the Spanish government and Iese, a Barcelona-based business school. The university will educate internal staff and customers. So far, 35,000 customers in 54 customer companies are using its management module (Cribbs, 2001). Multinational corporations face the challenge of training or educating workers in many countries. Increasingly, these firms are turning to e-learning. An example is McDonald’s, which has 28,000 restaurants in 120 countries. McDonald’s trains 1.5 million employees worldwide. In fact, it trains so many people that it has surpassed the U.S. Army as the nation’s largest training organization. Hamburger University trains 5,800 students each year and develops additional training for employees worldwide. Courses are taught in 23 languages. Although it has used classroom training and CD-ROMs, McDonald’s plans to roll out a major e-learning initiative over the next few years. Using e-learning, the company hopes to customize training to every culture in which it operates. It estimates that e-learning will reduce training time by 40% to 60% and that just-in-time learning will double employee retention rates for the material. In addition, the company plans to implement a “learning content management” system that will enable it to register, document, and train students automatically; monitor performance through specialized reports; and control and update the content as necessary (Gotschall, 2001). Customer Education Corporations use e-learning for more than training their own employees. In fact, some of the most valuable training that a company pays for may be directed, not toward its employees, but toward its customers. Increasingly, corporations are using e-learning to educate external parties central to a company’s success, such as customers, suppliers, and partners. For example, instead of an instruction manual explaining how to operate an item, customers may be provided e-learning access so they can learn online. Not only can this type of customer support be more effective and efficient, but the company can collect data about its customers this way. The Internet allows corporations to disseminate information quickly and cost-effectively, thus ensuring that customers, suppliers, and partners will be equipped with the most up-todate information. Customers will be more informed about products and services, enabling them to make more educated (and potentially an increased number of) purchasing decisions. Suppliers will be equipped with a better understanding of their clients’ needs, allowing for better service. Partners will gain additional insight into their affiliates, enabling them to work with them more efficiently and effectively (Moe, 2000, pp. 234–235). On average, 10% of a corporate university’s curriculum is targeted at external clients such as customers and suppliers (Customer Education Research Consortium, Customer n.d.).


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A relatively recent change is for companies to use education to generate revenue for the corporate university while simultaneously reinforcing the company brand. In what some term eduCommerce, companies such as IBM are using online educational offerings as a strategic opportunity to strengthen customer relationships and acquire new customers (Customer Education Research Consortium, n.d.). In fact, a growing number of corporate universities are operating as profit centers, providing customized training programs to outsiders for a fee. For the most part, corporate university courses offered to customers and suppliers focus on technical areas such as software coding, semiconductors, product repair, and total quality management (Customer Education Research Consortium, n.d.). GartnerGroup predicts that by 2003, 40% of e-learning activities will be aimed at customers (Aldrich, 2000). Customers are more likely to make a purchase (especially a large or complex one) when they are more informed about the product or service. And customers may be more willing to spend time to take a course if it is paid for by someone else. A number of companies offering free online education, like Dell Computer, 3Com, and Charles Schwab, are betting that customers will be. Each company offers extensive learning opportunities through its Web sites in an attempt to make customers more comfortable with their purchases. Even those courses that are not directly aimed at selling a product or service benefit the company by strengthening brand names and creating goodwill among clients (or potential clients). As products and services grow increasingly complicated, e-learning will become a larger component of developing brands and maintaining customer relationships (Ruttenbur, Spickler, & Lurie, 2000, p. 72). MOTIVATIONS FOR DISTANCE EDUCATION Competitiveness The major rationale for business and industry to be involved in education, whether on-site or at a distance, is competitive advantage. The quality and skill of the workforce is a key factor in a company’s marketplace advantage (“National Commissions,” 2000). In an economy with 4.0% unemployment, an underdegreed adult population, and a huge percentage of the new jobs created requiring higher skills (85% by 2005), corporate learning has never been more important. Further, as human capital becomes the chief source of economic value, education and training will become lifelong endeavors for the vast majority of workers. It is currently estimated that on average 50% of an employee’s skills become outdated within 3 to 5 years. Seventy percent of Fortune 100 companies cite the lack of skilled workers as their top barrier to sustained growth. Speed and responsiveness are important as well. When time to competency is minimized, the organization’s competitiveness is improved. As a result, employers increasingly view training and lifelong learning as important to maintaining and enhancing business success (“National Commissions,” 2000). Mergers are undertaken to enhance competitiveness, yet melding different corporate cultures, procedures, and systems is difficult at best. Many have used a corporate university to inculcate a common culture and vision throughout the organization. Another factor driving the growth of corporate universities is the shortened life cycle for products and services. Corporate universities, such as Dell University, are responsible for new product orientation, among other things (DeVeaux, 2001). Productivity Motorola calculates that every $1 it spends on corporate learning translates into $30 in productivity gains within 3 years (Moe, 2000, p. 227). General Motors (GM) provides another


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example. GM sponsors a technical education program that delivers distance degrees to employees. The program, begun in 1984, delivers company-sponsored degrees from the bachelor’s through the doctorate from universities such as Carnegie Mellon and Purdue. The company reports that the program saved it $46.2 million by increasing the bottom line through educational efforts (“General Motors,” 2001). Similar sentiments are widespread. A recent survey of corporate training executives found the following: One-third of those surveyed said a comprehensive learning program has helped their organization to improve the bottom line, create organizational efficiencies, and move faster to market with new products. Nearly 50% said their corporate learning program will have an increased impact on their organization’s ability to serve customers within the next 3 years. More than 40% think an enterprise-wide learning program has been an important factor in recruiting and retaining quality employees; 58% believe the impact will be even stronger in the next 3 years. Eighty-four percent said senior-level management has become more committed to e-learning programs in the last 12 months (“More Than Half,” 2001). Recruitment and Retention Corporation-sponsored education helps businesses attract and retain employees. Over 50% of companies that are publicly traded mention in their annual reports that they invest in education and training as a way to attract and retain employees (“More Than Half,” 2001). In an economy where unemployment is at an all-time low and human capital has unprecedented importance, retaining good employees is critical. Recruitment and retention are global issues. FedEx Europe established FedEx Quality University, a global learning system with a virtual campus, to retain employees. More than 140,000 worldwide employees have access to the content. When FedEx employees cannot find a suitable course in the Quality University, they can take a course from an outside source. Xerox has adopted a similar strategy. To meet the needs of the 19,000 European workers (from 35 countries, speaking 15 languages), Xerox established a virtual university—the Virtual Learning Environment. The impetus came from the company’s need to develop and retain good employees (Learning European Style, 2001). The returns from improving employee retention are tangible. Industry sources suggest that the cost of a lost employee is 1 × annual wages plus benefits. Consider a hypothetical company that has 1,000 employees and is experiencing 30% turnover. Using $30,000 for the average wage and benefits package, a 50% improvement in retention could add $4.5 million to the bottom line (Moe, 2000, p. 301). Cost Savings Particularly for large companies, there may be significant cost savings where wide-scale online education can replace face-to-face instruction: Three years ago it cost Novell $1,800 for a 4-day certification course that now costs $700 to $900 over the Web. (This comparison does not capture the costs of the employee’s travel, lodging, or time away from the job.) Hewlett Packard saved $150,000 in outside testing costs alone through online learning. The FBI’s National Security Division saved $2 million when it developed a distance-learning course to replace one full week of training at the FBI Academy (Moe, 2000, p. 233).


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IBM estimated that, in 1999, it realized over $100 million from cost savings on travel and living expenses, as well as other types of cost avoidance, by going to online education (IBM Global Learning, 1999). Plus, estimates are that the company has been able to provide five times as much content at one third of the cost with e-learning (Hall, 2000). Cost savings for mid-sized corporations are also possible. SCT University provides an example. The company’s professionals use live, interactive Web collaboration not only for SCT University courses but also for team meetings, sales demonstrations, quarterly market unit meetings, and training and orientation for new employees. SCT has 3,400 employees in 29 countries. SCT University has proven extremely cost-effective. In 1998, prior to its launch, the company educated a maximum of 350 students at a time in physical classrooms. With the virtual university, SCT can educate 16,156 people at one time, 85% of whom are trained via e-learning. The cost per learner has dropped from $2,000 in 1998 to just $44.50 in 1999 (Gotschall, 2001). CyberU.com is one of several companies that provide training services for small and medium-sized businesses that lack the resources a large company might have to create its own program. These learning portals are analogous to an Amazon.com for online learning. Most small companies spend about $700 per year on training for one employee. If the employee takes one instructor-led course for $500 and buys a few books or videos, that consumes the entire training budget. At a learning portal, one can purchase 5 to 10 courses for $700. It is much more cost-effective for employees. For example, Made2Manage Systems, an application service provider, has launched a new virtual university system to serve courses to employees inside manufacturing companies. The new system, called Time2Learn, will deliver courses in areas such as price scheduling, job order rework, data refining, job order queues, and purchasing order queues (New Subscription Based Education Program, 2001). These e-learning sites also offer assessments, transcripts, and even management reports. Other sites include eMind.com, GeoLearning.com, and Click2learn.com (Hall, 2000a). According to Training Magazine, corporations save between 50% and 70% when they replace instructor-led training with the electronically delivered equivalent. Housing and travel costs account for the majority of the savings (Hall, 2000b). Convenience improves because people don’t need to travel or block out several days for a class. It is efficient because a course can be completed in half the time, and retention can be just as good or better than with instructor-led training. The immediacy of online learning drives retention of information that is frequently far superior to that achieved with traditional forms of corporate learning. For example, Ninth House offers TV-sitcom-like simulations. The half-hour programs reconstruct business situations that teach leadership, project management, and communication skills. Trainees take charge of the events in the simulations, and their choices dictate the outcome. The courses are said to increase the knowledge that workers retain by 50% over traditional classroom training. Further, the 2 to 4 hours of online instruction can replace 2-day seminars (Companies Embrace e-Training, n.d.). Other studies have indicated that retention of certain subject matter may be up to 250% greater with e-learning than with the classroom-based model (Moe, 2000, p. 233). It is worth noting that these benefits are available to organizations of any size, and learning portals make it easy to access thousands of courses (Hall, 2000a). However, not all corporations are moving learning from the classroom to the Web. Many prefer a blend of face-to-face and online instruction. For example, IBM’s e-learning division, Mindspan Solutions, offers an in-house training program for IBM managers that uses the Web for 75% of learning activities. The remaining 25% of the “Basic Blue” management training takes place face to face. The “Basic Blue” program provides on-the-spot and soft skills training to 4,500 managers. E-learning events include online collaboration, simulations, job aids, and short courses (Training That Goes the Route, 2001). Another example is provided by Babson


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College, which has developed a custom version of their MBA degree for hybrid online and face-to-face delivery at Intel sites in Santa Clara, California, and Portland, Oregon (“Babson College,” 2001). Market Size and Growth In response to competitive pressures, American companies have increased their spending on training over the last 5 years. The average U.S. company is training more of its employees than ever before, more dollars are going to technical skills training than any other type of training, and e-learning is gaining momentum. Other pertinent facts include these: The average company is training 78.6% of its employees. The top 10% of companies surveyed are training 98.4% of their employees. The top 10% of companies surveyed spent an average of $1,655 on training per eligible employee, compared with $677 for the average survey respondent. The largest share of spending on training went to training in technical processes and procedures (13%), with professional skills next (11%). Interpersonal communication, new employee orientation, and IT skills followed (9% each). The use of e-learning averages 8.4% for small companies. Large companies are increasing the percentage of training delivered via e-learning, which went from 12.3% in 1998 to 13.8% in 1999 (ASTD Releases, 2001). Overall, the corporate education market is huge. U.S. corporations with over 100 employees budgeted approximately $62.5 billion for training in 1999. This compares with $48.2 billion in 1993 (e-Learning and Knowledge Technology, 2000). Individual corporation figures are impressive as well. Each year General Electric spends $500 million on training and education. IBM spends $2 billion. The global corporate and government learning market measured over $280 billion in 1999 and is expected to grow to over $365 billion by 2003 (Moe, 2000, p. 238). Corporate University Xchange, a U.S. corporate education research and consulting group, estimates that over the past 15 years the number of corporate universities has grown from about 400 to some 2,000. It predicts that the number of corporate universities will exceed 3,700 by the end of the decade. The average budget is $17 million. On average, 4,000 employees are trained each year, with 39 hours of training per employee per year, compared with 8 hours in 1999. An average of 23% of employees have their training delivered via technology; this figure is expected to rise to 50% by 2003 (Anderson, 2001). Corporate America’s adoption of e-learning has come at a much more rapid pace than in higher education. For example, IBM launched its corporate university more than 3 years ago, making it available to all 307,000 employees. Initially, 10% of the programs were computer-based, but today almost 37% of its education is in the form of e-learning (Anderson, 2001). This trend may be driven by the simple fact that companies are finding it is the only way they are able to keep their workforces up to date in a business environment in which an organization must be able to turn on a dime (Ruttenbur et al., 2000, p. 66). IDC projects that U.S. Webbased corporate learning will expand rapidly, from $1.1 billion in 1999 to $11.4 billion by 2003, representing a compound annual growth rate of 79% (Moe, 2000, p. 233). Although instructor-led training currently represents more than 70% of delivered training, this percentage is expected to fall to 35–40% by 2004. Replacing it is technology-based training, the largest component of which will be e-learning (Ruttenbur et al., 2000, p. 68). According to Training Magazine, 36% of online training is delivered through platforms that allow students


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to interact with their instructor and with each other; 64% of trainees only interact with the computer. In 1999, CD-ROMs were the leading method of computer-based training (37%), followed by intranets (25%). Web-based training accounted for 13% of all training delivered through the use of a computer (e-Learning and Knowledge Technology, 2000). Companies in Europe, Asia, and South America are embracing e-learning as well. Experts estimate that the European market is 12 to 18 months behind the U.S. market in terms of the adoption of e-learning; however, it is catching up quickly. IDC predicts that the worldwide corporate e-learning market will exceed $23 billion by 2004, representing a compound annual growth rate of 68.8% from 1999 through 2004. North American will account for two thirds of that growth, but Western Europe will experience the fastest growth rate (97.2%), followed by Japan, Latin America, and the Pacific (“e-Learning,” n.d.).

CORPORATIONS AS SUPPLIERS OF DISTANCE EDUCATION e-Learning Companies Corporations are also providing the distance education structure for other organizations, such as traditional universities. The activities of these organizations range from providing specific products and services to outsourcing the entire operation. There are a number of possible groupings for this emerging market. There are several leading for-profit educational entities that have begun to move into the elearning market. Many of these for-profit universities are targeting the individual professional learner, including degree completion students. Examples of for-profit universities include the University of Phoenix, KaplanCollege, DeVry University, and Capella University. Another segment of the for-profit educational market focuses on training rather than education. The companies involved tend to target corporate learners. They include entities such as SmartForce, Ninth House Network, and DigitalThink. These training companies use a variety of training delivery methods (synchronous and asynchronous) and media, ranging from customized to off-the-shelf courseware. Another category of e-learning providers blend academic content with corporate structures. These firms aggregate content from academic institutions, professional associations, or training companies; enhance and digitize the content; then distribute it. Some provide a comprehensive collection of content, whereas others are more vertically focused. Most initially targeted corporate learners, but they are now moving into the lifelong learner and MBA markets as well. Examples include Unext.com (partners include Columbia, the University of Chicago, and the London School of Economics) and Fathom. These firms are organized and provide education in a different way than traditional colleges and universities. For example, Fathom was created in 1999 by Columbia University as a consortium of content providers dedicated to providing learning opportunities on a broad range of subjects for lifelong learners. Fathom provides: Lectures, interviews, articles, performances, and exhibits by faculty, researchers, and curators from member institutions. Reference content spanning all disciplines and fields of study. Trails, a unique way of organizing content thematically. Online courses from Fathom partners. Recommended readings. Two distinctive features of Fathom are “trails” and the ability to immediately purchase books, journals, periodicals, and articles that are directly related to subjects in which users


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are most interested. Trails connects articles from different disciplines through common topics, where various trails intersect. At each intersection, the site gives users the option of either continuing to read articles along the original trail or jumping to a different route (Carlson, 2000). For example, from an article on women in medicine, one can choose to continue on the trail of “History of Science” or switch trails to “History of Medicine,” “Women in the Workplace,” or “Redefining the Roles of Women.” Trails are an attempt to put knowledge in context and provide a multidisciplinary way of looking at a subject. Fathom expects to make a profit by selling books and marketing online courses. Fathom’s course providers are diverse: Columbia Interactive and the BBC, Kaplan College, New School Online University, SmartForce, UCLA Extension, the University of British Columbia, XanEdu, Syracuse University, and others. Portals represent another category of firms providing educational products and services. Portals provide a central location for purchasers to browse a wide variety of e-learning products, most of them typically developed by third parties. Portals aggregate, host, and distribute content for significant numbers of users, making them cost-effective, efficient, and convenient learning solutions. The process of selecting learning materials is streamlined since it is handled by the portal. With the right set of tools, employees can manage their professional development and update their credentials using corporate databases (Moe, 2000, p. 254). There are a growing number of portals, including Click2learn.com, CyberU.com, KnowledgePlanet.com, Learn.com, eMind.com, and SmartPlanet.com. Corporate Involvement in Noncourse Components of the Learning Environment Higher education encompasses a variety of processes, such as admissions, learner support, assessment, advising, and credentialing. Historically, higher education institutions had no option but to provide all these services for students. Today, there are a growing number of new entrants to the education market that can augment or replace services traditionally provided by institutions, from admissions to tutoring. e-Admissions There are several firms that now provide online admissions for students and institutions. Embark.com is an application service provider (ASP) that provides recruitment and enrollment services to over 350 higher education institutions. Estimates are that Embark has more than one million registered users, 10–15% of whom are outside the United States. ASPs such as Embark provide users with a single source, online system that simplifies the process of identifying potential colleges as well as applying to them. Embark has databases for careers, majors, colleges, and scholarships. Students can register to be recruited by multiple institutions (Embark, 2000). Other providers of e-admission services include XAP and CollegeNet. e-Commerce Students and their institutions buy and sell things. Student Advantage (www. studentadvantage.com) is a large student membership organization that provides an online marketplace for students. It is designed to help students save money on a variety of products, whether offered online or offline. It has proprietary commerce relationships with nearly 50 national retailers and businesses, including AT&T, Amtrak, Staples, Textbooks.com, and Tower Records. It also provides news, discussions, a scholarship search database, and academic research tools. Student Advantage has over one million student members from 3,000 colleges and universities.


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e-Procurement Beyond e-learning and e-commerce, firms specializing in e-procurement are focusing on higher education. HigherMarkets is an example of firms that create online purchasing systems for colleges and universities. The rationale for moving to e-procurement is to reduce transaction costs, saving both time and money. A traditional purchase requisition costs $150 to process. With e-procurement, the costs range from $10 to $15. Additional efficiencies and price discounts could lead to an additional 10% in savings. e-Library One of the challenges associated with anytime, anyplace education is providing access to library materials and services. This past year, several e-library offerings have emerged. For example, Questia offers library service allowing students to access roughly 70,000 titles by keyword. Students must pay $20 a month for Questia’s service. Among the benefits offered, students will be able to cut and paste content into their papers, and the service will automatically create footnotes and hyperlink the footnotes of papers that are submitted online, allowing professors to check references easily (Digital Library Company, 2000). Another e-library firm is Ebrary (www.ebrary.com). It provides a search engine, ebrarianTM , to help users find what they need. Through ebrary libraries can provide users with access to content and a range of tools such as definitions, explanations, translations, biographies, and map locations. There is an annual license fee that is based on institution size and library type. Supplemental Content Providers Historically, students have used a variety of study guides and supplementary material to aid them. Cliff Notes is a classic example. There are several online supplemental content providers who offer materials ranging from traditional study notes to video-based online tutorials. An example of a new entrant that provides study aids and supplemental educational material is PinkMonkey. Launched in 1997, PinkMonkey is a free study site that has the largest collection of chapter summaries available on the Internet (109 Barron’s Booknotes and 171 MonkeyNotesTM ). Its study guides are comprehensive online textbooks. The company generates revenue primarily through Internet advertising and sponsors. Within four months after the site was launched, over 110,000 students had enrolled as members (PwC, 2000a). A different model is provided by Thinkwell (www.thinkwell.com), which uses as a tag line “the next-generation textbook.” The Thinkwell text is a CD-ROM set accompanied by a Web site that Thinkwell customizes to a specific class. The CD-ROM set includes video tutorials. The customized Web site contains accompanying illustrated notes, exercise problems, animations, and a threaded discussion forum. Material is sequenced to fit the instructor’s syllabus. Citing the fact that many students avoid reading textbooks, the company suggests replacing the traditional print textbook with Thinkwell’s multimedia approach, which uses video, animation, and graphics to bring content to life. For example, students can watch Thinkwell’s video tutorials at home so during class they can work on problems and applications, hold discussions, or do case studies. Custom Books, Print-on-Demand, and e-Books Although they have existed for several years, e-books and their educational counterparts, e-textbooks, are becoming more widely used. An increasing number of firms are becoming involved with e-books (i.e., books that can be downloaded onto devices that display the text). Major companies, such as Microsoft, Time


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Warner, and Simon and Schuster are aggressively targeting the e-book market. Random House recently agreed to split e-book royalties 50-50 with authors, representing a significant increase over the share authors receive on print books (Plot Thickens, 2000). Advising and Tutoring There are many critical educational components that are found outside the “classroom.” Advising and tutoring are among them. Students need access to information that allows them to make good decisions on career paths, majors, and specific courses. Some may need the assistance of tutors and mentors as well. Smarthinking.com supplements the academic support of traditional institutions. Its virtual learning assistance center provides trained tutors (e-structors) and independent study resources available around the clock in subjects such as mathematics, economics, accounting, statistics, and psychology. Smarthinking offers one-on-one learning support, help with last-minute questions before an assignment deadline or exam, and long-term support to encourage students to become stronger writers and better reasoners. It also provides an online writing lab for all courses, grammar and brainstorming help desks, and independent study resources. Tutor.com is a leading provider of education referral services, with over 18,000 tutors available in 375 subject areas. Through its site, students can search for online tutors or face-toface ones available in the learner’s geographic area. Independent tutors and instructors register to become members of Tutor.com’s national registry, a professional organization that provides resources, referrals, and a proof of background check for those seeking tutors (PwC, 2000b). Learners can view Tutor.com’s database of thousands of instructors free of charge. Tutors are available by discipline and subspecialty. Students may select from among tutors based on their credentials and whether or not they are certified. Online sessions use a specially developed virtual classroom application that includes text chat and whiteboard capabilities. Although we might think of tutoring and mentoring as mainly for younger students, they are playing an increasingly important role in corporate education as well. An online tutor or mentor not only can serve as a resource to answer questions but also can provide feedback and advice, keeping the student involved and motivated to complete the course. For example, when employees at Sun Microsystems were asked to complete a self-paced online course without the help of a tutor, only 25% finished. However, when given the same assignment and access to a tutor through e-mail, telephone, or online discussion group, 75% completed the corporate training (Moe, 2000, p. 242). Testing and Assessment Services Although external testing and assessment may be better accepted in the corporate market, several firms have targeted testing and assessment services for education. Some services are provided on-site; others are available online. Question Mark Corporation (http://www.questionmark.com) provides products and support services for education and training in both corporations and academic institutions. The company sells and supports software that allows users to write, deliver, and mark surveys, tests, questionnaires, and tutorials. Applications include academic tests, product knowledge tests, attitude surveys, personnel evaluations, and self-paced study guides that can be administered over the Web. To complement the applications, Question Mark also provides education to help users understand issues associated with computerized assessments, different levels of evaluation, and best practices for developing and deploying exams. Prometric (http://www.prometric.com), which offers technology-based testing and assessment services, focuses on large-volume tests. Its network consists of over 4,800 computerbased testing service centers in 136 countries. With additional capacity provided by mobile


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computer-equipped testing facilities, Prometric has delivered more than six million tests in over 136 countries. Based on experience with tests such as the GRE, GMAT, and TOEFL, Prometric helps educational organizations convert to technology-based assessment. A number of benefits of computer-based testing are cited, including the ability to score tests immediately, allowing for the inclusion of simulations of real-life situations, and matching questions to the ability of the test taker. Financing Distance Education Through Venture Capital The potential of e-learning for training and education has attracted the attention of private investment firms. Venture capital investors provided $1.1 billion of funding to training companies in 1999; Web-based training companies attracted 55% of that private investment (“National Commissions,” 2000). During the first quarter of 2000, venture capital activity rose. More than $1 billion in venture capital was invested in education start-ups. But when the stock market began to fall, venture capital activity slowed. In the second quarter of 2000, education start-ups attracted only $814 million. The decline in investment has paralleled the downturn of the general stock market. As the outlook for the economy and stock market improves, venture capital activity is predicted to pick up again. In aggregate, education entrepreneurs have received more than $2.9 billion in private investment during 2000, 15% more than the $2.5 billion invested in 1999. Over the past two years, $5.5 billion of private capital has been invested in education and training markets, far exceeding any previous rates of venture capital investment in education (Evans, 2001). About a dozen companies have played active roles in education investments. During 2000, the 10 leading education investors made 66 investments into start-ups, representing roughly 30% of the education and training deals. The year also saw the emergence of the “Big Four” strategic investors: Kaplan, Knowledge Universe, Pearson, and Sylvan Ventures, with 26 equity investments. The key investment themes for 2000 were Web-based courseware tools, enterprise systems for colleges and universities, and e-libraries (Evans, 2001).

CONCLUSION Corporations are involved in distance education in a number of ways. Many find distance education of their own workers a competitive necessity. Some have created their own corporate universities to provide this education and training; others rely on educational portals. Irrespective of the source, predictions are that corporate spending on education and training will grow as business competitiveness and economic strength become increasingly predicated on a skilled workforce. Some corporations are providing distance education to the traditional higher education market; others specialize in training. Irrespective of the target market or business model, corporations and higher education institutions are blending content and expertise to create new types of organizations. Corporations also provide venture capital and specific products and services to higher education’s distance education efforts. Products take the form of networks, computers, and applications. Services range from online admissions to tutoring to e-books. Although higher education and corporate education each have unique characteristics, they also share many elements. As education continues to be more important, the complementarity of higher education and corporate education will grow.


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REFERENCES Aldrich, Clark. (2000, July). Customer-focused e-learning: The drivers. Available: http://www.learningcircuits.org/ jul2000/aldrich.html Anderson, L. (2001, March 26). Business education: Tailor-made for lifelong learning. Financial Times. Available: http://globalarchive.ft.com/globalarchive.articles.html Andersen, M., & Irmer, A. (1999, November-December). Corporate universities in Germany: First experiences. Corporate University Review. Available: http://www.traininguniversity.com/magazine/articles/Germany.asp ASTD Releases its 2001 state of the industry report. (2001, March 26). Alexandria, VA: American Society for Training and Development. Available: http://www.astd.org/CMS/templates/index.html Authers, J. (2001, March 26). Economy causes concern. Financial Times. Available: http://globalarchive.ft.com/ globalarchive/articles.html Babson College to design custom MBA in entrepreneurship for Intel Corporation. (2001, February). Virtual University Gazette. Available: http://www.geteducated.com/vug/feb01/newcorp0201.htm Carlson, S. (2000, November 15). Web company founded by Columbia U opens a “beta version” of its site. Chronicle of Higher Education. Available: http://chronicle.com/free/2000/11/2000111501u.htm Chen, Y. (2000, November 13). Booktech.com builds momentum in custom content delivery. The Education Economy. Available: http://www.eduventures.com/news/education economy/archive/education economy 68.cfm Companies embrace e-training. (n.d.). Available: http://mu.motorola.com/newsclip.shtml Corporate University Xchange. (2001). Survey of corporate university future directions. Available: http://www.learningestore.com/corpu?ssp=%2Fcatalog%2Fproducts search detail.saba&id=prdct000000000001380&price=500 Cribbs, G. (2001, March 26). Innovation sets the trend. Financial Times. Available: http://globalarchive.ft.com/ globalarchive.articles.html Customer Education Research Consortium: Customer training the next frontier. (n.d.). Available: www.corpu.com/ research services/index.html DeVeaux, P. (2001, February). An interview with Jeanne Meister. e-learning Magazine. Available: http://www. elearningmag.com/issues/feb01/life.asp More than half of corporate training executives surveyed say sluggish economy will have no impact on e-learning program budgets. (2001, May 11). EdNET Week Headlines. Available: http://hellerreports.com/dte/lead05-11.html Digital library company plans to charge students for access. (2000, November 15). Edupage. Available: http://listserv.educause.edu/cgi-bin/wa.exe?A2=ind0011&L=edupage&D=1&H=1&O=D&F=&S=&P=561 Plot thickens as electronic books move more into the mainstream. (2000, November 21). Edupage. Available: http://listserv.educause.edu/cgi-bin/wa.exe?A2=ind0011&L=edupage&D=1&H=1&O=D&F=&S=&P=761 E-learning: A strategic imperative for succeeding in business. (n.d.). Fortune. Available: http://www.timeinc.net/ fortune/sections/e-learning/e-learning.htm E-learning and knowledge technology: SunTrust Equitable Securities. (2000, March). Available: www.maisie.com/ reports/e-learnO.pdf Embark. (2000). Unpublished slides. Evans, T. (2001, March). Venture capitalists seek reality, revenues and rational business models. Boston: Eduventures, Inc. General Motors Technical Education Program saves company $46.2 million. (2001, May). Virtual University Gazette. Available: http://www.geteducated.com/vug/may01/newcorp0501.htm Gotschall, M. (May, 2001). E-learning: A strategic imperative for succeeding in business. Fortune. Available: http://www.timeinc.net/fortune/sections/e-learning/e-learning.htm Hall, B. (2000a). Building competitive advantage through people and technology. Forbes. Available: http://www. forbes.com/specialsections/elearning/e-04.htm Hall, B. (2000b). Corporate drivers of e-learning. Forbes. Available: http://www.forbes.com/specialsections/elearning/ e-03.htm IBM Global Learning recognized by Corporate University Xchange. (1999, April 26). Available: http://www-3.ibm. com/services/learning/global/news/NEWS 12096.html Learning European style. (2001, January). New York: Corporate University Xchange. Available: http://www.corpu. com/about/news/training jan01.html Moe, M. (2000, May 23). The knowledge web. New York: Merrill Lynch. Morrison, J. (2000, July-August). Corporate universities: An interview with Jeanne Meister. The Technology Source. Available: http://horizon.unc.edu/TS/vision/2000-07.asp Motorola Corporate University. (2001). Available: http://mu.motorola.com/corporate.shtml National commissions, studies focus on questions about e-learning. (2000, November). WorkAmerica, 3–7. New subscription based education program launched by Made2Manage Systems. (2001, February 8). Indianapolis, IN: Made2Manage Systems. Available: http://www.made2manage.com/news/2 08 01.asp


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PwC. (2000a, March 31). An overview of North Carolina Corporate Universities. Unpublished manuscript, University of North Carolina. PwC. (2000b, Summer). Case studies on e-learning Vendors and innovative partnerships. Unpublished working notes, University of North Carolina. Ruttenbur, B. W., Spickler, G. C., & Lurie, S. (2000, July). e-Learning: The engine of the knowledge economy. Morgan Keegan & Co. Memphis, TN. Swanson, S. (2001, February 12). Borders adds online training to call centers. Information Week. Available: http://www.informationweek.com/824/border.htm Training that goes the route: Experts laud IBM Mindspan Solutions. (2001, April 11). Available: http://www. lotus.com/news/news.nsf/public/E5D7EFCF362C18D0852569F5005AFAE8 Twigg, C. (2000, September 1). Sorting the spin. The Learning MarketSpace. Available: http://www.center.rpi.edu/ LForum/lm/Sept00.html


40 Planning and Managing Distance Training and Education in the Corporate Sector Zane L. Berge University of Maryland, Baltimore County berge@umbc.edu

One way to view management’s role is that managers must constantly align and realign the strategic plan of the organization so that mission-critical functions match the core capabilities and core competencies of the enterprise.

If we begin to analyze the above statement, we ďŹ nd several concepts that need to be explored: strategic plan, mission-critical functions, core capabilities, and core competencies. Distance education forces managers to think of each of these in new ways. Even how strategic planning is accomplished successfully in the global economy of the 21st century is different from in the past. Managers and leaders who are charged with distance training and education functions decide on what courses and programs to produce and what media and infrastructure will be used to implement these programs. Their decisions are guided by the organizational mission and by business needs, usually determined by market research or policy. This means aligning projects and programs that involve distance training and education activities with strategic plans. Put simply, managers are using distance training and education to solve business problems through managing and planning. That said, we are only beginning to identify in useful ways what capabilities and competencies are needed in distance training and education.

GLOBAL ECONOMY IS CHANGING HOW WE DO BUSINESS Our global society is moving into the Knowledge Age, where technology dictates that we will live, work, and learn differently than we did in the Industrial Age. The new age demands more skills, knowledge, learning, and re-learning. What is mission critical to an organization often changes, because what is important in today’s society seems ever changing. The transition from an industrial economy to a knowledge-based economy has companies competing to control 601


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New Economy Lifelong learning Teams Encouragement of growth Risk taking Competition Intellectual property Global Speed, change Distributed

intellectual assets, not physical assets (McCrea, Gay, & Bacon, 2000). We could spend the rest of the chapter discussing the mega-trends affecting society and the economy: globalization, technology, outsourcing, consolidation, demographics, and branding. Table 40.1 lists some overall changes being felt within most larger organizations (Moe, Bailey, & Lau, 1999). With the increased rate at which the amount of information doubles, it is essential that the right information reaches the right people when it is needed (Ruttenbur, Spickler, & Lurie, 2000, p. 10). Many changes have to do with philosophy and in turn organizational culture. For instance, it use to be that university students could, for the most part, in 4 years or 4 years plus graduate work, expect to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to prepare them for a lifetime of work in their chosen field. Of course, today’s university educators do not harbor any illusions. Each professor knows that it is increasingly important to teach students how to learn so that the effects of the ever decreasing half-life of knowledge can be mitigated through lifelong learning. The same is true of learners in the workplace: A consideration of training at a distance forces a re-examination about the ways people learn and are trained (Albright & Post, 1993). Corporate employees in the future will need to take control of their own growth and development, demanding training time and money as part of their rewards for supplying their services. Adult education principles of self-directed and life-long learning will become a major part of compensation packages. Collective bargaining agreements in the future will probably require levels of training for employees that do not exist today. Companies desiring a competitive advantage will “jump on the band wagon” and establish policies and procedures to take advantage of distance learning to deliver these services. . . . The rapidly changing workplace of the future will demand that trainers move toward this vision with a spirit of adventure. Training professionals at all levels will need considerable imagination, common sense and creativity to cope with the changes that undoubtedly await us. Corporate success depends upon having and keeping talented people. The shortage of such people is widely accepted, and training (including distance education), at long last, is beginning to be recognized as part of the solution. (Dooley, Dooley, & Byrom, 1998, p. 353)

Occurring along with these changes in how training and education is perceived are cultural changes throughout the organization and the people associated with it (see Table 40. 2). For instance, as more employees have technology systems at home and as pressure increases for individuals to take control of their own learning throughout their lifetime, there can be a blurring of the distinction between what is learning and what is work. Employees know that they must continuously learn or be at a competitive disadvantage personally in the marketplace, and they therefore demand the organization support their learning.


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TABLE 40.2 Shifts in Training Old Economy Four-year degree Training as cost center Learner mobility Correspondence and video One size fits all Just-in-case Isolated learners and learning events

New Economy Forty-year degree Training as competitive advantage Content mobility High-tech multimedia centers Tailored programs Just-in-time Ongoing virtual learning communities

McCrea et al. (2000) state that management’s mission is to develop an “enterprise-wide process of continuous and globally distributed learning that directly links business goals and individual learning outcomes” (p. 16). Although the concept of “just enough” training may be useful (Zielinski, 2000), there is no such thing as just enough learning.

BUSINESS NEEDS FOR DISTANCE TRAINING AND EDUCATION Having a strategy that links distance training and education to the organization’s business goals is important (Galagan, 2000; Chapter 34 of this volume). There are compelling reasons for distance training and education in the workplace. Reasons for which organizations are turning to distance training include the ability of such training to broaden the exposure of employees to nationally and internationally recognized experts, reduce costs (e.g., time to market, travel expenditures, and time spent in training), and lower the opportunity costs of lost productivity. Significant Business Needs Essentially, one can view distance training as serving three significant business needs: 1. Meeting the challenge of uncommon organizational change. 2. Sustaining competitive advantage. 3. Achieving organizational goals. Meeting the Challenge of Uncommon Organizational Change. Short of bankruptcy, there may be no business event that serves as a stronger catalyst for change than a corporate merger. The cultural context in which people work is made clear when a merger juxtaposes different cultures and challenges everyone to change and grow. For example, Friend and Hepple (2001) described the merging of SBC’s regional telecom training centers as follows: Working across time zones with widely varying systems, practices, and cultures challenged the merged SBC. Eliminating redundancies resulted in savings for the CFL and its SBC internal clients. However, staffing varied continuously through restructuring, job changes, outsourcing, and new hiring. As employee experience levels fluctuated, the need for faster, more effective, and more flexible training had never been greater. (p. 52)

Another type of tumultuous change can come from a mandate, whether from a government authority or the organization’s chief executive. The disruptive cultural and organizational consequences of mandate being handed down are one of the principal reasons distance education has found success in meeting training and educational needs within many organizations.


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Sustaining Competitive Advantage. We have entered the Knowledge Age, and the new economy requires a continuously learning workforce. Rapid technological change and a core of knowledge workers who stay abreast of the change are considered key to sustaining a competitive advantage in the marketplace. As organizations invest in building learning systems that contribute to individual and corporate success, distance training and education will set the standard. Achieving Organizational Goals. Because the global economy, in conjunction with technological advancements, is changing the way business is transacted, competition for markets and customers continues to present a signiďŹ cant challenge. Distance training and education is looked upon as a way of investing in people throughout the organization and thereby aiding the pursuit of organizational goals. Key Business Drivers The key drivers pushing business units to use distance training and education include these: The cost to the employer. The lack of time available to trainees and trainers. The fast pace of change and the reduction in development-to-delivery cycles, which allow ever smaller window for training. The need to train large numbers of employees. The need to train employees who are spread across a wide geographic area. Reduced training budgets (despite increased training needs). The need to become a learning organization. The Cost to the Employer. There are often high costs associated with having most training delivered in the traditional classroom. If trainers are not on-site, line managers must fund travel budgets and assume the loss of productivity during employees’ travel time. With traditional training methods, companies generally spend more money, up to two-thirds of the training expenses, on transporting and housing trainees than on actual training programs (Mottl, 2000; Urdan & Weggen, 2000). Alternatives include outsourcing and having trainers travel to the trainees, which could and reduce overall training costs. The impact on the trainers, however, is often too great (Howard, 2001; Latten, Davis, & Stallings, 2001). Lack of Time. Although cost is a major issue for the organization, lack of time is a critical factor for the employees. Finding the time to improve technical skills while concurrently attending to business deliverables on short development-to-delivery cycles often seems impossible to everyone concerned (Branch, Lyon, & Porten, 2001). Short Development-to-Delivery Cycles. By the time training is designed, developed, and scheduled, the employee no longer needs it (Dobbs, 2000). As competition and demand in today’s society reduce development-to-delivery cycles, there is a smaller window for training to occur. Latten et al. (2001) described the situation their company faced: Our client base was quickly surpassing the existing training infrastructure. Mergers and organizational changes were creating an environment where key business decisions were being made faster than ever. The result, an increased demand for training as a result of new business strategies and processes. The need for training to reach growing numbers of participants, faster and in their place of business was at an all time high. We knew that traditional classroom training was not a


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possible solution for meeting the current business challenges. Both cost and reduced cycle times were obstacles that traditional classroom training could not easily address. (p. 164)

In many cases, learning opportunities have to be modular, just-in-time, and highly relevant to compete with other tasks and opportunities that are critical to the success of the organization (Rogers & Becker, 2001). Many organizations face mergers, mandates, and increased business from other sources, with the result that new initiatives occur faster than ever. As project timelines accelerate to meet the growing demand, there is less time to build trainer expertise and less time to reach larger numbers of trainees (Latten et al., 2001). High Numbers of Employees. Large organizations are especially challenged by the need to provide training to a large workforce at a reduced cost and with limited resources. Training at national or regional facilities becomes impossible when thousands or hundreds of thousands of employees need to be trained uniformly but quickly (Wankel, 2001). Training Employees in a Wide Geographic Area. When there are a great number of employees to train, especially when they are dispersed geographically, equitable training delivery is difficult and costly. Distance training and education, beside making economic sense, allows training content to be offered in convenient, adult-sized bites rather than in week-long sessions at remote locations. Persons charged with training can target specific audiences regardless of geographic location or make subject matter experts available based on need rather than ease of access to location (Dessinger & Conley, 2001; Walker, 1998). Reduced Training Budgets. Budgets continue to be squeezed, and managers are required to do more with less. Payne and Payne (1998) described such a scenario at the Federal Aviation Administration: The FAA’s technical training budget was cut by Congress from over $135M in 1992 to just over $77M in 1996, a 43% decline (Federal Aviation Administration, 1997). This dramatic reduction in the training budget resulted in the number of FAA students receiving technical training declining from over 28,000 to just over 16,000, a corresponding drop of 41% (Federal Aviation Administration, 1997). A congressional mandate during this same period caused the FAA to go through a downsizing activity that reduced the size of the agency by 11%. This downsizing asked fewer FAA employees to do more during an era of a severely constrained and a continually declining training budget as the mission of the Agency did not change. The problem the FAA faced was finding ways to reduce the overall cost of providing training while increasing the training opportunities for employees. The FAA needed to solve this problem in a manner that was not prohibitively expensive in its start-up costs and that could begin to show a return on the investment almost immediately. (p. 202)

Need to Become a Learning Organization. As mentioned earlier, university professors know they cannot teach students all that they will ever need to know in a given field. Workplace organizations are starting to understand that the same thing is true about training. This is why Peter Senge’s work on “learning organizations” has resonated as it has (Senge, 1990; Zemke, 1999). At the heart of the learning organization is a change in philosophy from instruction and training to learning—and a key element in distance training is the students’ taking responsibility for their own learning. Workers who neglect to invest in their own intellectual capital do so at their own risk, because they can no longer rely on a single set of skills for a lifetime of work (Ruttenbur et al., 2000). So, employees today demand that organizations continually invest in


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their professional development (McCrea et al., 2000, p. 11). All this changes significantly the roles and functions of both instructors and learners. PLANNING AND MANAGING DISTANCE TRAINING AND EDUCATION Responsibilities Those responsible for planning and implementing a distance education program face both pedagogical and organizational challenges. The management team must systematically analyze organizational needs. It must include at least one person with a high rank to champion technology-enhanced learning (the person’s rank must match, in terms of organizational level, the strategic goals for the training program). The team must also have a person or persons in charge of infrastructure and support services and other managers and staff with a stake in promoting successful technology-enhanced learning. The management team’s charge may include the following: Identify the business purposes and goals of initiating and supporting a distance learning program. Collect and summarize information on current distance education programs and the strategic plans of various business units considering the use of distance training and education. Evaluate strategies and technologies for delivering distance education programs (in terms of their advantages, disadvantages, and costs) and reach agreement on which strategies and technologies will be proposed. Define what is needed to deliver technology-enhanced learning programs effectively, including equipment and facilities, competencies and training, policy development and cultural change. Investigate successful models at other organizations. Specify needs and incentives for instructors, designers, and developers who become involved in developing and implementing technology-enhanced learning. Estimate costs and resource commitments. Identify potential barriers to successful implementation of the recommended strategies and technologies and suggest how to manage these. Establish a process for reviewing new technologies and other aspects of distance programs at least annually to assess their potential for improving the delivery of distance training and reducing associated costs. Report findings and recommendations to senior decision-makers. Define needs for particular academic programs. (University of Kansas Medical Center, 1996) Obstacles There are many individual barriers to distance training and education. Based on survey responses, a subsequent factor analysis clustered the 64 barriers into the following 10 factors: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Administrative structure. Organizational change. Technical expertise. Social interaction and quality. Faculty compensation and time.


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Threatened by technology. Legal issues. Evaluation/effectiveness. Access. Student support services. (Muilenburg & Berge, 2001)

Administrative Structure. Lack of credibility for distance education within a particular administrative structure and lack of money can be problems for distance education. Competing with or using new business models can cause difficulties, too. When partnerships are formed between different units within an organization or between different organizations, lack of agreement on such issues as revenue sharing, regulations, tuition and fees, scheduling, FTEs, and issuance of credits can become an obstacle to distance education. Organizational Change. Most organizations are resistant to change. Without a shared vision for distance learning, a strategic plan, and key players within the organization who are knowledgeable and supportive of distance learning, implementing a distance learning program is a slow and difficult process. Difficulty in convincing stakeholders of the benefits of distance learning, the often slow pace of implementation, and the lack of an identifiable business need are all barriers to distance education. Technical Expertise, Support, and Infrastructure. It is difficult to keep up with the fast pace of technological change. Many instructors lack the knowledge and skills to design and teach distance learning courses, yet their organizations lack support staff to assist with technical problems, develop distance learning course materials, or provide distance learning training. Technology-enhanced classrooms or laboratories and the infrastructure required to use them may not be available. Social Interaction and Quality. Participants in distance learning courses can feel isolated due to absence of person-to-person contact. Some educators and students are uncomfortable with the use of student-centered and collaborative learning activities on philosophical grounds or because these methods represent a change from the traditional social structure of the classroom. There are concerns about the quality of distance learning courses and programs, the students’ possible lack of prerequisite skills and knowledge, the outcomes of student learning, and the testing and assessment of learning outcomes. Faculty Compensation and Time. In all stages of design, development, and evaluation, distance education courses almost always require a greater time commitment than face-to-face education with the same instructional objectives. Therefore, faculty compensation, incentives, workload, and release time become important issues if the current compensation system is based on classroom teaching. Lack of grants to fund distance learning projects is also a problem. Threatened by Technology. Some instructors fear that an increase in the use of distance learning technologies may decrease the need for teaching faculty. Feeling intimidated by technology may also lessen an instructor’s sense of competence or authority. Either or both of these psychological factors may lead instructors to feel that their job security is threatened: Trainers (line evaluators, contractors, and Institute staff) perceived their classroom days were over. They had relished the role of “sage on the stage” and were reluctant to relinquish that gratifying identity. With technology perceived as the “enemy” in human interaction and spontaneity, many felt the joys of interacting with peers and colleagues would rapidly decline in this new medium


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reminiscent of the “high tech, low touch” theory. They struggled to envision the possibilities of building positive educational relationships online or through video conferencing. (Longnecker, 2001, p. 99)

Legal Issues. The increasing use of the Internet to deliver distance education raises concerns about copyright, fair use policies, intellectual property rights, and problems such as piracy, hackers, and viruses. Evaluation/Effectiveness. There is concern over the lack of research supporting the effectiveness of distance learning as well as the lack of effective evaluation methods for distance learning courses and programs. Access. Many students do not have access to courses offered via newer technologies such as the Internet. Some instructors also lack access to the necessary equipment and courses. Student Support Services. The provision of student services such as advisement, library services, admissions, and financial aid is critical to the success of any distance learning program. There are also concerns about how to monitor the identity of distance learning students. STAGES OF ORGANIZATIONAL CAPABILITY When considering the distance delivery of training and education and viewing the organization collectively, it is useful to think of the “stage” that the move toward distance education is at. As with any innovation, the process usually looks like two steps forward and one back: The promise of distance learning remains unfulfilled in many organizations. In spite of many good intentions, extensive pilots and trials, and a great deal of perception building efforts, these organizations fail to recognize some key planning and implementation steps that can make the difference in “Sustaining Distance Learning.” (Howard, 2001, p. 270)

Schreiber (1998) presented a model describing stages of organizational maturity (or capabilities) with regard to the delivery of distance training and education: Stage 1. Separate or sporadic distance learning events occur in the organization. Stage 2. The organization’s technological capability and infrastructure can support distance learning events. When distance education events occur, they are replicated through an interdisciplinary team that responds to staff and management needs and makes recommendations regarding the organization and management of distance learning among the workforce. Stage 3. The organization has established a distance learning policy, procedures are in place, and planning occurs. This means that a stable and predictable process is in place to facilitate the identification and selection of content and of technology to deliver distance training. Stage 4. Distance training and education has been institutionalized in the organization in such a way that policy, communication, and practice that are aligned and business objectives are being addressed. The business unit has established a distance education identity and conducts systematic assessment of distance training events from an organizational perspective. Of course, these stages represent points along a continuum; the stages an organization moves through when planning to institutionalize distance training and education are neither linear nor


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discrete. Although it is convenient to describe an organization as being at a particular stage, this does not mean that all elements from earlier stages are absent, nor that all units within the organization are at that same stage. In general, success early in stage 1 is achieved by using effective project management processes. Later, in late stage 1 and in stage 2, the emphasis shifts to program management. In late stage 2 and stage 3, along with the continuation of program management, a good amount of organizational development and cultural change efforts are necessary to sustain distance training and education implementation and use at the organizational level. Stage 4 involves using effective strategic planning to guide cultural change and resource reallocation and linking program planning and perspectives to organizational strategic planning and perspectives. Keep in mind that there are often two levels of analyses. Activities, processes, and work, such as evaluation and marketing, occur at the program level, and these same functions appear at a higher, organizational level. Not all organizations, perhaps not even most organizations, should consistently strive toward achieving a higher stage of technology use or totaling integrating distance education into the way business is conducted. There is nothing wrong with an organization’s distance training and education being a series of events or one or more separate programs. Program implementation initially relies on sound project management, and regardless of whether the organization changes to a more integrated stage of distance training or not, solid program planning and program management will always to be keys to program effectiveness and efficiency. What matters most is that the appropriate level of distance education capability is strategically planned for at the appropriate organizational level and that the allocation of resources matches that level of capability.

LINKING THE ORGANIZATIONAL PERSPECTIVE TO DISTANCE TRAINING PROGRAMS Strategic planning consists of all the means that an organization can use to redefine itself and to realize a plan. Since the fundamental objective of a strategic plan is to chart a course from where the organization is now to where it wants to be at an agreed point in the future (i.e., at the end of the planning cycle), knowing the current stage of organizational capability would be useful for identifying barriers to the implementation of distance training and education to be on the lookout for. The overarching goal of strategic planning is to create a common vision of the desired future within the organization while ensuring that performance objectives are integrated into operations and strategies and that training provides those involved with the skills they need (Watkins & Callahan, 1998). One way to view such planning is as a systematic way of identifying and capitalizing on the strengths within the enterprise. At the same time, planning is done to identify and provide for the needs of the organization (this includes identifying and overcoming barriers). Serious consideration must be given to the critical strengths (core competencies and core capabilities) and to the barriers (both perceived and real) that will arise during the implementation of distance training and education. There is a variety of strategic planning models that have been described for business, nonprofit, and educational organizations (see, e.g., Bean, 1993; Burkhart & Reuss, 1993; Cafferella, 1994; Goodstein, Nolan, & Pfeiffer, 1992). Regardless of the particular model or process an organization uses for such planning, major issues that must be planned for include educational process, student recruitment and enrollment management, higher education development and student development services, human resources, research, information, physical


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Program Perspective: Project/Program Management

Exercising professional responsibility

Organizational Perspective: Strategic Planning

Tools for Change

Budget

.

Infrastructure Engaging relevant contexts

Communication

Integration with the organizational mission and vision

.

Guiding beliefs/principles

.

External environmental scan

Designing the program

Managing administrative aspects

Workforce development Policy

.

.

Internal organizational strengths

FIG. 40.1. Linking the program perspective with an organizational perspective: Using project and program management, tools for change, and strategic planning.

planning and development, financial management and planning, national role, collaboration, and institutional culture (Pienaar, Brink, & Barsby, 1999). Strategic planning is defined not by a methodology, a process, or a system but by the entire context and system in which it occurs: [Strategic planning] could be considered a concerted effort to achieve an ensemble of decisions and actions which form and guide an organization to be what it is, to do what it does and to know why it does it (Bean, 1993). By utilizing a future-looking approach, strategic planning emphasizes the future implications of decisions made in the present. (Hache, 1998 n.p.)

With a clear vision of the future of the organization, strategic planning is used to create and define the environment—with its boundaries and parameters—in which distance training and organizational learning will take place. The idea is to create a mission and objectives, gather extensive data, analyze and diagnose information regarding the internal and external environment, and decide on the strategies, actions, and evaluations that have a high chance of success in implementation while avoiding expensive pitfalls (Albrecht & Bardsley, 1994). The tools used to link strategic planning to program management include communication systems and management of those systems, budgeting, infrastructure, workforce development, and revisions to policies and procedures (see Fig. 40. 1). Communication Distance training and education depends on the marriage of computer and communication systems. It should be managed as a system in which the communication aspect of the technologies is emphasized. The technologies most often associated with distance learning include print, audioconferencing, audiographic teleconferencing, interactive compressed video teleconferencing, computer-mediated conferencing, and video teleconferencing using satellite, broadcast, cable, and fiber transmission media. The technologies typically used in corporate distance learning settings emphasize “conferencing capabilities,” which underscores the communication dynamic that is typically encountered in classroom settings (Wagner, 2000).


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Establishing a Budget The organization must decide what equipment and resources are considered infrastructure and what are considered operational expenses. A review of cost analyses for all distance training programs may show that a program will appear to lose money if technology infrastructure costs are included in the program budget. Still, a program budget, to give a true indication of costs, must cover all areas, including support services (e.g., instructional development, registration, and materials development), infrastructure, and instructor training and development (Berge & Schrum, 1998). Essentially, the budget and resource allocation issues in distance training and education involve course design or course purchase, course development and delivery, learner support, and administration of the program. Determining Functional Infrastructure Some infrastructure resources and functions should be common to all distance training, and others are more useful when decentralized. Although decentralization may appear to unnecessarily duplicate efforts and costs, it may more closely align expertise with program needs. Centralization of services may allow managers of all distance training and education programs more direct access to top decision-makers and encourage a more efficient use of resources. The risk is in overburdening specific programs with bureaucracy and overhead while not meeting specific program needs. Generally, centralization is favored for the following functions: marketing, instructional design and development support, technology help desk and infrastructure, professional/faculty development, evaluation, promotion and incentive structures, and registration. Workforce Development It is hard to imagine anything more important to program implementation than recruiting and retaining expert trainers and support staff. Are all instructors equally suited to teach in distance training and education programs? The answer is generally no. Would it be wise to begin with a small cohort of willing trainers? If time and energy are spent in training this cohort, and it is given support for its development and implementation, its successes will often inspire others. In some organizations, an initial group of enthusiastic instructors have been trained in effective distance teaching methods, and the individuals in this group then become mentors for the next group of instructors. Ongoing support is given to these instructors through workshops, online discussion groups, and strategic feedback. Occasionally, an instructor works as an apprentice to a practitioner teaching a distance course during one term and then, during the following term, is mentored as he or she practices what was learned. A timeline is helpful to new distance training instructors as they begin to conceptualize their tasks. Answers to the following questions and the availability of specific training as needed will go a long way toward retaining new distance instructors: What business needs are being targeted? At what point should the syllabus be in place? What materials need to be developed and tested? Is the hardware and software already in place and functional? What are the options when something goes wrong? Revising Policies and Procedures The management team can provide leadership in policy revision and remove barriers to the mainstreaming of distance training and education. Each incentive or disincentive, the reporting and accountability structures, and the determination of major resource allocations have a role


612

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in changing the organizational culture. Leadership is required to nurture the necessary changes in the social, political, economic, and training/educational environment. Several critical issues unique to program planning for distance training are likely to emerge. Policies and procedures are normally framed within organizational policies or outside mandates. Such policies are tools for leading an organization in ways that are thought by management to be useful—either in defining a vision or orchestrating cultural change within the organization. A key to ensuring that mandates or missions are carried out and that organizational policies are implemented is to develop a strategic plan. This plan becomes one of the primary instruments of organizational policy and provides the framework for allocating and managing resources and accommodating organizational change and development (World Bank, n.d.). CONCLUSION In the global economy of the 21st century, learning organizations are under increasing pressure to show that training and professional development are directly contributing to their profitability. Further, they are being forced to do this at a time when employees are often scattered around the world and when bringing them to a central location and keeping them from their jobs for extended periods of time is no long an option, either from a cost perspective or a time-to-market standpoint. This chapter has focused on the organizational perspective while hinting at the dramatic changes to the roles and functions of instructors and learners that are occurring. Distance training and education provided by an organization is essential for improving the performance of employees. In fact, to remain competitive, every organization will have to place more emphasis on distance learning. Furthermore, for distance training and education to be effective, the organization will have to engage in sound planning and management. REFERENCES Albright, R. C., & Post, P. E. (1993). The challenges of electronic learning. Training and Development, 47(8), 27–29. Albrecht, R., & Bardsley, G. (1994). Strategic planning and academic planning for distance education. In B. Willis (Ed.), Distance education: Strategies and tools (pp. 67–86). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications. Bean, W. (1993). Strategic planning that makes things happen. Amherst, MA: HRD Press. Berge, Z. L., & Schrum, L. (1998). Strategic planning linked with program implementation for distance education. CAUSE/EFFECT, 21(3), 31–38. Branch, A., Lyon, A., & Porten, S. (2001). Hewlett-Packard’s Regional Training Center: Site Information & Learning Centers (SILC). In Z. L. Berge, (Ed.), Sustaining distance training: Integrating learning technologies into the fabric of the enterprise (pp. 235–254). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Burkhart, P. J., & Reuss, S. (1993). Successful strategic planning: A guide to nonprofit agencies and organizations. Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Cafferella, R. S. (1994). Planning programs for adult learners: A practical guide for educators, trainers and staff developers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Dessinger, J., & Conley, L. (2001). Beyond the sizzle: Sustaining distance training at ford motor company dealerships. In Z. L. Berge (Ed.), Sustaining distance training: Integrating learning technologies into the fabric of the enterprise (pp. 178–198). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Dobbs, K. (2000). Who’s in charge of e-learning? Training, 37(6), 54–58. Dooley, L. M., Dooley, K. E., & Byrom, K. (1998). Distance training under construction at H. B. Zachry Company. In D. A. Schreiber & Z. L. Berge (Eds.), Distance training: How innovative organizations are using technology to maximize learning and meet business objectives (pp. 351–368). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Federal Aviation Administration, Training Program Office, AHR-14. (1997). Survey of educational technology. Washington, DC: Department of Transportation, AHR-14. Friend, N., & Hepple, T. (2001). Lessons from merging SBC’s Regional Telecom Learning Centers. In Z. L. Berge


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(Ed.), Sustaining distance training: Integrating learning technologies into the fabric of the enterprise (pp. 48–69). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Galagan, P. A. (2000, May). Getting started with e-learning: An interview with Dell Computer’s John Cone about pulling the big lever. Training and Development, 54(5), 62–64. Goodstein, L. D., Nolan, T. M., & Pfeiffer, J. W. (1992). Applied strategic planning: A comprehensive guide. San Diego, CA: Pfeiffer & Co. Hache, D. (1998, Summer). Strategic planning of distance education in the age of teleinformatics. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 1(2). Available: http://www.westga.edu/∼distance/Hache12.html Howard, B. (2001). Supporting an enterprise distance learning program at NYNEX. In Z. L. Berge (Ed.), Sustaining distance training: Integrating learning technologies into the fabric of the enterprise (pp. 270–290). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Latten, S., Davis, M., & Stallings, N. (2001). Sustaining distance education and training First Union: Transitioning from the classroom. In Z. L. Berge (Ed.), Sustaining distance training: Integrating learning technologies into the fabric of the enterprise (pp. 164–177). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Longnecker, J. L. (2001). Attracting, training, and retaining instructors for distance learning at the U.S. General Accounting Office. In Z. L. Berge (Ed.), Sustaining distance training: Integrating learning technologies into the fabric of the enterprise (pp. 85–105). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. McCrea, F., Gay, R. K., & Bacon, R. (2000, January 18). Riding the big waves: A white paper on the B2B e-learning industry. Thomas Weisel Partners SanFrancisco/NewYork/Boston/London. Available: http://www.onlinelearning2000.com/elearningWeisel.pdf Moe, M. T., Bailey, K., & Lau, R. (1999, April 9). The book of knowledge: Investing in the growing education and training industry. (Report No. 1268). Merrill Lynch & Co., Global Securities Research & Economics Group, Global Fundamental Equity Research Department. Mottl, J. N. (2000, January 3). Learn at a distance: Online learning is poised to become the new standard. InformationWeek Online. Available: http://www.informationweek.com/767/learn.htm Muilenburg, L. Y., & Berge. Z. (2001). Barriers to distance education: A factor analytic study. American Journal of Distance Education, 15(2), 7–24. Payne, L. W., & Payne, H. E. (1998). Interactive video teletraining in the Federal Aviation Administration. In D. A. Schreiber & Z. L. Berge (Eds.), Distance training: How innovative organizations are using technology to maximize learning and meet business objectives (pp. 201–222). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Pienaar, H., Brink, C., & Barsby, T. (1999). Strategic planning framework: Strategic direction. Available: http://www.uct.ac.za/general/stratpl2.htm Rogers, N. E., & Becker, S. L. (2001). From training enhancement to organizational learning: The migration of distance learning at the American Red Cross. In Z. L. Berge (Ed.), Sustaining distance training: Integrating learning technologies into the fabric of the enterprise (pp. 329–350). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Ruttenbur, B. W., Spickler, G., & Lurie, S. (2000, July 6). e-Learning: The engine of the knowledge economy. Morgan Keegan & Co. Available: http://outland.masie.com:8080/reports/elearning0700nate2.pdf Schreiber, D. A. (1998). Organizational technology and its impact on distance training. In D. A. Schreiber & Z. L. Berge (Eds.), Distance training: How innovative organizations are using technology to maximize learning and meet business objectives (pp. 3–18). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Senge, P. M. (1990). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization. New York: Doubleday. University of Kansas Medical Center. (1996, January). Charge to the distance education strategies and technologies planning team. Available: http://www.kumc.edu/de strategies/charge.htm Urdan, T. A., & Weggen, C. C. (2000). Corporate e-learning: Exploring a new frontier. W. R. Hambrect & Co. Available: http://www.wrhambrecht.com/research/coverage/elearning/ir/ir explore.pdf Wagner, E. D. (2000, Fall). Emerging technology trends in e-learning. Line Zine [Online serial]. Available: http://www.linezine.com/2.1/features/ewette.htm Walker, S. (1998). Online training costs and evaluation. In D. A. Schreiber & Z. L. Berge (Eds.), Distance training: How innovative organizations are using technology to maximize learning and meet business objectives (pp. 270–286). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Wankel, M. J. (2001). The United States Postal Service’s integration of distance training and education initiatives to meet organizational goals. In Z. L. Berge (Ed.), Sustaining distance training: Integrating learning technologies into the fabric of the enterprise (pp. 291–311). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Watkins, K., & Callahan, M. (1998). Return on knowledge assets: Rethinking investments in educational technology. Educational Technology, 38(4), 33–40. World Bank. (n.d.) Global Distance Educationet. Available: www.globaldistancelearning.com/Management/Benefits/ effectiveness.html Zemke, R. (1999). Why organizations still aren’t learning. Training, 36(9), 40–49. Zielinski, D. (2000). Can you keep learners online? Training, 17(3), 64–75.


41 Web-Based Continuing Professional Education: Uses, Motivations, and Deterrents to Participation Kathy J. Perdue Certified Public Accountant Office@kathyperdue.com

THE CURRENT STATE OF WEB-BASED CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION Beginning in the 1970s, many professionals engaged in providing services to the general population were required by the state government to participate in continuing professional education. This mandating of continuing education is a result of accelerating technological advances combined with social pressures to ensure professional competency and performance (Phillips, 1978). In addition to participation in mandatory continuing education, many other professionals elect to participate in continuing professional education for purposes of knowledge acquisition. For many professions, such as certified public accountants (CPAs), physicians, and lawyers, successful completion of continuing professional education requirements is necessary to retain a state government–issued license to practice. Web-based Continuing Professional Education The constant and ever-quickening pace of change in the world today dictates that practicing professionals engage in a process of lifelong learning. As various researchers (Nowlen, 1988; Queeney & English, 1994) have determined, significant factors contributing to this demand include the following:

r the explosion of information, r the changing nature of knowledge, r increasing organizational complexity, r the drive to maintain excellence and to remain competitive, r the public’s demand for professional accountability, r compulsory relicensure, 615


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r the threat of malpractice litigation, r rapid development of new technologies, and r shifts in governmental regulatory patterns. All of these factors combined to place a growing demand on professionals to be involved in quality lifelong learning. Houle (1980) indicates that mandatory continuing professional education is often the alternative selected by legislative and administrative entities to address the issue of public reliance on professionals. The alternative of recredentialing has received significant resistance from professionals themselves. Not surprisingly, given the significant investment of time and resources that such a requirement involves, the greatest deterrent to pursuing mandatory or additional continuing professional education is the professional adult learner’s inability to allocate time for education activities (Queeney, 1995). This is also the case in other adult education arenas (Darkenwald & Merriam, 1982; Scanlan, 1986; Valentine & Darkenwald, 1990). As a result, independent study options including correspondence courses, satellite, teleconferencing, compressed video, cable television, interactive computer, and other distance learning modes have come to be seen as attractive alternatives to traditional classroom-bound training (Verduin & Clark, 1991). The option of utilizing Web-based training—that is, taking advantage of multimedia and computer networking to mediate and support instruction when teachers and learners are separated in place and/or time (Simoff & Maher, 1997)—as a means of accommodating mandatory continuing education requirements is becoming increasingly available to professionals (Carlozzi, 1998; Nacinovich, 1998). Research concerning continuing education via distance education is in its early stages. It consists primarily of a few descriptive studies of multiple professional groups (Scalter, 1990; Grundnoski, 1992) conducted before the Web became popular as an education medium. One empirical study conducted for the Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants by Perdue and Valentine (1998) found that respondents believe distance education, including use of the Internet, is an effective way to learn. In addition, the study found that the vast majority of respondents reported having adequate access to the technology necessary for participation in a variety of distance education activities. However, with the exception of text-based distance education, the percentage of respondents actually using distance education for continuing professional education was minimal. Over the 20-year period beginning in 1971, 52 of the 54 legal jurisdictions that issue CPA licenses mandated continuing professional education for relicensure (Streer, Clark et al., 1995). In the year 2000, these requirements were still in place (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, 2000). The mandating of continuing professional education for CPAs— and the attendant expected windfall of new customers—almost immediately spurred continuing professional education providers to evaluate advancements in education delivery. Three of these studies have applicability to this research. First, a study of Ohio CPAs by Kreiser, Baird, and Michenzi (1989) suggested that accountants have a preference for live interactive courses and significant concerns with respect to cost containment and the available variety of continuing professional education topics. Three years later Seay and Watson (1992) conducted a telephone survey of the American Institute of CPAs, the National Association of Accountants (now the Institute of Management Accountants), and the Institute of Internal Auditors. At that time none of these professional organizations had current or future plans to offer continuing professional education via satellite or two-way interactive television, technologies that were then becoming popular. Seay and Watson were able to identify one firm that averaged two to three satellite continuing professional education courses per year in conjunction with several state CPA societies. However, concerns about costs, logistics, and uncertainty about a new approach were reasons most frequently cited for not pursuing delivery of continuing professional education


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via telecommunication. Finally, a recent study by Ernst & Young (Kahan, 1997) found that continuing professional education delivered via the Internet, audio and videotapes, and CDROM has been favorably received by practitioners. The study found practitioners who took courses on interactive, multimedia continuing professional education products performed far better on-the-job than those attending seminars and conferences and were able to finish their work at a faster pace. Thus it would seem that time has brought about changes in providers’ and practitioners’ attitudes about what constitutes “appropriate” and “preferred” education technology. Researchers generally acknowledge that Web-based learning has a useful role in continuing professional education, particularly for knowledge workers. “Knowledge workers” are individuals who earn a living by critically analyzing available information for relevance and value and applying creativity in order to create new knowledge. In a rapidly changing and open information society, knowledge workers have to act ever more quickly if they are to keep abreast of change. As a result, the most useful training delivery system would be one that is distributed rather than centralized, allowing for learner control of time and place. This implies the use of technology-based training delivery systems (Romiszowski, 1997).

REVIEW OF RESEARCH Participation research has a long history in adult education. There are basically three topics that researchers address in this arena: 1) What is the extent of participation? 2) What motivates learners to participate? and 3) What deters learners from participating? The remainder of this chapter is devoted to addressing these three areas. Use of Web-Based Continuing Professional Education Several studies in the late 1990s have researched the use of Web-based continuing professional education. In studying ways in which physicians kept current with new knowledge, Lott (1994) found the least used and least liked types of continuing medical education focused on educational methods generally associated with self-directed learning including video or audio programs, self-assessment programs, and computerized activities. In a study to assess the readiness of practicing physicians for the use of computer-based continuing medical education, Khonsari (1995) found that the respondents’ attitudes were systematically related to specific factors. These factors were age, majority of practice, level of board certification, years of practice, location of practice, level of experience and familiarity with computer applications (specifically computer-based distance continuing medical education), and the preferred methods of receiving information. On average, respondents’ attitudes were slightly to moderately positive toward computer-based continuing medical education. Hayden (1996) analyzed attitudes of physicians and nurses toward computer-based distance learning in emergency medicine. Hayden found greater than 90% of the respondents indicated a willingness to engage in online computer-based continuing medical education programs, particularly those meeting state licensing board criteria for credit toward license renewal. Hayden also found clear user preference emerged for various online services, such as real-time consultations. Hatfield’s research (1996) on the effectiveness of distance education technologies in the delivery of public school continuing professional education indicated that continuing professional education could affect the techniques and practices of teachers. However, Hatfield found the method of delivery may have little influence on effectiveness. In a study addressing the use of computer-based distance education in continuing education, Atwood (1998) found 73.6% of university and college continuing education units were offering some type of computer-based


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distance education. However, findings in the study indicate the use of traditional classroombased methods is continuing within computer-based distance education. For at least one kind of knowledge worker, CPAs, the most useful delivery system would also be interactive. Although the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy require two hours of self-study to receive one hour of continuing professional education credit, each one hour of self-study on an interactive self-study course counts for one hour of credit (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, 1998). Given the requirement facing most CPAs that they complete an average of 40 hours of continuing professional education per year, combined with the flexibility inherent in technology-based training delivery, multimedia continuing professional education courses would seem to hold a definite allure for CPAs. In theory, multimedia courses inject fun, increase retention, and provide convenience into significant, recurring, educational requirements (Nacinovich, 1998). In reality, multimedia vendors report a tepid response at best to the technology. According to Nacinovich, the earliest provider of multimedia continuing professional education courses to CPAs offered its first course in 1993. Five years later, the vendors estimate that 50% of their customers have taken at least one multimedia course. Less than 10% of another major vendor’s 25,000 customers have ordered 1 of the 58 available multimedia CD-ROM courses. Other organizations offering continuing professional education courses to CPAs also indicated poor market reception. In a study of the continuing professional education needs of certified management accountants, Foy (1998) found little use or acceptance of the many self-study forms of continuing professional education such as computer-based training, audiotapes, and others. This was insightful since lack of time to complete continuing professional education was a significant concern for most of this population. Motivation for Participation in Web-Based Continuing Professional Education The concept of motivation, as well as the concept of deterrents, is central to most theoretical frameworks of participation in adult education (Rubenson, 1977; Cross, 1981; Darkenwald & Merriam, 1982). Using Scanlan’s (1986) definition of deterrents to participation as reasons contributing to an adult’s decision not to engage in learning activities, motivation would be “a reason or a group of reasons contributing to an adult’s decision to engage in learning activities.” In discussing Web-based education specifically, Keller and Burkman (1983) defines motivation as the choices people make concerning experiences they will approach or avoid and the degree of effort they will exert in that respect. Houle (1980) notes that more than half of continuing learning in the professions is selfdirected, so professional education programs should build on, encourage, and complement selfdirected learning. Because a majority of continuing learning in the professions is self-directed, a challenge to preprofessional education is to encourage and support self-direction so that more students become lifelong learners (Houle, 1980; Knox, 2000). One trend in the 1990s changing the face of continuing professional education was the increasing number of programs being offered in distance education formats by universities and professional associations (Cervero, 2000). Piper (1990) investigated the elements of engineers’ professional practices that influence their attitudes toward and their participation in continuing education activities. Piper concluded that participation was influenced by the interaction of three factors: engineers’ beliefs about the exertion of effort leading to the successful completion of a continuing education activity, their beliefs about the realization of awards resulting from participation, and the value that they placed on those rewards. Piper stated that all three factors had to be perceived favorably for high participation rates to occur.


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There is little empirical research at the current time specifically addressing motivations to participation in Web-based continuing professional education. Nevertheless, the distance education and continuing professional education literature does provide limited anecdotal information. Several projects during the 1990s researched adult learners in general and their motivations for participating in Web-based education. In studying respiratory care practitioners’ participation intentions for completing a baccalaureate degree through distance education, Becker (1995) found learners intending to use distance education felt they would have more interaction with their classmates, need to be on campus less, receive more prompt instructor feedback, have more flexible schedules, and find media-oriented learning more engaging. They also felt that future employers, family, coworkers, and friends would view their decision to use distance education positively. Digilio (1998) studied characteristics of older adult learners and the reasons that Web-based instruction provides the flexibility to meet the needs of adult learners. Based on a review of the literature, Digilio stated that adult learners experience different constraints, motivations, and learning styles than traditional college students, and distance learning technologies have the potential to overcome many of these constraints. In studying adult learners enrolled in a Web-based distance education course, Lim (2000) conducted a study to develop a predictive model for satisfaction of adult learners participating in Web-based distance education courses and found that attitude toward computers was a predictor variable for participation in Web-based distance education courses. Also during the 1990s, several studies of continuing professional education using distance education technologies were conducted. In 1992, McGee studied self-directed learning among emergency room physicians and reviewed methods of learning utilizing computer, cable television, computer-assisted instruction, computer bulletin boards and forums, and video conferences. The findings indicate they were cost-effective and facilitated wider communication both nationally and internationally (McGee, 1992). In a study of participation in distance continuing professional education by working engineers, Noyes (1998) identified the strongest facilitators to participation in distance education as affordable learning, easy access, course schedule, class during work time, and flexible makeup opportunities. In studying the potential of listservs for continuing professional education, Medley (1999) stated the use of listservs facilitates international programs that provide vehicles for stimulation of new ideas and global concerns. Wilson and Bagley (1999) evaluated distance learning materials through a national survey of 1,000 British pharmacists and focus groups of 40–50 and found high users were motivated and undeterred by design issues mentioned by mid and low users. The most highly valued aspects of distance education were portability, storability, and relevant topics. Garrison and Anderson (1999) argue for an approach to distance education called “little distance education” that is consistent with the traditional goals and values of creating knowledge through a critical community of learners. While not specifically identified as motivations to participation in distance education, features of Web-based education provide positive incentives for professionals to participate. Khan (1997) has synthesized the literature to develop the following list of key features: interactive, multimedial, open system, online search, device-distance-time independent, globally accessible, electronic publishing, uniformity worldwide, online resources, distributed, cross-cultural interaction, multiple expertise, industry supported, learner-controller, convenient, ease of use, online support, authentic, course security, environmentally friendly, nondiscriminatory, costeffective, ease of coursework development and maintenance, collaborative learning, formal and informal environments, online evaluation, and virtual cultures. These features either individually or combined could provide motivation for professionals to participate in Web-based education. In one empirical research project recently conducted, Thomas-Goodfellow, Perdue, and Valentine (2001) studied motivations to Web-based continuing professional education for


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PERDUE TABLE 41.1 Top Eight Motivators for Respiratory Therapists (n = 110)

Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 ∗ Based

Item

M∗

SD

Web-based CPE courses fit into my busy schedule better than regularly scheduled classes. Web-based CPE courses let me learn at any hour of the day or night. Web-based CPE courses eliminate the need for travel. With Web-based CPE courses I can start a course on the specific date that I find most convenient. Web-based CPE courses let me learn at the location I find most convenient. Web-based courses save me time. Web-based courses make it possible to locate course topics not available in my area. Web-based courses save me money.

5.25

1.00

5.22

1.11

5.09 5.06

1.19 1.10

5.04

1.09

4.99 4.99

1.15 1.12

4.95

1.25

on a 6-point Likert scale (1 = strongly disagree to 6 = strongly agree).

respiratory therapists. A survey instrument containing 16 motivations to participate in Webbased continuing professional education was developed based on Khan’s Web-based education features (Khan 1997). A rank listing of these motivators revealed the top eight included items for respiratory therapists relating to time constraints, scheduling, and access. The top eight items providing the greatest motivation for respondents’ participation in a Web-based continuing professional education are depicted in Table 41.1.

Deterrents to Participation in Web-Based Education As previously stated, the concept of deterrents is central to most theoretical frameworks of participation in adult education (Rubenson, 1977; Cross, 1981; Darkenwald & Merriam, 1982). Scanlan (1986) defined deterrents to participation as “a reason or group of reasons contributing to an adult’s decision not to engage in learning activities” (p. xi). Valentine and Darkenwald (1990) refined the definition of deterrent to be one that “suggests a more dynamic and less conclusive force, one that works largely in combination with other forces, both positive and negative, in affecting the participation decision” (pp. 30–31). Darkenwald and Valentine (1985) state “that an individual’s decision not to participate in organized adult education is typically due to the combined or synergistic effects of multiple deterrents, rather than one or two in isolation” (p. 187). In the earliest empirical deterrent work in adult education, Scanlan and Darkenwald (1984) identified six deterrent factors impacting on participation in continuing education labeled Disengagement, Lack of Quality, Family Constraints, Cost, Lack of Benefit, and Work Constraints. Further empirical work conducted by Darkenwald and Valentine (1985) found six factors that deter the general public from participating in organized adult education: Lack of Confidence, Lack of Course Relevance, Time Constraints, Low Personal Priority, Cost, and Personal Problems. Additional deterrence work was done much along the same lines, but varying by the population studied (Martindale, 1986; Hayes, 1987; Davis, 1988; Weischadle, 1988; Reddy, 1991). The Internet as a learning environment gives the learner the choice of where and when to study. Facilitated by technology, it also permits individual interactions with the instructor and other learners as well as participation in group discussions (Webb & Street 1997). There is limited literature specifically addressing deterrence for Web-based continuing professional


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education. In a 1998 study of barriers to participation in distance continuing professional education by working engineers, Noyes identified barriers to participation as job/family constraints, work/family interference, lack of desired courses and degree options, poor course advising and homework feedback (Noyes, 1998). General writings about Web-based education contain references to factors that clearly deter individuals from participating or continuing to participate in Web-based education. Those most frequently cited in the literature are related to interaction and technical capability (Khan, 1997; Owston, 1997; Webb & Street, 1997; McCormack & Jones, 1998). As Simoff and Maher (1997) have noted, one considerable drawback of the current design of Web-based courses is the loss of interactivity and the single direction flow of the majority of information. The chief aspect of lack of interactivity is the loss of physical cues that (nonblind/deaf) adults are used to having available to help in interpreting the context of dialogue. In addition, asynchronous communication can make it difficult to track the progress of a conversation, determine if other participants have received a student’s contribution, and assess if that contribution has been interpreted in the manner in which the student intended. One outcome of Simoff and Maher’s research is an awareness of the necessity for an increased time commitment to address the level of interaction desired (McCormack & Jones, 1998). Technical capability can be as large a barrier to participation in Web-based education as the loss of interactivity. Having the capability to participate in Web-based learning requires appropriate computer systems, communication connectivity, and personal technical knowledge (Khan, 1997; Webb & Street, 1997; McCormack & Jones, 1998). For Web-based learning to be more effective than irritating, it is necessary to have sufficient memory for multiwindows and multitasking. The lack of these has been cited as a significant barrier to participation in electronic-based distance education (Mak & Mak, 1995). An additional barrier is the lack of adequate communication connectivity. Without reliable access to the Internet, participation in Web-based learning can be impossible. And without sufficient modem speed to prevent frustratingly long download periods when accessing sound, video, and graphics, Web-based learning, while do-able, can feel impossible (Filipczak, 1995; Dillon, 1997; Owston, 1997; McCormack & Jones, 1998). Not surprisingly, Gantz (1997) reported that according to an International Data Corporation survey, the biggest obstacle to Web-based training is providing reliable and fast access to users. Unfortunately, efforts to alleviate these barriers frequently run up against another, equally daunting barrier: economics; it can be extremely expensive to acquire an appropriate computer and communication system (Filipczak, 1995; Dillon, 1997; Owston, 1997; McCormack & Jones, 1998). Even when the barriers above can be overcome, there still remains the issue of comfort with technology. Eastmond (1995) stated that adult learners found becoming comfortable with technology to be critical to their success in electronic learning. Filipczak (1995) agreed, indicating that “learner success depends on technical skills in computer operation and Internet navigation, as well as the ability to cope with technical difficulties” (p. 112). Other significant issues associated with personal technical knowledge include a learner’s mistrust of the unknown, difficulties in comprehending the constantly changing capabilities of emerging technology, and high initial expectations for commercial quality and tailored delivery courses (Lockheed Idaho Technologies Co., 1995). Each of these can easily be a deterrent to participation in the full potential of Web-based continuing professional education. An empirical study by Perdue and Valentine (2000) developed a survey instrument to gather data from a systematic sample of members of the Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) in order to obtain information concerning their perceptions of Web-based continuing professional education. This study concentrated on identifying phenomenon that would deter CPAs from participating in Web-based continuing professional education. The purpose of the study was to identify the relative importance of deterrent items to participation


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Item

M∗

SD

1

17

4.20

1.55

2

57

4.03

1.80

3

16

4.01

1.59

4

13

4.00

1.53

5

18

3.93

1.58

6

15

3.89

1.59

7

14

3.86

1.51

8

41

I prefer hearing CPE lectures in person rather than reading them on a computer screen. It has never occurred to me to participate in Web-based CPE courses to complete my CPE requirements. I prefer face-to-face interaction with the instructor rather than electronic communication used in Web-based CPE courses. I prefer traditional classroom instruction over Web-based CPE courses. I prefer hearing CPE lectures in person rather than hearing them through a computer speaker. I prefer face-to-face interaction with my peers rather than electronic communication used in Web-based CPE courses. I prefer using printed materials over the kind of electronic materials (e.g., computer screens, E-mails) used for Web-based CPE courses. I am concerned that I don’t know how to evaluate the quality of a Web-based CPE course before enrolling in it.

3.79

1.65

Rank

∗ Based

on a 6-point Likert scale (1 = strongly disagree to 6 = strongly agree).

in Web-based continuing professional education, determine if there was a more parsimonious explanation using factors underlying these deterrent items, and examine the relationship between personal and professional variables and the deterrent factors identified. Using a ranking of all deterrent items, the relative importance of individual deterrent items was determined. Taken together, the research suggests that some of the deterrent items were relatively more important than others in deterring CPAs from participating in Web-based continuing professional education. It is interesting to note the highest-ranking items for these CPAs relate to concerns about the specifics of electronic education and electronic interaction. This is attitudinal in nature and tends to make a statement of a desire for protection of how they have always completed their continuing professional education requirements. The top eight items provide the greatest deterrence to respondents’ participation in a Webbased continuing professional education and are depicted in Table 41.2. Of those top eight items, seven involve educational methodology preferences. Factors Underlying the Deterrent Items While a rank listing of the individual deterrent items indicated their relative importance in their power to deter participation in Web-based continuing professional education, factor analysis was used to group individual deterrent items into categories. This allowed for the identification of four factor constructs underlying the deterrent items on the survey. As Table 41.3 illustrates, mean item means for the four factors ranged from 1.82 to 3.80 on a 1 (strongly disagree) to 6 (strongly agree) point scale. Factor I: Concerns About the Quality of Course Offerings. The second most powerful factor (as measured by mean ratings) in terms of its power to deter participation is concerns about the quality of Web-based continuing professional education. Professionally, CPAs are concerned about the relevancy and accuracy of Web-based course content, the inability to


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TABLE 41.3 Mean Ratings of Four Deterrents Factors for Certified Public Accountants Rank

Factor

1

II

2

I

3

IV

4

III

Factor Name Concerns about Electronically Mediated Communication Concerns about the Quality of Course Offerings Concerns about the Availability of Necessary Personal Resources Concerns about Access to Technology-Associated Resources

Mean

Minimum

Maximum

3.80

2.75

4.20

3.03

2.42

3.80

2.15

1.83

2.31

1.82

1.55

2.03

obtain printed materials or course recommendations from other CPAs, and the issue of how long a Web-based course would take to complete. This supports Gantz (1997) and Hawkins (1997) who state that the biggest obstacles to Web-based education are the accuracy of course content and the richness of the offerings. The CPAs also expressed concerns about the quality of security in submitting financial or personal information and written comments over the Internet in order to participate in a Web-based course. This supports claims made by Wiesenberg and Hutton (1995) that learners participating in Web-based education were anxious about putting their written word out on the Internet due to the uncertainty of how it would be used in the future. It also supports Nguyen, Tan, and Kezunovic (1996) and McCormack and Jones (1998) who state that learners’ concerns about the security of the Web is a significant challenge to overcome. CPAs also expressed concerns that electronic discussions would lack focus and could be misinterpreted, they don’t know how to evaluate the quality of a Web-based course, and Webbased courses might not provide immediate feedback. Concerns about the perception of the quality of course offerings to others include the value placed on Web-based courses relative to other forms of continuing professional education and concerns about the documentation of continuing professional education and acceptance of those credits by their State Board of Accountancy or other administrative agency. Factor II: Concerns About Electronically Mediated Communication. The derived factor with the largest mean deals with concerns about electronically mediated communication. This factor’s mean is twice as high as the CPAs concern about access to the needed technology-associated resources. Collectively, the variables suggest a resistance to change among respondents. Specifically, they suggest a resistance to change in the way that continuing professional education has been traditionally conducted. This resistance is reflected as a rejection of electronically mediated interpersonal communication. This indicates that CPAs clearly prefer face-to-face interaction with instructors and their peers over the electronically mediated communication used in Web-based courses. This supports previous studies by Moore and Kearsley (1996) asserting that interaction is of critical importance in education facilitated at a distance. It also supports assertions by Simoff and Maher (1997) and Webb and Street (1997) that the loss of interactivity is a considerable challenge in the design of Web-based courses. Also present are concerns about the use of electronic communication extended to all facets of its use as an educational medium. The CPAs polled in this study prefer hearing lectures given in traditional classroom settings over listening to lectures spoken through a computer speaker or reading them on a computer screen. They also prefer print materials to e-mail. This is in agreement with McCormack and Jones (1998) who argue that students brought


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up on force-feeding education methods may have difficulty in adapting to any new method of education. In short, they prefer traditional modes of educational communication to the electronically mediated variety. In general, most respondents don’t believe that Web-based continuing professional education courses have sufficient advantages to justify using them for continuing professional education. This supports the previous study by Perdue and Valentine (1998) that indicated that while these CPAs had the technology-associated resources, they prefer holding onto the status quo. An examination of the relationship between concerns about electronically mediated communication and the personal and professional variables begins to tell us that this deterrent operates in different ways for different groups of people. The older a CPA is, the more he or she is deterred from participation in Web-based continuing professional education by his or her concerns about electronically mediated communication. Older CPAs are more apt to have a preference for doing things the old way. Males seem to be different from females in regard to their concerns about electronically mediated communication. Males are more deterred by their concerns about electronically mediated communication than are females. Females appear to be more open to the use of Web-based courses. This is inconsistent with the literature (Mason & Kaye, 1989; Canada & Brusca, 1991; Starr, 1997) that states females tend to participate in technology at a slower rate than their male counterparts. The longer a CPA had held his or her certification, the more apt he or she is to have concerns about electronically mediated communication and to be concerned about the availability of necessary personal resources. CPAs prefer doing things in an established manner. Factor III: Concerns About Access to Technology-Associated Resources. The derived factor with the least power to deter CPAs from participating in Web-based continuing professional education is concerns about access to technology-associated resources. With the lowest average items mean, this factor indicates the lack of participation in Web-based continuing professional education courses is not principally related to difficulty in accessing necessary technology-associated resources. This is congruent with findings of earlier research by Perdue and Valentine (1998) that most CPAs have the technology-associated resources necessary to participate in Web-based continuing professional education. The content of this factor is best reflected in three types of resources: Web-based technologyassociated resources themselves, the financial resources necessary to obtain Web-based technology, and the specialized knowledge resources necessary to utilize Web-based technology. While the literature reflects lack of access to technology as a significant barrier to participation in Web-based education (Filipczak, 1995; Lockheed Idaho Technologies Co., 1995; Mak & Mak, 1995; Wulf, 1996; Gantz, 1997; Khan, 1997; Owston, 1997; Webb & Street, 1997; McCormack & Jones, 1998), CPAs indicate, by and large, that they have access to the technology required. This is in contrast to the literature and indicates that the importance of this barrier is specific to the population. It is also interesting to note that CPAs, an extremely cost-conscious group of professionals, do not perceive that the cost of acquiring the needed technology as important in their willingness to participate in Web-based continuing professional education. Again, this is in conflict with the literature that indicates cost is a major barrier to Web-based education (Lockheed Idaho Technologies Co., 1995; Dillon, 1997; Owston, 1997; McCormack & Jones, 1998). This difference may be explained by the adoption of technology by CPAs in order to perform their professional duties. Factor IV: Concerns About the Availability of Necessary Personal Resources. The second least powerful derived factor in terms of its power to deter participation concerns the availability of necessary personal resources. Only the factor identified as concerns about


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technology-associated resources had a lower average items mean. Collectively, the variables suggest CPAs perceived themselves as having the personal resources necessary for participation in Web-based continuing professional education. The content of this factor includes both internal characteristics and external constraints. Concerns about personal characteristics included respondent fears that they lack the patience to learn how to use the Web for a Web-based continuing professional education course and the confidence necessary to participate in Web-based continuing professional education courses. The CPAs indicate they have the patience and confidence to participate in Web-based continuing professional education. This fails to support the literature indicating that the lack of personal characteristics is a barrier to participation in Web-based education (Eastmond, 1995; Filipczak, 1995; Romiszowski, 1997; McCormack & Jones, 1998). This is partially explained by the level of education and work experience CPAs have received by the time they achieve their certification and by the detailed nature of the work they have selected to perform as their profession. Concerns about constraints focused on issues external to the respondents and included the lack of time to learn how to use the Web and the lack of skill to download the computer software needed to participate in Web-based continuing professional education courses. Similar to their perceptions on personal characteristics, the CPAs indicated these personal constraints do not deter them from participation in Web-based continuing professional education. This again fails to support the literature claiming lack of time to learn how to use the Web and lack of necessary technical skills deter participation in Web-based education (Filipczak, 1995; Wulf, 1996; Webb & Street, 1997; McCormack & Jones, 1998). CPAs believe they have the skill set to participate in Web-based continuing professional education. An examination of the relationship between concerns about the availability of necessary personal resources and the personal and professional variables begins to tell us that this factor also operates in different ways for different groups of people. The older the CPAs are, the more they are deterred from participation in Web-based continuing professional education by their concerns about the availability of necessary personal resources. This is inconsistent with Rogers’ (1995) writings in which he asserted that early adopters of innovations are not different from later adopters in terms of age. Also, years certified as a CPA is a relevant characteristic in the power of concerns about the availability of necessary personal resources to deter their participation in Web-based continuing professional education.

FUTURE RESEARCH As the 21st century begins, both the concept of “professional” and the concept of “continuing professional education” are in transition. In addition, the characteristics of “future professionals” are changing dramatically from those of the previous generation. These emerging trends will impact on participation in Web-based education. Trend 1—Globalization of Professions As providers of preservice education for professionals, higher education institutions have recognized that globalization has impacted on traditional policies and procedures for delivery of that education. The literature on graduate and professional education reflects the trends of internationalization of the curriculum and growth in interdisciplinary education (Kezar, 1999). Teichler (1999) suggested that research on the relationships between higher education and the world of work should be based on anticipation of likely changing conditions in the future to include trends toward a lifelong learning society and toward a global labor market.


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Burbules and Callister (2000) investigated the transition of universities in terms of two interrelated sets of changes: globalization and the incorporation of new information and communication technologies. They found that these changes are having significant influence on the knowledge activities of research, publication, and pedagogy. Jarvis (2000) concluded that all education is in the superstructure of society and that in order to respond to the demands of the new infrastructure of global society, higher education will have to change quite radically in both its provision and the manner in which it provides learning opportunities. One response to the needed adaptation to a global environment is the increase in the number of institutions seeking global accreditation. These forms of accreditation provide a system of standards and evaluation that is applied commonly among institutions or programs on a global basis. Inevitably, traditional, nationalistic methods of quality assurance will make way for global forms of public protection and education quality (Lenn, 1996). Specific professional groups, such as lawyers, have recognized and reacted to the globalization of their workplace environment. Trubek, Dezalay, Buchanan, and Davis (1994) discussed the future of the legal profession as it relates to global restructuring and the law. Their findings indicate that internationalization of legal fields is occurring with the creation of transnational legal arenas. In the medical arena, Spallek, Berthold, Shanley, and Attstrom (2000) studied the global community of dentists. They demonstrated in a survey-based research study that there is an interest in the dental community for a worldwide quality assurance evaluation criteria for online dental continuing professional education courses. The accounting profession has gone one step further. In addition to striving for international standards, an international credential has been proposed that is global in reach, portable from one country to another, includes global standards for competency and ethics, and requires a commitment to continuing learning. It is broadly based with holders expected to come from a broad range of disciplines, including among others, accounting, business law, information technology, engineering, and business administration. Four professional accounting institutions in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are proposing this new international credential for business professionals. In order to compete in the global, knowledgeand technology-driven marketplace, international accounting bodies would create and monitor global standards for performance competencies, examinations, ethical standards, and continuing education. The defining aspect of the proposed professional credential is that it is global and allows the holder to provide services seamlessly across international borders (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, The Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants et al., 2000; Reeb & Cameron, 2000). Trend 2—Redefinition of Continuing Professional Education The primary rationale by licensing authorities for continuing professional education is to strive for a high level of quality in the services provided by professionals to members of society. This has been traditionally accomplished through continuing professional education lectures describing well-defined problems and prescribed solutions. Practitioners and continuing educators are proposing a new model of education that is embedded in the practitioners’ environment. Mott (2000) stated that “a model of continuing professional education, of learning from and within practice, would help ensure more effective career practitioners and improved professional practice for society” (p. 24). The current argument for continuing professional education to take place in the practitioner’s environment is based on assertions that merely updating professionals’ knowledge does not allow them to know how to deal with ill-defined issues of the real world (Wilson, 2000). This has significant implications for the incorporation of distance education as a means of facilitating 1) the location of learning in the professional’s environment and 2) the timing of


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learning at any time of the day or night. Instructional technologies now allow professionals to customize their lifelong learning process by researching information or interacting with peers and/or experts while remaining in their practice location. Trend 3—Future Professionals An important trend to recognize is the changing characteristics of the future workforce, a portion of whom will become professionals. According to Tapscott (1999b), there are an estimated 88 million people in the United States and Canada who are between the ages of 2 and 22. The term he applies to this segment of the population is the Net Generation. Unlike the 85 million baby boomers of the previous generation who grew up with the passive media of television, the Net Generation is the first to grow up surrounded by digital media. Tapscott contends this group will force many significant changes in society, including changes in education. To the portion of this generation with access to technology, the Internet has resulted in assertiveness and self-reliance in using technology to explore and discover new knowledge. This generation prefers the interactive entertainment of the Web and understands they can control what they access rather than having content pushed at them. Consequently, this generation will want to learn in an interactive mode rather than a broadcast mode. Hay (1999) stated that third millennium educational administrators must recognize the societal trend of the Net Generation and adapt to new modes of learning. With the Internet as the learning environment, digital media shifts the learning experience from 1) linear to hypermedia learning, 2) instruction to construction of knowledge, 3) teacher- to learner-centered education, 4) absorbing to synthesizing material, and 5) school-time to customized lifelong learning (Tapscott, 1999a). Glenn (2000) indicated that business educators are addressing the learning needs of Generation Net students by employing different methodologies than previously utilized. These methods include self-directed learning, interactive environments, assignment selection, and multiple forms of feedback. Jones (2000) indicated that strategies to address Generation Net learning needs include learning through doing, using real-world context, and emphasizing both acquisition and use of information. As we begin the 21st century, the three trends discussed previously will impact on participation in Web-based continuing professional education. It is too soon to judge the full impact of these trends, but it is reasonable to expect the impact to be significant. Further research will be required to study how these trends will affect future participation, specifically in terms of the future extent of use, motivations for, and deterrents to Web-based continuing professional education.

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Seay, R. A., & Watson, J. D. (1992). Telecommunications: An emerging opportunity for continuing professional education. The Ohio CPA Journal, (February), 16–19. Simoff, S. J., & Maher, M. L. (1997). Web-mediated courses: The revolution in on-line design education. Paper presented at the Third Australian World Wide Web Conference, Lismore, New South Wales, Australia. Spallek, H., Berthold, P., Shanley, D. B., & Altstrom, R. (2000). Distance education for dentists: Improving the quality of online instruction. The American Journal of Distance Education, 14(2), 49–59. Starr, C. (1997). New technologies and women. Montreal, Quebec, Canada: The Janus Project Workshop. Streer, P. J., Clark, R. L., & Holt, M. E. (1995). Assessing the utility of continuing professional education for certified public accountants. Research in Accounting Regulation, 9, 211–222. Tapscott, D. (1999a). Educating the net generation. Educational Leadership, 56(5), 6–11. Tapscott, D. (1999b). Growing up digital: The rise of the net generation. Boston: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing. Teichler, U. (1999). Research on the relationships between higher education and the world of work: Past achievements, problems and new challenges. Higher Education, 38(2), 169–190. Thomas-Goodfellow, L., Perdue, K. J., & Valentinem, T. (2001). Respiratory therapist and the world wide web: Going online to satisfy continuing professional education requirements. Respiratory Care Education Annual, 10, 3–13. Trubek, D. M., Dezalay, Y., Buchanan, & Davis. (1994). Global restructuring and the law: Studies of the internationalization of legal fields and the creation of transnational arenas. Case Western Rserve Law Review, 44(2), 407–498. Valentine, T., & Darkenwald, G. G. (1990). Deterrents to participation in adult education: Profiles of potential learners. Adult Education Quarterly, 41(1), 29–42. Verduin, J., & Clark, T. (1991). Distance education: The foundations of effective practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Webb, G., & Street, M. A. (1997). A theoretical framework for internet-based training at Sydney Institute of Technology. Paper presented at the Third Australian World Wide Web Conference, Lismore, New South Wales, Australia. Weischadle, M. A. P. (1988). Effects of attitudes and deterrents on participation in continuing education by real estate professionals. New Brunswick: Rutgers. Wiesenberg, F., & Hutton, S. (1995). Teaching a graduate program using computer mediated conferencing software. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education, Kansas City, MO. Wilson, A. L. (2000). Professional practice in the modern world. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 86(Summer), 71–79. Wilson, V., & Bagley, L. (1999). Learning at a distance: The case of the community pharmacist. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 18(5), 355–369. Wulf, K. (1996). Training via the internet: Where are we? Training and Development, 50(5), 50–55.


42 Distance Education in the U.S. Air Force Philip J. L. Westfall Air Force Institute for Advanced Distributed Learning, Department of the Air Force philip.westfall@atn.wpafb.af.mil

INTRODUCTION The Air Force has used distance learning (DL) since 1950. The need to leverage new instructional technologies and to expand the use of DL to meet readiness requirements and keep training and education costs down has led to the independent development of a variety of DL programs. While the Air Force has a mature print-based DL program, the last ten years have seen a rapid expansion of DL programs using interactive television (ITV), computer-based instruction (CBI), and online courses. Each school within the Air Force developed most of its DL courses independently, with no central management. With DL receiving increased attention from the leadership in the Department of Defense (DOD), in 1995 the Air Force formed the Air Force Distance Learning Office (AFDLO). Its mission was to serve as the focal point for implementation of DL policy and emerging DL technology. In this capacity, it coordinated and facilitated DL across the Air Force and developed a DL roadmap for the future. As a result of this roadmap and the 2000 reorganization of HQ Air University, the Air Force greatly expanded AFDLO’s responsibilities. In February 2000, the AFDLO merged with the Extension Course Institute and became the Air Force Institute for Advanced Distributed Learning (AFIADL). The AFIADL is located in Montgomery, Alabama, at the Gunter Annex of Maxwell Air Force Base (AFB) and is part of the Air University, a Directorate of the Air Education and Training Command (AETC). The AFIADL brought three separate DL mission areas into one organization: (1) the Extension Course Institute, (2) the Air Technology Network Program Management Office, and (3) the Air Force implementation of the Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative (ADLI) and emerging DL technology.

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PROGRAMS AND INITIATIVES Extension Course Institute The Extension Course Institute (ECI) was established in 1950 as the Air Force’s only correspondence school. The institute’s original mission was to provide voluntary nonresident courses for both active duty and reserve Air Force personnel. Since 1950, more than 13 million airmen have taken these DL courses, furthering their careers while acquiring job-critical knowledge and skills. Today, with a staff of both civilian and military personnel, the institute supports formal training and educational programs of the Air Force, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve. The institute provides over 450 career-broadening courses (at the low cost of $42 per student) to people throughout the Department of Defense and to civil service employees in all federal agencies. This translates to more than 255,000 course offerings every year. These courses are known for their instructional excellence and have always exceeded the standards of both the Distance Education & Training Council and the American Council on Education. Over the years, the institute’s mission has undergone several major changes. In 1963, the institute became an essential and mandatory part of a large number of on-the-job-training programs when it started providing self-study materials for the specialty knowledge portion of the Air Force’s official upgrade training program. In 1969, the Extension Course Institute was given the additional mission of providing study reference materials used in preparation for specialty knowledge testing for the enlisted personnel promotion system. In February 2000, the institute was brought under the management of the AFIADL and continues essentially intact as the Extension Course Program (ECP). The ECP operates in a fully automated environment. Course development, production, distribution, the registrar, and student administration functions are managed on a sophisticated system consisting of nearly 400 PCs and a mainframe. To profit from rapidly growing technological capabilities, the ECP is enhancing its efficiency and productivity by procuring advanced computer systems and software. The new equipment and software should greatly enhance AFIADL’s ability to meet the needs of the Air Force for better training at a better price. Students will experience better service and enjoy lessons that are more current. All of these ECP improvements will contribute to increased Air Force readiness. The quality of ECP’s correspondence courses is maintained through internal efforts, of course, but additionally, the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) has traditionally accredited the program, and it undergoes periodic review by the Air University Board of Visitors. The American Council on Education also evaluates the ECP courses for credit recommendations in upper baccalaureate, lower baccalaureate, and vocational areas. This program assists graduates of these courses to continue their education and pursue degrees at non-DOD institutions. Since 1993, the ECP has incorporated computer-based instruction into its curricula. The trend is to convert more print courses to multimedia where more interactivity is required. The CBI programs are forwarded to the students in the form of diskettes or compact disks with supplementary hard copy of printed reference materials.

Air Technology Network Using interactive television (one-way video over satellite with multipoint audioconferencing) for distance learning began in 1991. The Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition gave funding that year to the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT—also a school within the Air University) at Wright-Patterson AFB to quickly reduce the backlog of students that required courses for certification on the then newly designed career field progression. Located near


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Dayton, Ohio, AFIT is the Air Force’s graduate engineering school. It also offers professional continuing education in acquisition and civil engineering. It was the acquisition program, however, that brought satellite to the rest of the Air Force and led to the creation of the Air Technology Network (ATN). A Center for Distance Education (CDE) was created, and there, the planning for the development of a digital video satellite network was patterned after the pioneering efforts in digital technology of the National Technological University of Ft. Collins, Colorado. The CDE took the idea one step further by conceiving and developing a network that would be interoperable across the federal government; it was dubbed the “Government Education and Training Network” (GETN). CDE collaborated with the Army Logistics Management College (ALMC) at Ft. Lee, Virginia, to use the same satellite service provider to establish the first multiservice, distance learning network. The Army had been using an analog network for several years but saw the promise of digital technology, so ALMC agreed to have its existing satellite network retrofit to the same digital technology the Air Force was adopting. Through use of government-wide contract vehicles provided by the federal government’s General Services Administration, GETN has grown from these first two broadcast centers (at AFIT and ALMC) in 1993 to 15 digital-Ku-band satellite uplink broadcast centers, with over 20 video channels available, reaching over 1,300 fixed-dish downlink sites located throughout the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. GETN currently broadcasts approximately 11,000 hours per year. Within the Department of Defense, the other agencies using GETN are the Air National Guard, the Air Force Reserve, the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, the Defense Logistics Agency, the Army National Guard, and the U.S. Navy. The following civilian government agencies currently use GETN: the Federal Aviation Agency, the Department of Energy, the U.S. Courts, the Department of Justice, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service. The advantages of a single network are obvious: GETN allows the various user agencies to share distance learning programs and use common facilities. Additionally, the Army National Guard provides a listing of other satellite programs that may be of interest to the government community but that are on other satellites that are analog. These programs are rebroadcast on GETN, adding even more distance learning programs to the community of users. As for the ATN, it has grown to a network of 5 broadcast Centers and 250 ITV classrooms. The Air Force’s ATN can broadcast any GETN program to a total of 10 sites in Germany, England, and Italy, and 5 more sites at AF installations in Korea and Japan. ATN now broadcasts over 3,500 hours per year, and has reached over 17,000 students who have successfully completed its courses. These interactive television courses range from a few days to a semester in length and cover subjects such as contracting and acquisition management; environmental management; safeguards and security; aircraft maintenance and repair; professional military education; professional continuing education; parenting; communication; Air Traffic Control and related courses; diversity; equal opportunity training (EOT); and law, medicine, chaplaincy, and management and leadership courses. ATN is very cost-effective. With respect to out-of-pocket costs for putting a course on the air, there are usually no development costs. The time to convert an existing lecture-based course to on-the-air can be as little as three months. Delivery costs vary somewhat from school to school, but using actual costs for one of ATN’s biggest users reveals that cost-avoidance or savings can be as much as 96%. For example, AFIT’s School of Systems and Logistics’ current in-residence costs for a typical 60-hour course is $370,000 for 200 students. By satellite, it is only about $13,000—that is under 4% of the costs of inresidence. More important is the total cost to the Air Force of doing business over satellite. If the costs of personnel and other overhead are added to these out-of-pocket costs, and then one compares ATN’s total costs with only the per diem and travel of TDY, it is still remarkably favorable: $225 per student day in


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residence compared to just $47 per student day using ATN. That means that ITV is under 21% of the costs of in residence. For FY00, the cost-avoidance estimate for all courses combined was over $7.5 million. Today, the ATN and its Program Management Office are part of AFIADL. Its operation

r meets a vast number of educational objectives, r preserves academic quality, r is cost-effective, r is geographically unconstrained, r is interactive, r is responsive to frequent changes, r offers tenfold increase in student throughput, and r permits interoperability with other government agencies. GETN has the capacity to store and forward digital video programs as well as datacast Internet protocol courseware to servers and desktops across the world. GETN, therefore, will not only offer its traditional ITV courses, but also will become the bypass technology to the public Internet to offer distance learning anytime, anywhere, anyway. The Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) is leading the effort known as the Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative (ADLI). The ADLI is a structured, adaptive, collaborative effort between the public and private sectors to develop the standards, tools, and learning content for the future DL environment. The effort seeks to make DL available “anytime, anywhere” through the use of the Internet. The ADLI envisions high-quality, cost-effective, networkcentric, asynchronous instruction. It primarily consists of a learning management system and a reference model for the development of shareable content. The sharable content object reference model (SCORM), which is still in its developmental and prototyping stages, sets the standards for the development and sharing of instructional modules in a networked environment. The Air Force is an active participant in OSD’s vision, which is captured in the DOD Strategic Plan for Advanced Distributed Learning, 30 Apr 99. As DL technologies mature and become cost-effective, eligible Air Force courses will be converted to ADLI format to exploit positive return on investment. The AFIADL strategy is to pursue emerging network-based technologies; create common standards that will enable reuse and interoperability of learning content; lower development costs; promote widespread collaboration that can satisfy common needs; enhance performance with next-generation learning technologies; work closely with industry to influence the commercial-off-the-shelf product development cycle; and establish a coordinated implementation process. The ADLI is designed to deliver efficient and effective high-quality learning continuously to DOD personnel anytime, anywhere. The ADLI end-state envisions universal use of instructional components that are characterized by:

r accessibility from any location, remote or local; r interoperability between all ADLI instructional platforms, media, and tools; r durability to withstand base technology changes without significant recoding or redesign;

r reusability between applications, platforms, and tools; and r cost-effectiveness to provide significant increases in learning and readiness per net increment in time or cost.


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The Air & Space Learning Network Initiative Air & Space Learning Network (ALN) will be a learning management system (LMS) that will tie all distance learning program support through a single portal. ALN will be an Air Force learning portal. It will be an enterprise-level learning management support system accessed through the AF portal. The ALN will also have the functionality of an indexed search engine encompassing education, training, performance support, exercise, modeling, and simulation domains. The ALN will be a centralized, single log-on, one-stop shopping “system of systems” for the education, training, performance support, exercise, modeling, and simulation environments. The ALN will be a “system of learning systems”—directly related to and in support of enterprise-level AF learning. ALN will provide one-stop shopping for Air Force-related education, training, and instructional information, services, and systems through a standard interface that promotes ease-of-use and efficient account management. ALN will be both mission-centric and student-centric, and comply with or apply evolving DOD and industry learning standards and best practices, such as the SCORM. The ALN functionality will include enterprise learning management, decision support, curriculum management, learner support, knowledge management, electronic performance support, and learning data warehouse and repository. It will support all forms of DL and in-residence technology insertion, all from a centralized enterprise location with shared services and resources. ALN will implement, to the maximum extent possible, key elements of knowledge management and electronic performance support systems in support of Air Force learning.

AFIADL TODAY The Air Force Institute for Advanced Distributed Learning’s entire focus is distance learning. According to the DOD Implementation Plan for ADL, “ADL is an evolution of distributed learning (distance learning) that emphasizes collaboration on standards-based versions of reusable objects, networks, and learning management systems, yet may include some legacy methods and media.” AFIADL’s mission, as stated in its strategic plan, is to “promote, deliver, and manage ADL [distance learning] for our aerospace forces.” AFIADL functions to create an Air Force environment that recognizes the value of distance learning. It works with OSD and sister services to review best practices in industry and academia. AFIADL is the Air Force focal point for implementation of DL policy and DL emerging technology. Currently, AFIADL is prototyping learning management systems and SCORM-conformant courses, developing electronic testing, and supporting efforts to resolve infrastructure, bandwidth, security, and firewall policy issues. AFIADL is stepping up to its charter to lead the Air Force in coordinating a strategic plan to implement distance learning wherever and whenever practical. Its chief responsibilities are to:

r obtain senior leadership support, r develop DL plans, r represent AF in all levels of DOD, r develop ALN, r establish instructional processes and standards, r improve education and training efficiencies where practical and cost-effective, r improve customer support, r explore and prototype research and evaluation function, r publish instructional technology standards,


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r modernize information management, r facilitate development of DL manpower standards, r advocate requirement priorities, r develop contractor support, r apply ADLI to the Extension Course Program, r improve the efficiency of ATN, and r expand DL opportunities via ATN. It is generally known in the DL community that the DOD’s strategy is to focus on Webbased instruction through its ADLI. Although AFIADL is focusing on the ADLI as its flagship strategy of the future, AFIADL’s programs are currently being delivered by CBI, ITV, and print. Through its distance education programs (the Extension Course Program and the Air Technology Network), AFIADL delivers education at a distance by developing, publishing, and distributing or broadcasting over 400 courses for professional military education, professional continuing education, career development programs, and specialized courses to Air Force war fighters and war fighting support personnel worldwide. AFIADL also distributes study materials to eligible Air Force enlisted personnel in support of the Weighted Airman Promotion System (WAPS). The four major content areas are briefly described below. Professional Military Education Courses The professional military education courses are taken by both commissioned and noncommissioned officers. These courses, of which there are currently 36, teach leadership, management principles, techniques of effective communication, problem solving, analysis of professional reading materials, international relations, national decision making, and defense management. The courses give students the broad skills and knowledge they need to be effective leaders at various stages in their careers. AFIADL offers PME via print, CD-ROM, and Internet media. Professional Continuing Education Courses Professional continuing education courses meet the professional continuing educational (PCE) needs primarily of two career fields in the Air Force: acquisition management and civil engineering. There are currently 52 courses that vary in length from one week to one academic quarter. The primary audience is composed of officers and middle-management civil service employees. These courses are developed by Air University schools outside of AFIADL, but those that are developed for interactive television are provided through the Air Technology Network. These courses, therefore, come under the accreditation guidelines of the DETC. Career Development Courses Career development courses (CDCs) constitute the largest portion of the institute’s curricula. There are currently 394 courses, which are primarily print based. These self-study courses help enlisted personnel complete the specialty knowledge portion of their on-the-job-training program. Enlisted personnel must complete CDCs successfully at various stages to advance in their careers. CDCs are also available on a voluntary basis to others for career broadening. The institute offers CDCs in a very wide variety of career fields. Students enroll individually through their Base Education Services Office.


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Specialized Courses These courses provide valuable information and career-broadening knowledge to individuals in a variety of career fields. Today, AFIADL offers 27 specialized courses in such areas as aircrew operations, general military training, medicine, civil engineering, security police, contract law, finances, logistics plans, supervisor safety, public affairs, weather, and chaplaincy programs.

AFIADL AND THE FUTURE OF DL MEDIA The focus on DL does not mean the end of the traditional classroom. In fact, out of about 1,500 active AETC in-residence courses, it is expected (based on a contracted evaluation) that only about 120 may be eligible for conversion to DL. The Air Force, therefore, will still have traditional classrooms for courses that should not be converted to DL formats. Whereas the requirement for traditional classrooms may be reduced, traditional methods will still play a vital role in necessary categories such as Basic Military Training. The end result is that the Air Force will add value to the total education and training system by providing more courses to a greater number of students. Print Print will continue to be used extensively. Whereas there is a DOD drive to convert most if not all DL to online, AFIADL will not select media that are less than optimal to reach its many learning objectives. Print still offers the most effective way for students to read large amounts of text. Those using online or CBI media for reading report a decrease in reading speed and retention. Additionally, it is truly the only anytime, anywhere medium. DOD firewalls, cost of development of PC-based courses, and lack of bandwidth assures this medium a long future in DL. It will continue to be used as a supporting medium for most courses, whether they are ITV, audioconferencing, CBI, or online. As soon as technology and quality control permits, some text materials will be delivered electronically for on-site printing and binding. Satellite The use of ITV is growing due to increasing availability and ease of converting classroom programs to DL. All development is done quickly and in house, which makes ITV an attractive and cost-effective medium. Satellite has been used exclusively for ITV so far, but with the advancement of digital technologies, the bandwidth once used for synchronous video will be used as a bypass technology to the Internet. Current firewall restrictions within the DOD, and the current bandwidth limitations on terrestrial networks, make the use of satellite for datacasting an attractive alternative. Additionally, there is a DOD initiative to distribute asynchronous video content across military installations to avoid transportation of celluloid films. AFIADL is working with DOD to use its ATN to distribute digitally converted films to any military installation that uses the GETN. Use of satellite technology for DL in the federal government is currently in a state of growth (less than dramatic, however), so it continues to have a future as a viable DL medium, at least for the near term (this decade). The cost of satellite delivery, however, will very likely continue to grow from year to year, and bandwidth may become less available. Add to the equation an expanding terrestrial infrastructure with reduced usage charges, and the use of geosynchronous satellites may not be as attractive tomorrow as it is today.


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CBI The AFIADL’s CD-ROM courses will continue to be used due to the number of courses already developed. CBT offers richer multimedia and interaction than (asynchronous) online courses. CBI is very portable, and courses that exclusively used print have been supplemented by CDROMs for added interactivity. With the development of datacasting, many of these courses will be available for delivery by satellite to local servers without having to modify them to meet the constraints of public Internet delivery. It is expected, however, that with time and funding, many of these legacy CD-ROM courses will migrate to SCORM standards. Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative The AFIADL has just begun piloting SCORM-conformant courses. It is anticipated across DOD that Internet delivery will be the DL medium that will experience the most extensive growth. As increased funding becomes available, the AFIADL will work closely with its ADLI partners to develop courses in conformity with SCORM standards. As these standards are being considered across industry, it may to have a bright future. Internet-based courses will be more efficiently developed and shared across the DOD; but they are not a panacea. While it offers interchangeability and availability, there are still significant hurdles to overcome and many questions not yet answered. “Granulating” all instruction, as the SCORM requires, may result in many, if not most, learning objects having to be extensively retooled to be usefully integrated in any given course. While the focus is on “sharability,” the author has never received a satisfactory answer to the question of how much course content needs to be shared. Intelligent tutoring, often associated with the ADLI, will be a facet of Internet-based instruction, but costs and development time will continue to be substantial despite the expected cost-efficiency of the SCORM. Courses that require synchronous video instruction, or require the reading of large amounts of text, may not be suitable for online delivery in the near term.

CONCLUDING REMARKS AFIADL has developed a strategic plan and is marshalling the resources necessary to expand its programs to enhance the Air Force’s readiness by leveraging the latest and existing technologies in a cost-effective blend of DL media. In a nutshell, AFIADL supports a blended-media approach. Its fundamental principle in DL is that learning objectives and cost drive media selection. It is axiomatic at AFIADL that no single DL medium is a panacea. Its vision statement below includes a qualifier to the popular mantra, “anytime, anywhere”: Excellence in Advanced Distributed Learning . . . Right Way, Any Time, Any Where

REFERENCES Air Education & Training Command. (2000, Aug.). AETC ADL Implementation Plan. Available with limitations from Randolph AFB, TX: AETC/DOS. Air Force Institute for Advanced Distributed Learning. (1999, Aug.). The Distance Learning Roadmap. Available with limitations from Maxwell AFB–Gunter Annex, AL: AFIADL/XR. Air Force Institute for Advanced Distributed Learning (2001, Mar.). Strategic Plan. Available with limitations from AFIADL/XR. Maxwell AFB–Gunter Annex. Air Force Institute for Advanced Distributed Learning. (2001, May). Air Force Advanced Distributed Learning Vision (draft). Available with limitations from Maxwell AFB–Gunter Annex, AL: AFIADL/XR. Air Force Institute for Advanced Distributed Learning. http://www.maxwell.af.mil/au/afiadl. Air Technology Network Program Management Office. http://atn.afit.af.mil.


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Government Education & Training Network. (http://getn.govdl.org) Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Readiness). (2000, May). Department of Defense Implementation Plan for Advanced Distributed Learning. Available with limitations from ODUSD(R) Defense Pentagon, Washington D.C. Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Readiness & Training. (1999, April). Report to the 106th Congress: DOD Strategic Plan for Advanced Distributed Learning. Washington, DC: OASD/RA (RT&M), Defense Pentagon.

DISCLAIMER Whereas descriptions of AFIADL’s programs were drawn directly from available documents published by AFIADL, the views expressed in this chapter are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the U.S. Air Force, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government. This chapter, however, has been reviewed for factual accuracy by the AFIADL and the Air University Public Affairs Office.


43 The U.S. Marine Corps Distance Learning Program Steven M. Jones

Wanda Mally

United States Marine Corps DL Center jonessm@mitre.org

United States Marine Corps DL Center mallyw@tecom.usmc.mil

Larry A. Blevins

James E. Munroe

United States Marine Corps DL Center blevinsla@tecom.usmc.mil

United States Marine Corps DL Center munroeje@tecom.usmc.mil

We will deliver world-class training and education via a Marine Corps Learning Network enabling Marines to learn via the appropriate media, when and where learning is most needed. The learning experience will be part of a Marine’s career long learning continuum that supports the operational readiness of the Total Force and prepares Marines to meet the challenges of tomorrow. —Steven M. Jones, LtCol USMC (ret), United States Marine Corps DL Center (DLC)

To help the U.S. Marine Corps meet new challenges in instructional and information technologies with increased flexibility, the Marine Corps Combat Development Command’s (MCCDC) Training and Education Command (TECOM) developed the Training and Education Modernization Initiative (TEMI). The objective of this initiative is to maximize the Corps’ limited training and education resources by restructuring current institutional training, improving our training design/development and training management processes, introducing technology into classrooms, and capitalizing on modern distance learning (DL) technologies. Professional military education (PME) programs will also benefit from this initiative as current distance education courses are enhanced through the application of advanced/emerging information technologies. BACKGROUND Reviews of our training and education processes several years ago revealed problem areas that significantly impact operational readiness.

r Student loads frequently exceed formal school seat capacity resulting in large pools of Marines awaiting training (MAT). 641


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r Initial resident-skill training pipelines are increasingly long and have increased the training component of the manpower investment account and decreased manning in the operating forces. r The Marine Corps’ current focus on resident formal school attendance as a prerequisite for military occupational specialty (MOS) qualification is too rigid and contributes to mismatch problems for the Marine Corps Reserves. r Further, the current Marine Corps Institute (MCI) paper-based correspondence courses are not closely linked to resident skill-training curricula and do not contribute to MOS qualification. r Existing nonresident PME courses, which include soft-skilled courses such as leadership and military history, are based primarily on resident PME curricula and are not optimized for DL. The TEMI is an attempt to correct many of these deficiencies through a comprehensive review and restructuring of Marine Corps’ training and education processes. Restructuring includes improving instructional design, development, delivery, and education and training management processes. The scope of commitment to training and education modernization spans a total force that is 210,048 strong, consisting of 173,142 active duty Marines and 37,906 reservists. For many government agencies, global organizations, and other branches of the military, these numbers may seem small, but the size of the Marine Corps training and education population is only one of a number of key factors in the overall challenge to educate and train our Marines. Other important considerations such as our focus on leadership skills and restrictions imposed by geographic distribution of our troops during war and peacetime help define the Marine Corps’ need for far-reaching, high-impact, cost-effective training and education programs. DL is a major component of the TEMI. DL technology has the potential to dramatically change the way we train and educate Marines. Just as modern weaponry has changed warfare, DL technology is transforming Marine Corps training and education from a centralized, formal school-based, instructor-centered environment to a more distributed, learner-centered approach. Our investment in technology is being driven by operational readiness requirements and focuses on improving both the effectiveness and the efficiency of the training and education programs provided to Marines worldwide. Opportunities Why should the Marine Corps embrace DL and modern training technologies? First, there is tremendous momentum across industry, academia, and the services to exploit modern technology to improve instruction and increase opportunities for access. Recent advances in technology have made DL an increasingly viable option to deliver courses on demand, with minimal regard to time and distance. Second, Executive Order 13111, signed by the president on January 12, 1999, emphasized the exploitation of technology for delivering training and education across the entire federal government. Both Congress and the Secretary of Defense tasked the services, during the Quadrennial Defense Review, to increase the use of DL, where possible, in order to reduce the cost of institutional training and education programs. Finally, DL has the potential to “level the playing field” for our reserve forces by providing them with increased opportunities for training and education. Expanded use of DL helps reduce resident training time and training education costs and increases educational opportunities for all Marines. The Marine Corps is exploring various advanced technologies to develop and deliver learning products just-in-time, when and where Marines most need them. Marines can expect to use a Marine Corps intranet, the Internet, learning resource centers (LRCs), interactive multimedia


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instruction (IMI), video teletraining (VTT), and embedded training (ET) to master new skills and learn. DL technologies have the potential to yield significant savings; however, they are costly to initiate, requiring a substantial up-front investment and must be well planned and coordinated. The cost of technology has highlighted the importance of a coordinated approach to research, development, acquisition, and life cycle management. Some acquisition programs are consulting training design specialists early in the requirements definition phase to reduce the cost of training and align it with existing Marine Corps training standards. The continued partnership between the acquisition force, manpower, and training has the potential to achieve significant life cycle cost-efficiencies for major Marine Corps equipment procurements in the future. Many promising technologies are still under development and require further study to ensure that each will be a cost-effective solution to the Marine Corps’ growing training and education requirements. Likewise, the partnership between acquisition, manpower, and training is in its infancy and must be cultivated. Moreover, cultivating partnerships with our sister services is important as the Corps attempts to leverage its investment to meet Marine Corps specific requirements and defray the cost of implementing new technology. The future of Marine Corps training and education will be shaped by how we take advantage of these new technologies and emerging partnerships. Modernization Tenets Training and education is an investment in operational readiness. Restructuring of existing programs must focus on enhancing operational readiness by making training and education more effective and more efficient. The basic tenets of the TEMI are:

r Training and education are a core responsibility of the service. r Operational readiness is the primary consideration for implementing training and education programs.

r Marine Corps training and education is standards based. r A Marine’s educational experience is part of a career-long learning continuum supporting the operational needs of the total force.

r Technology will be leveraged to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of Marine Corps training and education.

r DL will increasingly be used to meet future Marine Corps training and education requirements.

r The Marine Corps will leverage other Department of Defense (DOD) and governmental agency instructional technology efforts. Current Uses of DL in the USMC and DOD While the focus in Marine Corps training and education is to teach skills and knowledge, we also teach intangible knowledge and decision-making skills through professional military education courses that have a morale component—even some spirituality. Such intangible knowledge and skill areas, such as leadership and strategic planning, are not necessarily priorities in the typical education and/or commercial arenas. The Marine Corps has to also consider other significant factors in our approach to training and education strategies, such as how the Corps differs from sister services in terms of tasking, physical environment, and so on. Deployment is a good example: Because the Marine Corps spends a great deal of time at sea, we particularly need the portability that DL has to offer.


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Finally, the Marine Corps places emphasis on educating its young Marines in “life skills.” The average 25-year-old has already developed academic skills such as math, reading, spelling, balancing a checkbook, and the like, but many young Marines still need support in these areas and DL is a viable way to meet this requirement. Although the Corps differs from sister services in these and other areas, we have still learned a great deal from them. What we know of adult learners has had a positive influence on the way we model our instruction. Data and approaches used by the U.S. Army Headquarters Training and Doctrine Command have shown us what motivates learners, barriers to distance learning, and in general, how adults learn. We use these and other factors to discern the best instructional strategies when producing a course (Abell, 2001). DL has been a normal part of Marine Corps training and education programs for over 80 years. Using paper-based media, various programs from skill training to PME, provided by the MCI, have met our evolving training and education needs. These correspondence courses, delivered asynchronously, are the foundation of our DL programs today. However, the emphasis on this type of delivery means is rapidly changing. During FY97, the MCI began developing its first multimedia DL courses for both CD-ROM and Internet delivery. Currently there are seven IMI courses completed with students enrolled in them. An additional 12 IMI courses are in under development. The Marine Corps has also completed one VTT course and has an additional four under development. As training reviews are accomplished and additional subject matter is determined suitable for DL delivery, the number of courses will grow exponentially. The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Programs (OSTP) have collaborated to develop the advanced distributed learning (ADL) initiative. The purpose of the ADL initiative is to ensure access to high-quality education and training materials that can be tailored to individual learner needs and can be made available whenever and wherever they are required. This initiative is designed to accelerate large-scale development of dynamic and cost-effective learning software and to stimulate an efficient market for these products to meet the education and training needs of the military and the nation’s workforce in the 21st century. Distributed learning will accomplish this through the development of a common technical framework for computer and net-based learning that will foster the creation of reusable learning content as “instructional objects.” ADL partnerships between the federal government, private-sector technology suppliers, and the broader education and training community will be the means for formulating voluntary guidelines that meet common needs. By making learning software accessible, interoperable, durable, and reusable, the ADL initiative ensures that academic, business, and government users of learning software gain the best possible value from the materials they purchase. Success of the ADL initiative will be measured by the extent to which (1) consumers are able to purchase high-quality learning software less expensively than they do today; (2) the size of the learning software market increases; and (3) producers of learning software can achieve a higher return on their investments. The Marine Corps is an active participant in the ADL initiative. Why Expand the Use of DL in the Marine Corps Today? There are a number of reasons why the Marine Corps is rapidly expanding the use of DL as a form of instructional delivery.

r We can no longer afford to do business as usual. The challenge today is to meet increased training and education requirements in spite of cuts in funding, manpower, and training facilities. While resources are decreasing, requirements for training and education are increasing. An increasingly younger force, new equipment, changing missions, and MOS


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mergers mean increased training and education requirements. DL offers the Marine Corps a way to meet these emerging requirements. r A second reason is that the other military services, which provide training for approximately 63% of our MOSs, are expanding their use of DL over the next several years. If the Marine Corps does not develop a similar capability, we will reduce the training opportunities for our Marines in the future. r The use of DL can reduce the cost of traditional training and education while still meeting training and education needs. Using network and CD-ROM distribution in DL can significantly reduce the distribution costs associated with conventional paper-based courses. Offering a course via DL reduces travel and per diem costs. r Adopting DL can also provide widespread access to training and education resources. For example, it can significantly increase student throughput. The Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) increased student throughput from 300 to 3,000 for its acquisition planning and analysis course by converting it to a DL format. The Naval Postgraduate School is pursuing a similar course of action for several of its graduate education programs. Finally, the National Guard Bureau is developing comprehensive DL programs to increase training for thousands of guardsmen across the United States. The Shift From the Instructor-Centered Paradigm to the Learner-Centered One The Marine Corps strategy for success in the DL arena is to align itself with the overall cultural shift toward learner-centered training and education technologies. We recognize the need to develop systems that enable us to reach more Marines with better and more-focused training and education programs in the future. In keeping with the commandant’s planning guidance, the DL aim is to extend learning beyond the boundaries of the traditional classroom by exploiting technology. Technology has matured to the point where we can now deliver world-class interactive instructional materials using multiple media formats without regard to time, space, or distance. Moreover, the rapid growth of the Internet has changed our perception of information sharing, electronic commerce, delivering instruction, and collaborative learning. Academia, government, and industry are using this medium to train and educate the modern workforce. The Marine Corps is also using Internet-based technologies to deliver interactive learning products and to facilitate a collaborative learning environment. Due to the rapidly changing technological landscape and the desire to achieve and maintain interoperability, the Marine Corps uses instructional technologies and information systems based on open-system architectures and industry-standard protocols. Further, our DL systems conform to the requirements of the defense information infrastructure (DII) common operating environment thereby increasing our chances for seamless interoperability among the services. Current and future DL programs are learner centered rather than instructor centered. They are being designed specifically with the distance learner in mind. DL solutions will be network delivered where possible. We are exploiting the power of the Internet to distribute and track computer-based IMI. Realizing that a robust infrastructure is required to support the networkbased learning environment, we are developing interim hybrid solutions using a combination of Internet, CD-ROM technology, and traditional paper-based DL courses until the enterprise network can adequately support network delivery. We will support network-based learning with robust videoconferencing and teletraining capabilities leveraging on existing service and government video networks. Finally, Marine Corps DL will encourage the development of artificial intelligence, intelligent agents, intelligent tutoring systems, performance support, and embedded training technologies to reduce the requirement for equipment- specific training in the future.


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ORGANIZATIONAL ROLES TO SUPPORT USMC DL The DL program is supported by the following organizational components: the DL center (DLC), formal schools, and base learning centers. These components conform to a three-tier approach for DL. Each component corresponds to an echelon within the Marine Corps and has specific roles and responsibilities at that level. The components of the DL functional structure are physically connected via the Marine Corps Enterprise Network (MCEN), forming the Marine Corps DL Network (MarineNet). The DLC is an organization within the TECOM, Quantico, Virginia, which is under the operational control of the commanding general (CG) TECOM. Its mission is to design, develop, and implement DL solutions together with the sponsors of Marine Corps training and education programs. The DLC provides a consolidated Corps-wide online catalog of DL products, to include a VTT listing accessible through the Internet. The DLC also manages master DL manpower data, ensuring that complete and accurate information on enrollments, completions, and qualifications are passed to the Marine Corps Total Force System (MCTFS). The organization that handles these enrollments is the Marine Corps Institute. MCI serves as the production arm of the DLC and provides Corps-wide standardization, certification, and quality control for all DL efforts. The formal schools are functional area proponents that provide content and subject matter expertise for the development of DL products and courseware for training and education under their purview. Multimedia course development and maintenance are outsourced to commercial development firms. The base learning centers are the primary locations for delivering DL courseware to Marines in a given geographic area. The base learning centers are comprised of a DL application server suite with one or more interconnected learning resource centers (LRCs) and VTT centers. The number of LRCs and VTT centers within a geographic region depends on the size of the region and the population supported by the base, station, or site. The base learning centers provide local DL account management, storage, and distribution of electronic courseware to all Marines and any other authorized user connected to the base network.

THE NATURE OF THE MARINE CORPS DL SYSTEM DL Content Development An integral part of the Marine Corps TEMI is a comprehensive review of each of the formal training tracks. TECOM conducts detailed training reviews for each of the Marine Corps’ institutional training courses at regular intervals. The objectives of the training review process are: (1) design a comprehensive MOS training concept, (2) identify essential job performance competencies and supporting tasks for MOS qualification, (3) design a training progression model that meets career-track requirements for each MOS, and (4) redesign courses as appropriate to incorporate both resident and DL to achieve MOS qualification within established resource guidelines. This detailed training review process is not an insignificant effort. It requires time and dedicated effort on the part of all stakeholders to develop relevant and cost-effective training solutions for each of our MOSs and presents us with an opportunity to significantly enhance Marine Corps training. Once the curriculum reviews are completed, the formal schools design and develop resident instruction and provide subject matter expertise for the development of DL products to support the new training progression models and curricula. The implementation of revised integrated


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curricula varies depending on the complexity and subject matter. However, the target is to deliver new training and education solutions within 9 to 12 months of commencing the review process. Paper-based courses of instruction and job aids are being produced in accordance with the MCI Style Guide. All forms of computer-based instruction are developed in accordance with the Marine Corps IMI Style Guide. Using best practices in screen design and computer-based instruction employed by Shneidermann (Ikegulu, 1998) and other professionals in the field of human-computer interface (HCI) design, we have employed human-computer interface design standards that capitalize on direct manipulation and menus, affording our students a well-rounded, integrated environment. These design standards have also been incorporated into templates and fully documented, so that the courseware, while sometimes developed by different vendors, all has the same look and feel for the Marine Corps user community. In a number of cases, we include a metaphor or an extended metaphor to construct effective mental models for the learner. This approach is in line with the practices of cognitive psychologists, who note that information is better retained by the learner if he or she is allowed to construct a memory link between the new information (being learned) and past experience (Ritchie & Hoffman, 1997). The annual DL program course development goal is 12 courses (7 MOS skill, and five PME) between FY 02 and FY 07. DL course development priorities are published annually. DL Infrastructure MarineNet uses the MCEN and the DII to connect Marine Corps bases and stations and the 194 reserve sites across the country. An open-system architecture is used to ensure interoperability between Marine Corps and other service DL and communications systems and platforms. VTT centers supporting MarineNet conform to DOD-mandated standards to ensure interoperability with other DOD systems. The primary access to MarineNet occurs at the local level through the base learning centers. Dedicated DL servers are required for each base and serve multiple “tenant” schools and LRCs. The server resources provide the storage capacity for all electronic training material accessed through workstations aboard the base, as well as the necessary management tools to monitor student progress, monitor network utilization, determine courseware availability, and maintain statistical information. The LRC is the primary access point for DL courseware for those Marines who do not have access to computer workstations. The LRC is a client-server local area network (LAN) system connected to the base network backbone. Each LRC can accommodate approximately 20 simultaneous users. Automated electronic classrooms (AECs) are also being fielded to selected schools. AECs are dual-purpose facilities that serve as both technologically enhanced resident classrooms during scheduled training hours and LRCs during unscheduled times. Approximately 62 LRCs and 36 AECs are being fielded as part of the DL program in addition to the workstations already connected to the Marine Corps enterprise network. The VTT centers provide the capability to conduct DL using the latest video teleconferencing (VTC) technologies. The centers have a 2-way video and 2-way audio (2V/2A) capability and accommodate 15 to 20 students. The system conforms to all DOD standards and guidelines and is capable of multipoint conferencing with all VTT centers DOD-wide. The MarineNet VTT systems leverage the existing Marine Corps Satellite Education Network (MCSEN) and the Navy Learning Network VTT capabilities. During FY02 the MCDLP absorbed the MCSEN system and additional VTT sites at both active and reserve locations. The MarineNet VTT also merged with the Navy Learning Network system which significantly expanded learning opportunities for DL students.


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Deployable LRCs (DLRC) are being fielded in FY03 to provide operational units with the capability to access DL resources while these units are deployed. This small self-contained, ruggedized client-server network will have the same capability as a fixed site LRC. Further, it will have the capability to connect to shipboard or external Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) networks. The system is composed of a server suite and 20 client workstations. Courseware is uploaded onto the deployable server before deployment and student progress data is passed via a satellite link to a central learning management system located at the DL center. Operations and maintenance for the DL infrastructure are handled through commercial contract support. The issue of developing content that can be supported on our infrastructure is addressed early in our course development process—during the analysis stage involving the media feasibility study for each course. Riley (1997) describes some of the (hardware) issues associated with Web-based DL that impact the DL product, including bandwidth issues. We highly emphasize the up-front analysis phase of our courses that “weeds out” those potential DL candidates that are not really candidates at all. Further, we look at the content of existing courses to determine if they are suitable for conversion to DL—looking at issues such as content stability (how often it is likely to change in a given amount of time). Learning Management System Another critical component of the DL program is the enterprise-wide learning management system (LMS) that manages courses and students in a distributed environment. The Marine Corps has partnered with the Navy’s chief of naval education and training (CNET) to provide a viable learning management solution. The system is extremely flexible in order to support our mobile population of active duty, reserve, and civilian Marines for online registration, tracking, and assessment. The system provides an alternative registration and assessment capability for traditional DL courses and serves as the secure gateway for new online DL courseware and materials. The system is accessible through MarineNet and the conventional Internet. Instructor Development and Support DL is a new operating environment for Marine Corps instructors and curriculum developers. Exposing our instructors, training developers, and senior leaders to emerging DL instructional technologies helps them overcome the normal apprehension associated with applying new methods and training concepts. Accordingly, instructor development and support are critical factors to the overall success of the DL program. The DLC and the instructional management schools, which are located at Camp Pendleton and Camp Lejeune, develop instructor training programs and provide technical support to facilitate the expansion of DL capabilities at the Marine Corps formal schools. The training programs include information on the instructional design process, implementation of DL instructional technologies, and project management.

COSTS AND BENEFITS OF DISTANCE LEARNING Establishing a viable DL program is resource intensive and requires a significant up-front investment in order to build the necessary infrastructure that enables access for all Marines and Marine Corps civilian personnel. The Marine Corps DL program received initial program funding in FY99 to establish a representative architecture and complete the pilot initiative. The DL program competed successfully for additional funding in FY00 and received acquisition


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Milestone III approval in April 2000. In order to reduce the overall cost of the program, several ongoing initiatives and programs are being leveraged including:

r Base Telecommunications Infrastructure (BTI)—This initiative upgrades the telecommunications network infrastructure aboard every base and station between FY97 and FY02. r Marine Corps Satellite Education Network (MCSEN)—MCSEN is an existing videoconferencing network available aboard major Marine Corps bases and stations. MCSEN is currently devoted to voluntary off-duty education and the academic skills program. MCSEN is funded. MCSEN would merge into the DL program in FY02. r Total Army DL Program (TADLP)—The TADLP will provide the Marine Corps with additional DL courseware and training opportunities including access through the Army’s Doctrine and Training Digital Library (ADTDL), the Training Network (TNET), and Satellite Education Network (SEN). r National Guard Bureau’s (NGB) Distributed Training Technology Program (DTTP)— The DTTP establishes a robust DL infrastructure across all 50 states and is a funded initiative. The Marine Corps and NGB are exploring collaboration opportunities for the future. r Navy DL Programs—CNET is providing assistance with IMI development and connectivity through the CNET’s Navy Learning Network. Justification for DL program funding was based upon several basic assumptions: first, that the overall training modernization initiative, of which DL is a part, can successfully reduce institutional training time. This notion is called training buy-back. Using the training buy-back strategy, the Marine Corps is able to shorten some traditional resident training tracks, thereby reducing the manpower investment account.

r Marines who finish training sooner can be sent to the operating forces, thus improving operational readiness.

r Shorter resident training tracks enable the Marine Corps to increase the frequency and throughput, reducing the number of Marines awaiting training in pools.

r Finally, increased use of DL can reduce travel and per diem expenditures. These underlying assumptions drive the DL investment strategy. The pilot initiative was fully funded to properly assess and validate the DL communications architecture, course development, and management processes. The pilot helped shape the future direction of the DL program. The MOS training tracks that provide the greatest opportunity for training buy-back have been reviewed first and appropriate DL products are being developed. DL procurements and fielding plans are closely aligned with MCEN upgrades. All computer hardware components are procured and managed under the Marine Corps common hardware suite initiative at the Marine Corps Systems Command. The Marine Corps seeks every opportunity to leverage other service and federal government DL programs that fit into the MarineNet concept and DL architecture in order to achieve economies and increase access. The scope of the Marine Corps approach to DL is not limited to critical factors such as return on investment and training time alone. There are other factors that we can and should also evaluate four or five years from now to determine the success of today’s DL program. These include whether:

r the Marine Corps is better prepared due to DL; r low density–high demand positions are being filled at a greater rate;


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r we are able to retain more Marines in the force because we’ve been able to reduce the traditional time away associated with resident courses; and

r there is an increase in the number of Marines for a given MOS that is traditionally short. These examples would represent our way of “time-shifting” training, giving Marines an incentive to go into MOS areas that give them more options for training, without causing them to travel away from their work site and their families.

MOVING FORWARD: BUILDING ON WHAT WE’VE ACHIEVED AND WHAT WE’VE LEARNED The following paragraphs describe areas of Marine Corps education and training that have been positively impacted by the DL program. They represent a few of our “success stories.” Basic Electronics Course Most enlisted Marines who are chosen for MOSs in the communications and electronics field are sent to entry-level training at Marine Corps Communication Electronics School (MCCES) in Twenty-nine Palms, California. One of the first courses they might attend is the basic electronics course (BEC). This is a “feeder” or prerequisite course designed to provide students with the basic concepts of electricity, electronics, digital logic, computer operation, and basic electronic construction techniques, for further training in the maintenance of telecommunications or electronics equipment and qualification in the 2800 or 5900 MOSs. This course provides technical instruction in the fundamental concepts of electronic theory common to all Fleet Marine Force communication-electronics equipment. Topics include electrical and electronic principles, direct and alternating currents, passive and active components, solid state devices, analysis of properly operating circuits, generic use of test equipment, techniques and quality control of soldering, concepts of basic digital circuits, and techniques of logical troubleshooting. Personnel and equipment safety, including electrostatic discharge safeguards, are stressed throughout the entire course. The BEC is technical in nature and contains concepts and theories that are difficult for many Marines to comprehend. Prior to 1997, the failure rate of the course was as high as 46%, that is, almost half of the students did not pass the course the first time through and had to take the course again. But in 1997, MCCES and DLC implemented a solution that infused technology into the BEC classroom. The solution involved the purchase of a modular, computer-based electronics training system with interactive hardware and software. The system purchased from Lab-Volt Systems, Inc., incorporates a comprehensive series of boards that take the student from the basics of AC/DC circuits to advanced studies in microprocessors and communications. Today, the failure rate of the BEC is an astoundingly low 6%. MCAVRET In the late 1990s, the Marine Corps was experiencing significant losses of aircraft and personnel in the AV-8 Harrier jet community. In 1998, a review panel was organized to investigate the reason(s) for the losses. The first annual Harrier Review Panel (HaRP) report confirmed that the reduced number of staff noncommissioned officers (SNCO) and noncommissioned officers (NCO) in the Harrier aircraft maintenance MOSs was adversely affecting the ability of experienced supervisors to thoroughly mentor first-term Harrier maintenance personnel.


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The HaRP concluded that increasing the experience level in Harrier squadrons would reverse this situation, improve maintenance capability, and increase mentoring opportunities to assure future maintenance capability was adequate to meet the operational needs of the Harrier community. VMAT-203 (a harrier training squadron) Fleet Replacement Enlisted Skills Training (FREST), located at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point, North Carolina was given the task to develop career-level courses for the following MOSs: AV-8 Harrier aircraft mechanic, fixed-wing aircraft airframe mechanic, fixed-wing aircraft safety equipment mechanic, aircraft communication and navigation weapons systems technician, and aircraft electrical systems technician. The FREST teamed with Naval Air Warfare Center Training Support Division (NAWCTSD) in Orlando, Florida, and the DL center to develop a family of pilot courses for the MOSs with the purpose of achieving three goals:

r Develop advanced career-level courses that will challenge, stimulate, motivate, and train young second-tour Marines.

r Insert proven current technology into the instructional strategy and use it to take the training to the Marines at their home base.

r Combine the first two goals to make a meaningful contribution to Harrier readiness and safety. The resulting program was called the Marine Corps Aviation Readiness Enhancement Training (MCAVRET) Program. VMAT-203 FREST delivered the first prototype course in September and October 2000 using point-to-point video teletraining (VTT) technology. The MCSEN system was used to link MCAS Cherry Point and MCAS Yuma, Arizona. Using MCSEN for VTT presentations enabled FREST instructors at Cherry Point to conduct training at both sites simultaneously. Feedback from the students was tremendously positive and the pilot was deemed a success. Taking training to the Marines had two benefits: it reduced the time the Marines were away from work and their families, and it eliminated the cost associated with travel. VTT technology will continue to be exploited for the remainder of the Harrier maintenance MOSs. Using VTT as a delivery method for the MCAVRET program is one of several first steps the DL center is taking to transition Marine Corps training and education to meet the existing challenges. Terrorism Awareness Nearly every Marine completes the MCI course Terrorism Awareness for Marines, originally published in paper-based format as part of the Marine Corps program to combat terrorism. The course was converted to IMI in 1997 and addresses the basics of terrorism and provides procedures for minimizing an individual’s susceptibility to terrorist attack at work, at home, while traveling, and on liberty. Also presented are effective measures Marines can use if taken hostage by a terrorist group. In 1998, the DLC conducted an internal, limited-scope test with Marine students. The informal test focused on two areas: time required to complete the IMI course and IMI course final examination scores. The results of the test were compared to the Marine Corps average that was computed from historical data based on paper-based enrollments. The results showed that by taking the IMI version of terrorism awareness, the time required to complete the course was reduced from 11 hours to 6 hours, while the average exam scores rose from 85% to 92%! We saw firsthand that the IMI version was more efficient and more effective than the paper-based version.


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Personal Financial Management Most Marines complete the MCI course Personal Financial Management, originally published in paper-based format to assist Marines in their management of personal financial matters. The course was converted to IMI in 1997 and includes topics such as the collecting and safeguarding of important papers, veterans benefits, insurance policies, military retirement, and so on. Again, in 1998 the DLC conducted an internal, limited-scope test focusing on the same two areas: time required to complete the IMI course and IMI course final examination scores. Again, the results showed that by taking the IMI version of Personal Financial Management, the time required to complete the course was reduced from 7 hours to 4 hours, while the average exam scores rose from 83% to 93%. On the Horizon . . . Courses related to information technology tend to produce a good return on investment. Some of the content currently in development includes subjects such as public key infrastructure (PKI) overview and information assurance (IA) awareness training. The estimated cost-avoidance for courses like these promises to be in the millions of dollars annually. Other Success Stories: “Let the Numbers Speak for Themselves!” In FY01, we experienced a fivefold increase in the number of hours of Web- or CD-ROM– based interactive multimedia instruction in development, 300 hours compared to 61 hours in FY00, and anticipated that our trend for growth would continue. Although the Marine Corps has its own DL goals and expectations, it refuses to live a stovepipe existence. Just recently, we strengthened our commitment in training and education by partnering with the Navy to make nearly 1,000 e-learning courses available through MarineNet with content ranging from the latest networking and office automation technologies to critical business skills and soft skills needed for effective personal and business communication. Each month, the number of Marine distance learners increases, as we continue to see a rapid rise in the number of visits to the learning resource centers. Just in the month of May (2001) alone, nearly 5,000 Marines visited the LRCs to access our courseware online. But we don’t find these numbers surprising because nearly 85% of all course enrollments are online. Challenges To fully realize the potential of DL, the Marine Corps must deal with several significant challenges.

r First, we must overcome resistance to change. DL establishes a new learning environment and changes the way we will train and educate in the future. This change will meet resistance due to lack of experience with developing effective DL solutions, unfamiliarity with the technology, and the perception that DL will eliminate jobs or diminish resident instruction. Lack of personal experience is prevalent among the DL nay-sayers. r Second, we must establish incentives for DL programs that are tied to promotion or advancement opportunities. Incentives will likely be the catalyst for rapid expansion of the current DL initiatives. r Third, providing effective mentoring and maintaining cohesion in a distributed training environment is challenging. The shift to student-centered learning must be balanced with a team training approach that is mentored and proctored by senior leaders. This shift


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in learning methods will not occur overnight but will instead require several years to implement. r Fourth, not every Marine learns at the same pace using this approach. Some Marines require a more structured learning environment and increased interaction to facilitate learning. Any training and education solution that is developed must be able to accommodate alternate learning methods and schedules. The key ingredient will be to establish an environment in the unit that is conducive to learning and to provide the proper leadership to ensure that DL programs are totally accepted and completed. Issues regarding Internet access aboard Marine Corps bases and stations must also be addressed and resolved prior to realizing the full benefit of DL. A 1997 study by the Army Research Institute revealed that more than 70% of the officers and just over 30% of the enlisted soldiers had regular Internet access. The Army has identified lack of Internet access for soldiers as a critical barrier to success in its DL program. While the Marine Corps has not conducted a similar study, it seems similar percentages would apply to the Marine Corps. For DL to fully succeed, Marines must have significantly greater access to the Marine Corps network and the Internet. Finally, the Marine Corps’ high operational tempo makes finding time to train and educate very difficult. Finding this time represents perhaps the greatest challenge to leaders, trainers, and educators in the information age. DL programs cannot be relegated to off-duty hours. If the Marine Corps is to realize the full potential of these new instructional delivery methods, we must schedule training and education events into normal duty hours. The new Marine Corps DL program expands on the earlier work of the MCI by developing integrated training and education programs for initial skill and skill progression training that lead to MOS qualification and enhance current distance education programs. The DL program is a funded total force program supporting both the active Marine Corps and the Marine Corps Reserve. Implementing comprehensive DL programs is a complex undertaking and involves developing innovative solutions in the following major technology domains:

r Instructional content, r Delivery infrastructure, r Instructional management systems for delivering courses, r Management of students in a distributed environment, and r Instructor training and support. The DL program offers solutions in each technology domain and is being implemented in two phases—a pilot phase (FY97–99) and a program expansion phase (FY00–05). The pilot effort was initiated to study infrastructure, process, and resource requirements to successfully establish a viable DL program. Lessons learned from the pilot effort are being used to shape the DL program so that our limited resources can be effectively focused on establishing a flexible Corps-wide DL capability in the future. A major part of implementing the USMC DL program is establishing the Marine Corps learning network or MarineNet infrastructure. MarineNet is the wide-ranging initiative that provides the supporting infrastructure and access points to enable the delivery of world-class training and education to all Marines. The objective of the TEMI, and specifically the implementation of DL, is to provide better and more effective training with fewer resources. Initiating modern instructional technologies to both deliver DL and enhance our resident school training presents significant challenges. Meeting our goals of reducing training pools, training time, and training structure while providing better and more efficiently delivered instruction to our Marines is only part of the challenge. Shifting to a learner-centric from an instructor-centric approach to learning, ensuring computer


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literacy, making limited time available for Marines to train via DL, and overcoming institutional resistance to change present challenges of an equal or even greater magnitude.

REFERENCES Abell, Millie. (2001). Soldiers as distance learners: What Army trainers need to know. From the World Wide Web http://www.tadlp.monroe.army.mil/abell%20paper.htm. Ikegulu, Patricia R. (1998). Effects of screen designs in CBT environments. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 428 757). Riley, Peter C. (1997). Designing, developing and implementing WWW-based distance learning. Paper presented at the Inter-service/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) 19th , Orlando, FL, December 1–4, 1997. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 415 345). Ritchie, Donn C., & Hoffman, Bob. (1997). Using instructional design principles to amplify learning on the world wide web. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 415 835).


44 Distance Learning in the U.S. Army: Meeting the Readiness Needs of Transformation Michael W. Freeman Computer Sciences Corporation mfreema7@csc.com

The United States Army has a well-earned reputation as the premier training organization in the world. The Army has also long been a proponent of training innovations to foster improved effectiveness and efficiency of providing ready soldiers and units. Army doctrine considers training to be the linchpin of organizational performance as evidenced by the following quote from Army regulations: Good training is the key to soldier morale, job satisfaction, confidence, pride, unit cohesion, esprit de corps, and combat effectiveness. (Department of the Army, 1981)

Distance education has the potential to dramatically enhance Army organizational performance by increasing personnel qualifications in the unit and reducing the impact of skill decay by making training available when and where required. It is widely recognized as the method of choice for reducing costs, increasing flexibility, increasing access, and increasing the number of learners reached. The potential for savings to the military services is tremendous, with the Army providing training to over 335,000 students annually in residence (Program Management Office, The Army Distance Learning Program, 1999). The current Army training concept has its roots in the traumatic post-Vietnam downsizing of the Army, the accompanying reductions in defense budgets, and the end of the draft in the 1970s. Those daunting challenges required soldiers to be more highly skilled while the systems became more cost-effective. In response to these challenges, the Army adopted a philosophy of tightly integrating institutional and unit training with the primary goal of improving effectiveness on the job. This systems approach to training was used to focus training on successful performance to job standard and to decentralize execution to the units. The performance orientation placed emphasis on soldiers being able to do the tasks required to established standards. 655


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Reduction in manpower and time available to formal Army schools meant many of the skills once taught in schools would have to be learned in units and on the job. To meet these requirements, the Army began a program to use technology to develop and implement training extension courses or TEC. These courses were concentrated on critical job tasks and delivered with synchronized slide projectors and tape recorders. While very basic and static in design and delivery, the TEC program set the tone and intent for all Army distance learning programs to follow (Chapman, Lilly, Romjue, & Canedy, 1998). The primary modernization goal of the Army is digitization of processes and organizations to achieve information dominance. The ability to conduct predeployment, mission-specific training under the tutelage of skilled subject-matter experts can result in faster preparation for contingencies and can also level the playing field for reserve component and geographically remote organizations and learners by providing a standardized learning experience without walls or barriers (Freeman, Wisher, Curnow, & Morris, 1999). However, to take advantage of the myriad of new digital systems, soldiers must be prepared to operate them effectively (Murray, 2000). The first goal of The Army Distance Learning Program (TADLP) is to increase Army readiness to deploy and fight. In order to do this, the Army program must provide professional education and training on demand to wherever soldiers are located. This includes permanent assignment locations and temporary locations in both developed and austere environments. It also includes soldiers’ work sites and, for selected events, their homes. The second goal is to establish a system to deliver standardized training. The plan is to deliver training from proponent schools to soldiers via a “telecommunications common operating environment.” Increasing the availability of training while maintaining standardization of learning outcomes is especially important for an organization with a worldwide mobile workforce of over 1.25 million full- and part-time technicians and professionals. Accordingly, the Army has pioneered many distance education approaches and established programs to provide distance education services. However, the rapid development of enabling technologies and the transformation of the Army into a more agile Information Age force requires continuing critical review of current programs and methodologies in light of emerging needs (U.S. Army Public Affairs Office, 2001). The U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (1998, p. ) defines distance learning as: delivering standardized training using multiple media and technologies when and where it is needed. It includes providing individual, collective, and self-development training to Army members and units. Distance learning may involve student-instructor interaction in both real time (synchronous) and non-real time (asynchronous).

BACKGROUND The current Army distance learning program has its genesis in the challenges faced by the force during the drawdown after the Cold War and during preparation for deployment to the Gulf War. Some of the Army’s units and individuals experienced significant problems in attaining collective readiness for deployment. A large number of the issues encountered were the result of the difficulties with attaining and maintaining individual competency in a widely dispersed environment (Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, 1999). After the 1991 Gulf War, the Army underwent a drawdown and change of strategic focus. The myriad of ensuing worldwide missions resulted in more short-notice deployments away from home, reduced training budgets, and increased reliance on reserve components. Army missions increased by over 300%. The existing Army training and education system was unable


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to respond to emerging and rapidly changing requirements. It was an industrial-age system of episodic learning where soldiers were trained in basic tasks followed by working in a deployable unit. Unit assignment was then followed by advanced training before further work assignment. The requirement for on-demand continuous learning to take care of short-term missions combined with declining resources to support in-residence training dramatically reduced both the relevance and effectiveness of the system. Additionally, the bureaucracy associated with the system required extended time to produce effective training. The time and resource requirements resulted in limited relevance to a combat force increasingly saddled with short notice and contingency requirements. In response to these challenges, the Army selected a course of action with the goal of distributing quality training to a soldier’s unit rather than requiring the soldier to travel to a central training site (U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, 1999). By way of background, the Army is really three interrelated organizations: the regular Army, the Army Reserve, and the Army National Guard. Each is pursuing distance learning in a coordinated manner. The regular Army is composed of approximately 480,000 full-time soldiers. Many are deployed overseas, but all need to acquire and maintain military skills and knowledge. The Army Reserve is composed of approximately 205,000 part-time soldiers who train 39 days per year. They are widely dispersed across the country, meeting and training one weekend per month at a local reserve center and meeting for two weeks of full-time training. The Army National Guard has more than 350,000 members who also meet 39 days per year and have 2 weeks of full-time training.

IMPLEMENTATION The Army distance learning program is intended to provide access to technology and courseware. The current plan provides over 800 relatively high-bandwidth, interconnected classrooms or digital training facilities (DTF). These DTFs are located throughout the United States and the world with the goal of providing a facility within 50 miles of every soldier’s work location. The high-bandwidth DTFs provide seating for 12 students (for reserve component locations) to 16 students (for regular Army locations). As of October 2000, over half of soldiers are within 50 miles of a facility, achieved primarily through placing priority on areas with the highest population density. The plan for the complete system is for 95% of the potential students to be within 50 miles of a DTF. The development of the Army’s distance learning program is broken into six increments or blocks. The technologies and methodologies planned for implementation in each block is provided in Table 1. Each Block provides progressive capabilities primarily in the methods and technologies used for synchronous courseware delivery, asynchronous courseware delivery, collaborative tools, course management and provision of e-mail. Additionally, Block 5 provides transportable DTFs to serve deployed forces in remote sites and Block 6 provides distributed training simulations (Program Management Office, TADLP, 2000). Each Block 1 DTF provides a PC, modular computer furniture, and raised floor for future networking for each student and a classroom manager. Synchronous courses are provided through a room based H.320 video conferencing system with two 32-inch monitors and microphones for students. The videoconferencing system is connected through a dedicated, leased line to a central network control station and then to other systems. The classrooms are extensively renovated to provide standard configurations and layouts. In Block 1, the PCs in the classroom are standalone and not networked so asynchronous courseware is provided on CD-ROMs. Block 1 began in fiscal year (FY) 1998 and was replaced by Block 2 in FY 2001.


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Synchronous Courseware Distribution Asynchronous Courseware Distribution Learning Management E-mail

Block 2

Block 3

Block 4

Blocks 5 & 6

Desktop Video- Desktop VideoRoom VideoRoom VideoRoom Videoteletraining– teletraining– teletraining– teletraining– teletraining– Internet Switched Internet Switched Switched Protocol Protocol H.320 H.320 H.320 Compact Disk Compact Compact Compact Compact Disk/Network Disk/Network Disk/Network Disk/Network Legacy Only

Legacy Only

DL/Legacy

DL/Legacy

DL/Legacy

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Block 2 includes networking the classrooms and providing the necessary desktop management, system administration, and application monitoring. The existing Block 1 classrooms will undergo retrofitting of network access and new networked classrooms will be established. In Block 2, asynchronous courseware distribution will move to the wide area network and Internet. In this block, synchronous courseware will remain on the dedicated, leased video lines. Messaging and collaboration tools are planned for adoption to provide student-to-student and student-to-instructor interaction to include standardized e-mail address, chat, and message boards. Block 2 is scheduled from FY 2001 to FY06. Development of Block 3 began in FY00 and provides an automated learning management system. This system envisions course and classroom management and automated testing and interfaces with personnel systems. Block 4 is planned to converge the separate data and video transport systems into a single network. It will also provide video-on-demand in local classrooms and synchronous delivery of courseware to the desktop using H.323 Internet Protocol services. Block 5 is intended to provide deployable components. These portable classrooms will be provided to forward deployed units to provide professional and on-demand readiness training. They may also be used to handle surge requirements at unit home stations. Block 6 is planned to provide distributed training simulations.

CHALLENGES The Army distance learning program originally focused on providing education and training to the right place at the right time primarily by providing access to technology, courseware, and learning management. Since Army networks were immature, the method selected to provide access to technology was to establish geographically fixed classrooms with standardized packages of video training and computer equipment installed. These relatively high-cost, dedicated, high-bandwidth fixed facilities jump-started the program and provided an end to end management solution to ensure interoperability of software and communications. In this initial implementation of the program, synchronous events are conducted through high-end videoteletraining using leased, dedicated communications lines. Asynchronous courseware was initially distributed only on CD-ROM with selected courses available over the wide area network. Legacy systems are used to manage student enrollment, tracking, and management. The chief advantages of this approach are the use of familiar technology and methodology, standardization and ease of configuration management at the end points and network control sites, and relatively quick establishment of a physical presence at customer


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locations. The chief disadvantages of this approach are the limitation of emerging and innovative distance learning methods, mismatch of availability of classrooms and courseware, and commitment to synchronous video. The high cost and relative inflexibility of constructing and maintaining fixed facilities consumes an extraordinary percentage of available funds. Since custom courseware is much more difficult to develop and field than the off-the-shelf hardware for the classroom facilities, early blocks of the program have an apparent mismatch in content compared to hardware available. Waiting so long in the program to provide a student management system that addresses distance learning challenges could result in reduced student access to training and low utilization of classrooms. Classrooms were significantly underutilized early in the program and this could continue until the program matures. Standardization of classroom hardware and limited funding for technology replacement resulted in the earliest fielded classrooms in the most critical locations relegated to the least capable hardware. Future distance learning operations could be hampered by the problem of aging hardware even as the delivery networks, courseware, and student management systems mature.

POTENTIAL RESEARCH Innovative tools for improving training and learning continue to evolve and expand. The proliferation of Web courseware technologies, as well as the addition of innovative technologies to deliver content to remote sites, multiplies the opportunities and challenges facing training environments (Gray, 1999). The effectiveness of these new training approaches and technologies, however, must be assessed and rapidly assimilated into practice to maximize return. The Army should establish a training laboratory program to rapidly assimilate best of breed, emerging methodologies, and technologies into operational use. Also, the unique opportunities that the military training culture offers in measuring training effectiveness should be considered in any evaluation conducted in military settings (Curnow & Wisher, 2000). The Army is striving to transform itself into a distributed, networked, collaborative fighting force. The proliferation of low-cost personal computers capable of rendering high-quality graphics, adoption of international standards for multimedia conferencing, and the ubiquity of network access have resulted in the opportunity for the Army to train as it fights by creating affordable, effective, networked training environments. These training environments should provide the opportunity for knowledge-based, mentored, collaborative training of all soldiers, teams, and units to include operations, maintenance, and leadership functions. Since the best way to train a distributed, collaborative force is in a distributed, collaborative training environment, the training doctrine for all echelons of the Army should be executed through a distributed, collaborative network. That network should also provide for a family of low-cost augmentations/interfaces to enable learning interactions. The Army should leverage investments and increase access now by delivering distance learning over and to administrative and strategic command and control systems. For example, since current command and control networks are not robust enough for high-bandwidth real-time events over single media, the Army should ensure simultaneous access for all learners, regardless of bandwidth service, by using hybrid environments that distribute the communication load over multiple, lowbandwidth communications media. These training environments are especially applicable for real-time collaborative coaching of leaders, operators, and maintainers. Of special concern is the development and fielding of a comprehensive, seamless learning management system reaching across all domains and locations. This learning management system should incorporate cognitive modeling, prognostics, and recommended remedies to create mass customization of the learning experience based on situation, learning styles, and


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available technologies. This should also enable the equivalent of an electronic training job book containing the status and history of cognitive performance for each soldier, team, and unit (ASB, 2001). The Army could also benefit from research in the four key areas described by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (1999) in its report on adaptive learning systems. These areas are courseware development, modes of delivery, search and retrieval, and efficient performance support. In the research area of courseware development, focus should be on how the Army can develop interoperable and reusable course content in an efficient, cost-effective manner. The importation and transformation of legacy course data should also be addressed. For research into modes of delivery, the focus should be on how the Army can accommodate and enable synchronous and asynchronous collaboration for both content development and instructional use. Also important is research into methods of distributing content widely to increase access while also providing flexible accommodation to support different learning needs. Search and retrieval research should address the need of the Army to provide powerful, highly interactive methods of supporting trainers, students, and organizations with complex information acquisition and management tools. Also required is the capability to package and tailor the resulting outputs precisely to the environments and limitations of the user. Investigations of efficient performance support should be designed to determine how the Army can provide robust and reliable applications for providing on-demand assistance to learners regardless of location or task. This support must also be tailored to meet the needs of both the academic and real-world performance environment (National Institute of Standards and Technology, 1999).

CONCLUSION Distance learning has the potential to increase unit readiness by providing critical training for individuals, crews, and leaders as and where needed. This on-demand learning has the potential to dramatically enhance organizational performance by increasing personnel qualifications in the unit and reducing the impact of skill decay. The ability to conduct predeployment, mission-specific training under the tutelage of skilled subject-matter experts can result in faster preparation for contingencies. However, in order to achieve its potential the Army’s distance learning program must increase access while delivering needed skills and knowledge. The key to developing and sustaining a relevant, responsive, accessible Army distance learning system is a robust research program resulting in integration of best practices and technologies. This program should seek a balance between selected basic experimental research and a wider plan of applied research to provide focused solutions to Army challenges. To this end, organizations and individuals seeking to support the Army’s initiatives should pursue a research program that provides the framework to rapidly assimilate best of breed, emerging methodologies, and technologies into operational use.

DISCLAIMER The views expressed in this chapter are solely those of the author and not those of Computer Sciences Corporation, the Department of the Army or any entity with which the author is affiliated.


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REFERENCES Army Science Board (ASB). (2001). Technical and tactical opportunities for revolutionary advances, Army science board 2000 summer study. Washington, DC: Department of the Army, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. Chapman, A. W., Lilly, C. J., Romjue, J. L., & Canedy, S. (1998). Prepare the Army for war: A historical overview of the Army training and doctrine command, 1973–1998. Fort Monroe, VA: Headquarters, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. Curnow, C. K., & Wisher, R. A. (2000). Reconciling reaction and outcome measures in distributed learning environments. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Conference, New Orleans, LA. Department of the Army. (1981). Army regulation 350-1, Army training. Washington, DC: Department of the Army. Freeman, M., Wisher, R., Curnow, C., & Morris, K. (1999). Down the digital dirt roads: Increasing access to distance learning with hybrid audiographics. Proceedings of the 1999 Interservice/Industry Training Simulations and Education Conference (pp. 52–61). Arlington, VA: National Training Systems Association. Gray, S. (1999). Collaboration tools. Syllabus, 12(5), 48–52. Murray, B. (2000). General says Army’s weakest links are bandwidth and training. Govt Computer News, (April 24), 41–42. National Institute of Standards and Technology. (1999) ATP focused program: Adaptive learning systems. http://www.atp.nist.gov/atp/focus/als.htm. Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. (1999). Department of Defense strategic plan for advanced distributed learning. Washington, DC: Department of Defense. Available at: http://www.adlnet.org. Program Management Office, The Army Distance Learning Program (PM TADLP). (1999). Memorandum dated 27 April 1999, Subject: Acquisition strategy, the Army distance learning program (TADLP) modernized training system. Fort Belvoir, VA: Department of the Army. Program Management Office, The Army Distance Learning Program. (2000). The Army distance learning program brochure. Fort Monroe, VA: Department of the Army. Available at: http://www.tadlp.army.mil/brochure.pdf. United States Army Training and Doctrine Command. (1998). Total Army distance learning master plan. Fort Monroe, VA: United States Army Training and Doctrine Command. Available at: http://www.tadlp.monroe.army.mil/ supportingdocuments.htm United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). (1999). The Army distance learning program (TADLP), operational requirements document (ORD). Fort Monroe, VA: United States Army Training and Doctrine Command. U.S. Army Public Affairs Office. (2001). The Army budget fiscal year 2001. News Release No. 00-005. Washington, DC: U.S. Army Public Affairs Office. Available online at: http://www.dtic.mil/armylink/news/Feb2000/ r20000207fy2001grntopbill.html


45 Community Colleges and Distance Education Christine Dalziel InstructionalTelecomm unications Council cdalziel@aacc.nche.edu

It is no wonder distance education has transformed the way courses are taught at community colleges and universities around the world. Distance learning has expanded educational opportunities for employees who need to enhance their job skills but don’t have the time to attend a traditional face-to-face classroom; for mothers who want to earn their college degrees while caring for their children at home; and for students in rural areas, where geography prevents them from traveling to and from campus. International students can also take advantage of the wide variety of online courses offered by colleges and universities in the United States without having to obtain a visa or leave town. The latest data from the National Center for Educational Statistics (2000) show enrollment in distance learning courses based on new electronic technologies increased by 72% at public two-year colleges from 1995 to 1998, and by 204% at public four-year universities. Public two-year colleges increased their number of different distance learning courses by 99% from 1995 to 1998, while public four-year universities increased their offerings by 104%. The Instructional Telecommunications Council defines distance education as “the process of extending learning, or delivering instructional resource-sharing opportunities, to locations away from a classroom, building or site, to another classroom, building or site by using video, audio, computer, multimedia communications, or some combination of these with other traditional delivery methods” (Gross, Gross, & Pirkl, 1994). The Department of Education uses a similar definition. Although community colleges have offered distance learning programs to students for many reasons since the mid-1970s, the successful ones have done so to serve new audiences in their community and extend the traditional open-access mission of the college—to provide affordable access to higher educational opportunities to all students, regardless of their educational, financial, or ethnic background. Students are demanding distance learning opportunities for many reasons. Most are busy and don’t have time to travel to campus to attend traditional face-to-face classes. Those in rural areas live too far from campus or would like to take a course that is not offered at their local college. Many distance learning students have responsibilities at home or are disabled. Others 663


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cannot attend a regular face-to-face class because they travel too much, work in the military, or are confined to prison. High school seniors often take advantage of concurrent enrollment courses offered at a distance from their local community college since technology allows them to take these advanced placement courses without having to travel across town. Other students just find the courses convenient—the two courses they need to graduate are offered at the same time or the class conflicts with an internship opportunity. College administrators find most students take a mixture of face-to-face and distance learning classes. Distance learning courses are ideal for older, working students. These learners are more likely to succeed than younger students because they tend to be more motivated and selfdisciplined. For example, they will work through the coursework in a timely manner and not leave it all until the end of the semester. The technology also allows these students to complete their coursework at the end of their working day. Since 60% of community college students are more than 21 years old, it makes sense that 2-year institutions have led the way in offering distance learning opportunities to their students. Many college administrators choose to offer distance learning courses because they are afraid their college will become redundant if it doesn’t “keep up with the Joneses.” This fear is legitimate as technology has removed the geographic monopoly colleges have traditionally enjoyed. Rather than having to attend the college down the road, students can use a computer and modem to enroll in college-level courses offered in the next state. Colleges are increasingly competing for students with other nonprofit colleges and universities, for-profit institutions, and corporate training facilities. Those colleges and universities that don’t understand the elements required to facilitate a quality distance learning program often receive a rude awakening. They jump into distance learning to save money since they figure they won’t have to finance the “bricks and mortar” of on-campus classrooms. Others think they can convince faculty to teach twice as many students for less pay. Most of these endeavors fail when faculty refuse to be overworked and improperly trained, while students get frustrated and drop out of the distance learning courses because the college hasn’t invested in providing the technological support or services they need to succeed. Implementing a quality distance learning program often requires high upfront costs to purchase the new technology, hire support personnel, pay for proper faculty training programs, and finance course development. Successful programs often report hiring more faculty to respond to the rising popularity of distance learning courses.

A LITTLE HISTORY Community colleges have offered students telecourses, or high-quality preproduced video programs, since the mid-1970s. Students learn from a series of twenty-six 30-minute video segments. The college often arranges with its local PBS or cable access channel to broadcast the programs so students can watch the course material live or tape the segments for later viewing. Increasingly, colleges have made the tapes available in the college library so students can check them out or rent them from a local video store. Other community colleges mail students a complete set of the tapes and retrieve them at the end of the semester. The college assigns an instructor to guide the students through the course material. A textbook and detailed study guide usually accompany the program, and students communicate regularly with the professor via phone, by audiobridge, or increasingly by e-mail. Students also meet on campus for face-to-face study sessions with the professor or fellow classmates or to complete science lab assignments. Most colleges require students to come to campus or go to a designated testing center to take a proctored midterm and final exams. Since the early 1970s community colleges have also used instructional television technologies, such as ITFS (instructional television fixed service), to teach students at remote


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locations in real time. These courses are popular in rural settings where small groups of students attend classes at branch campuses and participate in the live interactive courses with a professor who teaches via compressed or full-motion video from a central hub or location. The courses are virtually the same as face-to-face classes since they take place live and are highly interactive.

ONLINE COURSES The Internet revolutionized distance learning in the mid-1990s. Many community colleges rushed to produce and offer their students online courses as soon as the prices for computers came down for both the college and students who study from their home, dorm room, workplace, or anywhere else. Easy-to-use online course management software became affordable and made it easier for colleges to teach their faculty to develop customized online courses. Community colleges have taken advantage of this medium that encourages asynchronous communication among students, teachers, and their peers via e-mail, file transfer, and course chat rooms. At its most basic, an online course consists of a Web site that includes the syllabus, notes from the professor, a list of reading and written assignments, and links to other Web sites. As the price for broadband connections comes down, colleges have begun experimenting with including animation, video clips and streaming audio and video to provide students with more exciting learning environments. Most community colleges limit online course enrollment to 20 to 30 students due to the high volume of e-mails, which means student-to-teacher and student-to-student interaction can take place at anytime of the day or night. Faculty often complain that, although they love the increased student involvement, they are inundated with e-mails and have to control their time so they don’t get burned out. Since e-mail communication is primarily text based, distance learning faculty have found students respond with more thoughtfully written questions and comments, which fosters the pedagogical ideal of writing-across-the-curriculum. Online courses provide a great educational medium for shy or disabled students since they are more likely to e-mail a question or comment to their professor or fellow classmates rather than risk the embarrassment of standing up in a face-to-face classroom. Online courses are ideal for students who live in different time zones since the communication is asynchronous. The Web also allows students to consult with experts from around the world and delve independently into tangential aspects of the subject area they are studying.

ACCREDITATION In early 2000, the eight regional accrediting commissions1 endorsed the “Best Practices for Electronically Offered Degree and Certificate Programs,” a systematic approach to applying “well-established essentials of institutional quality to distance learning” (Western Cooperative 1 Commission on Higher Education, Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools—info@msache.org; Com-

mission on Institutions of Higher Education, New England Association of Schools and Colleges—cihe@neasc.org; Commission on Technical and Career Institutions, New England Association of Schools and Colleges— rmandeville@neasc.org; Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, North Central Association of Colleges and Schools—info@ncacihe.org; Commission on Colleges, The Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges—pjarnold@cocnasc.org; Commission on Colleges, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools— webmaster@saccoc.org; Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges—accjc@aol.com; Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities, Western Association of Schools and Colleges—wascsr@wascsenior.org.


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for Telecommunications, 2000). This document was designed to help institutions plan for distance learning activities and provide a self-assessment framework for those colleges that are already offering distance learning courses. “For the regional accrediting associations they constitute a common understanding of those elements that reflect quality distance education programming. They are intended to inform and facilitate the evaluation policies and processes of each region.” (Western Cooperative for Telecommunications, 2000). In many ways these guidelines should convince any distance learning skeptics that colleges are applying the same rigorous pedagogical scrutiny to their distance learning programs as they are to their traditional face-to-face course offerings. Maintaining regional accreditation status is of vital importance to higher education institutions. Not only is the college’s reputation at stake, but also the institution must be accredited to offer students federal financial aid and/or receive government grants. The guidelines state that the distance learning program must be consistent with the college’s educational role or mission. The curriculum must be faculty-driven and the college must provide appropriate staffing and technical assistance to ensure the course is top-notch. There should be an appropriate amount of synchronous or asynchronous interaction among the students and faculty to ensure the desired educational outcomes are realized. Consequently, there should be a correlation between the number of students and the amount of interaction educators and students expect to receive. The guidelines also ask colleges to provide distance learning students with the corresponding student services they need to help them succeed in their educational program.

STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES Most colleges and universities that offer distance learning courses are addressing the challenge of offering comprehensive online support services to students so they do not have to come to campus to complete administrative tasks or take advantage of the educational services the college makes available to its on-campus students. Today’s students have been raised on the Internet and e-commerce. They expect to be able to register, choose their classes, and purchase books in an online environment. They can easily go elsewhere if the college they want to enroll in does not offer them the convenience online services bring. The 2000 Campus Computing Survey (Green, 2000) surveyed 469 two- and four-year public and private U.S. colleges and found that more institutions have increased the number of services they offer their students on their Web sites. 76.1% offer online undergraduate applications (55.4% in 1988). 83.1% have an online course catalog (65.2% in 1998). 35.5% have an online or electronic library reserve system (17.9% in 1998). 55.5% offer one or more full online college courses. Most college and university Web sites include the information students need to apply for financial aid or obtain other educational grants or financing. This is often the most frequently visited section of the college Web site since students are looking for ways to finance their higher education. Finding the necessary funding plays a pivotal role in their decision to attend college, and a comprehensive financial aid Web site may be one of the institution’s most effective recruitment tools. The Web site must be accurate due to the complex nature of financial information and timely so students can meet the required application deadlines.


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National Association of College Stores (NACS) research indicates that, on average, students make 5 online purchases annually, spend $330, and have bought items online in the past 2 months (National Association of College Stores, 2001). Many community college online bookstores offer textbook reservation systems so students can order textbooks online to pick up when they visit the bookstore or receive via mail. Many faculty also prefer to submit their textbook adoption requests online. College bookstores also often make college merchandise available to students and alumni for online purchase. Many colleges and universities provide some sort of online library services to their distance learning students. Colleges should aim to offer students the same access to library services in an online environment as they do for those who are able to physically visit the library. The ideal library will provide a variety of online services so distance learning students can renew or order books, documents, or other materials online; submit a question to a reference librarian; order books via interlibrary loan; and access electronic reserves, online databases, electronic books, full-text journals, and relevant Web sites. However, administrators should keep in mind that electronic databases can be frustrating to distance learners if they show a wide variety of resources they cannot access off-campus. Often the online college library provides a portal for other online student services, such as counseling, academic advising, and tutoring. These services often generate the personal connections many distance learners need to overcome any feelings of alienation or isolation from the college that result from their geographic location or busy lifestyle. Sandra Miller, director of the Learning Assistance Center and Support at Atlantic Cape Community College, writes that interacting with tutors and other administrators can often help students from feeling lost and enhance their sense of personal involvement with the institution. This sense of belonging is often necessary to help students stay motivated and get through their educational program (Dalziel & Payne, 2001). Every student needs to have adequate technical expertise to successfully complete a distance learning course. As online courses become more mainstream, administrators find that students from a variety of educational and technical backgrounds are interested in taking courses at a distance. Students need to know how to use the network properly, how to install and operate the modem and software if necessary, and how to send and receive e-mail messages. Many colleges have 24-hour help desks (with answers provided by phone or e-mail) to accommodate questions from students. Most colleges require their online students to attend an on-campus orientation session or make the training video available in the college library. Others have developed elaborate online teaching tools to serve those who need to learn at a distance because they cannot come to campus for whatever reason. They need to make sure their students are able to use the technology, can work independently, and are not just looking for an “easy A” when they really need to learn in a face-to-face environment. Those who are not familiar with distance learning are often extremely concerned about evaluation and testing. How can you ensure the person who takes a test or writes a paper is the same student who enrolled in the class? For this reason most community colleges require their distance learning students to travel to campus or a designated location to take their midterm and final exams in a proctored testing center. Many distance learning faculty grumble that instructors in face-to-face classes do not require their students to show them a photo ID before taking a test. They cannot guarantee an enrolled student wrote his or her own term paper. Distance educators often take extra steps to get to know their students, through e-mail communications or writing assignments at the beginning of the term to determine a student’s writing style. Nevertheless, cheating exists, and colleges are searching for ways to protect against any fraud or dishonesty.


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STATEWIDE VIRTUAL NETWORKS OR COLLABORATIONS Most states have created, or are beginning to develop, statewide virtual networks or collaborations where students can find all of the distance learning course offerings in their state listed on one Web site.2 These networks take on various sizes, distance learning delivery formats, and student service options. For example, two- and four-year institutions participate in the Illinois Virtual Campus,3 while only two-year technical colleges belong to the Georgia Virtual Technical Institute.4 The Electronic Campus of Virginia5 offers a variety of distance learning course delivery options while, as its name implies, Colorado Community College Online6 only includes online courses. Collaborations exist at all levels. For example, the colleges within the Virtual College of Texas have developed articulation agreements so students can sign up with a home institution and automatically receive credit for the courses they take from another college in the network. The colleges in the Michigan Community College Virtual Learning Collaborative7 pool their resources and receive minigrants from the Kellogg Foundation to develop courses and programs that will be offered on their network. In 1999 the Maryland Higher Education Commission created the Faculty Online Technology Training Consortium, to fund faculty training at the 20 participating colleges of Maryland Online.8 The administrators of these networks face many challenges, including deciding how the network will be structured, funded, and governed; coordinating program and curriculum development; determining how the network of colleges will deliver student services; developing common forms and articulation agreements; formulating course assessment procedures; and arranging for common faculty training programs.

CHALLENGES—BRIDGING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE While educators at community colleges have been on the front lines providing educational opportunities to nontraditional students, they are continually concerned about excluding access to online courses from those who cannot afford high-end computers or monthly Internet accounts. Their mission to provide open-access education is key and community colleges are concerned by the widening gap that persists between the information “haves” and “have nots,” as the Department of Commerce reported in 1999.9 National statistics show many Americans are still being left behind in the new Information Age, particularly those who reside in economically disadvantaged, predominately minority, and/or rural communities. 2 See

http://www.itcnetwork.org for a list of these statewide collaborations. http://www.ivc.illinois.edu/. 4 See http://www.gvti.org/. 5 See http://www.vacec.bev.net/. 6 See http://www.ccconline.org/. 7 See http://www.mccvlc.org/. 8 See http://www.marylandonline.org/marylandonline/resources fr.html. 9 “Falling Through the Net: Defining the Digital Divide” reports that: 3 See

Between 1997 and 1998, the divide between those at the highest and the lowest education levels increased 25 percent and the divide between the highest and the lowest income levels grew 29 percent. Households with incomes of $75,000 or higher are more than twenty times as likely to have access to the Internet than those at the lowest income levels and more than nine times as likely to have a computer at home. Rural areas are less likely to be connected than urban areas. Regardless of income level, those living in rural areas are lagging behind in computer and Internet access. At some income levels, those in urban areas are 50 percent more likely to have Internet access than those earning the same income in rural areas. See http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/fttn99/contents.html.


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Most community colleges provide these students with access to computer labs on their campuses, so they can participate in online courses, search the Web for educational materials, or research job opportunities. Others are experimenting with providing students with computers through leasing arrangements or low-cost loans for their eventual purchase. Although online courses have seen a surge in popularity, many argue telecourses will continue to be popular as long as the so-called digital divide exists. Telecourse students only need to have access to a television and VCR to view the course material. Dallas TeleLearning, a major telecourse producer, reports that their telecourse enrollments are holding steady, primarily because colleges that are new to the field find telecourses to be a cost-effective way to offer distance learning opportunities to their students. Carolyn Robertson, the director of distance learning at Tarrant Community College District in Fort Worth, Texas, estimates that although all of their online classes have filled up in two weeks at most (and sometimes two days), nearly half of their 13,000 distance learning students from summer 2000 to spring 2001 were telecourse enrollments. There is a lack of national figures for the number of telecourse students, but Michael Fregale at the PBS Adult Learning Service estimates that 500,000 students enrolled in PBS-distributed telecourses in the 1999–2000 academic year, while more than 5 million students have enrolled in their courses since 1981. PBS estimates that colleges generate approximately $100 million a year in tuition each year from telecourses. Similarly, although they only serve students at 200 colleges, RMI Media Productions, Inc., an educational multimedia distributor, rents 18,000 telecourses directly to students each year. These numbers represent only a fraction of the total number of students who are enrolled in telecourses, since many colleges distribute their telecourses for broadcast on their local cable access channels or to students directly through their college library.

FACULTY TRAINING To teach quality, educationally sound distance education courses, faculty need to know how to use technology to incorporate different types of learning media to create a complete educational package that makes sense to their students. At the simplest level, instructors need to know how to post their syllabi to a designated course Web site and use e-mail to communicate with their students. More experienced distance learning instructors enhance their Web sites with hyperlinks, charts, photographs, or videoclips to illustrate ideas, or use chatrooms to create class discussions or facilitate student-to-student interaction. Community colleges with quality distance learning programs have recognized the need to train their existing faculty, who are often uncomfortable using new technologies, so they can use proven pedagogical techniques to teach students in a completely different way. The instructor is no longer a “sage on the stage,” but a mentor and coach who often communicates one-on-one with students who are learning at their own pace in an asynchronous environment. In 1998, Kristen Betts did an extensive survey of 1,001 faculty at George Washington University and found that the lack of release time, lack of technical support from their institution, and concern about workload prevented many instructors from getting involved in distance learning (Betts, 1998). It is unreasonable to expect faculty to take on new initiatives without a high level of institutional support. The need for colleges to offer their teachers enhanced training in educational technologies will only expand as student demand for online courses increases and distance learning becomes a mainstream teaching tool. “Will New Teachers Be Prepared To Teach In A Digital Age?,” a 1999 study funded by the Milken Family Foundation and conducted by the International Society for Technology in Education, found that teacher preparation programs, “while well-intentioned, are not providing


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the kind of training and exposure teachers need if they are to be proficient and comfortable integrating technology with their teaching.”10 Community colleges have been involved in training preservice teachers—those who are planning to teach at the K-12 and postsecondary level—to use these wonderful new technology tools in their classrooms, regardless of whether the learning takes place on site or at a distance. Many teachers save money on their tuition by attending classes at community colleges to learn the latest cutting-edge technologies and then transferring to four-year institutions to complete their education degrees. In Illinois, 67.4% of public university graduates who received a bachelor’s degree in education in 1997 took more than half of their classes at a community college.11 UPDATING THE COPYRIGHT ACT OF 1976 So distance education can achieve its full potential, Congress must update Section 110 of the Copyright Act of 1976 so educators can use the same copyrighted material in a digital environment as the law allows teachers to use in a face-to-face classroom. If a professor finds material that would perfectly illustrate a point in that day’s lecture, the law allows him or her to perform or display the copyrighted material in a face-to-face, but not in a distance learning, classroom. This restriction prevents distance educators from being flexible, hinders their ability to be responsive to student needs, and takes an element of spontaneity away from their courses. Often after determining who owns the copyright for a certain work, requests to use the material in an online setting are met with refusals from the copyright holder, exorbitant price demands, or no response at all. To correct this discrepancy in the copyright law, Congress must enact legislation that implements the recommendations contained in the Report on Copyright and Digital Distance Education released by the Copyright Office in May 1999. These recommendations would extend to distance education the current educational exemptions Congress wisely gave faceto-face instructors in 1976. These recommended changes would also protect the legitimate rights of publishers. A revision of the copyright law based on these recommendations would go a long way toward maximizing the effectiveness of online education. CONCLUSION Distance education will continue to be popular among students at community colleges, as it was in the early 1970s when administrators were struggling to document what they already experienced in the distance learning classroom—that teaching at a distance is a viable, effective means of education that will continue to grow and prosper. As the prices for high-end computers come down and bandwidth limitations are no longer a concern, more educators will use the Internet to transmit a variety of media to an increasingly diverse student population who come from a variety of income levels. Technology provides faculty the vehicle so they can incorporate all kinds of video, music, photographs, text, or other educational materials into their own learning modules to create a unique learning package. To comfort the fears of distance learning skeptics, administrators should view this use of technology as a means to an end. Some students will always need to learn in a face-to-face environment. Most high school students need to leave home after they graduate to experience the independence, diversity, and free flow of ideas a college campus environment brings, almost 10 See

http://www.mff.org/edtech/. College Shared Data Files.

11 University/Community


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as a right of passage. However, distance education serves those students who prefer to learn on their own time or have no other choice but to learn at a distance.

REFERENCES Betts, K. S. (1998). Factors influencing faculty participation in distance education in postsecondary education in the United States: An institutional study. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, The George Washington University. UMI Dissertation Services, Report #9900013. Dalziel, C., & Payne, M. (Eds.). (2001). Quality enhancing practices in distance education: Student services. Washington, DC: Instructional Telecommunications Council. Green, K. R. (2000). The 2000 campus computing survey. Retrieved August 2, 2001, from the World Wide Web: http://www.campuscomputing.net/. Gross, R., Gross, D., & Pirkl, R. (1994). New connections: A college president’s guide to distance education. Washington, DC: Instructional Telecommunications Council. National Association of College Stores. (2001). Student watch campus market research. Online Shopping II (8), 8–9. National Center for Educational Statistics. (2000). Distance education at postsecondary education institutions: 1997– 98. Washington, DC: Department of Education. Western Cooperative for Telecommunications. (2000). Best practices for electronically offered degree and certificate programs. Retrieved July 14, 2001, from the World Wide Web: http://www.wiche.edu/telecom/.


46 Virtual and Distance Education in American Schools Tom Clark TA Consulting taconsulting@yahoo.com

HISTORICAL TRENDS AND CURRENT STATE OF THE FIELD From Independent Study to Virtual Learning The virtual school movement at the turn of the 21st century is in many ways an outgrowth of the independent study high school movement that began in the 1920s. Although it is a counterintuitive thought for many, it would appear that in 2001, independent study programs still enroll more students in K-12 courses via distance education than all of the technologybased methods combined. Over 30 regionally accredited colleges and universities provided high school courses via independent study in 2000–2001. Most offered a full curriculum, and at least seven had high school diploma programs. By 2001, at least five offered all essential courses in their high school diploma program online through a virtual school, as well as continuing their independent study options. The learning and support infrastructures of these virtual school efforts build directly upon the long experience of these schools in their independent study high school programs. The role of independent study programs as the forerunner of virtual schools is nowhere more apparent than at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). The university began a supervised correspondence study program in 1929. The university’s Independent Study High School won state accreditation for its diploma program in 1967 and regional accreditation through the North Central Association in 1978 (Young & McMahon, 1991). In spring 1996, the university was the first organization to obtain federal funding to build a virtual school through its CLASS Project. The university’s Department of Distance Education used a $2.5 million proof of concept funding from the U.S. General Services Administration and a five-year, $17.5 million U.S. Department of Education Star Schools Program grant to develop custom software and build a complete Web-based high school curriculum. In 1999, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln shifted its focus to a unique approach to attaining sustainability, building on its experience in 673


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spinning off private companies from its research-and-development efforts. Through an exclusive licensing agreement, a newly established corporation, Class.com, marketed the university’s online high school courses. As federal funding ended in 2001, Class.com and the Department of Distance Education parted ways. Ownership of the CLASS software became nebulous, and Class.com ported its courses to a commercial platform, continuing to pay royalties to the university, while UNL’s Department of Distance Education began developing its own courses and had a partial core curriculum available once again in 2002. Many years earlier, Nebraska’s supervised correspondence study effort appears to have been the first federally funded K-12 distance education program. In 1932 Nebraska received a $5,000 grant from the Carnegie Foundation for curriculum enrichment in small high schools, through continued implementation of its supervised study method (Broady, 1932). Pilot funding from Carnegie led to what was an enormous federal grant at the time for an educational program— $100,000 a year for 10 years from the federal Works Progress Administration, or WPA (Young & McMahon, 1991). Supervised Correspondence Study. From the beginning, a key way high school independent study differed from postsecondary independent study was in the use of supervision. The Nebraska plan for enriching the curriculum of small high schools through a supervised extension service has become the model for much of Nebraska’s subsequent work in supervised independent study and even in the virtual school program marketed today by Class.com. In supervised correspondence study, “the local high school secures the lessons, provides periods in the regular school day for study, supervises the pupils’ work, and returns the lessons to the correspondence study center” which prepares and grades the lessons (Broady, Platt, & Bell, 1931, p. 9). This plan had its basis in an earlier experiment. Superintendent Sydney C. Mitchell devised the Benton Harbor Plan for supervised vocational correspondence study in 1923 (Mitchell, 1923). Mitchell conceived it as a method “For the Ninety Percent” who were at risk of not finishing high school, hence the title of his groundbreaking 1923 article. He saw expanding vocational curricula during the school day as a way of reaching these at-risk learners. The plan required local adult supervision throughout the course of study and other support structures intended to help guarantee high completion and retention rates. From 1923 to 1930, over 100 high schools started supervised correspondence study programs (Harding, 1944). Prior to 1929, Mitchell’s Benton Harbor Plan and most other high school programs relied primarily on vocational programs from for-profit proprietary correspondence study firms. In 1929, the University of Nebraska became the first university to use supervised correspondence study, based instead upon a mix of vocational and academic high school courses from its university correspondence study department. “Supervised correspondence study may serve either or both of two distinct purposes in education,” Mitchell wrote in 1939. “In either case, the techniques of administration are similar” (p. 12). Growth of Independent Study. Independent study is the term commonly used by universities since the 1960s to describe their style of correspondence study. The University Continuing Education Association (UCEA), founded in 1915 as the National University Extension Association (NUEA), represents mainly colleges and universities with outreach functions including independent study for K-12, college, and noncredit audiences. The sole member institution offering high school but not college courses by independent study is the North Dakota Division of Independent study, part of the state department of education. Six other states have nonuniversity-based independent study divisions but are not UCEA members. Most UCEA members also belong to the American Association for Collegiate Independent Study (AACIS). Vocational institutions use the term home study to describe their type of independent study


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(Moore & Kearsley, 1996). The Distance Education and Training Council (DETC), formerly the Home Study Council, acts mainly as a clearinghouse and accrediting body for vocational independent study opportunities. Five of the eight private high schools accredited by DETC in 2001 offered full diploma programs. Some colleges and universities without high school independent study units offer K-12 distance learning through various technologies. Michigan State University offers Advanced Placement (AP) courses, in part through the Michigan Virtual High School, a program of the free-standing Michigan Virtual University. A number of colleges and universities participate in satellite-based videoconferencing consortia or use compressed video to deliver high school and concurrent enrollment courses, discussed in a later section. There has been limited experimentation with elementary-level correspondence study through the years. Montana’s department of education used it during the World War II gasoline shortage (Haight, 1944). Many independent study high school programs grant limited admission to their programs for junior high students. Independent study has continued to make quiet contributions to K-12 distance learning. The Portable Assisted Study Sequence (PASS) Program is a good example. Begun in 1978 by Parlier High School in California, PASS used competency-based credits and portable learning (independent study) packets to help migrant students complete high school. By the mid-1980s, PASS had been adopted in 13 states, enrolling over 4,000 students in nearly 7,000 courses and allowing them to earn over 1,000 semester credits, with 806 achieving high school graduation (Morse, Haro, & Herron, 1986). PASS is still a component of many migrant education programs across the nation. Estimating the Scope of K-12 Distance Education It is difficult to estimate the scope of K-12 distance education. Overall high school enrollments in high school independent study, in terms of unique individuals enrolled and total course enrollments, have been tracked consistently over time by UCEA, but there have not been efforts to systematically track enrollments by home study, videoconferencing, and other K-12 distance education methods at the national level. While the U.S. Department of Education has begun to systematically study the scope of postsecondary distance education, no such efforts are apparent at the K-12 level. Adding to difficulties in estimating scope is dual enrollment. High school students have participated in dual-enrollment opportunities through independent study, telecourses, videoconference courses, and Web-based courses designed for lower division college students, but postsecondary institutions do not track these enrollments systematically. Some efforts have been made to track the growth in technologies used for distance education or supplemental technology-enhanced education. The last national study of all school technologies by the U.S. Department of Education was in fall 1996. It found little growth from the previous year, except in Internet and computer access. Since then, the department has focused on study of access to computers and the Internet. Two for-profit firms, Quality Education Data (QED) and Market Data Retrieval, cover technology access in schools but have had a similar focus on computers and the Internet in recent years. In 1998, QED’s national survey of schools showed a growth in use of satellite TV equipment from 1 to 20% between 1991 and 1998 but a slowing growth rate by 1995. A stable 76% of schools were using cable TV in annual surveys from 1995 through 1997. Only about 3% of all public schools, including 6% of high schools, owned videoconferencing equipment in 1996–1997 (Quality Education Data, 1998). These results were similar to those reported in the fall 1996 Department of Education survey. Technologies may vary substantially by school size and location. About 40% of K-12 unit schools, typically the smallest and most rural districts, reported use of satellite television in 1999 (Howley & Harmon, 2000).


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Enrollm ent

200000 150000 Enrollm ent over tim e

100000 50000 0 35 42 49 56 63 70 77 84 91 98 Year

FIG. 46.1. NUCEA Independent Study High School Course Enrollments, 1935–1998.

Figure 46.1 shows the continued growth of high school independent study. The NUEA began tracking academic high school study by correspondence in its member institutions in 1929. Bittner and Mallory (1933) bemoan the “difficulty of securing uniformity in methods of counting students and enrollments” (p. 270). The first numbers graphed in Fig. 46.1 are for 1934–1935, when 75% of enrollments were at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The steady growth of supervised correspondence study continued during World War II, when a teacher shortage and early enlistment spurred a jump in high school enrollments. The United States Armed Forces Institute (USAFI), affiliated with the University of Wisconsin, acted as a broker for high school completion and other independent study educational opportunities for soldiers from 1942 through 1974 (Gooch, 1998). After the war, high school enrollments in NUEA institutions dropped until the mid-1950s, when they resumed a steady upward trend. The NUEA continued to track enrollments, as it became the National University Continuing Education Association (NUCEA) in the 1960s, then the UCEA in the 1990s. After slower growth in the 1970s, enrollments increased 40% in the 1980s (NUCEA, 1991) and a similar rate in the 1990s, reaching 164,000 in 1997–1998, according to Pittman (2000), a chronicler of the American independent study movement. In the 1990s, a majority of high school independent study programs were seeing enrollment declines, offset by enrollment increases in the largest programs. Some universities phased out or downsized their high school programs. The leader in high school enrollments was Texas Tech University Independent School District, which had not actively pursued a virtual school option by 2001. Emergence of the Virtual School The emergence of virtual schools for K-12 learners in the late 1990s represents the latest in an ever-accelerating series of technological advances in the field of K-12 distance education. Clark (2001) identified and surveyed a “peer group” of 44 regionally accredited or state approved U.S. K-12 schools that offered Web-based instruction in 2000–2001, achieving a 73% response rate. Here a virtual school was defined as a regionally accredited or state-approved school offering one or more Web- or Internet-based K-12 courses. Identifying the total universe of virtual schools is complicated by the fact that many schools offer a course or two through a consortium or from an external provider, granting credit locally. For example, the VHS consortium reported 3,000 course enrollments in courses shared by 170 schools in 2000–2001, with each participating school offering at least one online course. Of the schools responding to the 2001 survey, all reported offering high school courses online in 2000–2001, and a surprising 51% said they offered middle school courses as well. A majority developed at least some of their own courses. Most were counting course enrollments only, making it difficult to provide any reliable estimate of how many unique individuals were enrolled. Counting course enrollments according to standard high school Carnegie units is necessary to estimate full-time equivalent


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students served for program funders. Responding schools reported at least 24,000 K-12 online course enrollments. This number is, of course, still far fewer than the course enrollment figures for high school independent study. Virtual K-12 schools may be grouped in many ways. As seen in the previous section, they may be part of or an outgrowth of independent study high school programs at universities. Some are sponsored or sanctioned as statewide by state governments or state departments of education, while others are virtual charter schools with a statewide reach. Numerous local and regional education agencies have developed online schools, mainly to supplement local course options. Private for-profit and nonprofit schools have developed online courses and programs to serve academic and vocational curricula. Virtual schools developed by public and private consortia and nonprofit organizations have also had a national impact. Course, content, and platform providers, many of them for-profit corporations, also play a critical role in virtual school development. Some authors made prescient statements about virtual schools during the “pre-Web” era. In December 1987, Morten Paulsen, a Norwegian distance education expert, penned an article entitled “In Search of a Virtual School.” Referring to both K-12 and postsecondary education, Paulsen asserted, “the virtual school will dominate future distance education. It is possible to create a virtual school around a computer-based information system ...at present, computer conferencing is the only technology that can serve as a basis for creating a virtual school” (pp. 71–73). Paulsen believed that in contrast to previous distance learning systems, computer conferencing systems had the capability to handle the professional, didactic, administrative, and social tasks necessary to run a virtual school. Other authors expressed similar ideas, but the technology was not ready. In the 1980s and 1990s, many schools used computer-based or computer-aided instruction methods for supplemental drill and practice and individualized instruction. Computer conferencing emerged, in which computer users could exchange information by “e-mail” or interact in real time. During the 1990s, the main focus in K-12 schools was getting on the Internet. Berge and Collins (1998) compiled descriptions from the field of the supplemental use of Internet technologies in a wide variety of K-12 “online classroom” contexts. They characterized these K-12 activities as a form of computer-mediated communication, or CMC. Computer networking at the school building, district, regional, and statewide levels has been used to integrate technology into the curriculum, perform administrative tasks, and provide online resources and supplemental distance learning activities for students and teachers since the late 1980s (Eisenberg, 1992). Multimedia tools also emerged in the 1980s and 1990s that could be used to create highly interactive and engaging content and instructional methods in computer-based environments. All of these technologies and approaches helped set the stage for the virtual school movement. By 1994, there were already several virtual school experiments underway. Many of the early virtual schools combined Internet tools such as e-mail, chat, and FTP with computer-aided instruction techniques to deliver mainly text-based online instruction. The Utah Electronic High School began in 1994 as a broker for a blend of technology-delivered high school courses from in-state and out-of-state providers. It was housed in the state department of education, an approach subsequently used by many statewide virtual schools. Federal and state funding has played a major role in the growth of the virtual school movement, beginning with the spring 1996 to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln documented earlier. That fall, a federal grant helped launch the Hawaii E-School, the first state-level, state-operated virtual school using only online instruction. In 1997, the Concord Consortium’s Virtual High School project received federal funding. Just as the Western Governors University jump-started interest in virtual universities, these high-profile projects helped raise similar interest in virtual schools. The Florida Virtual School, originally the Florida Online High


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CLARK TABLE 46.1 State-Sanctioned State-Level Virtual Schools: Operational Model and Year Founded

Free-Standing School Florida (1997) Michigan (2000)

∗ Hawaii

Operated by a Consortium, State Education Agency or Partner Arkansas (2000) Illinois (2001) Alabama (1999) Oklahoma (2002)

Primarily Operated by State Education Agency Utah (1994) Louisiana (2000) New Mexico (2001) Hawaii (1996)∗

Kentucky (2000) North Dakota (2000) West Virginia (2000) Idaho (2002)∗

re-established as a charter school in 2000; Idaho established as a charter school in 2002

School was begun that same year as a cooperative effort between two Florida school districts funded through a state grant. A second wave of virtual schools began appearing in 1999. By August 2002, at least 14 states had virtual schools in operation that were officially recognized by the governor, legislature or state education agency as ‘the’ statewide virtual school (see Table 46.1). Florida and Michigan have a freestanding statewide virtual school funded through a legislative line item, but other statewide schools typically are operated by the state education agency or by a consortium that includes this agency. Many other states had funded online Advanced Placement course enrollments in their states but did not characterize their efforts as a “statewide” virtual school. Most notable of these is California’s University of California College Prep initiative. In Oklahoma, a statewide pilot project called VISION (Virtual Internet School in Oklahoma Network) was funded by the legislature in 2001 to offer online math courses in elementary and secondary schools. Some states seem unsure about pursuing a statewide virtual school option. Virtual charter schools are another emerging state-level phenomenon. The Hawaii E-School, one of the first statewide virtual schools, transitioned to Hawaii E-Charter in 2001 as its federal funding ended. The Idaho Virtual High School, which began instruction in summer 2002, is a state-operated charter school in which financial apportionment per pupil to local school districts from general education revenue is based upon student completions of the school’s virtual courses, resulting in a net neutral effect on school funding. Most virtual charter schools, however, are operated by local or regional education agencies. Some states allow operation by nonprofits, such as eCOT, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, Ohio’s largest charter school, with about 2,800 enrollments, and by for-profit entities. One of the longest-running charters is Basehor-Linwood Virtual Charter School, established by a Kansas public school district in 1997. In Kansas, participation in statewide virtual charter school activities is at the discretion of local districts. In most of the 38 states with charter school legislation, state aid follows the student to the district operating the charter school. In Pennsylvania, legislation requires the district of a student’s residence to pay directly for attendance at the state’s seven virtual charter schools, even for homeschoolers not previously registered in district. This led to a lawsuit by the Pennsylvania Schools Boards Association (2001) on behalf of districts refusing to pay for unexpected bills for which they cannot budget. The main target audience of the virtual charter schools is homeschoolers. In spring 1999, an estimated 850,000 students nationwide were being homeschooled (U.S. Department of Education, 2001a), an estimate some consider conservative. A new for-profit school called K12, headed by former Secretary of Education William Bennett, was established to operate virtual charter schools for early elementary grade homeschoolers in Pennsylvania and four other states through agreements with existing districts. This new virtual school builds on the experience of private schools serving elementary homeschoolers through independent study supervised by a parent.


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Many local education agencies have also opened virtual schools mainly intended to provide alternative or supplemental education for in-district students and to reach out to homeschoolers in their states. Mindquest is an online diploma program for adults and young adults who have left school, administered by the Bloomington, Minnesota, public schools. The Internet Academy, operated by the Federal Way, Washington public schools, serves primarily in-district homeschool students. HISD Virtual School in Houston, Texas, provides online AP courses and a full middle school curriculum. Some are offering online summer school courses for the district’s students, such as Spring (Texas) ISD’s eBranch. Some regional education agencies, such as Virtual Greenbush in Kansas, provide access to virtual courses, mainly from external providers, as one of their many services to districts. A wide range of for- and nonprofit and private K-12 schools have also entered the virtual education market. Virtual private schools primarily serve homeschoolers. A few are accredited by one of the six regional accreditation agencies or have approval as a recognized diplomagranting educational program through a state education agency. Accredited virtual private schools include the Keystone Virtual High School, part of Keystone National High School, one of the oldest proprietary high schools in the nation, and the nonprofit Christa McAuliffe Academy, which emphasizes individualized instruction via courseware delivered over the Internet, with personal mentoring and weekly cohort classes online. Other regionally accredited schools include Laurel Springs School and WISE Internet High School. Many private schools offer evidence of accreditation by an alternative accreditation body, but those obtaining high school diplomas from these schools may face challenges in establishing their equivalency with diplomas from regionally accredited or state-approved schools in seeking employment or university admission. However, many of these providers offer excellent resources for parents conducting homeschool instruction, who already faced those issues. Well-known providers include the International High School and the Willoway Cybershool. Consortia are also playing an important role in the growth of virtual schooling. The best known of these is the Concord Virtual High School, founded in 1997 by the Hudson (Massachusetts) public schools and the Concord Consortium, now operated by the nonprofit VHS Inc. The VHS, Inc.(R) is a unique cooperative in which schools across the nation have contributed a “netcourse” and in return received 20 student enrollments in courses offered by consortium member schools. Based on the success of the VHS model, other virtual schools such as the long-running Cyberschool in Eugene, Oregon, and the Colorado Online School Consortium have adopted similar approaches. Many consortia are extending existing “P-16” dual-credit partnerships via on-site or videoconference-based courses to the Web, such as Lewis and Clark Community College in Illinois and the Connecticut Distance Learning Consortium. Two multistate consortia of state governments, AP Nexus in the southeast and the Western Consortium for Accelerated Learning Opportunities, seek to expand access to Advanced Placement online courses in member states. Course, content, and platform providers, many of them for-profits, also play a critical role in the growth of the virtual school movement. Many virtual schools today are basically “portals” that obtain their Web-based courses from vendors or other virtual schools, but a majority use external provider software and delivery platforms to develop their own courses or co-develop courses with external providers or other schools. A limited number have created custom software and delivery platforms, such as Nebraska CLASS, briefly profiled earlier. Course providers such as the for-profits Class.com and Apex Learning and the nonprofit Florida Virtual School have become builders and operators of virtual schools, working with local districts. Some for-profit providers of course development and delivery platforms have added a focus on K-12 to their primary focus on postsecondary education markets.


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Audio-Based K-12 Distance Education The first major electronic media used in distance education, educational radio, saw limited use in U.S. K-12 education, especially in the 1920s and 1930s. It was used mainly for supplemental instruction. Gordon (1931) conducted music instruction by radio for Wisconsin schools and in 1930 conducted a simple comparative study of 25 music classes receiving instruction by radio versus an equal number studying conventionally, with the same materials. Barresi (1987) notes that while the study would not withstand “the rigorous scrutiny of today’s researchers” (p. 266), it gave Gordon the opportunity to test K-12 instructional materials designed for radio. Radio still has many supplemental uses in U.S. K-12 education, mainly as an object of study rather than an instructional delivery method (Ninno, 2000). Educational telephone has also had limited applications in K-12 education. Statewide educational telephone networks such as Wisconsin’s ETN began to appear in the late 1970s, serving mainly continuing and community education purposes. Some universities experimented with audioconferencing, supplemented by videotape or other media, for K-12 instruction. Schmidt, Sullivan, and Hardy (1994) report the use of audioconferencing by the UT Telelearning Center to successfully teach an Algebra I course for remedial purposes to migrant students at a growing number of sites. The audioconferencing portion of the Learn Alaska Network may be considered its only successful component, providing programming for K-12 and other audiences in remote areas (Bramble, 1988). Audioconferencing and computer conferencing led into a variety of low-bandwidth networking technologies in the 1980s, such as freeze-frame video, audiographics, and Videotex (Hudson & Boyd, 1984). For example, the Northeastern Utah Telelearning Project used audiographics to deliver high school courses among five rural high schools (Miller, 1989). Contact North built an audiconferencing network in Northern Ontario, with a focus on providing college preparatory courses (McGreal & Simand, 1992). Audioconferencing was used as a key component in later technologies with widespread applications in K-12 education, such as satellite and network-based videoconferencing.

Video-Based K-12 Distance Education A variety of video-based media have been used for distance education in schools. Elsewhere in this volume, Wisher and Curnow describe large-scale empirical studies on the use of instructional film and television in the K-12 classroom. Through its Sixth Report and Order in 1952, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reserved TV channels for educational use, facilitating the creation of a national network of educational stations. Later rulings reserved space for education on cable TV and direct-to-home satellite systems. The Communications Act of 1934, establishing the FCC, did not reserve educational frequencies for radio. K-12 educational television programming began in 1933 at the University of Iowa over Experimental Visual Broadcasting Station W9XK, with supplemental 15-minute evening broadcasts to groups of children, such as Boy Scouts seeking to meet merit badge requirements. About 389 such programs were broadcast between 1932 and 1939 (Kurtz, 1959). This early tradition of out-of-school educational broadcasting for children was continued through popular programs such as Sesame Street and 3-2-1 Contact on PBS stations beginning in the 1970s. Supplemental in-school experiences have also been a major focus. In 1998, about 80% of U.S. public television stations provided educational services to elementary or secondary schools (Corporation for Pubic Broadcasting, 1999). In general, the use of educational broadcast television in the United States for full courses designed for K-12 learners has been rare. In Canada, provincial networks have provided both supplemental broadcasting and full courses for K-12 learners. Kuplowska (1987) evaluates four K-12 courses offered by TVOntario.


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Satellite Videoconferencing. Satellite videoconferencing also emerged in the mid-1980s as a method of providing high-quality video-based instruction without the use of terrestrial transmitters. It represented an evolution from airplane-based transmitters, such as the Midwest Program on Airborne Television Instruction, launched in 1961 by Purdue University to provide supplemental telecasts to K-12 learners in six Midwestern states (Smith, 1961). Ten years after the first satellite was placed in a stationary geosynchronous orbit around the earth, the Applications Technology Satellite F (ATS-F) series was used in 1973 to telecast pilot programs for K-12 educators (Grayson, Norwood, & Wigren, 1973). In 1985, the first national satellite network created to serve K-12 education was founded. The TI-IN Network was privately operated and delivered courses and staff development programming developed at Education Service Center 20 in San Antonio, Texas. By 1986, it had 150 receive sites in 12 states and offered 18 high school courses and staff development opportunities (Pease & Tinsley, 1986). Similar networks operated by universities, state education agencies, and consortia were developed to serve national and state-level audiences. In 1988, these educational satellite networks began to receive federal funding to support their programming through the U.S. Department of Education’s Star Schools Program, which may be considered the first modern-day federal funding for K-12 distance education (Kirby, 1998). Small and rural school districts have shown the greatest continuing interest in these curriculum-expanding opportunities, as evidenced by figures presented previously. The emergence in 1989 of the for-profit Channel One led to controversy. A commercial satellite provider that offers a video news magazine for grades 6–12 via dedicated satellite receivers in schools, Channel One interlaced advertising with content. However, studies did appear to indicate positive impact, as detailed later in this chapter. In the late 1990s, as satellite direct-to-home commercial TV systems emerged to compete with cable TV systems for television viewers, they forged partnerships similar to Cable in the Classroom, an initiative begun by the cable TV industry in 1989. These partnerships allow commercial cable and satellite providers to fulfill FCC requirements through public interest programming channels and free access to copyright-cleared content for schools. Some satellite education networks are providing programming for these new satellite-based public interest channels offered by commercial providers. New technologies allow the use of satellite networks as Internet backbones, linking directly into school networks and allowing the sharing of digital information such as video on demand. Doubtless new K-12 applications will emerge from these innovative uses of a “mature” technology. From 1987 through 1999, Hezel Associates annually documented distance learning activities in all 50 states. Their last report (Hezel Associates, 1998) is probably the best overall descriptive source on networking activity at all educational levels, including terrestrial and satellite networks. Beginning in the 1980s, terrestrial videoconferencing networks were established with a succession of technologies. Closed-circuit educational telecommunications networks using compressed or full-motion videoconferencing systems for two-way video, two-way audio emerged in the early 1990s and began replacing systems based on microwave closed-circuit telecasts and Instructional Television-Fixed Service microwave broadcasts. Hundreds of small videoconferencing networks appeared at the K-12 level, linking schools at the district, regional, and state levels, and consortia of all levels of educational institutions. These networks are used for distance education and supplemental learning, in-service training, and meetings (Bosak, 2000). Planning for statewide networks can be traced at least to the mid-1970s. Most statewide networking efforts have involved separate or bundled services for voice, video, and data and include computer networks linking K-12 schools. Early educational networks, such as the Education Network of Maine in 1989, combined two-way video via microwave with microwave broadcasts (ITFS) or compressed video to


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outlying sites. The Utah Education Network, serving both K-12 and higher education, came online in 1991 using a microwave backbone and compressed video to other sites. Oregon’s EDNET, begun in 1989, consisted of satellite, compressed video, and computer networks. Later networks used fiber optic technologies. The Iowa Communications Network is the most extensive and unique example. This state-owned and financed network connects over 700 two-way full-motion video classrooms in K-12 schools and other mainly nonprofit facilities, including almost every high school in the state. Sites are generally required to use compatible equipment and follow a central network design. Costs of network use are subsidized. Similar statewide networks were built in the mid-1990s, usually with private financing and ownership by the regional telephone company, such as the Maryland Information Highway and the North Carolina Information Highway. The Georgia Statewide Academic and Medical System, using analog compressed video, was funded in 1992 through legislation applying overcharges by the regional telephone company to network construction. Later regional and statewide networks, such as the Illinois Century Network, have been overlays of existing regional or local videoconferencing networks. There has been declining interest in adding new capacity to statewide and regional video networks in recent years. Subsidies for local schools are decreasing and line costs increasing. Meanwhile, the focus has moved to computer-based online learning. Martin (1993) found that schools that obtained satellite downlinks through a 1998–1990 Star Schools grant to 35 Oklahoma schools generally continued to receive programming after grant-funded support ended, although about half reported a decrease in use from the first year of operation. Some satellite education networks ceased to offer K-12 courses during the 1990s. For example, Oklahoma State University’s Advanced Placement Physics by Satellite was taken off the air in 1997 due to rising costs (OSU, 2001). Its K-12 Academy continues with videotapes and online courses. However, many videoconference networks and satellite education networks continued to serve stable or growing numbers of K-12 participants. Distance and Virtual Professional Development for K-12 Educators In addition to providing direct K-12 instruction, distance learning systems from independent study to the Internet have played an important role in the provision of professional development programming for K-12 educators (Schmidt & Faulkner, 1989). Those interested in a recent comprehensive overview of distance education designed for K-12 educators may wish to consult Teaching and Learning at a Distance (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2000). Distance learning for preservice teacher education and in-service professional development has a long history in the United States. The first teachers or normal college to offer correspondence study appears to have been Western State Normal School (later Western Michigan University) in Kalamazoo, Michigan, beginning in 1905 (Bittner & Mallory, 1933). Maul (1929) identified 59 of 157 teacher’s colleges and normal schools responding to a 1928 survey as offering college courses by correspondence. Today hundreds of postsecondary institutions offer courses via distance learning for K-12 educators, and some offer online degree programs in education. These courses and programs are applicable toward initial and special certification, recertification, administrative certifications, and advanced degrees in education or teaching content areas. The use of videotaped or live broadcasts of “best practice” classrooms to instruct preservice educators in teaching techniques (for example, Merkley & Hoy, 1985) is an example of the supplemental use of distance education methods in preservice educator training. Shortages of certified teachers have led to a focus on distance education programs for the alternative certification for educators working with temporary licenses, including elementary, secondary, and special education teachers. In California, CalStateTeach was developed by


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California State University to provide online courses for alternative certification of K-8 teachers with emergency credentials (Shaker, 2000). In general, K-12 educators must be licensed by a state in order to work in its schools. Many states are creating new certification requirements as part of education reform. Competency-based recertification approaches are replacing approaches that merely require the accumulation of university credits. In addition, many local districts have policies for increased pay tied to advanced degrees or certificates. For online professional development providers to be successful, they must build on existing staff development activities and networks, with a focus on improving teaching and learning, not on the technology (Killion, 2000). External providers supplement the efforts of staff development infrastructures within local and regional education agencies. Regional universities are the traditional providers of college credit courses applicable to recertification, but distance and virtual learning allows access to new providers. Online staff development systems can complement data-driven assessment of training needs and support teachers in their individualized professional development portfolios. Schrum (1992) describes an early Internet-based professional development course designed to introduce teachers to technology and distance learning methods. The most common topic for online professional development appears to be technology and its integration in the classroom, although there are also well-established examples of online professional development specific to core content areas. Factors in the Current State of K-12 Distance and Virtual Learning Some of the factors affecting the current state of K-12 virtual and distance education include demographic factors, attitudes in society and schools, education market forces, access and equity issues, and federal and state support and policies. Demographic Factors. As noted earlier, participation in K-12 distance education courses delivered by satellite appear highest in rural and small schools. Over half of the schools participating in the Concord VHS, a virtual school collaborative, have enrollments under 800 students (U.S. Department of Education, 2000a). K-12 student populations have continued to grow in many states, taxing conventional school facilities and resources. However, it is not clear that distance learning has been an important factor in directly addressing shortages of educational facilities in these states. Conventional K-12 schools play an important role by supervising children as their parents work, a role that virtual schools cannot play. Most students in Web-based and video-based courses offered by state-approved or regionally accredited schools appear to be taking their courses as part of regular instruction within a public school (Clark, 2001). Instead of replacing conventional schools, virtual schools have expanded curricular options and extended teaching resources for students in those schools, while also expanding options for homeschool students. Attitudes in Society and Schools. The attitudes of parents and community members play an important role in determining K-12 student participation in distance and virtual learning. As Iowa developed its statewide education network in the mid-1990s, an important goal was to obtain community support through public relations efforts and a focus on network use in K-12 education (Sorensen & Sweeney, 1994). These efforts may help explain the continuing financial support of Iowans in building what became the largest statewide videoconferencing network. A national Phi Delta Kappa poll of 1,108 adults (Rose & Gallup, 2001) shows that 30% of respondents approved allowing students to earn high school credits over the Internet without attending a regular school, compared with 41% who approved of homeschooling. The authors felt that this showed that the public “is less willing to embrace cyberspace instruction” than


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homeschooling (p. 42). However, those surveyed were not asked about students earning credits over the Internet while attending a regular school, which appears to be at least as common an arrangement in practice. Schools are responsive to local public demands for education reforms like integrating the latest technology into education, but slow to institutionalize such changes. Only reforms with deep-rooted constituencies tend to persist. Cuban (1998) has long noted the limited and unimaginative use of available technology by classroom teachers. Teachers are mainly concerned with using instructional methods they see as practical and effective within traditional school structures. These structures often work against interdisciplinary, distributed uses of technology and provide limited technology support for teachers. Only 23% of a national sample of students in “high-tech” schools surveyed in 2001 reported using computers at least 5 hours a week in school (Education Week, 2001). Education Market Forces. As described earlier in this chapter, many for-profit vendors are participating in the development of virtual schools. For these for-profit companies, K-12 distance and virtual learning is part of a multibillion-dollar education market in which the interests of venture capitalists and shareholders must be weighed along with those of students, parents, and local communities. A significant portion of the technology investments in schools has come through in-kind donations from technology vendors. These for-profit organizations work closely with state and local education agencies and play a role in public policymaking and planning. Access and Equity Issues. Access to distance education and educational technology has been seen by states and the federal government as a way in which schools can address important equity issues. Coupled with issues of curriculum equity and equitable support structures for distance learners, these inequities in technology access and use have serious implications for those seeking to provide equal access to virtual schooling via the Internet. Support for technology infrastructure building at the local, regional, and state levels is one way policymakers have sought to equalize educational opportunities. By 2000, 98% of U.S. schools had Internet access, compared to 35% in 1994 (U.S. Department of Education, 2001b). This rapid rise can be attributed in part to the Education rate (E-rate) program, a federal program to develop Internet infrastructure in schools and libraries. Established in 1996, by 2001 it had provided $5.8 billion in support to E-rate applicants. Gaps in access to educational technology persist in schools but have narrowed. For example, the ratio of students to Internet-connected computers in 2000 was 9 to 1 in the poorest schools, where it had been 17 to 1 only a year earlier. However, the ratio was 6 to 1 for students in low-poverty schools. The latest in a series of special reports on technology in schools (Education Week, 2001) highlight inequities in how computers are used to educate children, rather than inequitable access to computers. The report finds that poor children, minority students, girls, low achievers, students learning to speak English, children with disabilities, and youngsters who live in rural areas may not benefit equally from computer access. Some researchers have studied technology access for special populations, such as the compliance of distance learning systems with the Americans with Disabilities Act (Meyen, Lian, & Tangen, 1998) and barriers to technology access for K-12 learners with disabilities (U.S. Department of Education, 2000b). Support structures for K-12 distance learners in multiple-site courses can vary considerably. For example, Moore, Burton, and Dodl (1991) found considerable variability in local standards and qualifications for satellite education facilitators in a statewide project. Curriculum equity has become a rallying point for those seeking to redress historical inequities in education (Hill, 2000). The virtual school movement has been fueled in part by a lawsuit against the state of California over access to Advanced Placement high school courses that can increase college opportunities for K-12 learners. A number of state departments of education have used a


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portion of their federal AP funding to purchase services from virtual school AP providers and incorporated these AP courses into their statewide virtual schools in part to address curriculum equity issues. Tushnet and Fleming-McCormick (1995) reported on an evaluation of projects funded through the Star Schools Program that found participating rural schools more likely to achieve equity objectives through satellite-based distance learning than high-minority and low-income urban schools. Urban high-need schools face challenges in making effective use of distance education. The TEAMS project of the Los Angeles County Office of Education, funded through the federal Star Schools Program, is frequently cited as an example of supplemental distance learning successful with urban K-12 learners (Majdalany & Guiney, 1999). Another curriculum equity issue is the use of distance learning in academic tracking. In a 1984 survey, only 25% of school counselors at small high schools in Texas reported recommending correspondence study to students needing additional credits, and most correspondence students they referred were D and F students (Barker & Petersen, 1984). On the other hand, a later survey of principals at small Texas schools showed that 80% limited enrollment in satellite videoconferencing courses to A and B students (Barker, 1987). However, vocationally oriented high school correspondence study has been shown to reduce dropout rates and increase GED completion for school leavers (Bucks County Public Schools, 1972). In the 1980s, computer-based drill and practice became a common tool in working with at-risk learners, and Internet-based alternative schools have emerged as a strand in the virtual school movement. Federal and State Support and Policies. The federal government has traditionally seen educational technology and distance learning as tools for use in education reform and school improvement efforts. In the United States, K-12 education is locally controlled but governed at the state level with some federal assistance (Clark & Else, 1998a). Canadian K-12 education is similarly governed at the provincial or territorial level (MacKeracher, 1984). A number of federal grant programs have supported the development of K-12 and virtual learning in the United States, as is evident in projects described earlier in this chapter. States have provided “pass-through” grants through federal education reform programs used for widespread experimentation at the local and regional level and have developed state-level initiatives for education networks and technology in support of educational reform. Federal grants spurred the development of the first large-scale uses of supervised independent study and virtual or online study. Future federal support for such innovations may be targeted more directly to high-need school districts. The educational technology programs of the U.S. Department of Education are proposed for consolidation into state block grants by the Bush administration, with formula application to districts serving low-income populations replacing competitive grant proposals. Perhaps the most well-known federal policy document focusing on K-12 distance learning in the United States is Linking for Learning (Office of Technology Assessment, 1987). It contains case studies, contractor reports, and analyses of technological and policy options. Defining distance education in terms of electronically delivered instructional activities, including supplemental classroom experiences via telecommunications, the authors concluded its use in K-12 education had increased dramatically over the past five years. They noted that state education agencies could act both as gatekeepers and catalysts and that federal and state regulations significantly affected the development of distance education. The report called for supportive policies, more research and evaluation to show effectiveness, stronger dissemination efforts, expansion of infrastructures, and support for teachers involved in distance education. The report of the Web Based Education Commission (2000) made similar recommendations across all education levels, with a focus on expanding access to Internet technologies. State mandates on the compulsory nature of K-12 education and seat-time requirements for state aid to local districts have helped sustain the supervised independent study method, and


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other distance learning methods such as group-based videoconference courses, to the present day. State departments of education provide state-level approval of programs and diplomas, sometimes applying seat-time or other requirements that private or university-based virtual schools cannot meet. Distance teacher certification is a continuing issue. Moore and Kearsley (1996) cite England (1991), who found that only 37% of state education agencies responding to a survey allowed out-of-state K-12 teachers to teach distance students in their state without obtaining in-state certification. While no more recent state-by-state distance teacher certification studies are apparent in the literature, some states have developed certification reciprocity agreements applicable to distance learning. However, many distance education providers continue to work around this issue by assigning a local teacher as supervisor who becomes the teacher of record or training in-state teachers to teach sections of their courses. Several researchers have attempted state-by-state reviews of K-12 distance education policies and practices, mostly in the 1980s and early 1990s. Moore and Kearsley (1996) cite a number of state-level inventories or other resource studies leading to recommendations for policies or regulations supporting the statewide development of distance learning systems. They state that “eventually, statewide systems will have to be created” (p. 185) due to the advantages of economies of scale. However, while some states have sought to create unified “one-stop” access to their various distance learning infrastructures, the components continue to be operated by different agencies. With a few exceptions, states that have begun state-level virtual schools have done so as parallel efforts, unconnected to video-based or independent study distance learning programs. Thomas (2000) reviews policy issues related to virtual school courses and offers questions for discussion by policymakers. The Educational Technology Cooperative of the Southern Regional Education Board (2000) has provided a list of Essential Principles of Quality for Web-Based Courses for Middle and High Schools.

EMPIRICAL RESEARCH EVIDENCE IN THE K-12 SECTOR Scope of K-12 Distance Education Research As mentioned previously, distance education is considered herein to be formal learning where teacher and learner are separate during a majority of instruction. Available knowledge derived from empirically based evidence appears to be more limited in K-12 distance education than in postsecondary education for several reasons. First, there is simply less formal distance education at the K-12 level than the postsecondary level. Second, most empirical research is conducted at universities, where college student populations are more readily available. Third, when distance education is studied in the schools, a descriptive approach is often taken. Fourth, some of the best empirical research in K-12 distance education is conducted for unpublished doctoral dissertations. Since many of these new PhDs are not seeking tenure at research universities, they do not follow up with extensive publications to more broadly disseminate their research. A limited number of unpublished dissertations are cited herein, in research areas where there is little other empirically based evidence. In addition to quasiexperimental methods typical in K-12 distance education research, some researchers are now obtaining empirically defensible results by using inductive methods to analyze data from case studies and interviews. They use coded ethnographic and naturalistic data to identify patterns and trends and triangulate multiple data sources to increase the validity and reliability of their findings. Williams, Eiserman, and Quinn (1988) conducted a review of research and evaluation studies of distance education programs for elementary and secondary school children in the 50 states. They concluded that little credible evaluation data was being collected to test the


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quality of these programs. A number of evaluation studies of K-12 distance education projects are apparent in the literature. While many are quite comprehensive, the focus is typically on project improvement and reporting progress, rather than on demonstrating impact. Schools often have multiple projects or initiatives underway at the same time, and isolating out the effect of a single treatment is difficult. Through the 1990s, installing technology infrastructure and getting on the Internet was a major focus in K-12 education. Considerable research, some of it empirically based, has focused on evaluating the impact of investments in technology. The U.S. Department of Education (2000a) summarizes 13 such technology investment studies from 1996 through 2000. Reflecting the interest of K-12 educators and policymakers in practical advice and examples, there has been a great deal of descriptive or developmental research in recent years on the uses of technology in schools to improve teaching and learning. Research on Academic Success A perennial issue in K-12 distance learning has been whether distance learners achieve outcomes at least equal to conventional learners. The focus of education stakeholders on improved standardized test scores has been a driving force here. However, standardized academic content area tests do not measure all significant learning impacts (Hawkes, Cambre, & Lewis, 1999). Smith and Dillon (1999) observe that in most studies comparing distance learning with conventional learning, the learning strategies or methods used within the distance learning and conventional courses are not the same, so that there is not really a simple comparison of delivery methods. Rather than advocating studies that control for both media and method, they call for studies that use achievement and other outcomes to demonstrate the most effective combinations of instructional methods and media. In doing so they build upon the work of Kozma and others. Kozma (2000) summarizes a number of major technology interventions and the variety of alternative research methodologies used to demonstrate their effectiveness, noting that many of the technology treatments are “naturally and intentionally confounded” (p. 10). Curriculum, teaching, assessment, and technology components of the design cannot be disentangled for study in isolation. Threlkeld and Brzoska (1994) review a sample of studies from secondary and college levels in terms of types of media and instructional variables such as interactivity; learner motivation, characteristics, and support; instructor elements; and cost variables, and reach similar conclusions. It is within this context that studies of comparative achievement are presented. Their main value for the field continues to be one of building credibility for distance and virtual education to external audiences, but they can also assist in studying relatively more successful or less successful ways in which distance learning can be applied in K-12 education. While studies of student success have usually included comparative research on the academic achievement of conventional and distance learners, they have also included study of student attitudes and motivation and other elements that may help explain success. A few of the more comprehensive or rigorous studies of K-12 academic achievement are described below. According to Cavanaugh (1999), “distance education research has not been subjected to repeated review and synthesis, especially in regards to K-12 education” (p. 5). To address this limitation in the field, this researcher conducted a meta-analysis of 19 recent comparative studies of the academic achievement of K-12 distance learners. In meta-analysis, researchers try to gauge through an “effect size” how much of the difference between the scores of two groups cannot be explained by the variability of scores within each group. Meta-analyses summarize the effects found in a group of rigorous studies. After identifying hundreds of potential studies through an extensive literature search on the Internet, Cavanaugh narrowed the list to 59 studies published between 1980 and 1998


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CLARK TABLE 46.2 Results of 421 Comparisons Between Instructional Television and Conventional Teaching Educational Level

No Significant Differences

Television More Effective

Conventional More Effective

Elementary Secondary College Adult All levels

50 52 152 24 308

10 24 22 7 63

4 16 28 2 50

Source: Chu and Schramm (1975), p. 7.

involving 929 K-12 learners. These studies had an experimental or quasi-experimental design that provided quantitative outcomes from which effects could be estimated. After eliminating studies with insufficient data or problems with rigor, Cavanaugh and her research team arrived at a sample of 19 studies. Twelve of the 19 studies selected were of K-12 courses taught by distance education, while the remainder studied the use of distance learning technologies as a supplement or enhancement to regular classroom activities. Doctoral students at the University of South Florida acted as coders of the characteristics of each study, achieving 85% interrater agreement. The dependent variable, academic achievement in a content area, was indicated by achievement measures administered in conjunction with a distance learning treatment, either pre-post or post only. Treatment variables coded included duration and frequency of instruction, delivery system, and student characteristics such as ability level and grade in school. Differences between control and experimental posttest mean scores were divided by the average standard deviation to yield Cohen’s effect size. In studies with multiple achievement measures or samples, effect sizes were found for each and then averaged. Adjustments were made for bias in sample sizes. The weighted mean effect size across the 19 studies was 0.147 (SD = .69). This result indicates a marginal advantage for distance learning or no significant difference. It signifies a gain of about .147 standard deviation unit for a student at the 50th percentile when learning through distance education or using distance learning technologies supplemental to regular classroom instruction rather than conventional classroom study. A fairly strong positive effect size (0.489) was found for the 6 studies involving learners in grades 3–8, while a neutral effect size (−0.011) was found for the 13 studies involving students in grades 9–12. In the three studies dealing with foreign language, achievement of distance learning students was significantly lower than that of conventional students. As Cavanaugh notes, “distance education courses for foreign language instruction should be evaluated very carefully” (p. 19). Previous meta-analyses and compilations also concerned the use of distance learning technologies in K-12 learning. A compilation of 421 comparative studies of instructional television and conventional teaching by Chu and Schramm (1975) included 64 studies at the elementary level and 122 at the secondary level. Overall, about three in four studies showed “no significant difference.” Only 6% of elementary-level studies favored conventional study, compared with 13% at the secondary level. While 16% of studies favored instructional television at the elementary level, 20% did at the secondary level. At the college level, 14% favored conventional study, while only 11% favored instructional television. Chu and Schramm concluded that “by and large, instructional television can be more easily used for primary and secondary students than for college students” (p. 6). In comparative studies of the effectiveness of computer-assisted instruction versus conventional education, Kulik, Bangert, and Williams (1983) found an effect


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size of .32 for students in grades 6–12, while Kulik, Kulik, and Bangert-Drowns (1985) found an average effect size of .47 for studies involving students in Kindergarten through fifth grade. Since the focus here is on K-12 distance education rather than supplemental technology uses, other meta-analyses are not highlighted here. Correspondence Study. In his doctoral dissertation, Childs (1949; published in NUEA, 1960), studied 1,800 Nebraska high school students enrolled in conventional study and 1,250 enrolled via correspondence study, who were given an exam in a particular topic area after finishing equivalent courses in that topic. On average in most areas tested, the correspondence students scored significantly higher than conventional students of equal age and ability level, based on matching by IQ and GED tests. A few studies were identified on supervised correspondence study at elementary levels. Gleason (1961) randomly selected high-achieving seventh and eighth graders in southeast Wisconsin to participate in supervised correspondence study through the University of Wisconsin Extension. Based upon the results of his research, he recommended enrollment of eighth-grade students under certain conditions. Dyson (1980) found that correspondence instruction in reading served to maintain or improve word recognition over the summer for first through third graders in an Illinois public school, with learning gains significantly higher for these participants than participants in a control group. K-12 distance education, in which full courses are delivered at a distance, has been traditionally conducted at the high school level. However, many virtual schools now offer online middle school courses and some offer elementary school courses online (Clark, 2001). Audiographics. An alternative program using audiographics in a summer program with eighth graders at risk of dropping out showed mixed results (McBride, 1990). Ryan (1996) studied the effectiveness of secondary study by audiographics of Canadian K-12 students, through comparisons of experimental and control groups in terms of academic achievement at the time of initial instruction and the success of both groups in postsecondary education, finding no significant differences in outcomes. The attitudes of secondary students in northern Ontario taking courses by audiographics were compared with students at remote sites showing no differences in attitudes from those at the host site with the teacher (McGreal, 1994). Hobbs (1990) conducted a study of student outcomes and other factors across three technology systems in use in North Dakota in 1990, for audiographics, satellite instruction and two-way video instruction. Satellite One-Way Video. Russell (1991) found no significant differences in achievement by satellite students in relation to the technical knowledge and practices of remote site facilitators. This researcher hypothesized that variations in student achievement across sites were due to a combination of factors. Martin and Rainey (1993) found no difference between the attitudes of students enrolled in a satellite course in anatomy and physiology at seven high schools toward the subject matter when compared with a control group of students studying conventionally in the same schools (total N = 98). There were different teachers in the experimental and control groups, although identical curricular materials were used. There were no differences in pretest scores, but the experimental group scored significantly higher in a posttest. The locally developed pre- and posttests were identical and had good internal consistency. Dees (1995) and Larson (as reported in Larson & Bruning, 1996) conducted similar studies of high school courses using one-way video satellite delivery, yielding opposite results. Larson studied 102 students enrolled in a satellite practical pre-college mathematics course in 21 rural Nebraska high schools, compared with an equivalent number of students enrolled in three traditional pre-calculus classes at a single high school. The study found that the satellite students had more positive attitudes about mathematics, but significantly lower scores on


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a college mathematics placement test. Dees compared 36 students enrolled in satellite AP chemistry with a control group of 36 students at 6 Illinois schools enrolled in a traditional AP chemistry course. Compared to the conventional students, the satellite students scored significantly lower on a pretest designed by the satellite AP instructor but significantly higher on a posttest, the American Chemical Society’s 1990 High School Advanced Chemistry Exam. Gray (1996) studied two groups of students enrolled in Detroit public schools who studied firstyear Japanese conventionally (N = 72) or via satellite (N = 16). The two student groups were demographically equivalent, although prior grade point averages were high for the distance learning group. The distance learning group scored significantly higher than the conventional group on both the satellite course provider and conventional course exit examinations. Controlling for differences in prior grades, the distance learning students performed as well or better than the conventional students. Interactive Two-Way Video. Olivieri (1994) studied the social environment of K-12 classrooms in two courses offered over the two-way video Mississippi Fibernet 2000 network, an educational telecommunications network, using the Trickett and Moos Classroom Environment Scale (CES). The results indicated that communication and interaction within and between sites was important, electronic mail increased the level of interaction, and there was more competitive behavior within than between sites. Hinnant (1994) used a quasi-experimental design to evaluate student outcomes in Mississippi Fibernet 2000. The researcher found no significant differences in learning achievement between students in classes using two-way fullmotion video and those in conventional courses. Students participating in compressed video classes rated video quality significantly lower than those participating in broadcast quality full-motion video. Burkman (1994) alternately taught high school psychology classes at two high schools at host and remote sites over a two-way video, two-way audio network, giving pre- and posttests for two instructional units. The Dunn and Dunn Learning Style Inventory was used to categorize students. Overall, there were no significant differences in achievement, although students categorized as requiring more teacher motivation tested lower on average when they were at the remote site than when their site was the host site. Students at both sites generally held positive attitudes toward interactive television instruction. Libler (1991) studied students in classes at six remote sites and the host site (total N = 85) in a high school physics class delivered over an interactive television system. Students at the remote sites scored lower on a national content area examination, whether or not their site had certified teachers acting as on-site facilitators. Student achievement and student attitudes toward interactive television were similar at remote sites with a certified teacher acting as facilitator and at sites with no facilitator at all. Students generally held positive attitudes about the content area and slightly more positive than negative attitudes toward interactive television. Sisung (1992) studied three sections of a high school humanities course taught by the same teacher, with 29 students studying conventionally and 15 at the host site or single remote site of an interactive television course. Students at the host site watched and interacted with the teacher via monitors at the front of the classroom, making the host site experience very similar to the remote site one. Student outcomes measured were found to be equivalent, including motivation, attitudes according to the Dolan and Enos School Attitude Measure, and exit exam scores. Video analysis showed more off-task behavior by students in the conventional classroom than in the host or remote site distance learning classrooms. Wick (1997) studied 76 students enrolled in interactive television courses at 7 Minneapolis high schools. This researcher found no significant difference in scores between on-site and remote site students but significant differences in student attitudes, with on-site students seeing distance learning as more interesting than conventional courses and remote site students preferring traditional classes. Downs and Moller (1999) report doctoral research by Downs, who used naturalistic


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techniques to study issues in a high school course offered from a host site to two remote sites on a two-way video network, finding that some participating students perceived barriers to social interaction across sites and that some had privacy concerns related to network use. Students at remote sites held less positive attitudes toward some aspects of a high school course via two-way interactive videoconferencing, with host site students reporting more positive attitudes about personal contact with the teacher, teacher feedback, and perceived learning (Learmont, 1990). Distance learning technologies are far more commonly used for student enrichment in K-12 schools than for direct K-12 instruction. Here a face-to-face instructor is using distance learning technologies to supplement or enhance the course of regular instruction. The difference can be blurred, since schools typically assign a local teacher of record for any full course offered during the instructional day at a distance to a student registered in a K-12 public school, in order to meet seat-time requirements for continued state funding. Elementary school applications of distance learning technologies have usually been supplemental in nature and not distance education by definition and, therefore, receive less emphasis in this summary of distance education research. Several researchers have sought to evaluate the effectiveness of satellite-based student enrichment programs for elementary classroom students (for example, Crowley, 1994; Mananers-Gonzales, 1995). A study of 1,500 middle and high school students who viewed a Channel One commercial news magazine in comparison with an equal number who did not indicated that scores on current events tests were 5 to 8% higher for viewers (Johnston, Brezinski, & Anderman, 1994). Academic Persistence. Student motivation and persistence in K-12 distance learning have long been a subject of study. According to Young and McMahon (1991), the University of Nebraska documented annual completion rates in high school courses from 1932 to 1990 of between 65 and 75%. While the University of Nebraska was successful in achieving high completion rates through a well-planned supervised study program for high school students, it was the exception, not the rule. In 1956, Childs and the other researchers representing the Division of Correspondence Study of the NUEA found that about 58% of students enrolling in high school courses at 24 NUEA member institutions actually completed them. However, for those who completed and submitted one lesson, the completion rate rose to 69% (Childs, 1966). This study is especially interesting in that so many institutions shared their completion rates. DiSilvestro and Markowitz (1982) found that learning contracts with high school and postsecondary independent study students were increased completion of initial assignments but had little effect on course completion rates. One of the few studies in the 1990s focusing on K-12 student persistence in distance learning was performed by Laube (1992), who surveyed 351 secondary correspondence education students in British Columbia, achieving a 52% response rate. Analysis showed significant relationships between completion of courses and the setting of educational goals, regular time for study, and positive attitudes toward academic tutors. Equitable Access and Participation. The research on equitable access and participation in distance education has been mainly descriptive or anecdotal in nature and is reported in the earlier section of this chapter describing the current state of the field. In K-12 education, a major focus has been on describing levels of access to technology infrastructure and relative levels of participation by minority, urban and rural, and disadvantaged learners. Major sources of data have included national surveys of schools and reports by state and federal grantees. Some authors have summarized the literature on equity issues for distance learning and provided recommendations on how to ensure equity (for example, Campbell and Storo, 1996), but when research-based studies have been conducted on equity issues in technology-enhanced K-12 learning, they have rarely been specific to K-12 distance education courses.


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Teachers and Teaching. There is limited empirical research specifically focused on K-12 teachers and teaching in distance education courses, although it has been an aspect of some studies of student outcomes in K-12 distance education and evaluative studies of distance learning systems. Many researchers have studied preservice and in-service postsecondary teacher education courses delivered via distance education methods, but these studies are not reported in this chapter. Larson and Bruning (1996) focus on student outcomes, but also studied the impact of satellite-based mathematics instruction on 21 certified mathematics teachers acting as coinstructors at remote sites. Reflective logs, observations, and semistructured interviews were used throughout the course. Teachers held positive attitudes, saw the resources provided as being of high quality, and used new teaching strategies both in the satellite course and other courses they taught. Fast (1995) studied interaction in a high school Russian course delivered from a host site to two remote sites via interactive television. Discourse analysis was used to gather empirical evidence to study the claims in the literature that foreign language instruction via multisite distance learning was inherently deficient due to a lack of sufficient interaction among teachers and participants. Fast found interaction by students to negotiate meaning was limited, appearing only when the teacher used methods that encouraged it. Video feedback played a more important role than audio feedback in giving context to linguistic input. Results suggested that when effectively used, interactive television could be an effective mediator for multisite interaction in foreign language courses. Barker and Patrick (1989) conducted content analysis of transcripts and videotapes of five hours of instruction by satellite television instructors in computer science, art history, and sociology. They studied the frequency of 12 observable teaching behaviors derived from the literature. Although 90% of instructional time was classified as teacher dialogue, a variety of student-teacher interactive behaviors commonly considered to be good instructional practice were observed. Miller and Miller (2000) found that secondary agriculture teachers in Iowa appeared uncertain about teaching over the Iowa Communications Network citing barriers such as scheduling and difficulties conducting laboratory and field experiences. The addition of more local network classrooms did not appear to increase interest in network use among these teachers. Research on Infrastructure and Policy. Most of the research in this area could also be categorized as descriptive in nature. In 1996, Clark and Else (1998b) surveyed all high school principals with classrooms on the Iowa Communications Network about policy issues related to effective use of the Network for educational purposes. They asked how important it was to address certain policy issues to ensure effective network use, and how well these issues were currently being addressed. The greatest gaps between perceived importance and current status were on issues commonly cited for satellite-based networks, such as incompatibility of school daily schedules and academic calendars among participating sites. Other issues were unique to two-way video networks, such as barriers related to course sharing arrangements and the need to train many teachers for network use. Some studies use empirical techniques with qualitative data. Kirby and Driscoll (1997) describe a rigorous case study approach used in Kirby’s doctoral research to study three sites in the same interactive television high school physics course. It was found that the site facilitator assumed supporting roles for planning and instruction and primary roles for classroom management and climate, depending on local climate factors. Analysis by Kirby of the distance education system using an instructional systems perspective confirmed the importance of all system components working together to maximize course outcomes at the macro (course design) and micro (lesson design and utilization) levels. Johnson (1996) studied the implementation of distance learning via two-way video networks in Wisconsin secondary schools where high school students were enrolled in interactive television courses, using Yin’s case study


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approach. Open-ended structured interviews with distance education coordinators from 25 districts yielded three case study districts considered successful in implementing distance education. Through case study methods, Johnson found the involvement of the distance education coordinator, school administrators, and teachers critical in building the necessary broad-based support for implementation.

SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH IN THE FIELD Learner Outcomes Research on Methods to Demonstrate the Impact of Distance and Virtual Learning on K-12 Student Academic Performance. This is still the key issue in the eyes of many state and national policymakers nearly 80 years after the introduction of supervised high school correspondence study. Multiyear programs with rigorous, well-funded evaluation research designs are needed to demonstrate such impact. These evaluations should measure progress in academic outcomes by K-12 learner cohorts over time that is attributable to program treatments involving distance and virtual learning. Process skills like information literacy and engagement in learning are important products of technology integration into the K-12 curriculum and should be systematically studied. However, these process skills will only be considered relevant by policymakers if they can be linked to actual impact on academic outcomes and long-term beneficial outcomes in college, work, and life. Delineation of Factors That Increase Success Rates for All K-12 Learners in Their Distance and Virtual Learning Experiences. Completion rates are a perennial issue in K-12 distance learning. Research on academic outcomes should include research on completion rates and the factors critical to student completion. Some of the best research on this topic, still relevant today, was performed by Childs and others associated with the independent study high school movement beginning in the 1930s. Online Advanced Placement courses have to some extent reintroduced the rigor of study associated with academic high school correspondence courses. Learners needed skills in pacing, reflection, text comprehension, and writing to succeed in independent study high schools. How do these “independent study” skills compare with the skills needed for success in the virtual school? Research on the Most Effective Uses of Specific Electronic Media in Combination With the Most Impactful Instructional Methods in K-12 Distance Learning. Study of effective combinations of media and methods is relevant to ongoing efforts by state governments to created educational networks that aggregate new and existing electronic media such as online virtual learning, two-way terrestrial video networks, satellite videoconferencing networks, and video on demand. States should consider the most cost-effective approaches to educational networks in support of teaching and learning, based on the research, rather than grounding decisions about media and methods in political considerations or popular interest in new technologies. Equitable Access and Participation Continuing Research on the Impact of K-12 Distance and Virtual Learning on Underserved and Underrepresented Populations. Without proactive measures, underserved and underrepresented populations will participate and succeed at unequal rates in distance and virtual learning. State-designated and other virtual schools may increase apparent


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AP access and broaden the curriculum for urban, small, and rural schools, but virtual schooling also has the potential to exacerbate differences in access to and participation in quality education. As in the first independent high school study in 1923, remedial and vocational education is becoming a focus for some virtual school efforts. Relatively few virtual schools, on the other hand, are proactively preparing elementary students in underperforming schools for success in rigorous online high school courses. How can distance learning help close the achievement gap for these learners? Research on Factors That Increase Online Advanced Placement (AP) Course Completion, Exam Sitting, and Pass Rates for Underserved and Underrepresented Learners. For several reasons, Advanced Placement courses are playing an important role in the growth of virtual schools, especially state-sponsored virtual schools. College opportunities for underserved and underrepresented K-12 students can be greatly impacted by AP success. Facilitating success in these courses, especially for minority and underrepresented learners, is a critical issue that will help address the achievement gap, indicating a research need deserving special emphasis. Teaching and Learning Research on the Broad Impact of Distance and Virtual Professional Development on K-12 Schools. Distance learning for practicing teachers has helped address the perennial issue of staffing small and rural schools with qualified teachers. Will it have an impact more broadly on schools as teachers seek to meet new recertification requirements and align curricular content to new state standards? Which combinations of staff development media and methods have the most impact on teaching? Research on Best Practices in Distance and Virtual Professional Development and Its Integration Into Existing In-Service Programs. There is the danger that well-planned local K-12 staff development efforts will be short-circuited by pressures to move to largescale externally provided staff development not attuned to local needs. Study of the effective integration of online staff development in local efforts could lessen resistance of both local staff developers and national experts in the field to the introduction of online staff development. Study of the Effectiveness of Supplemental Technology Resources. A burgeoning supply of teaching and learning resources for supplemental use in regular classroom instruction is available via the Web and other media. Supplemental resources can also aid a teacher in instructional management, standards-based instruction, and other areas critical to improving teaching. While these supplemental experiences often cannot be strictly defined as distance or virtual learning, their effectiveness should be studied, given the great extent of local state and federal funding devoted to them and their potential impact on teaching and learning. Infrastructure and Policy Research on the Relationship Between Educational Technology Infrastructure and Success in Distance and Virtual K-12 Learning Initiatives. In the last two decades, many states and districts made heavy investments in educational telecommunications networks for voice, video, and data, undertaking a variety of unique approaches. How do these infrastructures impact distance learning for K-12 education and staff development? Which approaches have provided the greatest benefits at the lowest costs?


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Research on the Relationship Between Educational Policy and Success in Distance and Virtual K-12 Learning Initiatives. Federal policy has supported the development of a number of federal programs and state pass-through programs that seek to use distance and virtual learning to improve the quality of K-12 education. States and districts have long used distance learning to seek to mitigate trends toward consolidation of small and rural schools and to address issues of equitable access to education. The evidence suggests that the impact of these efforts has been important but relatively limited in the context of K-12 education overall. What impact will the shift away from discretionary educational technology grant programs to a new federal emphasis on formula-based technology block grants to states have on student learning at the local level? How can local, state, and national policy best support distance and virtual learning initiatives that have a broader impact? Research on the Impact of “Virtual Education” on Traditional Education Providers. In the new “education economy,” distance and virtual learning may affect the market share of universities and other education agencies in teacher education, staff development, and distance study for K-12 learners. Learners and schools have an ever-widening array of options. How can traditional providers compete and collaborate in this new environment? What should be their relationship with the new providers? What is the best path for schools in blending old and new external relationships to improve teaching and learning?

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for Teacher Education, 52nd, Chicago, IL, February 26-29, 2000. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 440 062) Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2000). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education. Upper Saddle, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Sisung, N. (1992). The effects of two modes of instructional delivery: Two-way forward-facing interactive television and traditional classroom on attitudes, motivation, on-task/off-task behavior and final exam grades of students enrolled in humanities courses (Doctoral dissertation, University of Michigan, 1992). Dissertation Abstracts International, 53(11), 3880A. Smith, M. H. (Ed.). (1961). Using television in the classroom: Midwest program on airborne television instruction. New York: McGraw-Hill. Smith. P. L., & Dillon, C. L. (1999). Comparing distance learning and classroom learning: Conceptual considerations. American Journal of Distance Education, 13(2), 6–23. Sorensen, C., & Sweeney, J. (1994). Iowa Distance Education Alliance. Final evaluation report. Abbreviated version. Ames, IA: Iowa State University, Research Institute for Studies in Education. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 389 060) Southern Regional Education Board. (2000, August). Essential principles of quality: Guidelines for web-based courses for middle and high schools. Atlanta, GA: Educational Technology Cooperative, Southern Regional Education Board. Retrieved May 14, 2001, from the Board’s Web site: http://www.sreb.org/programs/edtech/ webbased/srebpubs.asp. Thomas, W. R. (2000). Web courses for high school students: Potential and issues. Atlanta, GA: Southern Regional Education Board. Retrieved May 14, 2001, from the Board’s Web site: http://www.sreb.org/programs/edtech/ webbased/srebpubs.asp. Threlkeld, R., & Brzoska, K. (1994). Research in distance education. In B. Willis (Ed.), Distance education: Strategies and tools (pp. 41–66). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications. Tushnet, N. C., & Fleming-McCormick, T. (1995). Equity issues in the star schools distance learning program. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 13(2), 173–183. U.S. Department of Education. (2000a). e-learning: putting a world class education at the fingertips of all children. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement. U.S. Department of Education. (2000b). What are the barriers to the use of advanced telecommunications for students with disabilities in public schools? Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (NCES 2000-042) U.S. Department of Education. (2001a). Homeschooling in the United States: 1999–2001. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (NCES 2001-033) U.S. Department of Education. (2001b). Internet access in U.S. public schools and classrooms: 1994–2000. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (NCES 2001-071) Web Based Education Commission. (2000, December). Report of the Web Based Education Commission to the President and the Congress of the United States. Washington, DC: The Commission. Retrieved May 14, 2001, from the Commission’s Web site: http://interact.hpcnet.org/webcommission/index.htm. Wick, W. R. (1997). An analysis of the effectiveness of distance learning at remote sites versus on-site location in high school foreign language programs (Doctoral dissertation, University of Minnesota, 1997). Dissertation Abstracts International, 58(2), 0360A. Williams, D. D., Eiserman, W. D., & Quinn, D. W. (1988). Distance education for elementary and secondary schools in the United States. Journal of Distance Education, 3(2), 71–96. Young, R. G., & McMahon, M. (1991). University-sponsored high school independent study. In B. L. Watkins & S. J. Wright (Eds.), The foundations of American distance education: A century of collegiate correspondence study (pp. 93–108). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt.


VI The Economics of Distance Education


47 Modeling the Costs and Economics of Distance Education Greville Rumble Independent Consultant greville.rumble@btinternet.com

The costs of educational technology are of increasing interest to academics, government, international agencies, and development agencies. The relatively new discipline of the economics of education, initiated in the United Kingdom by Vaizey (1958) and in the United States by Schultz (1961), focused on attempts to quantify the economic benefits of, and the efficiency of public expenditure on, education. In parallel, the application of technology to education came to be seen as a way of lowering the costs of education (Jamison, Suppes, & Wells, 1974, p. 57). The use of technology would, it was argued, change the production function, offering what Wagner (1982, p. ix) later described as “a mass production alternative to the traditional craft approach.” The scene was therefore set for academic economists to take an interest the in possible impact of technology on educational costs.

COSTING DISTANCE EDUCATION Broadly one can identify four generations of distance education systems:

r correspondence systems (referred to below as Class I systems), r educational broadcasting systems (Class II systems), r multimedia distance education systems (Class III systems), and r online distance education systems (Class IV systems). These distinctions are not, of course, as clear-cut in practice as typologies of distance education make them appear. Nevertheless, they offer a useful framework within which to consider the costs of distance education in its various “ideal” forms. It was the development of capital-intensive, big-budget Class II and III systems that forced governments and aid agencies to ask how much these systems would cost, at the same time 703


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as the providing institutions sought to derive methods that would help explain their costs to funding agencies. Ultimately three lines of inquiry emerged:

r From the mid-1970s until about 1982, a series of international conferences on the costing of educational technology took place (see UNESCO, 1977, 1980; Klees, Orivel, & Wells, 1977; Eicher, Hawkridge, McAnany, Mariet, & Orivel, 1982). Drawing on work undertaken progressively by Orivel (1975, 1977), Jamison, Klees, and Wells (1976, republished 1978), Jamison (1977), Klees and Wells (1977), and Eicher (1977, 1978a, 1978b), by the early 1980s the methodological issues had been agreed on, and it was left to Eicher et al. (1982) and Orivel (1987) to synthesize the work. However, although this work addressed the costs of a wide-range of technologies, in practical terms the cost functions developed applied most closely to the Class II systems, which were then the focus of international efforts. r Also from the mid-1970s, a series of studies sought to explain the operating costs of the distance teaching universities (Smith, 1975; Rumble, 1976, 1981, 1982; Wagner, 1977; Snowden & Daniel, 1980; Muta, 1985; Muta & Sakamoto, 1989; Muta & Saito, 1993, 1994; Pillai & Naidu, 1991, 1997). These studies generally aimed to show that the distance teaching university in question was (a) more cost-efficient than traditional universities in the same country, and/or (b) would achieve economies of scale if only it were allowed to expand. By and large this work failed to address the costs of the constituent technologies of the distance teaching universities, choosing rather to take the media mix as a given. As such they could be criticized for failing to seek more cost-efficient methods through the exploration of the costs of different technology strategies (c.f. Mace, 1978). r Finally, the costs of developing Class IV systems began to receive attention from the late 1980s (Rumble, 1989, 2001; Phelps, Wells, Ashworth, & Hahn, 1991; McGraw & McGraw, 1993; Arizona Learning Systems, 1998; Bacsich et al., 1999; BartolikZlomislic & Bates, 1999; Bartolik-Zlomislic & Brett, 1999; Inglis, 1999; Rumble, 1999; Whalen and Wright, 1999a, 1999b; Bakia, 2000). In the process a whole new generation of people is beginning to grapple with issues of cost methodology and the problem of applying costing techniques to online learning (see, for example, Bacsich et al., 1999).

MODELING THE COSTS OF DISTANCE EDUCATION The basic cost function for educational television systems developed by Jamison, Klees, and Wells (1978, pp. 93–98) suggested that the total costs (TC) of a system were made up of the costs (C) of a number of functions: TC = CC + CP + CT + CR

(Eq. 1)

where the subscripts C, P, T, and R refer to central, programming, transmission, and reception respectively (Equation 1). Each of these constituent components CC , CP , and so on are further broken down into separate cost functions that reflect the determining variables that drive costs. Among the main system variables identified (Jamison, Klees, & Wells, 1978, p. 94) are the number of students, the number of hours of programming each year, the area of the region to be served, the number of pages of printed material for each student, the number of students who share a receiver, the fraction of the reception sites located in nonelectrified areas, and the number of reception sites. Among the cost variables identified are the cost of project planning and start up, central administration, the production facility (land and buildings), and the production equipment; the annual cost of program production; the cost of the transmission


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facility (land and buildings); the annual cost of power, maintenance, and operating personnel for a transmitter capable of covering the area served; the cost of one receiver; the cost of related reception equipment (e.g., antennae) for reception sites; the cost of building modifications for television reception; the cost per reception site for power generation equipment (required for television only in nonelectrified areas); the cost of electric power per reception site per hour (using power lines); the cost of electric power per reception site per hour using local power generation equipment or batteries; the cost per hour for maintenance at each reception site; and the cost of a book per page (Jamison, Klees, & Wells, 1978, pp. 94–95). All capital items were annualized for a given number of years (which varied depending on the nature of the capital item) using the standard annualization factor, a(r, n) and an appropriate social discount rate (r). The approach initially used by those modeling the costs of the distance teaching universities was much simpler. Basically just three variable, cost-inducing outputs were identified: the number of courses in development/production; the number of courses in presentation; and the number of students. Capital costs were ignored. Wagner’s (1977, pp. 370–371) cost function explaining the costs of the British Open University (Equation 2) is a good example of the approach taken: E = α + βn Cn + βp Cp + δS

(Eq. 2)

where E = the total recurrent expenditure α = the total fixed costs of the enterprise βn = the average variable cost of development/production per standard course equivalent per year Cn = the number of standard course equivalents in development/production in any year βp = the average variable cost of presentation per standard course equivalent per year Cp = the number of standard course equivalents in presentation in any year δ = the average variable cost per full-time equivalent student per year S = the number of full-time equivalent students

PROBLEMS WITH THE MODELS All these models basically assume that the total costs of a system are made up of a combination of fixed and variable costs. Fixed costs are those that do not vary with any change in the level of activity; variable costs do change. The total costs of a system (T) will thus be equivalent to the sum of the fixed costs (F) plus the variable cost per unit of activity (V) times the volume of activity (X): T = F + VX

(Eq. 3)

Such models are seriously weakened by the fact that they do not specify “the fundamental variables, which affect costs, in sufficient detail to be of practical value to people who are trying to prepare an operating budget for an institution” (Rumble, Neil, & Tout, 1981, p. 235). With each technology having its own cost structure, and with empirical studies showing wide variations in the actual cost of technologies (see below), it is clear that the models would need to be much more sophisticated to capture the actual factors driving costs. For example, the development, production, and delivery costs of a course vary depending on the mix of media,


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and the models ought to reflect this. Similarly, in the case of student costs, while many of the costs of student support are driven by the number of individual students in the system, some of them are driven by the number of student course enrollments and others by the number of student groups. The idea that there is an average course with an average cost per course, or an average student with an average cost per student, is a fiction. At best the models provide us with a crude, aggregated, approximation of costs. More significantly, all the models treat overhead costs as a fixed cost that is then allocated to students in an attempt to derive an average student cost, such that the average cost per student (A) is equal to the variable cost per student (V) plus a “share” of the overhead costs (F): A = V + F/S

(Eq. 4)

Even Rumble’s models of the costs of the Universidad Estatal a Distancia in Costa Rica and the Universidad Nacional Abierta in Venezuela (Rumble, 1981, pp. 385–386; 1982, pp. 129–130), which attempted to correct some of these weaknesses by taking account of other factors such as the number of organization/managerial units managing academic programs, the number of local study centers, the number of broadcasts, and so on, do not capture the fundamental variables driving costs in sufficient detail to make them useful as tools for a real understanding of costs. A further problem with some of the models is that they do not take account of capital costs. The models developed by Jamison, Klees, and Wells did this, but those used to cost the distance teaching universities did not. Economists are generally agreed that the costs of capital tied up in projects need to be taken into account (Jamison, Klees, & Wells, 1978, p. 32; Perraton, 1982, p. 6; Wagner, 1982, p. 89; Levin, 1983, pp. 68–69). This is generally done using the annualization equation which “annualizes” capital costs by estimating an average of the combination of depreciation and interest on the undepreciated portion over the life of the facility (Equation 5): a(r,n) =

r(1 + r)n (1 + r)n − 1

(Eq. 5)

where a(r,n) is the annualization factor, n is the life of the capital equipment, and r is the prevailing rate of interest. It is worth noting, however, that quite small changes in the rate of interest and the lifetime assumptions made will have significant implications for the total cost of the project. However, the use of interest rates to assess the relative cost of public projects involving capital elements does not, in Eicher’s view, rest upon a sound theoretical basis for public finance decisions (because such decisions rarely in fact involve a choice between spend and investment for income growth) (Eicher, 1978b, p. 13). However, it is difficult to see how a true comparison of costs between a highly capital-intensive and a less capital-intensive option can be obtained without taking at least the annualized capital cost into account, and this the cost functions developed by Smith (1975) and those who followed him failed to do. Another problem affects those distance education projects that are embedded in dual-mode institutions (i.e., institutions that teach both by traditional and by distance means). The problem arises because some of the costs of the two approaches may be shared because of the existence of what are called joint products. A joint product is one of two or more products in which, initially, a single stream of inputs goes in until a “separation point” is reached, after which the products are acted on separately. For example, academics may develop a course and then teach one version by traditional class-based means and another version by distance means; or a series of lectures delivered in class may be videotaped and subsequently used in a distance program. Equally, some of the overhead costs of the institution will support the distance program, and some the off-campus program, and will therefore need to be apportioned across the products if only for pricing purposes. Rumble (1997, pp. 65–70) identified no less than six different


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approaches used to attribute development costs to joint products in mixed-mode institutions and two approaches to attribute delivery costs. Such variations can radically affect the level of reported costs in systems and can be used both to manipulate data provided to funding bodies and to “justify” different pricing decisions.

FACTORS DRIVING COSTS IN EDUCATION In practice, the identification of drivers affecting costs in distance education systems has developed over the years to embrace a range of factors, many of which are interrelated. What is difficult is to put cost figures to these drivers. Technology Choice Technology choice has a significant effect on both total and average costs. A summary of the current evidence follows. (a) Face-to-Face Teaching. Face-to-face teaching in lectures (any audience size), seminars (small- to medium-sized group teaching), and tutorials or supervisions (one-to-one or oneto-two) involves relatively low fixed costs but, particularly in the case of small- and mediumsized group teaching, incurs a rapid increase in student variable costs because increases in student numbers and hence group numbers have to be matched with increases in staff numbers. The average student:staff ratio can vary enormously. In the UK higher education, for example, a feature of the past 30 years has been an increase of the average number of students per member of staff. This has had a major effect on the cost structure of campus-based higher education in the UK. As Scott (1997, p. 38) comments, the massification of British higher education is demonstrated [by] the sharp reduction in unit costs. Overall productivity gains of more than 25 per cent have been achieved since 1990. . . . This pattern, which exactly matches the expansion of student numbers, closely follows the cost curves in other countries where mass higher education systems developed earlier than in Britain. It supports the claim that mass systems have a quite different economy from that of e´ lite systems. (my italics)

Generally speaking, where few students are involved, face-to-face teaching may be the cheapest option. This is because student numbers are too small to warrant investment in learning materials. However, depending on the technology choice, distance education can be more costefficient than traditional approaches for large numbers of students, but any attempt to provide a significant amount of face-to-face contact will create a very expensive system. (b) Technology in Distance Education. Distance education systems are generally said to have high fixed costs but low variable costs per student. Each technology has its own cost structure. As evidence accumulated, so analysts attempted to generalize their findings in ways helpful to decision makers. In the mid-1990s, Bates (1995, p. 5) indicated that print, audiocassettes, and prerecorded Instructional Television were the only media that were relatively low cost for courses with populations of from under 250 students a year to over 1,000 student a year. In addition, radio was also likely to be low cost on courses with populations of 1,000 or more students. Other media, such as good quality broadcast television, preprogrammed computer-based learning, and multimedia are much more expensive. The problem with such generalizations is that technology costs are in practice susceptible to wide variations. The NBEET study found a range in the production costs of a 30-minute


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videotape of from Australian $1,000 to A$39,000 (NBEET, 1994, pp. 36, 37). The range of costs in computer-based teaching was also very great (p. 37). Bates (1995, p. 197) gave a cost range of from Canadian S2,600 to S21,170 per student hour for the development of online teaching materials. Arizona Learning Systems (1998, pp. 13–14) suggested costs of from US$6,000 to $1,000,000 for a three-unit Internet course, depending on the approach used. The cheapest approach involved the presentation of simple course outlines and assignments; more expensive options included the provision of text ($12,000), text with reference materials ($18,000), images ($37,500), audio and video ($120,000), simulations ($250,000), and virtual reality ($1,000,000). The problem arises in part because a whole range of organizational and working practices impact on the actual cost of the technology as it is used in particular circumstances (see below). There may also be problems because costs in one system may not be directly comparable with those in another. For example, some systems have access to facilities (for example, study center space or transmission time) at preferential rates; in other cases costs that in one system fall on the institution’s budget may in another be passed onto the students, so that comparisons based on institutional budgets are misleading. It is very important, when one comes to compare the costs of one system with another, to be clear about the precise nature of the model being used and to understand how this can affect cost comparisons. (c) Conclusions. The main message to emerge from these studies is that there are a great many caveats that have to be made to any statement about the costs of technology within education. The problem is that the cost of a given technology is not just driven by the hardware and software costs of that technology but by other factors—of which the working practices underpinning the use of the technology is perhaps the most important. Using Existing Materials The costs of developing courses can be brought down by developing “wrap-around” materials to accompany existing textbooks and other materials, thus “transforming” them into a distance course by commodifying traditional lectures (by, for example, videotaping them) for later use and by buying-in material developed elsewhere by another supplier (Rumble, 1997, pp. 87– 91). Certainly the additional costs of videotaping lectures and reusing them for subsequent generations of students can be very low indeed (Fwu et al., 1992). Studies suggest, however, that the cost advantages of buying-in materials can be overestimated. Although this may be a cheaper option for low student numbers, payments to the providing institution mean that it can be cheaper to develop one’s own materials—with Curran (1993, p. 21) suggesting that the break-even point at which this is true can be as low as 123 students on a course. Working Practices Much of the information that we have on the costs of technologies is derived from particular case studies. Although analysts frequently counsel against assuming that the costs in one system will be similar to those in another, the urge to generate guidance for policymakers often leads to an assumption that the cost experience of one institution will transfer to another. Underlying this assumption is a belief that technology determines the social sphere (that is, the organizational structures, hierarchies, and work roles) within which it is used. Particular levels of costs are then thought to be a natural outcome of the sociotechnical conditions engendered by a given technology. While technological determinism has now been discredited (c.f. Grint & Woolgar, 1997, pp. 11–14 for a resum´e of the arguments), the perspective has a long history and was still being advocated in the 1960s and 1970s (Bell, 1960, 1973; Kerr, Dunlop, Harbinson, &


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Myers, 1964; Blauner, 1964). Blauner (1964, p. 6), for example, maintained that “the most important single factor that gives an industry a distinctive character is its technology.” A technologically determinist approach to distance education would naturally be embedded in the literature, manifesting itself in assumptions that it is the technology itself that determines the structures of distance education systems. There is some evidence of this in recent literature. Thus Daniel (1996, p. 15) cites McGuinness’s (1995) claim that “technology, distance learning and global networks for scholars and students are transforming institutional practices in ways that may make current institutional structures and governmental policies obsolete” (my italics). Elsewhere Daniel (1996) suggests that what he calls the mega-universities (that is, universities that have distance teaching as their primary activity and in excess of 100,000 active enrollments [p. 29]) “operate differently from other universities in many ways, not least in the way they have redefined the tasks of the academic faculty and introduced a division of labor into the teaching function” (p. 30). He goes on to claim that “changes in technology transform the structures of industries” (p. 80, my italics). Further, this is a continuing process since “it is clear that new technologies, such as computer conferencing and the Internet, will change the format of university courses taught at a distance” (p. 130, my italics). In point of fact, of course, the relationship of technology to structure, work roles, skill levels, and so on is not simple, not constant across settings and firms, and not determined by the technology itself but by management. This does not negate the fact that technology can be used by management to reduce costs and that technology change may be accompanied by organizational change. This kind of technological determinism can blind managers to the very real variations in the way in which technologies are used in practice and to the wide range of costs that result. In fact, the way in which work is organized around a given technology, and the way in which human resources are engaged in the enterprise (including the use of casual as opposed to core labor), has a profound effect on costs (Rumble, 1997, pp. 83–87). (a) The Organization of Academic Labor. Many distance teaching systems have industrialized the organization of materials development, production, and delivery, thus breaking with the traditional craft approaches that characterize traditional education (Peters, 1967, 1973, 1983, 1989). The overall task of teaching can thus be divided into its constituent roles— curriculum design, instructional design, content preparation, materials development, and production (all tasks that themselves may require a number of specialisms), tutorial backup, continuous assessment, and examination script marking. These roles can be given to different people, in part reflecting the need to access specialist knowledge and skills, and in part because the very nature of the system would make it difficult for one person to undertake all of the tasks (e.g., to both develop all the materials and teach and assess all the students on a large-scale course). Most large-scale systems have a division of labor between those who develop the materials and those who support and assess the students. However, where student course numbers are low, individual academics may both develop the materials and teach the students (Rumble, 1986, pp. 127–129). Those who believe that the industrialized model reduces academic autonomy and control over the teaching process and thus degrades academic work (e.g., Campion & Renner, 1992; Raggatt, 1993) see this model as particularly attractive. It is one of the reasons why online teaching models are thought to be so attractive—though in fact any system that involves both the development of online materials and the support of online students is likely to begin to move toward a division of labor if course student numbers increase beyond the support capacity of a small group of academics. The organization of the course development process—and the way in which it is planned and controlled—also varies greatly. Course authors can work on their own, with an editor (the author-editor or transformer model), in small groups, or in large course teams (Rumble, 1997, pp. 83–86)—the latter being an expensive way of developing materials (Perry, 1976, p. 91).


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What is feasible is in part determined by the way in which the curriculum has been divided and the content organized. Small modules or courses, and those based more heavily around existing texts and materials, allow much greater scope for individual academic control, while large modules and those involving a great deal of specially developed materials are likely to require a big team effort. In general the use of consultants can bring down costs significantly (Rumble, 1997, p. 87). (b) Contracting of Academic and Support Labor. The division of academic labor has been accompanied by another feature—the use of short-term and piece-work contracts. The nature of the employment contract is a crucial factor in determining costs. Course developers may be hired on permanent, full-time contracts of service to develop course materials. This is the most costly option, with a potential long-term commitment (to holiday, sick, and study leave) up to retirement age. Alternatively, they can be hired on short-term temporary contracts of service that limit the long-term liability of the employer; or as consultant authors and materials’ developers on contracts for service, essentially paid piece-rates for their output. This latter option is relatively cheap. As for the tutors that support the students, many of them are employed on piece-work rates, paid by the hour for their class tutoring or by the script in respect of assignment and examination scripts marked. In mixed-mode institutions course developers may teach on-campus students as well as develop materials. In some systems staff who have a full teaching load on campus are bought out to help develop distance teaching materials, either to develop a version of their own existing on-campus courses or a new course (Rumble, 1986, pp. 131–133; 1997, pp. 81–83). However, this does not always happen, with the result that staff may be reluctant to get involved in mixed-mode operations (Ellis, 2000). Nonacademic work—for example, editing, illustration, and the like—can also be given to consultants, while whole functions such as printing and the production and transmission of broadcasting may also be outsourced, either to a single supplier or to a number of suppliers. Whether outsourcing actually saves money will depend on circumstances including the relative transaction costs of in-house versus outsourced work and the extent to which outside providers can offer a price that is competitive. The Curriculum The number of courses on offer is also an important variable. The more courses that are offered, the greater the investment in developing, maintaining, and remaking the course materials will be. The number of courses offered depends in part on the number of awards or qualifications on offer, the range of subjects offered within those qualifications, and the extent to which students can choose elective courses as opposed to being restricted to mandatory courses. The number of years over which courses are presented, and the frequency with which materials have to be remade, will also affect costs. All content dates with the passage of time but in some subject areas (e.g., computing) knowledge dates extremely quickly, while in other subjects changes of legislation, societal change, and changes in academic interests and the impact of research on the subject all result in the need to update courses. The Number of Learners All commentators recognize that the number of students enrolled in a system is a crucial factor affecting both total system costs and average student costs. Media and technology choice will have a bearing here, given that some technologies lend themselves to economies of scale


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while others do not. Systems that provide considerable support to students generally deliver significantly less in the way of economies of scale than those providing little or no support. It is generally assumed that the more students a distance learning system has, the lower the average cost, and this is broadly so. This has led many distance education systems to seek to expand their student numbers year on year. There is, however, a problem with this. What distance educators seem to do in many ways parallels the wasteful practices of the post-World War II American automobile industry (see Johnson, 1992, pp. 44–46) by assuming that the high overhead costs inherent in distance education can be controlled by expanding student numbers to position oneself to sell places on courses at a lower rate than more traditional institutions. Thus, the emphasis is placed on driving expansion fast enough to cover overhead costs that are, to a considerable extent, caused by scale and complexity, and that are deemed to be fixed and hence beyond control. But most the economies of scale are reaped early on in expansion. The nature of the average cost curve is such that the more students there are in the system, the harder it becomes to achieve significant economies of scale. The pursuit of expansion in itself may cause costs to rise. Thought must also be given to the number of students at individual course level. For any given student population, the more courses on offer, the lower the average course population. However, students will rarely if ever be distributed equally across the courses. It is much more likely that the 80:20 rule will apply, with 80% of the students enrolled on something like 20% of the courses, so that one can expect a few courses have very high student populations and a large number to have relatively few students in them. Planners thus need to consider the likely student population on each course and bear this in mind in selecting the media to be used on each course. Organizational Structures Two things are worth noting about the cost studies undertaken to date. Firstly, most of them focus on the costs of single-mode systems, either large-scale educational broadcasting systems (Class II systems), or medium to large multimedia distance education systems (Class III systems). Second, where cost comparisons are made between the costs of traditional and distance education, the comparison is between the costs of these large-scale systems and the costs of traditional approaches to education. Relatively fewer studies have either looked at or compared the costs of distance-based provision within the context of mixed-mode institutions teaching both on campus by traditional means and off campus by distance education (exceptions include Wagner, 1975; Deakin University, 1989; Coopers & Lybrand, 1990; Taylor & White, 1991; Ansari, 1992; Makau, 1993; Cumming & Olaloku, 1993). Intriguingly, some of these studies suggest that mixed-mode institutions may achieve even lower costs per student than do distance teaching institutions—an issue that Rumble (1992; 1997, pp. 152–159) has examined. Using evidence derived from Taylor and White (1991), Rumble (1992) argues that, given the relatively low costs of producing videotaped versions of lectures and simple printed lecture notes around guided reading, it does not cost much to develop resource-based learning packages that can be used by on-campus students. Indeed, many campus-based institutions are doing this already to lower their teaching costs. Once they have done so, they can then use the same materials to teach off-campus students, often at a lower costs than that attained by many of the purpose-built distance teaching institutions. Hallak (1990, p. 200) and Renwick (1996, pp. 59–60) also suggest that lower costs may be possible; the Committee of Scottish University Principals (1992, pp. 34–9, 41) was unable to come to a conclusion; and Daniel (1996, pp. 32, 68) believes the competitive advantage lies with the mega-universities. This is an area for further research.


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CONCLUSIONS As mentioned above, one outcome of the earlier work was general agreement on the methodology to be employed in costing educational technology and distance education projects. Unfortunately, these methods have their foundations in 20th-century management accounting systems. Such systems have difficulty in dealing with multiproduct systems because (a) they take little or no account of variations in the design of courses and the levels of service offered to different students (e.g., students on different courses or having different educational and support requirements), but instead assume a standard course model and standard student incurring average direct costs; (b) they often fail to identify the real drivers of costs; and (c) they allocate overheads to products by largely arbitrary means (see Johnson & Kaplan, 1987, for a critique of 20th-century management accounting systems). The failure to recognize the wide variation in costs of products and services to students, and the failure to identify the cost drivers actually pushing costs, means that most of the studies cited in this article, and all the models identified, are of limited use in helping decision makers understand the real behavior of costs in distance education systems. This largely invalidates the use of simple cost functions to project forward total system costs in situations where student numbers are increasing or being reduced, or where curriculum, organizational, technological, and process change is under way. These are very real drawbacks and limit the value of the studies in terms of the practical advice that can be gained from them to guide future decision making. On the other hand, these difficulties should not detract from the fact that in very many cases the average cost per student or graduate in Class I, II, and III distance learning systems is less than the average cost in classroom-based systems. So, while distance education is not necessarily a more cost-efficient option, it often is, and it is this that rightly makes it an attractive proposition for politicians, governments, educational leaders, and training providers. Two worries remain, however. First, it is not yet clear what the relative costs of Class IV (computer-based/virtual classroom) distance education systems will be. There are worrying indications that such systems require more input from teachers than Class I, II, and III systems, not least because they enable greater interactivity between teachers and students. Bates (2000, p. 127) suggests, first, that the cost of providing online student-teacher and student-student interaction tends to be lower than the cost of providing traditional face-to-face support, and that is because “a good deal of the students’ study time . . . is spent interacting with the pre-prepared multi-media material, so the teacher needs to spend less time per student overall moderating discussion forums compared with the total time spent in classroom teaching” (p. 128), and second, “the online costs still have to be added to the costs of prepared multimedia materials” (p. 128), and this pushes the total costs of online Class IV systems above those of correspondence (Class I) and multimedia (Class III) systems. One of the interesting features of electronic moderating could be the moderator’s experience of the time it takes to support students electronically. In face-to-face tuition there is a clear cost control mechanism in place—the timetable. The same is not true of online teaching, where the pressure is to respond to students’ queries rapidly and individually. Tolley (2000, p. 263) recounts her experience as a tutor on the “correspondence” and “online” versions of an Open University course. On the version of the course with scheduled tutorials, she estimated she spent 42 hours (10 hours preparation, 17 hours teaching, 15 hours sent preparing and sending tutorial related mailings), though this excluded her (unpaid) travel time to the tutorials (12 hours) and the unrelated time she spent marking assignments. On the online version, she spent 120 hours excluding assignment marking. In other words, her workload more than doubled. In addition, working online had a “dramatic effect” on her telephone bill. Crucially she was not paid for the additional time she spent. When tutors begin to demand to be paid for the increased workload, some chickens may come home to roost, either in demands for increased pay, or in a reluctance


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to take the job. This suggests that the first of Bates’ claims is debatable—and that the costs of online teaching may be more expensive than costs for Class I, II, and III systems. Annand (1999) suggests that it is these costs that may in the end constrain the extent to which large-scale distance teaching universities can adopt online technologies. Arizona Learning Systems (1998, p. 20) reports that “All providers of Internet courses . . . have reported that this direct communication [between teachers and students] takes more time than preparation and delivery of a classroom lecture and the corresponding contact with students.” These faculty workload costs have pushed the typical direct cost per course enrollment of an Internet course (US$571) above that of traditional classroom instruction ($474), but they suggest that faculty workload will be reduced through improved support and processes. Arizona Learning Systems projects that measures such as the development of academic help desks could result in unit costs falling to $447 (1998, p. 7). In some cases colleges have restricted course enrollments in order to bring instructor time down (1998, p. 22). Arizona Learning Systems (1998, p. 24) suggests that the average cost per course enrollment should fall as enrollments rise. For a simple text course unit costs would fall from $782 per enrollment with 10 students to $453 with 500 enrollments, and for a multimedia course with images, the cost per enrollment would be $1,496 with 10 students, falling to $467 with 500 students (1998, p. 24). Second, it may be that flexible learning strategies within campus-based systems actually yield a more cost-efficient option than pure distance teaching systems—particularly those that use expensive media mixes (i.e., Class II and III systems). There is considerable scope here for further research, but as Rumble (2001) shows, there are very significant areas of cost that need to be taken into account, and the best strategy for decision-makers at this point in time is to treat any suggestions that on-line teaching will bring the costs of education down with considerable caution.

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48 Cost-Effectiveness of Online Education Insung Jung Ewha W omans University,Korea insung jung@yahoo.com

COST-EFFECTIVENESS OF EARLY DISTANCE EDUCATION There is a relatively large body of literature discussing the costs and benefits of distance education across technologies and in a variety of contexts. In general, the literature has shown that “distance education can be more cost-effective than face-to-face education and that costs are predominantly dependent upon student enrollment and the fixed costs of course development and delivery” (Cukier, 1997, p. 138). Capper and Fletcher (1996) analyzed previous studies on cost-effectiveness of distance education and identified factors influencing costs in distance education. Those factors include number of courses offered (since the cost of developing a course is one of the major expenses in distance education, the most cost-efficient approach is to offer fewer courses for larger numbers of students), frequency of course revision, type of media used, type and amount of student support, and attrition rate. They concluded that even though cost-effectiveness of distance education is supported in most of the studies, costs vary substantially from one situation to another and are influenced by a number of factors. Generally cost-effectiveness of distance education increases as the number of students increase and the number of courses declines. A substantial number of studies analyzed in Capper and Fletcher’s (1996) report supported cost-effectiveness of distance education. A study that was conducted in Sri Lanka showed that distance education was by far the most cost-effective—4.5 to 6 times more cost-effective than residential training programs offered in colleges of education or in in-service teacher training programs. The main reason for this cost-effectiveness of distance education was that the teachers in the distance education programs continued with their full teaching loads, whereas the other groups did not. As appeared in this study, savings on salary costs and travel costs for program participants have been reported as one of the main sources of cost-effectiveness of distance education. There were cost-effectiveness studies that focused more on effectiveness of distance education than on the costs and analyzed general cost-effectiveness of distance education via 717


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various technologies. Early cost-effectiveness studies on videoconferencing reported substantial cost-benefits (Showalter, 1983; Hosley & Randolph, 1993; Trevor-Deutsch & Baker, 1997). Even though its costs were higher than other classroom-based programs, interactive satellite-delivered training courses were found to be cost-effective due to increased enrollments, increased student access to quality programs and resources, and other benefits (Ludlow, 1994). Hall (1997) compared CD-ROM–based training to classroom-based training in a high-tech company and reported that over the 3-year pilot period, costs for the CD-ROM–based course were 47% less than those for classroom-based courses. Moreover, the improved instructional design, a variety of instructional models, and other strategies contributed to more effective learning and reduced training time. After analyzing a series of studies on cost-effectiveness of distance education, Moore and Thompson (1997) found that cost-effectiveness depended more on costs in relation to education value, rather than on costs alone. Moreover it is indicated that as technologies are rapidly evolving and costs related to these technologies also change drastically, difficulties arise in predicting costs of a certain technology. Thus, as Hezel (1992) has suggested, a question of “is the educational outcome worth the cost?” is more appropriate than the question of asking comparative costs between distance education and traditional face-to-face education. With these considerations in mind, Moore and Thompson (1997) reported several studies on cost-effectiveness of technologically mediated instruction using various technologies in a variety of contexts. As early examples of the studies, reports of Christopher (1982) and Showalter (1983) were analyzed. Christopher found that the Teleteach Expanded Delivery System was more cost-effective than resident instruction for providing training to Air Force students at remote sites. Showalter reported a 55% cost-benefit in delivering continuing education to professionals via an audioconferencing system. The cost-benefits of audioconferencing were also reported in some other studies in K-12 context (Schmidt, Sullivan, & Hardy, 1994). In addition, studies that specifically compare cost-effectiveness of a distance education course via videoconferencing to a traditional classroom-based course were reported. Those studies emphasized substantial savings through decreased travel costs by bringing training to the workplace (Moore & Thompson, 1997). While these studies are useful in providing a comparative look at identifying the costs and effectiveness of media-mediated courses, not much research has been conducted to assess costeffectiveness of online education. Even in the studies of cost-effectiveness of online education, “costs of development or costs born by students” are often excluded, and “these studies often use competing methodologies, making them difficult to compare” (Bakia, 2000). Because of the relatively small number of studies and methodological limitations of cost-effectiveness studies, findings from these studies need to be viewed as suggestive rather than definitive.

COST-EFFECTIVENESS OF ONLINE EDUCATION Many educators or decision makers believe that the primary benefit of online education is that costs can be distributed over a large number of students, resulting in economies of scale for educational institutions (Kearsley, 2000; Inglis, 1999; Whalen & Wright, 1999). It is assumed that large student enrollment would increase revenue and lower the cost per student and operating expenses. While the possibility of reducing the costs appears to be one of the main factors that motivates decision makers to adopt online education, two other factors also seem to be important: improving the quality of students’ learning experience through various types of online interaction and increasing access (Inglis, 1999). From the student’s perspective, online education


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means increased opportunities for interaction with other students and instructors and for wider access to a variety of multimedia resources and experts worldwide. As discussed in several articles (Relan & Gillani, 1997; McDonald & Gibson, 1998; Salmon, 1999), online technologies are known to be capable of providing an interactive learning environment that supports people in communicating with others in different places and time zones to fulfill their education or training needs. The Internet, as one of these online technologies, is viewed as an innovative distance education approach for delivering instruction to learners in different places and/or different times and for improving learner-learner, learner-instructor interaction. Related research and case studies show that a virtual education via the Internet provides an opportunity to develop new learning experiences for learners by managing self-directed learning and sharing information and ideas in a cooperative and collaborative manner (Hiltz, 1994; Daugherty & Funke, 1998; Jonassen, Prevish, Christy, & Stavrulaki, 1999). Cukier (1997) argued the importance of including educational values of online education such as increase in educational access and improvement in interaction among learners in analyzing cost-effectiveness. She summarized four of the cost-benefit methodologies examined in the previous studies and provided an integrated methodology for the cost-benefit analysis of network-based learning. Four approaches to cost-benefit analysis include a value-based approach, a mathematical modeling approach, a comparative approach, and a return on investment approach. A value-based approach considers the pedagogical needs and values of an educational institution in analyzing cost-benefits of online education. For instance, an educational institution that sees small-group interaction as important learner experience will be more likely to view interaction as a benefit to be analyzed whereas an institution whose goal in adopting online education is to reach as many students as possible will view expansive delivery and limited interaction as benefits in introducing online education. A mathematical modeling approach focuses on the costs and benefits that can be easily quantifiable. For example, a study that examines both the costs and benefits of videoconferencing used in two different ways will be interested in cost assessments for the teleconferencing, the costs savings resulting from remote delivery in two ways (where the instructor travels to the students and where the students travel to the instructor), and benefits of each method. In this study, cost-benefits of videoconferencing in two different delivery situations will be quantified for comparison. Cukier (1997) explains that a comparative approach can be used in a situation when the same course is delivered using different technologies, for example, comparing online education with traditional face-to-face instruction. A return on investment approach attributes an economic value to benefits and seeks to measure monetary gains of adopting a new medium as a delivery means. The proposed approach to cost-benefit analysis of online education, called an integrated approach, focuses on integrating major concepts in these four previous approaches. When this integrated approach is adopted, analyses of costs must address categories of capital and recurrent costs, production and delivery costs, and fixed and variable costs. And when estimating benefits of online education, performance-driven benefits such as learning outcomes, cost savings, students/teacher satisfaction, and opportunity costs; value-driven benefits such as flexibility, access, interaction, user-friendliness, and adaptability of materials; and value-added benefits such as reduction in capital investment, reduction in pollution, increased job creation, new business opportunities, reductions in social community costs, and creation of secondary markets must be analyzed. Cukier emphasized that the analysis of costs and benefits should be conducted separately and the approach should be multileveled. But costs and benefits will ultimately be evaluated subjectively. Based on Cukier’s (1997) frameworks of cost-benefit analysis, six case studies have been conducted by the NCE-Telelearning project team in Canada and two of them are available


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online. Cost measures assessed in the two case studies (Bartolic-Zlomislic & Bates, 1999; Bartolic-Zlomislic & Brett, 1999) include 1) capital and recurrent costs, 2) production and delivery costs, and 3) fixed and variable costs. The cost structure of each technology is analyzed and the unit cost per learner is measured. The costs assessed in Bartolic-Zlomislic and Brett’s study did not include overhead costs as these were unknown. Benefit data include 1) performance-driven benefits, 2) value-driven benefits, and 3) societal or value-added benefits. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected and included students, faculty and staff, and administrator perspectives. A case study by Bartolic-Zlomislic and Brett (1999) analyzed costs and benefits of an entirely online graduate course at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of The University of Toronto in changing the software from Parti, a UNIX-based mail and conferencing software, to WebCSILE, a Web-based software. The results of the study project that their online program will make a small notional profit of $1,962 (Canadian currency) per year during five years and 19 students will be needed to break even. It concludes that it is possible to develop highly cost-effective online courses within a niche market, at relatively moderate cost to learners. It also recognizes that despite the change in software from Parti to WebCSILE, the largest cost of the online course is tutoring and marking time spent by the instructors due to the nature of the course that emphasized active online discussions. These costs could be lowered if the format of the course was changed to less constructivistic environment. The instructors and students reported that additional skills to the contents of the course were learned, such as computer and writing skills. A case study from the University of British Columbia (Bartolic-Zlomislic & Bates, 1999) also reported similar results. The researchers found that the annual break-even enrollment based on the projected costs and revenues over 4 years was 44 students. The paper by Inglis (1999) is an attempt to examine the costs of shifting from a printbased course to an online course and to seek the rationales for moving to online delivery. Inglis showed that online delivery was less economical, when measured on a cost per student basis, than print-based deliver for four different intake levels (50/100/150/200 students). The distribution costs (such as ISP charges and individual support) for online courses represented a major component of overall costs. The author predicted that while there is an appreciable likelihood that the costs of mounting the subject online would be considerably higher than the estimates given in this paper, the likelihood of the costs being lower is small. The results of this study, in part, reflect the fact that in traditional print-based distance education most of the economies of scale that are obtainable in the design, development, and delivery stages have already been obtained. Several strategies to balance costs with benefits in online education are suggested. There are other empirical studies that specifically compare the cost-benefits of an Internetbased distance course to traditional face-to-face courses. A study conducted by the Rochester Institute of Technology compared the operational costs of asynchronous instruction using a variety of online technologies including e-mail, Internet, Web materials, and telephone conferencing in traditional classrooms and distance courses. Given the exclusions of planning and production costs and investments in technical infrastructure, the study reported costeffectiveness of asynchronous instruction used in distance courses. It also found that faculty used equal or more time in distance courses and reported using their time differently (Bakia, 2000). Another study conducted by Whalen and Wright (1999) reports that Web-based training has higher fixed costs than classroom-based training but these higher course development costs are offset by lower variable costs in course delivery. In general, Web-based training is more costeffective than classroom teaching mainly due to the reduction in course delivery time and the potential to deliver courses to a larger number of students in Web-based training. Asynchronous teaching on the Web showed cost-effective compared with synchronous teaching on the web


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because of the cost of having a live instructor and the greater student salary costs due to the extra time required to deliver the course. Also, the online education platform costs affected cost per course due to the different license fees and upgrading costs across the platforms. The amount of multimedia content in the courses was a significant factor in costs. A report of cost-effectiveness of online courses in Korea National Open University (Jung & Leem, 2000) shows that the development and delivery costs for online education decrease over time (cost per online course was US$12,768 in 1998 and US$7,902 in 1999). And when compared with a traditional distance education course that used TV and textbook, an online course had higher completion rate (55.2% in the traditional course and 93.1% in the online course) and thus lower cost per completer. The students in two different courses show significant differences in learning achievement and technology literacy level. While the studies reviewed above provide some ideas about cost-effectiveness of online education, we still need “a firm understanding of the cost-drivers” (Bakia, 2000, p. 52) of online education programs and more rigorous effectiveness data in various learning contexts to make a firm conclusion on cost-effectiveness of online education. From the studies reviewed in this section, we understand that the scale, design, and production quality, an institution’s pedagogical value, and rapidly changing costs of hardware and software all influence costeffectiveness of online education. Some studies have focused on identifying more specific factors affecting cost-effectiveness of online education. The following section introduces their tentative findings. Factors Affecting Cost-Effectiveness of Online Education After analyzing previous studies on cost-effectiveness of ICT in higher education, Bakia (2000) concludes that “the most obvious obstacles (in implementing online education in developing countries) include prohibitive internet connection costs and inadequate technical infrastructures. Several factors suggest that the use of ICT in education, at least in the short-term, will be relatively more costly in developing countries, even if Internet access were readily available and affordable” (p. 52). Besides factors associated with technical infrastructure, several other factors that affect cost and/or effectiveness of online education are identified in previous studies.

r Number of students in a course (Capper & Fletcher, 1996) r Number of courses offered (Capper & Fletcher, 1996) r Amount of multimedia component in online courses (Whalen & Wright, 1999) r Amount of instructor-led interaction (Whalen & Wright, 1999; Inglis, 1999) r Type of online education platforms (Whalen & Wright, 1999; Inglis, 1999; BartolicZlomislic & Bates, 1999; Bartolic-Zlomislic & Brett, 1999)

r Choice of synchronous versus asynchronous online interaction (Whalen & Wright, 1999) r Completion rate (Jung & Leem, 2000) Moreover, some cost-saving strategies were identified in case studies. Online education systems often require a huge database system of online courses and materials. Since the cost of developing a database is high, most online education institutions have experienced financial difficulties in establishing a large database for their students. As a strategy to reduce the cost in operating online education, many institutions have “unbundled” educational functions— such as online course development, distribution, tutoring, assessment, general administrative affairs and learner supports (Farrell, 1999)—which are increasingly shared among specialized institutions. Unlike analog systems, digital databases can be linked through computer networks, shared globally, revised by users, and then transformed into meaningful knowledge. The Cyber Teacher


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Training Center in Korea, for example, is establishing a database of online teacher training programs in cooperation with other Korean teacher training institutions. Online training programs in this database can be used, revised, and implemented in different ways by different centers, and sharing allows each training center to reduce its costs for program development (Jung, 2000). Another example is the Instituto Tecnol´ogico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterey (ITESM) in Mexico. ITESM is a 27-campus university system with more than 78,000 students throughout Mexico and Latin America. Using the IBM Global Campus—an integrated system that provides Internet access, tools to design online courses, and other databases—ITESM draws on resources outside its system and offers more than 2,500 distance learning courses to students throughout the hemisphere (World Bank, 1998). With the Internet and a comprehensive intranet connecting its campuses and a distributed learning system called Lotus LearningSpace, educational resources developed by each instructor can be shared, students can interact collaboratively with other students and have direct access to instructors as well as library resources, and instructors can update their courses as needed. By sharing educational resources and providing additional classes and curricula without incurring the capital investment costs of building new campus facilities, immediate savings were reported. Partnerships reduce the burden to online education institutions by distributing costs across partners. An example of a sound partnership is the one between Boston College and the government of Ireland (Jung, 2000). In collaboration with other business partners, these two entities are developing technology resources for both K-12 and higher education in a project called Schools IT2000. This project aims to integrate ICTs into Ireland’s school system; Boston College provides much of the infrastructure and creates curricular materials, and Telecom Eireann provides Internet access (Oblinger, 1999). By forming appropriate partnerships with businesses, online education institutions diminish their investment risks. Collaborations with education institutions can also be mutually advantageous by permitting the exchange of technology and human resources and the sharing of courses. Each institution can develop online courses in its areas of specialization and exchange access to those courses with its partner institutions. Partnerships can also be formed with education institutions or companies in foreign countries. Cost-effectiveness of online education can be achieved either by reducing the costs or improving the effectiveness of online education. Recent studies in the cost-effectiveness of online instruction seem to focus more on identifying factors affecting learning process, satisfaction, and achievement in online instruction than on comparative cost-effectiveness of online courses over traditional courses. Instructional design, social, and students’ personal factors have been identified as three major factors contributing to success in online learning (Jung & Rha, 2000). Instructional design factors such as flexible course structure, quick and frequent feedback, visual layouts, and multiples zones of content knowledge influenced online interaction and learner satisfaction (Vrasidas & McIsaac, 1999; McLoughlin, 1999), and thus improved effectiveness of online education. For instance, McLoughlin (1999) attempted to present an approach to the design of a culturally responsive Web environment for Indigenous Australian students and to illustrate how cultural issues and decisions were incorporated into pedagogical design of an online course. He found that design strategies such as providing the multiples zones of content knowledge, adopting participatory course structure, and creating dynamic online learning communities were effective in improving students’ learning and satisfaction. Social factors also affect the effectiveness of online learning. Anderson and Harris (1997) identified factors predicting the use and perceived benefits of the Internet as an instructional tool. Interpersonal interaction among learners and social integration were among the most influential factors. This result is supported by another study conducted by McDonald and Gibson (1998). In addition, the study of Gunawardena and Zittle (1997) reveals that social


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presence exhibited by participants contributed more than 60% of learner satisfaction with computer conferencing courses. Specifically, Gunawardena and Zittle examined how effective social presence—the degree to which a person is perceived as real in mediated communication environment—as a predictor of overall learner satisfaction in a computer-mediated conferencing system. Extensive analyses of previous studies on social presence theory were provided at the beginning of the paper. They also provided construct validity and internal consistency of the instrument that was used in the study and contained 61 items measuring social presence, active participation in the conference, attitude toward computer-mediated communication, barriers to participation, confidence, perception of having equal opportunity to participate in the conference, adequate training, technical skills and experience using conference, and overall satisfaction. The results of the study reveal that social presence contributes about 60% of learner satisfaction with computer-conferencing courses. It is suggested that design strategies that enhance social presence need to be integrated in computer-mediated learning environments in order to improve the effectiveness of online education. Students’ personal factors also play an important role in online learning. For example, students’ prior knowledge with technology or subject affected learning in online courses (Limbach, Weges, & Valcke, 1997; Wishart & Blease, 1999; Hill & Hannafin, 1997). Limbach, Weges, and Valcke (1997) conducted two studies in law content domain to explore a relationship between certain student characteristics and the preference for a specific study mode in print-based and in electronic learning environments. The results of the first exploratory research identify that about 75% of the students preferred a theory-based study mode and this preference seemed to be related to higher learning experience with this study mode. The second experimental research shows that even though the students indicated a more diverse preference for certain study modes in contrast with the first research, there was more preference for the theory-based study mode in a printed delivery learning environment mainly due to the greater experience and prior knowledge students had with this approach. This article clearly indicated that it is desirable to consider student variables in designing distance learning environments to provide students with the possibility to opt for a specific study mode and delivery mode and thus to improve effectiveness of distance education. In addition, Biner, Bink, Huffman, and Dean (1995) found several personality factors such as self-sufficiency, introversion, and relative lack of compulsiveness were related to achievement among the telecourse students. Learners being autonomous individuals constructing their own knowledge (Laffey, Tupper, Musser, & Wedman, 1998; Bullen, 1998; Naidu, 1997; Jonassen et al., 1999) and being actively involved in their learning (Shneiderman, Borkowski, Alavi, & Norman, 1998; Hillman, 1999) also tended to maximize their own learning. Given the fast development of information and communication technologies, we can expect that online technology will bring changes in forms of teaching-learning and educational institutions at all levels throughout the world. It is thus important for educators and policymakers to understand the factors affecting effectiveness so strategies can be appropriately explored to improve overall cost-effectiveness of online education.

FUTURE DIRECTIONS As indicated above, a relatively small number of studies have been conducted to investigate cost-effectiveness of online education. Moreover, there are methodological limitations of those cost-effectiveness studies so that the findings from these studies need to be viewed as suggestive rather than definitive. More valid and reliable empirical data are needed on issues of costs and learning improvement for definite conclusions on the cost-effectiveness of online education. Some specific


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questions for future studies on cost-effectiveness include:

r Does standardization of the online program format reduce costs without diminishing the quality of education and/or decreasing online interactions?

r How much can online resource sharing improve the cost-effectiveness of virtual education? How do different design strategies of online courses affect cost-effectiveness?

r What are possible ways of improving cost-effectiveness, while maintaining high interactivity?

r How can economies of scale be achieved in specific contexts? r How often must online education courses be updated or revised to maximize costeffectiveness? The increased number of technology options have brought more opportunities than before for distance education. Online education programs offer possibilities that would not otherwise be available because of costs, time, or location constraints, especially to working adults. In addition, traditional institutions that have never provided distance education are now able to use online technologies to increase the flexibility and openness of their programs. Even though most agree that advanced technologies have made education and training more flexible and open, many learners still are unable to access the necessary technologies. There is a fear that the gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots” has widened and continues to do so. Issues of removing or lessening the disparity of access need to be addressed in cost-effectiveness studies of online education. Educators and researchers must also continue to explore more sophisticated means of improving quality and cost-effectiveness of online education. In this regard, future studies should address areas such as:

r Instructional strategies: What are the effective design strategies to help learners maintain and manage their learning goals and processes while browsing online resources?

r Strategies for active involvement: How can we assist learners to more actively process information and construct meaningful knowledge?

r Motivational strategies: How can virtual education motivate the learner? r Strategies for guidance and feedback: What are the most effective and efficient means of providing guidance and feedback to learners during their learning process?

r Testing strategies: What are the most effective testing strategies in virtual education to ensure that learners have integrated the designed knowledge and skills? Some of these questions have been answered. For example, in comparing two different instructional design strategies for Web-based training courses for corporate employees in Korea, Jung and Leem (1999) reported that a Web-based course that adopted design strategies to provide specific guidelines to self-directed learning appeared to be more effective than a course that provided a more open-paced problem-based learning environment. The Web-based course, which presented content in small chunks, provided specific guidelines to help learners manage their everyday learning schedule and provided opportunities for self-examination through various types of checklists. Its completion rate was 93.4% and the average grade was 85%. In another Web-based course, each learner was asked to solve authentic problems individually, using various online resources. Later, students collaborated with other learners to improve individual solutions. The completion rate for that course was 72% and the average grade was 62%. It was determined that a course that required active online discussion and individual research for Web resources without specific guidelines was somewhat inappropriate in a corporate training context in Korea.


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Yet another example is a study that explored motivational strategies for online education. As introduced above, Gunawardena and Zittle (1997) reported that “social presence”—the degree to which a person is perceived as a real person in the media-mediated learning environment created by instructors was a strong predictor of learner satisfaction—and thus, motivation—in a computer conference. Not much empirical research has been conducted to explore the effects of specific design strategies on students’ learning and motivation. Future research should examine effective design strategies to develop quality online education courses in a variety of learning contexts and thus to improve cost-effectiveness of online education. REFERENCES Anderson, S. E., & Harris, J. B. (1997). Factors associated with amount of use and benefits obtained by users of a statewide Educational Telecomputing Network. Educational Technology Research and Development, 45(1), 19–50. Bakia, M. (2000). Costs of ICT use in higher education: What little we know. TechKnowLogia, January/February, 49–52. Available at http://www.techknowlogia.org/. Bartolic-Zlomislic, S., & Bates, A. W. (1999). Assessing the costs and benefits of telelearning: A case study from the University of British Columbia. Available at http://research.cstudies.ubc.ca/. Bartolic-Zlomislic, S., & Brett, C. (1999). Assessing the costs and benefits of telelearning: A case study from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto. Available at http://research.cstudies.ubc.ca/. Biner, P. M., Bink, M. L., Huffman, M. L., & Dean, R. S. (1995). Personality characteristics differentiating and predicting the achievement of televised-course students and traditional-course students. The American Journal of Distance Education, 9(2), 46–60. Bullen, M. (1998). Participation and critical thinking in online university distance education. Journal of Distance Education, 13(2), 1–32. Capper, J., & Fletcher, D. (1996). Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of print-based correspondence study. A paper prepared for the Institute for Defense Analyses. Alexandria, VA. Christopher, G. R. (1982). The Air Force Institute of Technology—The Air Force reaches out through media: An update. In L. Parker & C. Olgren (Eds.), Teleconferenicng and electonic communications (pp. 343–344). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin-Extension. Cukier, J. (1997). Cost-benefit analysis of telelearning: Developing a methodology framework. Distance Education, 18(1), 137–152. Daugherty, M., & Funke, B. (1998). University faculty and student perceptions of Web-based instruction. Journal of Distance Education, 13(1), 21–39. Farrell, G. M. (1999). Introduction. In G. M. Farrell (Ed.), The development of virtual education: A global perspective. London: The Commonwealth of Learning. Gunawardena, C. N., & Zittle, F. J. (1997). Social presence as a predictor of satisfaction within a computer-mediated conferencing environment. The American Journal of Distance Education, 11(3), 8–26. Hall, B. (1997). Web-based training: A cookbook. New York: John Wiley & Sons. Hezel, R. T. (1992). Cost effectiveness for interactive distance education and telecommunicated training. In Proceedings of the Eighth Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning (pp. 75–78). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin-Madison. Hill, J. R., & Hannafin, M. (1997). Cognitive strategies and learning from the World Wide Web. Educational Technology Research and Development, 45(4), 37–64. Hillman, D. C. A. (1999). A new method for analyzing patterns of interaction. The American Journal of Distance Education, 13(2), 37–47. Hiltz, S. R. (1994). The virtual classroom: Learning without limits via computer networks. Norwood, NJ: Alex Publishing Corporation. Hosley, D. L., & Randolph, S. L. (1993). Distance learning as a training and education tool. Kennedy Space Center, FL: Lockheed Space Operations Co. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 335 936). Inglis, A. (1999). Is online delivery less costly than print and is it meaningful to ask? Distance Education, 20(2), 220–239. Jonassen, D., Prevish, T., Christy, D., & Stavrulaki, E. (1999). Learning to solve problems on the Web: Aggregate planning in a business management course. Distance Education, 20(1), 49–63. Jung, I. S. (2000). Korea’s experiments in virtual education. Technical Notes, 5(2). Washington, D.C.: World Bank. Jung, I. S., & Leem, J. H. (1999). Design strategies for developing web-based training courses in a Korean corporate context. International Journal of Educational Technology, 1(1), 107–121.


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Jung, I. S., & Leem, J. H. (2000). Comparing cost-effectiveness of web-based instruction and televised distance education. A paper prepared for the Institute of Distance Education of the Korea National Open University. Seoul, Korea. Jung, I. S., & Rha, I. (2000). Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of online education: A review of literature. Educational Technology. Kearsley, G. (2000). Online education: Learning and teaching in cyberspace. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. Laffey, J., Tupper, T., Musser, D., & Wedman, J. (1998). A computer-mediated support system for project-based learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 46(1), 73–86. Limbach, R., Weges, H. G., & Valcke, M. M. A. (1997). Adapting the delivery of learning materials to student preferences: Two studies with a course model based on “cases.” Distance Education, 18(1), 24–43. Ludlow, B. L. (1994). A comparison of traditional and distance education models. In Rural partnerships: Working together. (ERIC Document Reproduction. Service No. ED 369 599). McDonald, J., & Gibson, C. C. (1998). Interpersonal dynamics and group development in computer conferencing. The American Journal of Distance Education, 12(1), 7–25. McLoughlin, C. (1999). Culturally responsive technology use: Developing an on-line community of learners. British Journal of Educational Technology, 30(3), 231–244. Moore, M. G., & Thompson, M. M. (1997). The effects of distance learning: revised edition. ACSDE Research Monograph, 15. Penn State University. Naidu, S. (1997). Collaborative reflective practice: An instructional design architecture for the Internet. Distance Education,18(2), 257–283. Oblinger, D. G. (1999, Winter). Strong links: Multiversity. IBM Magazine. Relan, A., & Gillani, B. B. (1997). Web-based instruction and traditional classroom: Similarities and differences. In B. H. Khan (Ed.), Web-based instruction (pp. 41–46). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications. Salmon, G. (1999). Computer mediated conferencing in large scale management education. Open Learning, 14(2), 34–43. Schmidt, K. J., Sullivan, M. J., & Hardy, D. W. (1994). Teaching migrant students algebra by audioconference. The American Journal of Distance Education, 8(3), 51–63. Shneiderman, B., Borkowski, E. Y., Alavi, M., & Norman, K. (1998). Emergent patterns of teaching/learning in electronic classrooms. Educational Technology Research and Development, 46(4), 23–42. Showalter, R. G. (1983). Speaker telephone continuing education for school personnel serving handicapped children: Final project report 1981–82. Indianapolis: Indiana State Department of Public Instruction, Indianapolis Division of Special Education. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 231 150) Trevor-Deutsch, L., & Baker, W. (1997). Cost/benefit review of the interactive learning connection. University Space Network Pilot. Ottawa, Canada: Strathmere Associates International Ltd. Vrasidas, C., & McIsaac, M. S. (1999). Factors influencing interaction in an online course. The American Journal of Distance Education, 13(3), 22–36. Whalen, T., & Wright, D. (1999). Methodology for cost-benefit analysis of Web-based telelearning: Case study of the Bell Online Institute. The American Journal of Distance Education, 13(1), 23–44. Wishart, J., & Blease, D. (1999). Theories underlying perceived changes in teaching and learning after installing a computer network in a secondary school. British Journal of Educational Technology, 30(1), 25–42. World Bank (1998, April). Latin America and the Caribbean: Education and technology at the crossroads. A discussion paper. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.


49 A Comparison of Online Delivery Costs with Some Alternative Distance Delivery Methods Alistair Inglis Victoria University ofTechnology alistair.inglis@vu.edu.au

There is a great deal of interest, both within institutions and within the higher education sector generally, in how the costs of online delivery compare with the costs of well-established methods of delivery. This is apparent from the number of studies being carried out at the institutional level and within the sector (Bacsich et al., 1999; Bartolic-Zlomislic & Bates, 1999a, 1999b; Inglis, 1999; Jewett, 1998; Morgan, 2000). Understandably, institutions should be interested in the impact that the shift to online delivery is going to have on costs, given the pace at which that change is occurring. However, coming to an understanding of how the costs of the new methods of delivery compare to the costs of existing methods of delivery involves more than keeping account of actual costs. It involves gaining an understanding of the factors that have the capacity to have a major impact on cost relativities and understanding the extent of that impact. Through achieving such an understanding it is then possible to anticipate how particular changes in a delivery model are likely to impact overall costs of delivery and therefore the viability of programs. Without that understanding, detailed information on the actual costs of individual programs may simply lead to greater confusion.

THE DRIVE FOR INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY The importance that educational institutions are placing on developments in the areas of online learning, at least at the higher education level, is indicated by the degree of interest that has been shown in the National Learning Infrastructure Initiative (NLII) that has been sponsored and promoted by EDUCAUSE (formerly EDUCOM). The rationale for the NLII was initially set out in a white paper that explained the necessity for taking a more systemwide approach to use of new learning technologies in terms of the economic imperatives facing educational authorities (Twigg, 1994). 727


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The case that Twigg presented for making the shift to new learning technologies was based on the need for future governments to achieve economies in the provision of postsecondary education. Twigg argued that the growth in population and the disappearance of old jobs and the creation of new jobs would lead to a substantial growth in lifelong learning. This increase in demand for postschool education would place so much economic pressure on governments that they would be forced to respond by looking for ways to cut the cost of education. Twigg’s analysis is supported by others who have studied the economics of higher education (see, for example, Arvan, 1997). The National Learning Infrastructure Initiative was put forward as the answer to achieving more with less. TWIGG’S MODEL Twigg argued that the ways to reduce costs are to reduce the need for direct faculty intervention and to make savings in buildings and plant. Both of these outcomes could be achieved, she said, by increasing students’ abilities to locate and use learning resources. Twigg argued that, when implemented, the National Learning Infrastructure would “increase access (via the network), improve quality (through the availability of individualised interactive learning materials) and contain costs (by reducing labor intensity in instruction)” (Twigg, 1994). The means by which Twigg saw savings being achieved was not, therefore, simply through a shift from face-to-face to online learning, but more particularly through a shift from classroombased to resource-based learning. This argument is spelt out in much greater detail in Twigg (1996). THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN CLASSROOM-BASED AND RESOURCE-BASED MODELS OF COURSE DELIVERY Inglis, Ling, and Joosten (1999) pointed out that distance education programs, including distance education programs delivered online, differ according to whether they adopt a classroombased or a resource-based model of delivery. Classroom-based learning is learning that takes place through dialogic interaction between student and tutor and student and student. Resourcebased learning is learning that takes place through interaction between the student and selfpaced instructional materials (see Table 49. 1). Most examples of distance education programs combine elements of both classroom-based and resource-based learning. However, it is the manner in which these types of learning are combined that determines the model of delivery that is being used. In the case of the classroom-based model, learning is centered around group activities. Such resource materials as are used serve the purpose of supporting and extending those group activities. In the case of the resource-based model, learning occurs through interaction between the learner and the learning materials. TABLE 49.1 Examples of Delivery Methods Employed in Classroom-Based and Resource-Based Models of On-Campus, Traditional Off-Campus, and Online Modes Classroom-Based On-campus Traditionaldelivery Onlinedelivery

Tutorials Seminars Audio teleconferences Videoconferences Asynchronous learning networks

Resource-Based Computer-assisted instruction Computer-managed learning Print-based self-instructional packages Broadcast television and radio Web-based delivery Multimedia packages Streaming video and streaming audio


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The reason for drawing this distinction between classroom-based and resource-based models of delivery is that the differences between these two models are critical to the economics of distance education delivery. It helps in understanding the economics of online delivery if one first has a grasp of the way in which the economics of teaching at a distance has served to shape the earlier history of distance education. THE EXAMPLE SET BY THE UK OPEN UNIVERSITY The successful establishment of the UK Open University marked a watershed in the development of higher education. Prior to the establishment of the Open University, distance education programs had been characterized by high failure and dropout rates. The Open University was founded on a vision of offering mature-aged adults from lower socioeconomic groups who had been deprived of the opportunity of gaining a university education a second chance. The Open University used a mode of teaching that was heavily resource-based. The model that the university adopted combined the use of correspondence material, television and radio broadcasts, face-to-face tuition at local study centers, and residential schools. This model was chosen because the students for whom the university would be catering were expected to be working while they were studying and therefore would not be able to attend daytime classes. However, the use of broadcast television and high-quality print packages involved substantial development costs. Nevertheless, the university recognized that its resource-based delivery model also offered considerable potential for economies of scale and that these economies were capable of yielding considerable savings in recurrent costs for the university compared with conventional universities. (Wagner, 1972).

THE IMPORTANCE OF ECONOMIES OF SCALE The costs of any productive activity may be subdivided into costs that do not increase with the unit of output and costs that do. The former are termed fixed costs and the latter are termed variable costs. In education, examples of fixed costs include the costs of institutional infrastructure such as buildings and plant and the costs of courseware design and development, while examples of variable costs include the cost of labor associated with tutoring, student support and assessment. Economies of scale are obtained by spreading the fixed costs over a larger student intake. Ashenden (1987) pointed out that opportunities for obtaining economies of scale arise at two levels. At the course level, economies of scale can be obtained by spreading the fixed costs associated with the design and development of courseware across a larger course intake. At the institutional level, economies of scale are obtained by spreading the costs of the institutional infrastructure needed for delivery of programs across a larger distance education cohort. While Ashenden was referring to the type of print-based distance education practiced in Australia, the pattern he described is capable of being mapped onto cost structures for resource-based online delivery. As in the case of printed-based delivery, economies of scale can be obtained at the course level by spreading the fixed costs of design and development of the Web-delivered resource materials across a larger course intake. Meanwhile, economies of scale can be obtained at the institutional level by spreading the costs of information and communications technology infrastructure needed to support online delivery across a larger total online enrollment. The immediate success of the UK Open University led to many other countries around the world establishing national single-mode distance education universities based on the Open University model. However, two countries that stand out as not having followed this trend are Australia and the United States.


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In Australia, a well-developed system of off-campus education was already in existence at the time that the Open University was established. Even so, a major government inquiry was launched to assess whether an open university should be established in Australia (Committee on Open University to the Universities Commission, 1974). This inquiry recommended against the establishment of an open university and recommended instead the establishment of a National Institute for Open Tertiary Education as a statutory body and the establishment a new regional university with special responsibility for open education. Due to the economic conditions that developed shortly afterward, neither was established. This left the way open for the newly established colleges of advanced education in Australia’s dual-sector higher education system to fill the gap in the market. By the early 1980s more than 40 institutions were operating in distance education and there was widespread duplication of courses. Most institutions were unable to capture a sufficient portion of the market to operate efficiently. Recognition by the statutory authority that was then responsible for overseeing the funding of the higher education sector, the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission, of the inefficiencies that such a dispersed system created led to a decade of research into the costs of distance education. At the end of this period, the Australian government legislated to rationalize distance education. However, it did not reduce the number of providers to one. The work by Ashenden’s (1987) investigation demonstrated that by adhering to the production values that were accepted in Australia institutions could operate cost-effectively with average course intakes of 50–150 and average total intakes of 3,000. The government therefore designated 8 Distance Education Centres, involving a total of 10 universities. The fact that the United States did not follow other counties in setting up a national university dedicated to distance education can be explained in cultural terms. The strong tradition that existed in the United States of school leavers moving away from home to begin higher education meant that there wasn’t the level of unmet demand for undergraduate places that fuel the growth of distance education elsewhere in the world. When educational institutions in the United States began to move into distance education, they did so not by adopting the resource-based learning model that had been adopted elsewhere in the world, but by extending the classroom-based model beyond the walls of the institutions using the power of the communications media (Twigg, 1996). They created a “remote classroom” model based on two-way videoconferencing and one-way audio, two-way video (Daniel, 1998). Because of the strong U.S. economy, institutions were not faced with such cost constraints as universities elsewhere. Institutions took advantage of economies of scale to recoup the substantial investment costs needed to implement distance education by this mode. However, most did not take the second step of trying to reap economies of scale through a shift to resource-based learning. Twigg’s argument has carried such weight in the U.S. context because of the difference described between characteristics of the U.S. higher education system and the higher education systems in other countries. Twigg was not the first person to campaign for the adoption of online delivery on economic grounds. A much earlier proponent of technology was Murray Turoff.

TUROFF’S MODEL Murray Turoff has been one of the pioneers of computer-mediated communication and is widely regarded as the “father of computer conferencing.” While working in the office of the president of the United States in the 1960s, he was responsible for the development of the first publicly used computer conferencing system. As professor of computer science at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, he went on to establish the Electronic Information Exchange


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System (EIES), a system that was used in industry and education. He has continued to make a substantial contribution to the research into the use of computer-mediated communication. In 1982 Turoff proposed the establishment of a new institution that would teach online and developed a costing model to demonstrate the viability of the proposal; he has regularly updated that model since (Turoff, 1996). Given Turoff’s long-standing advocacy of the role of computer conferencing in business and education, it is only to be expected that the type of virtual classroom he would advocate is one based on the classroom-based model. Turoff argues that in this fast-paced world, by the time that subject matter is sufficiently well understood that it can be presented in the form of learning packages, it is too out of date to be relevant at university level (Turoff, 1997). Many distance educators would not agree with Turoff’s assessment of the limitations of learning packages. The pace at which disciplinary knowledge is expanding varies greatly from discipline to discipline. Even in those disciplines where progress is rapid, distance education providers have found ways of keeping up with development through the implemented justin-time methods of production. Twigg (1994) argued that what students need to learn is the means by which disciplinary knowledge is accessed. If that is accepted, then the pace at which what students are needing to learn is changing is by no means as rapid as Turoff has claimed, even in disciplines such as computing and law. Nevertheless, it is important to be aware of the philosophical assumptions Turoff makes in order to understand the basis upon which his costing model is derived. Given what has been said above about the way in which economies of scale are obtained, one would not expect substantial savings to be generated through the adoption of Turoff’s model, and indeed Turoff makes no such claims. In setting out his costing, Turoff was not trying to show that it was possible to make substantial savings through making the shift from campus-based to online delivery but that it was possible to deliver programs online at a cost commensurate with delivering the same programs face-to-face. Turoff believed that the purpose of using technology in the delivery of programs in higher education should not be to enable larger class sizes to be supported, nor to increase efficiency, but rather to improve the effectiveness of teaching. Turoff did not seek to achieve savings by such means as relegating teaching to low-paid instructors or by limiting the extent of instructor contact. To ensure that the quality of faculty would be on average higher than in existing institutions, he proposed that instructors be paid generously in comparison with those offered by traditional universities. However, the salaries to be paid to staff are not quite as generous as they appear at first glance, because instructors would be required to provide their own computers, scanners, and pay the costs of communication and well as the costs of development of learning materials. Where savings are achieved in Turoff’s model is in the institutional infrastructure. Computer and communications costs are kept low, principally by requiring students to accept most of these costs. Turoff argued that the $15–20 (U.S. dollars) cost of unlimited network access compared favorably with the cost of travel to a college over a significant distance or the cost of room and board to live on campus. There is already some evidence emerging that students’ patterns of attendance at universities are changing as they recognize that the need for attending on campus is diminishing. However, there is a danger in assuming that what applies to some students applies to all. Interestingly, Turoff’s decision to shift the use of funds from the physical plant to faculty also largely eliminates any opportunities that might otherwise have existed for obtaining economies of scale. Twigg, on the other hand, was predicating her case on the assumption that governments would need to reduce the costs of education. The creation of the National Learning Infrastructure was her solution to how this could be achieved. However, the way in which these savings were to be achieved was through economies of scale. Use of the new learning technologies is


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the means by which the shift to resource-based learning is accomplished. The argument Twigg advanced for the National Learning Infrastructure was in essence no different from the argument made two decades earlier by champions of the Open University model. That being the case, it is worth asking whether even greater savings could be achieved by switching to print.

THE EDUCATIONAL RATIONALES FOR ALTERNATIVE MODELS From what has been said above, it should now be evident that the more marked the move to resource-based delivery, the greater the potential for achieving economies of scale and the greater the scope for cost savings. Yet it is important also to consider this question: What effect does changing the mix have on the educational quality of the programs being delivered? The models proposed by Twigg and Turoff represent the opposite ends of a continuum that ranges across various combinations of classroom-based and resource-based components. In considering how these two complementary approaches to delivery might be best applied, it is necessary to take into account the educational rationales for choosing one or another approach or a combination of the two. Feenberg (1999) has characterized the difference between these two alternative models of online distance education as being between ‘automating and informating’ (Feenberg, 1999, p. 2). In describing the difference in this way, Feenberg tries to accentuate the difference between an emphasis on costs and an emphasis on quality. Feenberg acknowledges the opportunity that exists with what he terms an “automated” system to obtain economies of scale but argues that courses produced by a live teacher, which have the advantage of enabling learners to engage actively in dialogue, will be designed in relatively simple and flexible formats. However, portraying the resource-based learning model as an automated model is something of a shibboleth. Almost nowhere in the world has implementation of the resource-based model been seen to obviate the need for student interaction. In the UK Open University, local study groups is a key feature while in Australia, teletutorials, weekend residential schools, or residential schools are key components. Feenberg acknowledges that prepackaged computerbased materials will supplement the teacher. In acknowledging the legitimacy of the use of these materials, Feenberg accepts that there will be components of either delivery model in which the potential for economies of scale will exist and can be exploited. While some of the details of Feenberg’s argument might be questioned, the issue he raises is certainly a recurrent theme in the literature of online delivery (Harasim, Hiltz, Teles, & Turoff, 1995; Inglis et al., 1999; National Committee of Enquiry into Higher Education, 1997; Turoff, 1997). However, the conclusion this debate leads us to is not that collaborative learning is preferable to material-mediated self-instruction but that the optimum situation is represented by a combination of both approaches. The purpose to which research on comparative costs needs now to be directed is therefore to understanding how to obtain the most cost-effective combination of delivery strategies. This combination need not, of course, be limited to strategies mediated by the new learning technologies, but could also include the use of more traditional delivery media such as print, where this is appropriate.

WHY COMPARE COSTS? Research into the costs of delivery of education and training is seldom driven merely by curiosity. It is usually driven by the need of education and training managers for dependable data upon which to base management decisions. The type of research that is undertaken is therefore determined by the types of issues that are uppermost in the minds of managers. Sometimes there


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may be a political element. However, more commonly the reasons are economic—education and training providers find themselves having to stretch their budgets further and are keen to learn the best way to do this. Rumble (1999) suggested that some of the reasons why educators worry about costs of online delivery include the need to understand and control costs, to identify costs in order to set prices, to demonstrate increased cost-efficiency and cost-effectiveness, and to justify projects in terms of their costs and benefits, and the fear that the overall cost will be too great for institutions or that the costs imposed on students will be too heavy. In the period immediately following the establishment of the World Wide Web, many education and training managers saw it as offering a way to achieve substantial reductions in the costs of delivery of programs. Initial interest in the costs of online learning was therefore focused on confirming that the types of savings that were being promised could in fact be obtained. However, this phase has passed. Most education and training managers now realize that the costs of online delivery are somewhat higher than at first believed. However, more importantly, they accept that online learning is here to stay and that, therefore, even if online delivery were to be shown to be not as economical as existing methods, it would still continue to evolve and would become less costly over time. Their primary responsibility as managers is therefore no longer to determine whether their organizations should be considering shifting to online delivery, but rather when and how. The management imperative in relation to online delivery is no longer to reduce costs, but rather to manage costs.

DIFFICULTIES IN MAKING COMPARISONS ON THE BASIS OF ACTUAL COSTS While it is usual to base comparisons of different modes of delivery on actual costs, this approach runs into a number of difficulties when addressing an international arena. Actual costs vary considerably from country to country but they don’t vary consistently. For example, labor costs are much higher in first world countries than in third world countries. However, the costs of technology and telecommunications are generally higher in third world countries than in first world countries. Furthermore, relative costs are not very stable, being subject to exchange rate variations that at times can be quite large. A variation in the exchange rate between two countries can therefore produce a change in a major cost component that is much larger than the total contributions of minor cost components. In coming to understand the way in which the costs of different delivery methods compare, it is therefore more important to appreciate the relative impact that different variables have on costs and the way in which they impact costs than to have a detailed knowledge of the actual costs of different cost components for a particular type of project in a particular context.

HOW SHOULD COSTS BE COMPARED? Recent studies of costs in distance education recognize the importance of adopting an activitybased costing approach (Cokins, 1996) rather than a costing approach based on line items (Rumble, 1986, 1997). However, the fact that institutions have not yet adopted activity-based accounting is one of the major factors that continues to bedevil attempts to investigate relative costs on a systemwide scale (Bacsich et al., 1999). The adoption of activity-based costing focuses attention on the differences that exist between different phases of a production cycle and numerous models have been proposed for subdividing the phases involved in the delivery of distance education programs by more traditional media (see, for example, Bates, 1995; Rumble, 1997). Bacsich and his colleagues have examined the


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suitability of several models for costing online delivery and have proposed a new life cycle model comprising planning and development, production and delivery, and maintenance and evaluation phases, which they have attempted to validate by reference to panels of practitioners (Bacsich et al., 1999). In analyzing the costs of two alternative ways of going about a process it is generally of little value to compare the costs of inputs without comparing the value of the outputs. Comparing inputs without at the same time comparing outputs carries the tacit assumption that the outputs are the same or equivalent. In the case of the delivery of educational programs this is seldom, if ever, the case. Cost-effectiveness analysis compares costs with outcomes whether or not those outcomes can be measured in financial terms. Cost-benefit analysis compares costs with benefits in economic terms (Moonen, 1997). Cukier (1997) has pointed out that many published cost-benefit studies in distance education examine costs but not benefits. Studies that do not attempt to compare benefits as well as costs are of limited value in establishing the “big picture.” However, it is often the case that before and after conditions are often so different when courses are moved online that finding suitable outcome measures is often quite difficult. In the studies that Cukier reviewed, the types of benefits that were identified included cost savings, opportunity costs, or learning outcomes. Bartolic-Zlomislic and Bates (1999a), drawing on the work of Cukier, assessed the benefits flowing from a joint venture development involving the University of British Columbia and the Monterrey Institute of Technology using a range of outcome measures. These included measures of performance-driven benefits such as student/instructor satisfaction, learning outcomes, and return on investment; measures of value-driven benefits such as increased access, flexibility, and ease of use, and measures of value-added benefits including the potential for new markets. Bates (1995) argued that the basis on which costs are compared should take into account the purpose for which they are being compared. If this purpose is to decide whether to use a particular technology or if there is a fixed overall budget then it may be most appropriate to use the total cost over the whole of life of the project; if the purpose is to maximize the investment in the production of resource, then the marginal cost of increasing the amount of resource material may be the best measure; if the purpose is to recover the costs of delivery through student fees, then the marginal cost of adding an additional student may be the most appropriate measure; and if the purpose is to compare different technologies then the average cost per student hour is probably the best measure. An alternative approach to using actual costs for comparing the costs of alternative methods of delivery is to use break-even analysis (Markowitz, 1987) in which the comparison is made on the basis of the time taken to recover the initial investment. This approach is most appropriate for use in situations where all of the initial investment is being recovered through course fees and it is important to know whether investment in the initial development of the course is justified. As several authors point out, the number of studies that make any attempt to compare the costs of online delivery is small (Bacsich et al., 1999; NBEET, 1994; Rumble, 1999).

WHICH COSTS SHOULD BE COMPARED? The costs of delivery of distance education programs can be divided up in a variety of ways (Bates, 1995)—for example, into capital and recurrent costs, into fixed and variable costs, and into development and delivery costs. However, what is more important than being able to place costs into their appropriate categories is understanding how the different types of costs interrelate. For it is the ways in which costs interrelate that determines whether, in a particular set of circumstances, one mode of delivery will be less costly than another.


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However, even understanding the relationship between different cost components is not, on its own, sufficient because the relationship between different types of costs depends on the measure that is used—whether costs are compared on the basis of overall costs, costs per student per workload hour, costs per student per contact hour, or some other measure. Each of these bases of comparison has the potential to produce a different result. Given this situation, the aim in comparing costs should not be to determine which is the best measure of costs, but to decide which is the best measure for the purpose at hand.

THE IMPORTANCE OF COMPARING LIKE WITH LIKE If costs are compared without also comparing benefits, a tacit assumption is made that the delivery methods being compared yield the same or similar benefits. However, the more two delivery methods differ, the less it is likely that the benefits will be equivalent. It is not hard to imagine how existing courses delivered in alternative modes might be directly translated into online versions. For most institutions that are currently heavily involved in distance education, direct translation of existing courses is the obvious and probably preferred first step to moving into this medium. However, simple translation of courses into the online medium is often deprecated because it makes no attempt to take advantage of the attributes of the media (Oliver, 1999). Moving into the online environment offers possibilities that are not available at acceptable cost via alternative media. These include animation, streaming audio, streaming video, and full color. Advantage can be taken of some of these options, such as color, without appreciably increasing cost. However, the costs of enhancement of the learning environment are typically much higher than the costs of direct translation. The development costs of interactive multimedia products are many times higher than the development costs of print materials designed to support attainment of the same learning outcomes (Bates, 1995). If more traditional methods of delivery are to be compared with augmented forms of online delivery, then any improvement in the effectiveness with which students learn should be treated as an additional benefit and some attempt should be made to measure the economic value of this improvement. The decision to shift to online delivery may provide the trigger for initiating a major course revision. However, the staff time involved in regular revision ought not to be regarded as an additional cost. Regular revision of courses is an accepted aspect of good practice in the resource-based learning model of distance education. If the timing of the redesign effort is altered by virtue of moving a course online, then only that portion of the development cost attributable to the cycle time of redevelopment ought to be considered an additional cost.

THE CONFOUNDING EFFECTS OF HIDDEN COSTS A difficulty that arises in trying to compare the costs of online delivery with the costs of other forms of delivery is that there are invariably some costs that remain unaccounted for. These “hidden” costs can distort the basis of comparison. The costs of long-established methods of delivery are usually well understood, whereas the costs of emerging methods of delivery are often not all known. Comparisons of this type therefore tend to understate the costs of newer methods of delivery while fully accounting for the costs of existing methods. The effect is to place new methods of delivery in a more favorable light. Paul Bacsich and his colleagues at Sheffield Hallam University in the United Kingdom have been trying to quantify the costs of online delivery (Bacsich et al., 1999). They have found that, in the institutions they have studied, many of the costs of online delivery are not being recorded.


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Bacsich and his colleagues subdivide hidden costs into three separate categories: institutional costs, costs to staff, and costs to students. Institutional costs are the costs borne by the institution. They include among these the costs of costing, the costs of collaboration, the costs of monitoring informal staff student contact, and the costs of copyright compliance. Staff costs are the costs borne by the staff even though in some cases they should, in principle, be borne by the institution. Among the staff costs, they include the costs of time spent out-of-hours in development of learning materials and the costs of use of privately purchased computers and consumables. Among the costs to students, they point to the costs of ink-jet cartridges needed to print out learning materials. Bacsich and his colleagues have concluded that there is a pressing need for institutions to start tracking the costs of online delivery. However, he acknowledges that there are a number of quite serious difficulties in trying to do this: academics, management, and administrators were reluctant to consider the use of any form of time sheet to track the extent of the investment of staff time in these activities; institutions were reluctant to acknowledge that staff work overtime; and the ways in which costs are internally accounted for within institutions were inconsistency and nongranularity of internal accounting (Bacsich et al., 1999). One finds differences of interpretation as to what should be regarded as hidden costs. For example, Morgan (2000) includes as hidden costs the costs of maintaining the central administrative services such as the central finance office and the president’s office, the costs of construction and maintenance of Web sites, and the costs of evaluation. Yet many of these are acknowledged and most can be readily quantified in some way. Whether one classifies these as hidden costs is therefore likely to depend on the individual context.

SHIFTING COSTS FROM THE PROVIDER TO THE LEARNER A special case of hidden costs occurs where costs are shifted from the distance education provider to the learner. Moonen (1994) argued that for costs to be reduced in the log run, some costs must be passed on to the student. As has already been pointed out, Turoff’s costing model assumed that students would accept the costs of communication. Rumble (1999) gives examples that suggest that institutions are moving in the direction of requiring students to assume responsibility for communications charges. Inglis (1999) found that in comparing the actual costs of offering a print-based course with the expected costs of offering the same course online, communication costs represented a significant proportion of the costs of online delivery. Furthermore, if the costs of online delivery of resource materials are going to be higher than the costs of print-based delivery, the students may prefer to be given the option of the medium in which they receive their materials.

OTHER COSTS THAT NEED TO BE CONSIDERED IN A TRAINING CONTEXT Most of the published research into the costs of delivery of distance education programs has been related to the delivery of programs in higher education. In higher education, costs are borne by the student or the state or both, in a training environment the cost is more commonly borne by the employer. When the focus is shifted to the training environment an additional set of cost factors has to be taken into account. For an employer, the costs of training include not only the costs of the training itself but also the costs of any travel and accommodation required to participate in the training and the cost of the loss of the trainee’s time (Moonen,


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1997; Ravet & Layte, 1997). Whether such ancillary costs ought to be taken into account in making any cost comparison depends on the standpoint from which costs are being compared. If one is comparing cost from the viewpoint of the training provider, then the costs of travel, accommodation, and lost working time are not relevant. However, if one is comparing the costs from the perspective of the employer, then the magnitude of these ancillary costs tip the balance between online delivery and face-to-face delivery when choosing between training. It is therefore obviously important for the employer to take into account these costs.

COMPARISON OF THE COSTS OF DELIVERY IN A BUSINESS CONTEXT Online delivery is assuming growing importance in corporate training because of its synergistic relationship with e-business. In the business sector, investment decisions have traditionally been made on the basis of return on investment. Investment in training is treated no differently from other types of investment. In making decisions on investments, businesses are more interested in the benefits that will accrue than just the absolute cost of the investment. Return on investment (ROI) is the principal financial metric used to assess the value of a training investment (Cukier, 1997). ROI may be expressed as the annual profit from an investment after taking into account taxation, expressed as a percentage of the original investment, or as the number of months or years for the cash flow generated by the investment to recover the initial investment. While ROI can be calculated for an individual investment decision, it is more common for the ROI for different alternatives to be compared. For example, the ROI for online delivery of training may be compared with that of delivery via more traditional face-to-face training. The way that the expected return is measured is obviously of critical importance in such comparisons. Training managers are apt to measure return in terms of the attainment of training outcomes. However, as Cross (2001) has argued, that as business unit managers judge the worth of training in terms of the improvements in business outcomes attributable to the training investment, astute training managers will estimate returns in business terms. Both because the business returns to be expected from an investment in training are so dependent on the nature and state of the business and the relationship of the particular training to the activity of the business, and because the staff time and travel costs of training will depend on a business’s locations, it is difficult to generalize about the how alternative delivery methods compare. Because of the mounting interest in e-learning and the more hard-headed approach that business managers normally adopt toward investment decisions, one may be inclined to believe that e-learning must be proving cost-effective. However, what may be of greater interest in this connection is that when it comes to investments in e-learning, senior executives of e-business enterprises are relying more on intuition and on financial metrics because their focus is more on growth than on financial returns.

WHAT CONCLUSIONS CAN WE DRAW? Rumble (1999), in reviewing the findings of the small number of studies that have so far attempted to measure the actual costs of delivering courses online, has highlighted the great disparity in the findings. However, given what has been said here about the impact of economies of scale, the great differences in development costs for different types of delivery options, and the importance of the delivery model, this should not be surprising. However, from an understanding of the way these and other factors impinge on fixed and variable costs it is possible to predict how costs are likely to be impacted by changes in delivery methods and the results of such studies as have been undertaken do broadly correspond with these predictions.


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Shifting from a remote classroom model of distance education delivery to a virtual classroom model is likely to result in some increase in overall costs. There is very limited scope for obtaining economies of scale at the course level by moving from on-campus to online delivery. However, because even classroom-based delivery uses institutional infrastructure there is still some scope for obtaining economies of scale at the institutional level. However, variable costs are likely to increase because of the additional time taken to communicate in the written rather than the spoken word while fixed costs are likely to increase because of the additional investment in infrastructure and support services Shifting from print-based delivery to an online RBL model is unlikely to result in appreciable savings and could also result in an increase in overall costs, once again because of the additional investment in infrastructure and support services that will be required. In both of the above cases, there is likely to be a significant additional cost to the student of moving online. Telecommunications charges make an important contribution to the overall costs of delivery and most distance education providers in the higher education sector are requiring these charges to be borne by the student. Requiring students to bear the communication costs doesn’t reduce the overall costs of online delivery but it may bring the costs to the institution down to a manageable level. In workplace training, it is not readily possible for telecommunications costs to be passed on to the trainee. However, in this context the costs of staff time, travel, and accommodation need to be taken into account in comparing online delivery with face-to-face training and there may therefore still be a net saving to gained in moving to online delivery. Shifting from the remote classroom model of distance education delivery to an RBL model of online delivery does offer considerable potential for achieving in savings in the costs of delivery. However, the savings will accrue, not from the change in the method of delivery but rather from the change in model of delivery. In all cases, there will be a substantial impact initially from the start-up costs associated with the establishment of new infrastructure, the development of new procedures, and the creation of new organizational structures for student and staff support. Nevertheless, the benefits of shifting to online delivery may justify the additional initial investment and any ongoing additional costs. This will particularly be the case where the shift to online delivery offers the opportunity to open up new markets that could not be accessed economically via existing delivery methods. Also, with time, the costs of online delivery are likely to fall as the capacity of networks grows, competition for customers increases, and technology improves. Meanwhile, the costs of existing methods of delivery are likely to remain stable or even increase.

WHAT MORE WOULD IT BE USEFUL TO KNOW ABOUT THE RELATIVE COSTS OF ONLINE LEARNING? The work by Bacsich and his colleagues aimed at identifying the hidden costs of networked learning may provide a more accurate accounting of the dispersal of funds for online delivery, but it remains to be seen whether the possession of such information will lead to more effective management of institutional resources, at least initially. In times of rapid change, the ways in which institutions conduct their operations and deploy staff and resources are generally more dependent on political rather than on economic factors. It is only once the new ways of operating have become more stable and predictable that costs begin to play a more decisive role in determining the choices that managers make. The phenomenon that Cross (2001) alludes to in relation to workplace training of managers relying more on intuition in making their decisions in relation to the implementation of online delivery


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probably applies more generally, if for no other reason than that the paucity of dependable information leaves them with no other choice. Nevertheless, it is inevitable that education and training managers will continue to maintain a close interest in the costs of online delivery. Keeping costs within acceptable limits is what managers are expected to do. What this suggests is that the type of information that managers, and for that matter teachers, require is information that lets them make choices at the micro level. The question that managers now want answered is not “Which method of delivery is less costly?” but “How can the costs of delivery best be managed?” In other words, given that the decision has been taken to go online, how can the quality of courses and programs be maintained or increased without at the same time producing an escalation of costs. What has been argued here is that effective management of costs is more readily achieved if the delivery of courses and programs is conceived of in terms of delivery models rather than in terms of delivery system components and that when considered in these terms, maintenance of the quality of programs and courses is most easily achieved through a blending of resourcebased and classroom-based approaches. Because productivity and costs are likely to become increasingly important issues in education and training, providers in the United States are likely to move more and more toward resource-based learning in order to take greater advantage of the opportunity to obtain economies of scale. At the same time, distance education providers elsewhere in the world will take advantage of conferencing capabilities of networked learning in order to decrease the isolation of distance learners and improve the quality of their learning experience. The combined effects of these trends will be to bring the practice of distance education in the United States and practice of distance education elsewhere in the world into line. From a situation where it is readily possible to distinguish two quite different and often competing approaches of distance education delivery, we will move to a situation where two complementary approaches to distance education delivery are melded into a single hybrid approach. This phenomenon is likely to start to bring to the surface new costing issues such as: How can the melding of classroom-based and resource-based learning optimize the tradeoff between costs and quality? How can resources best be deployed to take advantage of economies of scale while not adversely affecting the quality of the student’s learning experience? What are the most effective ways of supporting student-student and student-instructor interaction without at the same time increasing costs? What possibilities exist for using the potential of information technologies to reduce the variable costs associated with student support? In what ways can improvements in the management of start-up of projects help to contain the initial investment in infrastructure, institutional reorganization, and staff development required to shift from existing methods of delivery into online delivery? How are course completion rates and student satisfaction measures impacted by the balance struck between the use of self-instructional courseware and virtual classroom group interaction? REFERENCES Arvan, L. (1997). The economics of ALN: Some issues. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 1(1), 17–27. Ashenden, D. (1987). Costs and cost structure in external studies: A discussion of issues and possibilities in Australian higher education. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service Evaluations and Investigations Program. Bacsich, P., Ash, C., Boniwell, K., Kaplan, L., Mardell, J., & Caven-Atach, A. (1999). The costs of networked learning. Sheffield: Sheffield Hallam University.


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Bartolic-Zlomislic, S., & Bates, A. W. (1999a). Assessing the costs and benefits of telelearning: A case study from the University of British Columbia. Available at: http://research.cstudies.ubc.ca/. Bartolic-Zlomislic, S., & Bates, A. W. (1999b). Investing in online learning: Potential benefits and limitations. Canadian Journal of Communication, 24, 349–366. Bates, A. W. (1995). Technology, open learning and distance education. London: Routledge. Cokins, G. (1996). Activity-based cost management—Making it work. New York: McGraw-Hill. Committee on Open University to the Universities Commission. (1974). Open tertiary education in Australia. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service. Cross, J. (2001). A fresh look at ROI, learning circuits. American Society for Training and Development. Available at: http://www.learningcircuits.org/2001/jan2001/cross.html. Cukier, J. (1997). Cost-benefit analysis of telelearning: Developing a methodology framework. Distance Education, 18(1), 137–152. Daniel, J. (1998). Mega-universities and knowledge media: Technology strategy for higher education. London: Kogan Page. Feenberg, A. (1999). Whither educational technology. Peer Review, 1, 4. http://www.rohan.sdsu.edu/faculty/feenberg/ peer4.html. Harasim, L., Hiltz, S. R., Teles, L., & Turoff, M. (1995). Learning networks: A field guide to teaching and learning online. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Inglis, A. (1999). Is online delivery less costly than print and is it meaningful to ask? Distance Education, 20, 220–239. Inglis, A., Ling, P., and Joosten, V. (1999). Delivering digitally: Managing the transition to the knowledge media. London: Kogan Page. Jewett, F. (1998). Case studies in evaluating the benefits and costs of mediated instruction and distributed learning. Available at: http://www.educause.edu/nlii/meetings/orleans97/case.html. Markowitz, H. Jr. (1987). Financial decision making—Calculating the costs of distance education. Distance Education, 8(2), 147–161. Moonen, J. (1994). How to do more with less? In K. Beattie, C. McNaught, and S. Wills (Eds.), Interactive multimedia in university education: Designing for change in teaching and learning. Amsterdam: Elsevier. Moonen, J. (1997). The efficiency of telelearning. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 1(2), 68–77. Morgan, B. M. (2000). Is distance learning worth it? Helping determine the costs of online courses. Unpublished master’s thesis, Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia. NBEET (National Board of Employment, Education and Training). (1994). Costs and quality in resource-based learning on- and off-campus. NBEET Commissioned Report No. 37. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service. National Committee of Enquiry into Higher Education. (1997). Higher Education in the Learning Society. Available at: http://www.leads.ac.uk/educol/ncihe/docsinde.htm. Oliver, R. (1999). Exploring strategies for online teaching and learning. Distance Education, 20(2), 240–254. Ravet, S., & Layte, M. (1997). Technology-based training. A comprehensive guide to choosing, implementing and developing new technologies in training. London: Kogan Page. Rumble, G. (1986). Activity costing in mixed-mode institutions: A report based on a study of Deakin University. Deakin Open Education Monograph, No. 2. Geelong: Deakin University. Rumble, G. (1997). The costs and economics of open and distance learning. London: Kogan Page. Rumble, G. (1999). The costs of networked learning: What have we learnt? Papers from the Conference on Flexible Learning and the Information Superhighway. Available at: http://www.shu.ac.uk/flish/rumblp.htm. Turoff, M. (1996). Costs of the development of a virtual university. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 1(2), 17–27. Available at: http://www.aln.org. Turoff, M. (1997). Alternative futures for distance teaching: The force and the darkside. Invited Keynote Presentation, UNESCO/Open University International Colloquiem, Virtual Learning Environments and the Role of the teacher, Milton Keynes: The Open University. Twigg, C. A. (1994). The need for a national learning infrastructure. Educom Review, 29(4, 5, 6). Available at: http://www.educause/nlii/keydocs/monograph.html. Twigg, C. (1996). Academic productivity: The case for instructional software. A report from the Broadmoor Roundtable, Colorado Springs, July 24–25. Available at: http://www.educause.edu/asp/doclib/abstract.asp? ID=NLI0002. Wagner, L. (1972). The economics of the Open University. Higher Education, 1, 159–183.


VII International Perspectives


50 Global Education: Out of the Ivory Tower Robin Mason The British Open University r.d.mason@open.ac.uk

WHAT IS THE PROBLEM? Every day there are announcements of new companies being formed to market online and distance courses, or new partnerships among existing institutions to broker courses and programs both nationally and internationally. Just like airline companies, universities around the world are partnering up. The World Education Market held in Vancouver in May 2000 was a timely sign: The fair was expressly organized to help universities, training providers, software companies, and representatives from countries with large education needs to meet and form alliances, and it attracted participants from over 60 countries. As the race to form global alliances gathers momentum, a number of academics and commentators on the higher education scene have begun to investigate the reality behind the globalization fever. A number of research studies have already appeared that analyze current trends, applications, and emerging models. Until this globalizing trend began to take hold, most people viewed education as a charitable activity, which required large inputs of cash from governments and large inputs of thought from academics locked away from the harsh realities of life. The advent of a consumer approach to higher education threatens to abandon the undoubted benefits of the old order in the haste to topple its ivory tower unreality. It is now quite common to hear education policymakers and senior university faculty talking about “market share,” and in some cases, making profits or more alarmingly, staying in business. What exactly does the term globalization mean in relation to higher education? Not surprisingly, the concept is used differently by different constituents and other words such as borderless education, and virtual, online, distributed, and international education all have somewhat similar designation. Within this family of concepts, at least some of the following

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elements are usually implied:

r international communications based on telecommunications, information, and media technologies, which facilitate transnational circulation of text, images, and artifacts,

r international movement of students to study in other countries as well as a demand for online courses without a residency requirement in another country,

r increasing multicultural learning environment whether online or on campus, r increasing global circulation of ideas and particularly Western pedagogical systems and values,

r rise of international and virtual organizations offering Web-based education and training. In practice, online courses and programs are increasingly attracting students from around the world, and some are even being designed specifically for a global market. Accreditation One area in which educational globalization lags behind economic globalization is that of crossborder regulations. While economic globalization is supported by increasing deregulation of financial markets and reductions in tariffs allowing an easy flow of goods and services, the educational counterpart of this—credit transfer—is undeveloped even at a national level in most countries outside the United States, let alone at an international level. If an international system of transferring credit from one university to another were in place, the full floodgates of global higher education would be opened. What is more likely is that the monopoly on accreditation that universities have enjoyed for centuries will simply be sidestepped by organizations offering courses, information, resources, and educational opportunities that the market is demanding. This is already the case in the area of IT accreditation, where Microsoft certification is valued more highly than a BSC in computing. Access Without a doubt, the issue about globalized education that arouses most concern and discussion is access. Those who believe that education is a basic right think that commercialization carries acute risks. They argue that education must not only train workers, but also citizens and responsible individuals. Therefore they question not only the effects liberalization will have, which would lead to discrimination against the most disadvantaged countries, groups and individuals, but also the impact a commercial approach will have on the spread of “common values” or respect for the indispensable diversity of learning content and methods, which take into account the language, culture and teaching traditions of the people for whom they are intended. (Hallak, 2000, p. 17)

There are two aspects to the concern about access:

r that those without an IT infrastructure will be disenfranchised, putting higher education even further out of reach and

r that in countries, cities, and wealthy enclaves where access to global online courses is possible, the status of degrees from prestigious Western universities will undermine local and national universities and lead to cultural homogeneity with all the consequent loss of diversity so marked in the plant and animal worlds.


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Student Readiness We know that the technologies are already in place to manage teaching on a global scale—at least for those who have access to electricity, computers, and the Internet. However, the social and psychological fabric needed to underpin education online lags much further behind mere technical provision. Are the potential students of global education ready to be self-directed, self-motivated, and resourceful e-learners? This chapter looks at the research underpinning these interconnected issues: the drivers behind globalization, the implications of the commercialization of education, the models used by the early adopter programs, and the reaction of those not yet involved. While America is leading the practice of global education, a good deal of the research about the phenomenon comes from those countries most likely to be affected by American domination of a global market in education: Canada, Australia, and the UK.

WHAT IS THE EVIDENCE? The Destruction of the Ivory Tower Many critics and observers of the higher education scene in the United States are predicting the death of the university. Brown and Duguid in their influential analysis, The Social Life of Information, say, “universities are one of the few institutions that have been around throughout the last millennium . . . some doubt whether they will make it very far into the next” (2000, p. 208). One of the greatest threats to the traditional university is the rise of other educational providers: corporate universities, private for-profit universities, virtual universities, and a wide range of education brokers. Most of these new providers are businesses and the focus of a business is profit, while the focus of a university is knowledge. These companies are in the knowledge business—knowledge for profit—and they are revolutionizing the way we learn at the same time as they are creating a powerful new opportunity for growth in business. . . . Behind it all looms a gargantuan government-run education system incapable of handling a doubling of knowledge about every seven years. The knowledge revolution will power the new global economy, reshape many of our institutions—particularly education—and touch every aspect of our lives. Business sees the opportunity, and it is driving ahead full speed to realize this vision to adapt to, and profit from, the realities of the new information economy. (Davis & Botkin, 1995, pp. 14–15)

Davis and Botkin’s (1995) enchantingly titled book, The Monster under the Bed: How Business is Mastering the Opportunity of Knowledge for Profit, sounded one of the early alarm bells for the university sector. Reductions in the funding of public universities, the changing nature of those wanting access to higher education, and above all, the larger social phenomena of consumerization and commodification of knowledge have all contributed to a profound questioning of the role and place of the university in a global economy. Those who have studied the higher education scene in the United States tend to fall into two camps: enthusiasts (e.g., Margolis, 1998) and alarmists (e.g., Luke, 1996). In addition to the fundamental debate over whether the university has a future and indeed, what higher education genuinely should be about, they differ in their conclusions about whether access will be increased or not by technology-mediated delivery. Van Weigel (2000) argues that e-learning can increase the reach of higher education, but usually does this at the expense of quality. Rich approaches to learning—such as cognitive apprenticeship, collaborative research, critical reflection, and problem-based learning could


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be readily adapted to undergraduate contexts through Internet-based technologies. He goes on to say: Some may contend that undergraduate students are simply not ready for this. To that I respond, How would we know?. . . By the time they reach college, students have been socialized to expect less and less from education. The adventure of learning has been collapsed to what one gets on the final exam. . . . Intellectual risk-taking is only rarely rewarded. (Weigel, 2000, p. 13)

In short, the globalization of education is exacerbating problems in higher education, which have roots much deeper than recent trends of consumerization and Internet technologies. However, the fear is that the focus of change in higher education is too much focused on short-term gain and maximizing revenue at the expense of the longer-term purposes of higher education. Globalization and Education One area of serious research is concerned with the way in which global education is a reflection or extension of society’s increasing understanding of the interrelatedness and interdependence of the physical world. The development of this global consciousness has been heightened by the spread of global communication systems and particularly the entertainment media. One researcher to study the relationship between global consciousness and education is John Field: Distance open learning appears to be uniquely suited to the emerging world order. As borders open up across the globe to traffic of almost every kind, so distance open learning flows increasingly across national frontiers. Once an essential element in nation-building, education is increasingly a commodity, most readily exportable in the form of distance open learning. (Field, 1995, p. 270)

He documents the ways in which, as with other social and political trends, education is increasingly being thought of as a commodity to be shaped according to consumer demand. Other researchers of the rise of “student-as-consumer” are more positive about its effects— particularly the way in which it is changing the worst aspects of the ivory tower practices of the university. Early studies of the use of computer conferencing note that teachers and course developers are being forced to consider the needs and requirements of learners, and online communication allows students’ opinions to be embedded into the learning environment. A British researcher, Richard Edwards, concludes that the globalization of education through the use of telecommunications technologies will empower the learner and force the providers of education to concern themselves with students’ real needs, rather than with the transmission of a preestablished canon of knowledge. Technologically-mediated knowledge provides the basis for individualising learning in a more complete and active way. . . . Here distance is subservient to the discourse of open learning and “educative” processes are displaced and reconstituted as relationships between producers and consumers in which knowledge is exchanged on the basis of the usefulness it has to the consumer. It is therefore a discourse of open learning which might be said to more fully govern the practices of those operating at a distance in the postmodern moment, as increased marketisation is introduced into the provision of learning opportunities and mass markets fragment and become more volatile across the globe. (Edwards, 1995, p. 251)

Educators, just like businesses, will have to become more flexible—in their staffing ratios, in their approach to students, and in their considerations of the curriculum. Various structural


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rigidities of traditional universities will have to be overcome: constraints on what constitutes the academic year, on where credits can be accumulated, and on how courses can be modularized. The kinds of courses that the global consumer is demanding are flexible, adaptable, portable, and interactive (Mason, 1998, p. 7). Unbundling the Education Process Many researchers in the field have noted and documented the ways in which universities, in the face of virtual and global expansion, are outsourcing functions and processes that are no longer considered core business. Until recently, the university was a self-contained society. Faculty members developed courses and course materials, offered those courses, and assessed student performance. The university provided pre-enrolment, enrolment, financial aid, record-keeping, and transcription services. It also provided instructional support services such as a library, computer labs, bookstore, and student union, complete with clubhouses, dining rooms, and restaurants, and meeting places. Many provided complete housing services. (Dirr, 1999, p. 27)

While few mourn the outsourcing of the food service or even the bookstore and other business and administrative operations, alarm sets in when universities consider unbundling student support and assessment. This is all part of a larger movement toward specialization of function, and for universities it may mean that one supplies content and curriculum design, another supplies assessment or awarding, and a company supplies the marketing, technology expertise, and perhaps capital. As part of an education consortium, this model of focusing on core areas of expertise can be seen as a strength and even a benefit for learners. For global programs, this disaggregation is a necessity. Studies of Global Education The United States is the undisputed leader in the field of online education and hence of institutional change. This has prompted governments in the UK, Canada and Australia to commission hefty studies on the danger of their national universities being eroded by U.S. globalized education. Each of these reports is based on extensive research of American activity, literature, and attitudes. All three come to similar conclusions: that their national universities are under threat and that joining the global bandwagon is the only way to survive. The UK study was entitled The Business of Borderless Education (CVCP, 2000) and runs to two volumes. It investigates current policy and practice of noncampus higher education worldwide, but particularly in the United States. A wide range of regulatory issues as well as a number of the leading exemplars of global education are studied in some detail. An extensive list of recommendations covers advice to UK universities, government agencies, research and funding bodies, and quality assurance agencies. U. S. case studies include various corporate universities, for-profit universities, and media and software giants that have education initiatives. Regarding the success of U.S. globalization, the CVCP study asks: Why then has borderless higher education taken off in the United States to a greater extent than in the UK (and elsewhere)? Three key reasons appear to be: a strong tradition of private higher education; devolved accreditation arrangements; and high student fees at mainstream institutions. (2000, p. 84)


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It goes on to note that: Most for-profit providers, even if not primarily online focused as yet (for example, the University of Phoenix), are not oriented around the residential model (or indeed research model) of the university and thus are not concerned to support a range of subjects or the host of infrastructural, social and recreational facilities common at traditional institutions. . . . Innovative, non-traditional providers stress their commitment to the adult learner, point to pedagogically sound and professionally relevant curricula and exemplary student services. The charge is made that much traditional higher education largely falls on these counts. (CVCP, 2000, pp. 86–87)

Other issues related to global or borderless education are copyright and intellectual property, technology infrastructure, and governance, and these are also investigated in some depth in this UK research. The team of eight researchers, mainly UK academics, was advised by a steering group of representatives of UK Vice Chancellors and Principals. It is no coincidence that, at the same time as the findings from this study were published, the UK government announced that it was funding an e-university initiative to allow British universities to enter the global e-learning business. The Australian study entitled, New Media and Borderless Education, was the first of the three and concluded that: There is evidence of a major segmentation of the market, with new providers targeting the lifelong learning cohort (25 years and up). This includes corporate training/education, a domain only partially catered for by traditional universities and a profitable market—being largely self-funded and employer-funded. Continuing and professional education is a component of lifelong learning for those in the workforce. There is a widespread perception that traditional institutions are not meeting the needs of the lifelong learning cohort and that the field is open for new providers to meet market demands. One obvious, and problematic, outcome of this segmentation is that traditional institutions may be left serving the less profitable traditional undergraduate market (18-24), which is largely government-funded or family-funded, in a time when governments are increasingly endeavouring to cut public outlays. Looking further into the future than the mediumterm prospects, this arguably represents one of the most significant challenges to, and opportunities for, established higher education providers. (Cunningham et al., 1998, p. xv)

A follow-up study in 2000 conducted by the same team took the most prominent area to emerge from their first report and tackled it in much more depth: Corporate providers were considered to be one of the major emerging alternatives to the traditional higher education sector, able to capture profitable niche markets in lifelong learning and vocational training through their ability to deliver more flexible and tailored programmes, and their ability to generate future employment opportunities for their “students.” (Cunningham et al., 2000)

The team approached 13 U.S. institutions from among a list of corporate universities, forprofit providers, and virtual universities. Nine on-site visits took place and interviews with various personnel were conducted over several days at each site. In addition, more than a dozen other organizations were the subject of a contextual study, the purpose being to establish a wide range of perceptions about the “business” of education in the United States. Interview protocols were constructed with a view to determining types of learners targeted, use of technology in teaching and learning, governance and staffing issues, courses offered, curricular approaches, challenges faced by the organization and plans for expansion, particularly into overseas markets.


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The extent and seriousness of the UK and Australian studies are an indication of the importance with which globalization is viewed by the higher education sector. The Canadian study was conducted by a firm of consultants for the Council of Presidents of the Public Universities, Colleges and Institutes of Alberta (COP, 2000). While not as extensive a study of the U.S. scene as the UK and Australian reports, it was conducted after them and therefore built on their findings. A particularly valuable part of the study is a taxonomy of business models that encapsulates current distributed learning activity worldwide. The models are based upon the distribution channels used and the nature of collaboration between the partners, as these are two of the key challenges in offering Web-based learning. Six distinct approaches are identified, although the researchers point out that many providers combine elements from several models. 1. Direct Sales/Virtual Universities This is the most common but also the most varied model. University of Phoenix and Jones University International are two examples as they offer online learning courses directly to the learner or corporations. 2. Partnership/Joint Venture The researchers explain the advantage of partnerships in this way: Although this model is similar to consortia models with collaboration being the attraction of the model, partnerships and joint ventures typically have less cultural drag than do consortia. The effort spent on collaboration between the multiple members in consortia is high while partnerships are more straightforward—members are fewer and roles are typically clearer. (COP, 2000, p. 16)

3. Brand Broker In this model an independent broker offers courses designed or delivered from brandname learning providers. Typically there is an exclusivity agreement that restricts memberships so that the brand is not diluted. Unext.com and Cardean.com are two exemplars. 4. Mall/Aggregator Broker This model is primarily a broker’s information portal where learners can find appropriate courses—an online yellow pages. The researchers note that so-called mall brokers are realizing that they must provide more than mere listings and leading examples are adding new features to keep browsers returning to the site. 5. Regional Consortia/Associations A consortium of multiple providing institutions, sometimes regionally based but increasingly international, share activities, staff, technology infrastructure, and so on to improve efficiency and gain market share. There are many U.S. examples, but two international examples are Universitas 21 and Next Ed. 6. Channel Supplier This model takes the form of an individual institution using an existing Web marketing channel to offer courses to a well-defined market. The researchers acknowledge that this is a very new model and only in the developing stage. However, they consider that it is potentially one of the largest growth areas for online learning. The conclusions of the report are in line with the UK and Australian studies. Two items from the executive summary are: Strategy will make the difference. Providers need to position themselves strategically in the marketplace—making conscious choices and trade-offs based upon their missions and abilities. They must clarify what value they offer customers and what their core competencies are.


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Collaboration is essential. Collaboration and partnerships are necessary to compete. This is true for regional markets and for international markets. Around the world, business partnerships are occurring between regional institutions, consortia of international institutions, and between the public and private sector. (COP, 2000, pp. 1–2)

The evidence from these three studies points to the same conclusion: that getting into the globalized arena or at least the e-learning business is necessary for survival, and existing universities ignore the trend at their peril. Concerns about the creation of a “have-not” underclass, about which institution accredits the students, and about whether the courses are commodities or learning opportunities are seen as problems to tackle along the way, not as signs that this trend can or should be resisted. Related Fields of Research It would be difficult to claim that the globalization of education is a distinct research field— at least not yet. Other, more developed areas of research feed into the studies that do exist and researchers bring varied perspectives and research literature to bear on their analysis and comment on the globalization issue. Related areas of particular significance (some of which are covered in this volume) include:

r institutional change and business reengineering, r management studies about models of partnerships and consortia, r approaches to staff development, especially the training of online teachers, r the pedagogy of online learning, and r technology and software development to support global course delivery. WHAT FURTHER RESEARCH IS NEEDED? There are many aspects of the design and delivery of global education that would benefit from further research. However two stand out as being especially relevant for global education. The first of these is the issue of student readiness for learning where there is no face-to-face component to the course provision. While this is questionable among American students, it is a much more complex issue when considering students from other countries. There are many variables: age, academic level, previous study, style of learning, and access to the technology of delivery. Early indications are that students who are older, studying at postgraduate level with easy access to a PC, self-confident, and willing to interact with their peers online will be much more successful on global courses than those who begin without these advantages (Macdonald & Mason, 1998). While many local and national online courses have some provision for face-toface tutorials, courses offered to students all over the world rarely do. Even real-time events online are difficult for a global student body. Trials and experiments in how to help students become more self-directed as learners are also needed. What works for different types of learner—mentoring, preparatory material, computerbased self-testing exercises, carefully scaffolded learning materials, or combinations of these? Studies need to be carried out across a range of curriculum areas. Students from science backgrounds have different skills, approaches to learning, and habits of studying by the time they reach postgraduate level than their fellow students who have pursued arts subjects. This may mean they have different levels of readiness to engage in online interaction, collaboration, and group work or to sustain motivation without any face-to-face support.


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The second issue is closely related to student readiness for online learning. It involves the cultural differences that inevitably arise in online courses with students from many countries, educational backgrounds, and mother tongues. While cultural differences are not unique to global courses or even to online courses, they are much more evident and more difficult to address without the benefit of face-to-face interaction. Two American researchers who have begun to investigate the effect of global courses on students from other cultures are Gayol and Schied. They note: Content selection, visual design, central planning, language, teaching-learning routines, accreditation, academic prestige of the originating site, are all centralized textualities which might work together as an assimilationist or exclusionary pedagogy. (Gayol & Schied, 1997, p. 12)

Edwards and Usher’s new book, Globalisation and Pedagogy, establishes a firm research base for the study of the significance of globalizing processes for education and pedagogy: At a time when learners are themselves subject to great changes in their sense of identity under the influence of economic, political and cultural change, there is therefore a question as to whether, for instance, the humanistic notions of learner-centredness provides us with the categories to “make sense” of learners. As with learners, so with learning. If identity is becoming subject to different forms of experiencing with the influence of globalising processes, then the ways in which learners are engaged may also need re-evaluating. (Edwards & Usher, 2000, p. 53)

Among the very earliest research studies of cultural issues in online courses is a special issue of the journal, Distance Education, May 2001. One of the articles in this issue explains the background to this new research area: We believe that because we are responsible for delivering courses to a global population we need to endeavour a) to ensure that those students who bring other, non-UK, cultural and linguistic experiences to our courses should not be disadvantaged, and b) to explore ways in which we may transform the cultural basis of these courses so that they more fairly reflect the plurality of backgrounds of the participants. (Goodfellow, Lea, Gonzalez, & Mason, 2001, p. 67)

Many of the studies in the special issue are written by practitioners who base their research on interviews with students, analysis of conference interactions, experiments with cross-cultural online collaborations, and feedback from tutors who teach global student groups. Designing courses for a global student body is an area that has received very little attention, and most practitioners are operating in a research vacuum. Related questions that need addressing across a range of disciplines, levels, and institutions are:

r How can courses prepared for students of one culture and educational paradigm work successfully for students unfamiliar with the language and educational practices of another country? r How can the support mechanisms developed by one institution be spread globally and still offer all students an equal education? r How can online technologies produce the same quality of learning environment for students from a range of cultural backgrounds as that of the cherished campus experience? In short, apart from the profound implications that global education is having on the evolution of the university, there is the more practical question of “Does it work?” Quality assurance,


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student support, and agreement about best practice on global courses are areas that need to be underpinned by research on the new phenomenon of global education. Researching the future is not as easy as studying the past. Scare mongering and sales talk often substitute for careful analysis in this debate about the university in the global Information Age. Nevertheless, there are researchers who are tackling specific aspects of the problem. If it is an irresistible direction for universities, it is better that we understand it than that we merely decry it.

REFERENCES Brown, J. S., & Duguid, P. (2000). The social life of information. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. COP. (2000). Business models of distributed learning. An interim report to the council of presidents. Available at: http://www.standing-stones.com/e-cave/links by business models.htm. Cunningham, S., Tapsall, S., Ryan, Y., Stedman, L., Bagdon, K., & Flew, T. (1998). New media and borderless education: A review of the convergence between global media networks and higher education provisions, 97/22. Canberra: Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs. Cunningham, S., Ryan, Y., Stedman, L., Tapsall, S., Bagdon, K., Flew, T., & Coaldrake, P. (2000). The business of borderless education. Draft final report. Canberra: Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs. CVCP. (2000). The business of borderless education: UK perspectives. Available at: http://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/ bookshop/ Davis, S., & Botkin J. (1995). The monster under the bed: How business is mastering the opportunity of knowledge for profit. New York: Simon and Schuster. Dirr, P. (1999). Distance and virtual learning in the United States. In G. Farrell (Ed.), The development of virtual education: A global perspective. Vancouver: Commonwealth of Learning. Edwards, R. (1995). Different discourses, discourses of difference: Globalisation, distance education and open learning. Distance Education, 16(2), 241–255. Edwards, R., & Usher, R. (2000). Globalisation and pedagogy. Space, place and identity. London: Routledge/Falmer. Field, J. (1995). Globalisation, consumption and the learning business. Distance Education, 16(2), 270–283. Gayol, Y., & Schied, F. (1997). Cultural imperialism in the virtual classroom: Critical pedagogy in transnational distance education. Presented at the 18th ICDE World Conference, The new learning environment: A global perspective, June 2–6, 1997, Pennsylvania State University, USA. Goodfellow, R., Lea, M., Gonzalez, F., & Mason, R. (2001). Opportunity and e-quality: Intercultural and linguistic issues in global online education. Distance Education, 22(1), pp. 65–84. Hallak, J. (2000). Guarding the common interest, education: The last frontier for profit. The Unesco Courier, November. Luke, T. (1996). The politics of cyberschooling at the virtual university. Available at: http://www.edfac.unimelb.edu.au/ virtu/luke.htm. Macdonald, J., & Mason, R. (1998). Information handling skills and resource based learning. Open Learning, 13(1), 38–42. Margolis, M. (1998). Brave new universities. First Monday, 3. Available at: http://www.131.193.153.231/issues/ issue3 5/margolis/index.html. Mason, R. (1998). Globalising education. Trends and applications. London: Routledge. Weigel, V. (2000 Sept/Oct). E-learning and the tradeoff between richness and reach in higher education. Change, 33(5), 8–13.


51 Culture and Online Education Charlotte N. Gunawardena The University ofNew Mexico lani@unm.edu

Penne L. Wilson The University ofNew Mexico plwilson@unm.edu

Ana C. Nolla The University ofNew Mexico ananolla@unm.edu This chapter examines the significance of culture and its impact on communication and the teaching and learning process in online courses and programs. We begin with a definition of culture and explore theoretical constructs that explain cultural variability in behavior and communication. Then, we look at how culture influences perception, cognition, the teachinglearning process, and the diffusion of online education. We conclude with a discussion of research issues in cross-cultural studies and the implications for future online education research. We borrow significantly from research conducted in the field of cross-cultural psychology, intercultural communication, and the emerging body of research on intercultural computermediated communication (CMC). While our discussion has implications for distance education in general, we relate our discussion and examples to the emerging field of online education.

DEFINITION OF CULTURE The meaning of culture is a complex and difficult concept to define in a formal sense, although many definitions of culture exist. According to Branch (1997), “Culture is regarded as the epistemology, philosophy, observed traditions, and patterns of action by individuals and human groups” (p. 38). More than this static definition, however, are the concepts that culture is constantly changing and that individuals belong to more than one culture, some voluntarily and some involuntarily. Not only is culture an abstract concept of self and group, “it also consists of a distinctive symbol system together with artifacts that capture and codify the important and common experiences of a group” (Wild, 1999, p. 198). Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (1998) explained that the essence of culture is not what is visible on the surface, and Hall (1998) added that “culture hides much more than it reveals and, strangely enough, what it hides, it hides most effectively from its own participants” (p. 59). Hall (1998) distinguished between manifest 753


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culture (which is learned from words and numbers) and tacit-acquired culture (which is not verbal but is highly situational and operates according to rules that are not in awareness, not learned in the usual sense but acquired in the process of growing up or simply being in different environments). If culture is diverse, changing, and concrete as well as abstract, the implications for its potential impact on communication at a distance become increasingly complex. For the purpose of this chapter, we would like to adopt the definition of culture put forward by Matsumoto (1996), who perceived culture as: “the set of attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviors shared by a group of people, but different for each individual, communicated from one generation to the next” (p. 16). As Matsumoto notes, this definition suggests that culture is as much an individual, psychological construct as it is a social construct. “Individual differences in culture can be observed among people in the degree to which they adopt and engage in the attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviors that, by consensus, constitute their culture” (Matsumoto, 1996, p. 18). As Rogers and Steinfatt (1999) observed, not only do nationalities and ethnic groups have cultures, but so do communities, organizations, and other systems. In the online environment, we are increasingly observing the emergence of networked learning communities, or “cybercommunities” bound by areas of interest, transcending time and space (Jones, 1995, 1997). These communities develop their own conventions for interaction and for what is acceptable and not acceptable behavior online (Baym, 1995). We use the terms intercultural communication to refer to interaction between and among individuals from various cultural backgrounds and cross-cultural studies to refer to studies that compare cultural differences in communication phenomena.

THEORETICAL DIMENSIONS OF CULTURAL VARIABILITY Researchers in the fields of cross-cultural psychology and intercultural communication agree that the major dimension of cultural variability that can be used to explain intercultural differences in behavior is individualism-collectivism (IC) (Gudykunst, 1994; Kagitcibasi, 1997; Matsumoto, 1996; Rogers & Steinfatt, 1999). This dimension has been used theoretically and empirically to explain and predict similarities and differences between cultures (Triandis, 1995; Triandis, McCusker, & Hui, 1990), and there is congruence in the conceptual understanding of IC across cross-cultural researchers around the world (Hui & Triandis, 1986). Other dimensions of cultural variability include power-distance, uncertainty avoidance, masculinity-femininity (Hofstede, 1980, 1984), contextualization (Hall, 1966), and language, an important aspect of cultural identification (Rogers & Steinfatt, 1999). Individualism-Collectivism (IC) Matsumoto (1996) noted that IC refers to the degree to which a culture encourages, fosters, and facilitates the needs, wishes, desires, and values of an autonomous and unique self over those of a group. In individualistic cultures, personal needs and goals take precedence over the needs of others. In a collectivist culture, individual needs are sacrificed to satisfy the group. While members of individualistic cultures see themselves as separate and autonomous individuals, members of collectivist cultures see themselves as fundamentally connected with others. According to a 1988 study examining IC on self-ingroup relationships by Triandis, Bontempo, Villareal, Asai, and Lucca, IC differences should vary in different social contexts. People act differently depending on whom they are interacting with and the situation in which the interaction is occurring. A person could have collectivistic tendencies at home and with close friends and individualistic tendencies with strangers or at work. While individuals can be quite collectivist in an individualistic culture, individuals in a collectivist culture can be quite individualistic (Rogers & Steinfatt,1999).


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In the cross-cultural study of self-ingroup relationships mentioned earlier, Triandis et al. (1988) suggested that cultural differences on IC differ in self-ingroup compared to selfoutgroup relationships. Individualistic cultures tend to have more ingroups because individuals have more access to ingroups; however, members are not strongly attached to any single ingroup. Members therefore tend to drop out of groups that are too demanding, and their relationships within their groups are marked by a high level of independence or detachment. In collectivist cultures, depending on the effective functioning of the group, a member’s commitment to an ingroup is greater. Collectivists keep stable relationships with their ingroups no matter what the cost and exhibit a high level of interdependence with members of their groups. It is important to examine this line of research further in the context of computer-mediated collaborative groups. One of the well-known studies of IC was conducted by Hofstede (1980, 1984), who analyzed data from employees in an international corporation with sites in more than 50 countries. In addition to IC, Hofstede identified three other dimensions of cultural variability in his study. These dimensions were labeled “power-distance,” “uncertainty avoidance,” and “masculinityfemininity.” Power Distance Power distance is the extent to which less powerful persons in a society accept inequality in power and consider it as normal. Power distance is described as either “high-power” distance in countries where individuals of higher status exert undue influence during group communication or “low-power” distance where the status differences among people are less significant and the communication process is more democratic. Matsumoto (1996) suggested a slightly modified version of power-distance called status differentiation, the degree to which cultures maintain status differences among their members. Uncertainty Avoidance Uncertainty avoidance refers to the value placed on risk and ambiguity in a culture. It is the extent to which the members of a society are made nervous by situations that they perceive as unstructured, unclear, or unpredictable—situations that they therefore try to avoid by maintaining strict codes of behavior and a belief in absolute rights. Countries with strong uncertainty avoidance will have less tolerance for ambiguous situations. Masculinity-Femininity Hofstede’s dimension masculinity-femininity refers to the degree to which cultures foster traditional gender differences among their members. Countries that Hofstede (1986) labeled as masculine strive for maximal distinction between what men are expected to do and what women are expected to do. They expect men to be assertive, ambitious, and competitive and strive for material success, while women are expected to serve and to care for the nonmaterial quality of life, for children, and for the weak. Feminine cultures, on the other hand, define relatively overlapping social roles for the sexes. Feminine cultures stress quality of life, interpersonal relationships, and concern for the weak. Confucian-Dynamism In a later study, Hofstede and Bond (1988) identified a factor in Asian cultures that was not accounted for in the previously identified factors of individualism versus collectivism, power distance, uncertainty avoidance, and masculinity versus femininity. Confucian dynamism, later


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called long-term orientation by Hofstede (1991), identified individuals as having either a tendency toward future-oriented Confucian teachings—persistence, status-ordered relationships, thrift, and a sense of shame that was called High Confucian dynamism—or toward past- and present-oriented Confucian teachings—steadiness and stability, protection of face, respect for tradition, and reciprocation of greeting, favors, and gifts that was labeled Low Confucian dynamism. Despite criticisms of Hofstede’s dimensions (sample based on a single multinational organization, subjects predominantly middle-class males, neglect of subcultures within various countries, the results being dated as cultures are not static but change over time) and the danger of stereotyping individuals of a particular culture, Ross and Faulkner (1998) recognized that Hofstede’s work has made a valuable contribution to intercultural understanding, “Providing insight into what culture is in and of itself” (p. 39). Hofstede’s model is one of very few empirically supported frameworks that attempt to explain interpersonal phenomena and communication in terms of observed cross-cultural differences (Barret, Drummond, & Sahay 1996; Bochner & Hesketh, 1994; Cifuentes & Murphy, 2000; Fernandez, Carlson, Stepina, & Nicholson, 1997; Merritt, 2000). Ross and Faulkner (1998) hesitated to rely solely on dimensional information for understanding a particular culture. They believed that dimensional information serves as an excellent guide to approach understanding, but they cautioned against the danger of overgeneralizing or treating it as absolute. They advocated using Hofstede’s dimensions with culture-specific approaches that will provide contextual understanding. High-Context versus Low-Context Cultures In addition to national differences, cultures can be differentiated along a dimension of contextualization (Hall, 1966, 1976). Hall distinguished between high-context and low-context cultures based on the amount of information that is implied versus stated directly in a communication message. High-context cultures depend upon the contextual clues delivered through indirect verbal messages in order to extrapolate meaning. Low-context cultures, on the other hand, obtain meaning from the information provided by the explicit code of the message itself. This difference in an individual’s need for context is especially important when communicating via a text-based online environment. Those from low-context cultures like the United States will be able to obtain information from the code of the text itself while those from high-context societies like Mexico, Japan, or some Native American cultures will need the context to understand the message. Rogers and Steinfatt (1999) observed that in general, a low-context individual often becomes puzzled and frustrated when interacting with people from a high-context culture. Their messages seem incomplete and ambiguous. High-context individuals often hide their feelings to avoid hurting those with whom they might disagree.

TOWARD A MORE COMPREHENSIVE VIEW OF CULTURAL VARIABILITY Kincaid (1987) showed the shortcomings of Western approaches to understanding cultural differences in communication processes. Miike (2000) pointed out that three important themes emerge that seem to be particularly helpful in establishing an Asian paradigm of communication theory: relationality, circularity, and harmony. The Western value of individuality marks a sharp contrast to the Eastern value of relationality. Interrelatedness and interdependence are much more explicitly recognized in Eastern cultures than they are in Western cultures. In Eastern cultures, the sense of self is more deeply rooted in the web of human relationships and people are highly influenced by their relationships with political systems, economic power, history,


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religious beliefs, and natural environments. Cicularity refers to transcendence in space and time. It provides a sense of relatedness of the present to the past and the future, and a sense of relatedness of life to the whole of nature. Human beings exist between their past ancestries and their future descendants. Citing Kim’s work on Eastern and Western perspectives, Miike (2000) noted that in the East because the universe is seen as a harmonious entity, there is apparent lack of dualism in epistemological patterns. “Easterners” sense-making process and perceptual world are inherently based more on ‘between-ness.’ This intrapersonal feature may explain partly why, at least through Westerners’ eyes, Easterners tend to communicate ambiguously and irrationally” (Miike, 2000, p. 4). Based on this epistemology, Miike (2000) presented three assumptions about communication: (a) communication takes place in “contexts” of various relationships, (b) the communicator is both active and passive in multiple contexts, and (c) mutual adaptation is of central importance as adaptation is the key to harmonious communication and relationships. As we examine how cultural variability plays a role in international distance education, it is important to remember that “the variation within a culture in terms of situations, individuals, and socioeconomic status may account for as much or more of the variation in intercultural interpretations of messages as does the difference between the cultures of the individuals involved” (Rogers & Steinfatt, 1999, p. 96). In this regard it is worthwhile to consider the model developed by Shaw and Barrett-Power (1998), which provided a detailed and precise mapping of the elements that constitute cultural differences by stressing the importance of considering the impact of both apparent and less visible aspects of cultural differences. The model differentiates between two sources of cultural differences—readily detectable attributes and underlying attributes. Readily detectable attributes are those that can be easily recognized in a person such as age, gender, or national/ethnic origin. Underlying attributes are divided into two categories. The first category (Underlying Attributes I) represents cultural values, perspectives, attitudes, values and beliefs, and conflict resolution styles, which are closely correlated with readily detectable attributes. The second group of attributes (Underlying Attributes II) includes socioeconomic and personal status, education, functional specialization, human capital assets, past work experiences, and personal expectations. These attributes are less strongly connected to nationality/ethnic origin, age, or gender of individuals.

CULTURE AND COGNITIVE PROCESSES Just as culture influences the way we receive information about the world around us, culture also influences the way we process that information (Matsumoto, 1996). Bruner’s (1973) understanding of how culture interacts with human development and biology to define the human condition made a significant impact in the field of psychology, which to a large extent had ignored the influence of culture and the social context on the development of cognitive processes. Members of different cultures, because of the unique demands of living in specific contexts and societies, make sense of their experience in different ways. Bruner, Oliver, and Greenfield (1966) showed that Eskimo children do not exhibit the egocentrism that is a characteristic of American and European children because they depend upon group cooperation to hunt seal or fish in order to survive. Piaget proposed that egocentrism was a universal characteristic of all preoperational children (2–7 years), but his research was based on observations of mostly European and American children (Driscoll, 1994). As a further example, Driscoll (1994) cited a study conducted by Cole and Bruner in 1971, where the ability to make estimates of volume and distance was compared between nonliterate rice farmers from Central Africa and Yale University sophomores. Whereas the Yale students were superior in estimating distance, the rice farmers were more accurate in estimating how much rice was contained in different sized


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bowls. Cole and Bruner concluded that the results suggest a cultural influence on the manifestation of inherent competence. Inherently, there must be no difference between the two groups in their ability to make estimates, but the demands of their respective cultures have made it more likely for them to develop different manifestations of this ability. Vygotsky (1962, 1978) believed that it is difficult to understand individual cognitive development without reference to the social and cultural context within which such development is embedded. He claimed that higher mental processes in the individual have their origin in social processes, and that mental processes can be understood only if we understand the tools and signs that mediate them. Because tools emerge and change as cultures develop and change, Vygotsky stressed the importance of historical and cultural perspectives in understanding human mental functions. One basic mental process is the manner in which we categorize or group things into categories. In his research with Dyirbal-speaking Aborigines in Australia, Lakoff (1987) showed how their categorization schemes are markedly different from typical Western thinking. The degree to which thinking is context-bound came to represent for Vygotsky an important indicator of intellectual development. Perception Chen and Starosta (1998) affirmed that a person’s culture has a strong impact on the perception process and cited Bagby’s 1957 research that described the influence of culture on perception. Culture not only provides the foundation for the meanings we give to our perceptions, it also directs us to specific kinds of messages and events. Cross-cultural research on visual perception has shown how culture influences perception. Much of this work is based on research conducted by Segall, Campbell, and Herokovits (1963, 1966), who tested differences in optical illusions. Chen and Starosta (1998) further observed that perceived meanings of different colors also show the influence of culture. For example, white is a wedding color in the United States, but a funeral color in India where red is a wedding color. They also note that the influence of culture on perception is often reflected in the attributional process. Attribution means that we interpret the meaning of other’s behaviors based on our past experience or history. Thinking Patterns and Expression Styles Thinking patterns refer to forms of reasoning and approaches to problem solution (Chen & Starosta, 1998). Thinking patterns differ from culture to culture. A logical, reasonable argument in one culture may be considered as illogical and undemonstrated in another culture. In a study that examined the impact of a global e-mail debate on intercultural communication, Chen (2000) noted that differences in thinking patterns and expression styles among participants may affect their perception and utilization of e-mail and intercultural sensitivity. In a debate that took place between American college students studying business and their counterparts in Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, and Turkey, Chen observed that the debate format immediately caused orientation problems for some of the participants. The “debate” itself is a product of low-context culture that requires a direct expression of one’s argument by using logical reasoning. American, Danish, and German students participating in the project did not show any difficulty in conducting the e-mail debate, while students in France, Hong Kong, and Turkey were confused by the format. The confusion led to two outcomes. First, students in France, Hong Kong, and Turkey resisted or were reluctant to conduct the communication. Second, when they were required to conduct the e-mail debate, they tried to match their American counterparts by abandoning their own expression styles. In order to improve the format problem in future global e-mail communication, Chen (2000) suggested that a format suitable for both high- and low-context cultures be designed. He suggested that a regular


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exchange of information regarding one or several course related topics could be used to replace the debate format. Students should be encouraged to freely share their ideas and opinions from their cultural perspective without being confined by rigid communication formats. Kaplan’s (1966) study explained the differences in thinking patterns reflected in five different language systems: English, Semitic, Oriental, Romance, and Russian, and Ishii (1985) pointed out the differences in thought patterns that exist between Americans and the Japanese. He cited a Japanese work by Shigehiko Toyama who contends that Anglo-Americans think in “line” while Japanese think in “dots.” Along these same lines, Ishii suggested that the concepts of the American “bridge” and the Japanese “stepping stone” reflect the patterns of thought characteristic of each culture. Using the American “bridge” model, the speaker or writer organizes his or her ideas and tries to send them explicitly and directly, as if building a bridge from point I to point II. Using the Japanese “stepping stone” approach, the speaker or writer organizes his or her ideas and sends them implicitly and indirectly, as if arranging stepping stones from point I to point II. Sometimes the arrangement itself is not clear and the listener or reader must infer or surmise the intended meaning. Ishii observes that the distinction between these two rhetorical patterns may be supported by Hall’s discussion of high-context and low-context cultures. The Japanese “stepping stone” pattern is an example of high-context communication while the “bridge” pattern is an example of low-context communication. The differences in thinking patterns can lead to misunderstanding in intercultural communication, especially when that communication takes place in a computer-mediated context, which lacks the nonverbal cues of face-to-face communication. Language Language is a very important part of cultural identification (Rogers & Steinfatt, 1999). It represents a different way of thinking as well as a different way of speaking, and cognition is mediated and influenced by language (Gudykunst & Asante, 1989; Pincas, 2001). Matsumoto (1996) noted that culture influences the structure and functional use of language, and as such language can be thought of as the result or manifestation of culture. Language also influences and reinforces our cultural values and worldview. “The cyclical nature of the relationship between culture and language suggests that no complete understanding of culture can be obtained without understanding the language, and vice versa” (Matsumoto, 1996, p. 266). The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis postulates that language shapes our thinking, beliefs, and attitudes. Whorf (1998) observed that the grammar of each language is not merely a reproducing instrument for voicing ideas but rather is itself the shaper of ideas, the program and guide for people’s mental activity, for their analysis of impressions, for their synthesis of their mental stock in trade. The categories and types that we isolate from the world of phenomena are organized by our minds, and this means largely by the linguistic systems in our minds. Whorf noted that languages dissect nature and classify items of experience differently. The class corresponding to one word and one thought in one language may be regarded by another as two or more classes corresponding to two or more words and thoughts. As an example, he pointed out that the Eskimo language has three words for “snow” while the English language contains a single word. Matsumoto (1996) demonstrated how one aspect of language, self-referents, exemplifies the cyclical relationship between language and culture. In American English we generally use one of two words, and their derivatives, to describe ourselves when talking to others—“I” and “we.” In Japanese, what you call yourself and others is totally dependent on the relationship between you and the other person, and often it is dependent on the status differential between the two people. Matsumoto (1996) explained that, “by using the complex system of self—and


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other—referents in the Japanese language, a person’s system of thought and behavior becomes structured over time to reflect the culture” (p. 270). Nonverbal Communication Verbal language is just one aspect of communication. Another large and important part of communication is nonverbal communication, including facial expressions, tone of voice, posture, dress, and so on. Just as spoken language differs from one culture to another, so does nonverbal behavior. Matsumoto (1996) noted that the problem in intercultural communication is that these nonverbal languages are silent. He further observed that there is a substantial base of cross-cultural research in the areas of gaze and visual attention, interpersonal space, and gestures, to inform us of how culture influences these aspects of the communication process.

CULTURE AND COMMUNICATION IN THE ONLINE ENVIRONMENT Hall (1998) claimed that culture is communication. “The essence of any culture is primarily a system for creating, sending, storing, and processing information. Communication underlies everything” (p. 53). In the online context that communication takes place through a computer-mediated environment, by which people create, exchange, and perceive information using networked telecommunications systems that facilitate encoding, transmitting, and decoding messages. Online conferences or computer conferences use this medium either in a synchronous (real-time) or asynchronous (delayed-time) format. Three attributes of CMC, time-independence, text based communication, and computer-mediated interaction (Harasim, 1990), influence the way individuals communicate in groups. Each of these attributes has strengths and weaknesses that can detract from or add to the complexity of the communication. Most computer conferences are based on asynchronous (not real-time) communication. Asynchronous group interaction increases opportunities for member input but communication anxiety, the feeling experienced when one’s message is not answered or referenced (Feenberg, 1987), may be a concern, along with lack of immediate feedback, which makes it difficult to determine if the receiver has understood the message. Text-based communication contributes to more reflective interaction (Harasim, 1990) and can free people from the bonds of physical appearance and enable communication at the level of ideas (Harasim, 1993). It incorporates the cognitive benefits of writing (Garrison, 2000). However, many of the nonverbal and contextual cues generally rich in relational information are absent in CMC. Harasim (1993) cited research that shows that the reduced cues in text-based messages make it difficult to resolve conflicts of ideology or interest. However, field research in CMC often reports more positive relational behavior and has indicated the development of “online communities” and warm friendships (Walther, 1992; Baym, 1995). Kollock and Smith (1999) noted that these online communities differ in important ways from face-toface communities. The comparative anonymity provided by the text-based system has shown to create interpersonal distance that allows less vocal or introverted participants “space” and opportunity to contribute, resulting in an equalizing effect of participation (Hartman et al., 1995; Olaniran, 1994). A cross-cultural study we conducted on group development and group process (Gunawardena et al., 2001) found that the text-based system equalized status differences in a high-power distance society like Mexico. However, because of the premium on text-based communication, those who feel that they are not good writers or for whom the language of the conference is not their native language may feel disinclined to participate. Computer-mediated communication is interactive and encourages involvement. While the online environment is particularly appropriate for collaborative learning approaches because


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it emphasizes group interaction, individuals who do not wish to interact in a group space or who have poor computer skills are less likely to participate. Feenberg (1993) described his experience with silence in the Western world during an initial online course offered by the Western Behavioral Sciences Institute to students scattered between Caracas, Philadelphia, and San Francisco: One teacher offered elaborate presentations that resembled written lectures. While interesting, these had the undesirable effect of reducing the participants to silence. In a face-to-face classroom teachers can determine from subtle clues whether students’ silence signifies fascination or daydreaming. But silence on a computer network is unfathomable; it is intensely disturbing to address the electronic void. Hence the “communication anxiety” of conferencing participants, especially those with leadership roles. . . . Later we understood that it takes far more nerve to admit confusion and ask for clarification in a written medium than face-to-face. The lack of tacit cues such as raised eyebrows or puzzled looks proved fatal to this teaching style in the online environment. (p. 191)

When the teacher established a communication model, laid down explicit ground rules for discussion, posed problems and asked questions illustrated by examples, the students started talking. Without a reassuring communication model, participants are fearful of writing the wrong thing and withdraw into the perfect silence of a blank screen. Feenberg (1993) argued that most online groups need a familiar framework adapted to their culture and tasks, otherwise “they are repelled by what might be called contextual deprivation” (p. 194). Social rules and conventions of communication are vital to understanding the norms according to which we carry out conversations and judge others. For instance, cultural variations in the use of silence might well lie behind some lack of participation in online discussions. As Ishii and Bruneau (1994) pointed out the Japanese culture nurtures silence, reserve, and formality, whereas Western cultures place more value on speech, self-assertion, and informality. They conclude that whereas verbal communication plays a very important role in promoting intercultural as well as interpersonal understanding we should recognize that the ultimate goalstage of communication—interpersonally or interculturally—may be communication through silence. The learned conventions of turn-taking are universal but differ in detail from culture to culture, for example in the degree to which overlapping talk is tolerated. For the most part, the one-speaker-at-a-time structure predominates and people adjust their turn-taking patterns as they negotiate role relationships, power relationships, or institutionalized procedures. Deviant users are called “disruptive,” “irrational,” “undisciplined,” or even “unintelligent.” Comparative studies of non-native and native English conversational discourse have become a rich territory for exploration of how culturally specific assumptions and strategies vary in cross-cultural encounters (Driven and Putts, 1993). Cross-cultural pitfalls in greetings and leave-takings are well known but exist equally in all pragmatic acts such as requesting, apologizing, complimenting, approving, and so on. Neither the content nor the forms of speech acts can be straightforwardly transferred from one language to another. We see how cultural assumptions affect all aspects of interaction in any speech event, whether spoken or written. In normal speech communities, conventions of use develop naturally over time. For efficiency in online education, they are best established by the course designers in advance and made an aspect of the study skills for online work. Van der Linde’s (1997) guidelines to ensure effective communication in multicultural school situations can be adapted to the online learning environment. The primary guideline recommends that the participants acknowledge the various cultures within the environment and develop flexibility in communication. “During communication people must set aside all reservations if they are to understand the other party fully” (p. 10). Additional suggestions include: (1) using a facilitator, (2) avoiding ambiguity,


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(3) communicating expectations, (4) providing feedback, (5) being sensitive to verbal (textual) nuances, and (6) building a relationship with the online community.

CULTURE AND THE DIFFUSION OF TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATIONS In his landmark study on the diffusion of innovations, Rogers (1995) argued that the adoption of technological innovations has failed because the diffusion process did not take into account the cultural beliefs of the local communities. “An important factor regarding the adoption rate of an innovation is its compatibility with the values, beliefs, and past experiences of individuals in the social system” (p. 4). This is an important point to keep in mind as educational institutions develop online courses that are offered in sociocultural contexts different from the one in which they were developed. The educational culture that is transmitted can be very different from the educational culture that adopts the program and can become a dominating force. Whose ideas are being shared or incorporated into the local culture or frame of reference? How will this incorporation affect the local culture? This implies the need to collaborate with local educational institutions or organizations when developing international online courses. Bates (2001) offered three models of international online distance education and observed that there are many benefits to be gained by working in partnership with institutions in different countries. Some of these benefits are cultural adaptation; assistance with student recruitment, tutoring, and assessment; local accreditation/qualification; and contributions to content and program design to ensure local relevance. Rogers and Steinfatt (1999) discussed the consequences of the rapid growth of the Internet and the capability of U.S. businesses and media to export news and programs with images of U.S. culture throughout the globe. They note that developing nations see themselves as victims of a one-way flow of communication. They see these cultural influences as a continuation of the previous colonial system through a monopoly of information resources available only to wealthy nations. Nations of Latin America, Africa, and Asia wonder if this new communication technology will give them a voice or whether their disadvantaged communication situation will be worsened. According to Bates (2001): English (or perhaps more accurately American) is at the moment by far and away the most predominant language in terms of the international delivery of online education, although there is also a growing number of programs in Spanish being delivered across borders in Latin America. (p. 128)

Fairclough (1989) observed that language is no longer seen as a neutral instrument free of values or power relations. On the contrary, it is embedded with intentions of others. “International discourse communities are forming concepts (mostly in English) that represent and provide frameworks for the ideologies of different communities of practice” (Pincas, 2001, p. 41). There are clear disadvantages of working in another language in online courses when students have to contribute toward collaborative assignments or participate in discussion forums with those for whom English is the first language (Bates, 2001). Global universities are faced with the choice between continuing to expect all students to adjust to traditional EnglishWestern academic values and uses of language or changing their processes to accommodate others, perhaps moving toward workplace and lifelong learning demands for education that are credit-worthy for experiential rather than academic reasons (Pincas, 2001).


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In every cultural context, there will be issues that need to be dealt with when new ideas or ways of doing things are implemented. Bellman, Tindimubona, and Arias (1993) noted that despite strong interest in Africa for computer networking, there is a serious problem often referred to as “the last mile.” This is a combination of national government policies that restrict transborder flows of information and local-level politics within and between institutions that restrict usage either by refusing access to the technology or by making access too difficult for easy use. In high-power distance societies it is often the case that access to technology filters down the power ladder and those who need it most such as students may have the least access to it. Before implementing online educational projects in different cultural settings, needs assessments should be conducted to determine receptivity to distance learning modes via communications media. A study by Anakwe, Kessler, and Christensen (1999) examined the impact of cultural differences based on the concepts of individualism and collectivism on potential users’ receptivity toward distance learning using a sample of 424 students enrolled in two northeastern universities. This study found that individualists’ motives and communication patterns are in synch with distance learning as a medium of instruction or communication, whereas collectivists’ motives and communication patterns shun any form of mediated instruction or communication. They noted that program developers should identify ways to alleviate the shortcomings collectivists face in any form of mediated communication network. Citing Nakakoji’s 1993 work on cross-cultural considerations in designing human-computer interaction, Collis (1999) noted that cultures differ on willingness to accommodate new technologies, acceptance of trial-and-error in terms of computer use, differences in expectations for technical support, preferences for precision versus browsing, preferences for internal versus system/instructor control, and differences for tolerance of communication overlaps and interruptions.

CULTURE AND THE ONLINE TEACHING LEARNING PROCESS Discussing his experience teaching international online courses, Bates (2001) pointed out cultural differences that influence the online teaching learning process. There is a tendency in “Western’ ” courses from the United States, Britain, Canada, and Australia to encourage critical thinking skills, debate, and discussion, where students’ views are considered important and where the views of teachers can be legitimately challenged and student dissent is even encouraged. In other cultures there is a great respect shown by students for the teacher, and it is culturally alien to challenge the teacher or even express an opinion on a topic: In our online courses there appears to be major differences between ethnic groups in their willingness to participate in online forums, and these differences seem to be independent of skill in conversing in a foreign language. We reward through grades students who participate actively and work collaboratively through discussion forums, and this will seriously disadvantage students for whom this is an alien or difficult approach to take, even for those willing to work in this way. I therefore find myself wondering to what extent I should impose “Western” approaches to learning on students coming from other cultures, while acknowledging on the other hand that this “new” or different approach may have attracted them to the courses in the first place. (Bates, 2001, p. 129)

Drawing on the work of Henderson (1996) and Reeves (1992), Collis (1999) discusses factors that might differ among different cultures in interactive technology-based teaching and learning. For example: Pedagogical Philosophy (Instructivism versus Constructivism), Goal Orientation (Sharply focused versus Unfocused), Role of Instructor (Teacher Proof versus Equalitarian Facilitator), Value of Errors (Errorless Learning versus Learning from


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Experience), Motivation (Extrinsic versus Intrinsic), Accommodation of Individual Differences (Nonexistent versus Multifaceted), Learner Control (Nonexistent versus Unrestricted), and Co-operative Learning (Unsupported versus Integral). While the distinctions may not always be bipolar as indicated in this example, they highlight the numerous factors where cultural variability might be observed in the teaching-learning process. Cultural schemata can affect how students will behave in particular instructional situations (Driscoll, 1994). Driscoll cited an example of one of her doctoral students from Taiwan who found his schema for multiple-choice tests to be inappropriate for taking tests in the United States. He was accustomed to selecting more than one response on multiple-choice items and did not realize that in the United States only one answer would be considered correct. In discussing how the cultural context influences student learning, Nelson-Barber and Estrin (1995) showed that in “Native communities” children are usually expected to learn through observation and direct experience rather than from explicit verbal instruction. Concepts to be learned are seen as interconnected, and skills are learned in a meaningful context. This is a reflection of Pincas’ (2001) explanation that classroom events have always been seen to match the educational schemata of the local community because of the interaction between the school environment and its surrounding culture.

CULTURE AND INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN According to McLoughlin (1999), “Culture and learning are interwoven and inseparable” (p. 232). Course designers must be aware of the diversity of the reachable group of learners and the diversity of culture-based learning styles that is possible within that group. Dunn and Griggs (1995) from their extensive research on learning styles concluded that each cultural group tends to have some learning style elements that distinguish it from other cultural groups. However, they point out that a consistent finding in research is that individuals within a family, classroom, or culture have unique learning style preferences that differ from those of their siblings, parents, peers, and cultural group. They stated that instructors need to be aware of three critical factors: (1) universal principles of learning do exist, (2) culture influences both the learning process and its outcomes, and (3) each individual has unique learning style preferences that affect his or her potential for achievement. Discussing learning styles research and supporting the culturally diverse distance learner, Sanchez and Gunawardena (1998) pointed out that when trying to accommodate a variety of learning styles in instructional design, it is best to design alternative activities to reach the same objective and give the students the option of selecting from these alternatives those which best meet their preferred learning style. They also stress the importance of providing a delicate balance of learning activities that provide opportunities to learn in preferred ways and activities that challenge the learner to learn in new or less preferred ways. “The variety of learners, cultures, and learning styles presents a challenge—and variety itself becomes the solution” (p. 61). Because cultural influences on the teaching and learning process are complex, one must consider the cultures of all those involved in the process: course designers, teachers, and students. Initially, course designers and instructors should consider the culture from which they themselves come. Designers and instructors are not objective; each of them has his or her own view of the world and means of acting within it based on the multiple cultures within which each of them exists. They bring to the design and delivery task a set of values, attitudes, and societal norms that influence and determine the way in which instructional material is created and how it is evaluated. It is important to recognize that instructional approaches in a particular educational setting are “embedded in a cultural context of beliefs, expectations, and values. These do more than support the (instructional) techniques. They are a part of them”


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(Jin & Cortazzi, 1998, p. 786). The artifact or instructional product the designer produces “embodies cultural influences such as the instructional designer’s world view, their values, ideologies, culture, class and gender, and their commitment to a particular design paradigm” (Wild, 1999, p. 198). In order to design culturally appropriate online courses, designers and instructors must first develop cultural sensitivity or awareness. Powell (1997b) defines this awareness as the ability to be sensitive to the existence and legitimacy of other cultures; understand and accept other cultures, and view cultural phenomena from the perspective of both the culture in which they occur and another culture usually (that of the viewer). (p. 6)

Reeves specifies that this sensitivity should include “attention to the values, orientations, learning styles, language factors, and traditions of learners from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds, as well as those with special educational needs” (1997, p. 27). Once the designers and instructors have developed this sensitivity to cultural pluralism, they can then be disposed to preparing culturally sensitive technology-based instruction materials for culturally pluralistic learners that consider the following additional accumulated factors and variables as compiled from Powell (1997a, 1997b), Reeves (1997), Collis (1999), and McLouglin (1999):

r Setting and context r Historical perspectives r Ethical perspectives r Values and attitudes r Socioeconomic environment r Social roles and relationships r Task or relationships in social networks r Diversity within groups r Static or variable course construction r Internal or external learner control expectation r Levels of control for the individual student r Variety of activities to address different learning styles r Variety of opportunities for interaction r Variety of evaluation methods As McLoughlin (1999) has observed “culturally appropriate design clearly demands management of a complex set of interrelated factors” (p. 233). When designing, we must attempt to understand that the instruction is being created for use in technology-based instructional formats. Chen, Mashhadi, Ang, and Harkrider (1999) stated, “Technology appears to make everything transparent, whilst, in fact it is conveying and shaping both private and public understanding” (p. 221). McLoughlin (1999) reminds us that the technology is itself a cultural amplifier that transforms the nature of human productivity. It can also quantitatively change the process of cognition and amplify the cultural dimensions of communication, task analysis, and problem solving (p. 232). Chen et al. (1999), drawing from Stoney and Wild’s 1998 study, pointed out that in designing culturally appropriate Web-based instruction, the interface designer must be aware how different cultures will respond to issues of the layout of the graphical interface, images, symbols, colour and sound, inferring that culture itself cannot be objectified unproblematically as just another factor to be programmed into a learning course. (p. 220)


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Such apparently simple issues of layout and format become increasingly complex as the plurality of learners increases. Furthermore, “It should also be born in mind that although people invent technology, technology in turn shapes people” (Chen et al., 1999, p. 221). In discussing her experience with the creation of WWW-based course support sites, Collis (1999) suggested guidelines that designers can use to accommodate culture-related differences. These guidelines suggest that when designing for a diverse audience, flexibility and variety are prime factors. Drawing from the work of Henderson, McLoughlin (1999) expands the idea by proposing a multiple cultures model of instructional design. This is characterized by a design paradigm, which endorses multiple cultural realities or zones of development. Essentially, this approach is a form of “eclectic paradigm,” which entails designing learning resources that allow variability and flexibility while enabling students to learn through interaction with materials that reflect multiple cultural values and perspectives, include multiple ways of learning and teaching, and promote equity of learning outcomes by combining mainstream and nonmainstream cultural interests. In drawing conclusions about two Web-based, project-based instructional courses involving diverse populations, Chen et al. (1999) suggested that social interactions among team members, teacher support, and school culture are important considerations. Therefore, in addition to flexibility, variety, and multiple cultural values and perspectives, designers and instructors must carefully consider the concept of interaction. Chen et al. proposed that social and cultural understanding need to be explicit and up front, before participants are able to build the online networks of trust upon which effective communication and learning is based. Furthermore, they state, “an effective learning environment involves more than the use of technology—culturally mediated social interaction and perseverance towards a shared vision is an essential part of the learning process” (p. 228). It is also important to remember that simply providing an opportunity for interaction within the Web-based environment is not enough. “Productive interactions amongst learners depend upon a backlog of common experience and a mutual recognition that experience is indeed held in common” (Crook and Light, 1999, p. 192). These meaningful opportunities for interaction not only between a teacher and student but also among students often provide the motivation for students to complete a Web-based course (Witherow, Bromber, and Johnson, 2001). Recognizing the importance of studying online group interaction and development from a cross-cultural perspective, Gunawardena et al. (2001) conducted a research study employing a mixed-model design to examine if there are differences in perception of online group process and development between participants in Mexico and the United States. Survey data indicated significant differences in perception for the norming and performing stages of group development. The groups differed in their perception of collectivism, low power distance, femininity, and high-context communication. Country differences, rather than age and gender differences, accounted for the differences observed. The differences between the Mexican and U.S. groups in how they viewed the relationship between teacher and students was reflective of Hofstede’s (1986) findings on power distance. However, the results indicated that even in high-power distance countries like Mexico, the anonymity provided by the online environment may play a role in creating a more democratic learning environment. Focus group participants identified several factors that influence online group process and development: (1) language, (2) power distance, (3) gender differences, (4) collectivist versus individualist tendencies, (5) conflict, (6) social presence, (7) time frame, and (8) technical skills. Pincas (2001) addressed several issues that international educators must consider as they plan global online courses. One important issue is how to contextualize their courses in such a way as to reduce misunderstanding. Furstenberg, Levet, English, and Maillet (2001), urged online teachers to try to make culturally hidden semantic networks explicit by structuring course discussions around enabling students to situate themselves in relation to others, to


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perceive similarities and differences in personal opinions and reactions within the group, and to start identifying the many and complex factors influencing their attitudes so that they may become aware of how the content and manner of what they say is relevant to their immediate situation and to a given context. Pincas (2001) noted that in most cases where students are working in an international context, they need to find a balance between adapting to different social and cultural interactions in English, while maintaining a secure sense of self as a member of their national culture. Learning is a crucial part of the process of developing a “professional self ” and now has to occur in very new environments, which do not reflect the local culture in familiar ways. Pincas stressed that we are on very difficult terrain when we attempt to measure the values of our diverse students by our assessment methods. Performance criteria can be defined in terms of expected learning outcomes when these can be expressed as precise knowledge. But when outcomes are defined in terms of attitudes to learning, and cultures differ as to what is worth learning, the criteria may not be based on universal conceptual categories. Goodfellow, Lea, Gonzalez, and Mason (2001), in their investigation into the ways that cultural and linguistic differences manifest themselves in the offering of a global online MA program, report four dimensions of difference between participants on the courses: “cultural otherness,” “perceptions of globality,” “linguistic difference,” and “academic convention.” Therefore, when developing international online courses it is important to be mindful of the cultural schemata learners may bring to the educational transaction and the expectations they may have of the teaching and learning process.

DESIGNING FOR CULTURAL DIFFERENCES IN ONLINE COURSES: A PROPOSED FRAMEWORK In this section, we propose a design framework based on our review of the literature and our own research for incorporating cultural relevance into online courses. The framework consists of two parts: the first part describes the institutional context and variables associated with it, and the second part describes issues related to online course design. In order to address the cultural diversity that is possible within the population of students participating in a global Web-based course, flexibility must be provided within the organization of the course and the interface that will deliver it. Figure 51.1 represents a dynamic educational system, which exists within a global context. Each of the elements—institution, instructor, individual, and group—brings to the course non-negotiable factors that exist within their cultures and negotiable factors that are presented as choices and options within the framework of the course. In a culturally relevant design the most important factors are dialogue and communication. Course design must accommodate dialogue for negotiation of course structure to take place. The arrows in the diagram represent the dialog that must take place in order for negotiations to take place. The entire framework sits within an environmental context that is key to the design of the course. Institution Non-negotiables inherent in the culture of the institution are such factors as the timeline for completion of the course, the standards that must be met to earn a specific grade, the credit that will be issued for the course, and the cost of tuition (Collis, 1999). One of the indications of good course design is clarity of the expectations of the institution. Once the expectations have been defined and set, the non-negotiables may be clarified through dialog. It is also the responsibility of the institution to provide support for the development and delivery of the


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Online Course Context

Institution

Instructor Individuals

Group

Institution Context Online Course

FIG. 51.1. Negotiables and Non-negotiables in Designing for Cultural Differences.

course including equipment and facilities, support staff to develop the course, research and reference facilities, and monetary resources. The quantity and the quality of this second set of factors can be negotiated with the instructor responsible for delivery of the course and to a limited degree with the individuals and the groups participating in the course. Instructor and Student The instructor and the individual student bring to the course a set of non-negotiables inherent in their own cultures. These include language, beliefs, preferred methodologies and learning styles, knowledge and skill base, and attitudes about learning. Because of the global audience in a Web-based course, the course must provide choices and options for the students built around these non-negotiables in order to provide a exible environment that will meet student needs (Collis, 1999). The interface of the course should allow students to select the colors, navigational patterns, and delivery medium for the course (Marcus & Gould, 2000). Icons used in the interface should be universally understandable like the colors of the stoplight: red for stop, green to go, and amber to slow down. The content of the course should provide student choices of learning through activities and assessments that are provided to meet the students’ preferences. These choices can, however, be limited by the instructor in order to push students to expand their learning comfort zone and to successfully process information and acquire skills in a variety of formats (Chen et al., 1999). Group Within the course, groups will function to process information and complete activities. If we subscribe to the view that knowledge is socially constructed (Vygotsky, 1978), then group interaction becomes critically important and becomes part of the design. This interaction among students and between students and instructor will provide a forum for the social construction of knowledge and lend social presence to the course (Gunawardena, 1995). Choices of communication channels will provide students the opportunity to discuss information and complete


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Communication Channel Format

Activities

Language

KNOWLEDGE

S

Methods

I S = student I = instructor

FIG. 51.2. AMOEBA: Adaptive, Meaningful, Organic, Environmental-Based Architecture for Online Course Design.

projects in both asynchronous and synchronous timeframes. Individuals will negotiate the form and function of the group. In addition, the group, as well as individuals, can negotiate elements of the activities and assessment instruments with the instructor. This process of negotiation, making choices, and limiting choices within the framework of the non-negotiables will provide a dynamic and flexible course, which can meet the needs of students from a global audience. In order to plan for this dynamic, culturally relevant online learning system, the developer will analyze the needs and characteristics of potential student participants. Based on those needs and characteristics, the online designer and developer will offer a series of options for a particular instructional situation. In Fig. 51.2, we visualize these options in a flexible, open-ended learning environment that can be molded to the needs identified. We chose an AMOEBA as the metaphor to describe our course design framework because it is a single-celled organism that can sense, categorize, and act, and can incorporate all life’s functions within a multicompartmentalized single cell. It is mobile without a definite shape yet maintains its structure. Most importantly, it has the ability to adapt to its environment. The AMOEBA is adaptive to its environment; it is meaningful because it provides meaningful learning opportunities for students; it is organic because it is alive and can grow, change, and recycle; it is environment-based because it depends upon the environment for nutrition and support; and it is an architectural design built around interrelated component parts that fit together, change shapes, and split off as needed to allow the organism to respond to the environment. The AMOEBA implies a constructivist and participatory approach toward instructional planning as well as comfort with change and the unexpected. The instructor and the students coexist and coparticipate within the framework of the AMOEBA. An instructor becomes a facilitator and a colearner with the students by involving them in curricular decisions and providing choices as described below:

r Language Choice should be provided based on the dominate language of the potential participants and as many other languages as resources will allow. (Wilson, Gunawardena, & Nolla, 2000) r Format Choices will provide the participant choices of colors, icon sets, and organizational and navigational structures that are culturally appropriate and appealing. Marcus


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and Gould (2000) point out that metaphors, mental models, navigation, interaction, or appearance of Web sites might confuse or even offend and alienate a user. These authors apply Hofstede’s dimensions of culture to examine Web sites in terms of audience. Marcus and Gould (2000) suggest that high-power distance cultures might prefer to see a university Web site that features pictures of institution administrators, faculty members, an emphasis on the structure of the university, and a strong axial symmetry in the layout of information. On the other hand, participants from low-power distance countries will prefer a more asymmetric layout, photos of students of both genders, and site navigation that will give students more control including such features as an option to operate a WebCam to take a virtual tour of the university campus. Then again, higher power distance cultures might use the unique environment of the Web to present a more low-power distance appearance. r Communication Channels choices will provide participants and/or the instructor with the opportunity to select synchronous or asynchronous communication channels. The choice of channels will determine the interactions that will occur among the participants and between the participants and the instructors. Synchronous channels will signal the use of such devices as chat rooms and instant messaging, while asynchronous channels will signal the use of devices like bulletin boards and computer-aided conferencing (Collis, 1999). r Activity Choices will provide a variety of culturally appropriate learning activities and will include choice of group or individual work, research papers, portfolios, and projects, which are offered depending upon the course subject, the needs of the learner, and the parameters as established by the instructor (Collis, 1999). r Methods Choices will provide role options for teachers and students such as students moderating discussions in the place of the instructors and giving one another feedback (Collis, 1999). r Knowledge Construction will result from the completion of activities, using a selected set of methods, and from the interaction among the participants, which may include discussion, consensus building, and/or individual reflection. Thus, the AMOEBA will allow knowledge to be constructed through the interaction of its components. Since the AMOEBA is presented as an adaptive, meaningful, organic, environmental-based architecture for culturally relevant course design, it has to be stressed that no choice is absolute and that students and instructors may change their options. As the instructor works with the participants, he/she will determine students’ comfort zones and try to push them beyond these zones. Students can increase the kinds of activities they can successfully complete, using a variety of methods and, most importantly, build their abilities to work in different languages, formats, and communication channels, thus promoting the global construction of knowledge.

RESEARCH ISSUES AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH Our review of the literature has indicated little published research on the cultural aspects of online learning and teaching, a view borne out by some of the authors who have begun research in this area (Branch, 1997; Chen, 2000; Goodfellow et al., 2001; Wild, 1999). Many of the studies we reviewed provided guidelines for practice based on experience and intuition; there were few research-based studies. None of the existing research reached out to explore global perceptions about learning, and the most ambitious were limited to regional online courses. There was, however, a keen awareness of the increased complexity of conducting research


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on cultural issues in the online context. The conclusions calling for flexibility, variety, and consideration of multiple perspectives suggests that the problem, at this point in time, will only become more complex. Our own experience conducting a collaborative cross-cultural research study with a group of colleagues in Mexico using a mixed-model design to examine group process and development online (Gunawardena et al., 2001) taught us a great deal about the research process, the value of quantitative versus qualitative methods for studying phenomena related to culture, and the challenges of conducting reliable and valid cross-cultural research studies. Reflecting on our research process, we feel that the greatest challenge to conducting cross-cultural research is finding equivalent samples for comparison in quantitative studies. This problem is echoed by Vijver and Leung (1997) who noted that “Cross-cultural studies often involve highly dissimilar groups. Consequently, groups can differ in many background characteristics, only some of which are relevant to the topic studied” (p. 32). Further, individual differences in cultural groups need to be accounted for so that we do not subscribe to the fallacy of homogeneity (that terms such as “American” connote internal sameness) or the fallacy of monolithic identity (the assumption that individuals in groups have no differential identities) (Stanfield II, 1993). Therefore we recommend that future researchers use a more comprehensive model for comparison such as the one developed by Shaw and Barrett-Power (1998) to understand cultural differences. We only used one aspect of this model in our study and realize the limitation of our selection. Future researchers need to conceptualize identity issues in cross-cultural studies to go beyond simplistic stereotyping and use qualitative methods to understand how people define themselves. We felt we were able to design the study and interpret the results better because we collaborated with a team of researchers from the two countries and would like to recommend this approach to future researchers. Although the instruments were simultaneously developed by the group of researchers, with the first version developed in English and translated into Spanish and refined, the data indicated minor errors in translation. Another challenge we encountered was construct equivalence, for example the construct “conflict” was perceived differently in the two national contexts. The use of a mixed-method approach employing both quantitative and qualitative data helped us to avoid some of the pitfalls in interpretation of this construct. Bhawuk and Triandis (1996) provided a review and critique of methodology for studying culture, a good starting point for the beginning researcher. They noted that emics and etics are perhaps the two most crucial constructs in the study of culture because they emphasize two perspectives. Emics focus on “the native’s point of view”; etics focus on the cross-cultural scientist’s point of view. They also represent the culture-specific and culture-general elements of cultures. The emic approach is predominantly followed by anthropologists who believe that each culture has unique ideas, behaviors, and concepts, and that its uniqueness must be the focus of their study. The etic approach is mainly followed by cross-cultural scientists (both anthropologists and psychologists) who believe that cultures have both specific and universal dimensions and are interested in observing these universals. Bhawuk and Triandis note that similarities between cultures must be established before their differences can be studied, because if a framework of universal constructs is not observed, it is impossible to distinguish a cultural difference from a misperception of the methods. A related methodological issue in the study of cultures is the level of analysis. For example, correlations obtained from individual-level data may not always replicate correlations obtained when cultures or nations are used as the units of observation. Bhawuk and Triandis (1996) advocated subjective cultural studies, which maximize the advantages of both emic and etic approaches and the use of many methods that converge. They noted that each culture is likely to have its own way of reacting to each method (each method has a unique meaning in each culture), and therefore, a multimethod approach is


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preferable. They point out the difficulty of conducting experiments in cross-cultural settings as well as the difficulty of using tests such as ability, personality, and attitude tests, because a test usually measures one or, at most, a few variables out of context. They recommend that cross-cultural studies be undertaken by teams of researchers, representing the various cultures being studied. The research strategy should be determined jointly. Then, each investigator should check the cultural appropriateness of the methods in his or her culture, and adjustments in procedure should be made to make all materials culturally appropriate. Gradually, crosscultural researchers are recognizing the value of interpretive and critical approaches to the study of cultural phenomena over logical empiricist approaches (Martin & Nakayama, 1999). As the Internet spreads and institutions begin to offer international courses, studies examining cultural issues in the online learning environment will become increasingly important. We would like to encourage researchers to take up the challenge of conducting sound theoretical research studies examining cultural issues in the online environment to guide our future practice. REFERENCES Anakwe, U. P., Kessler, E. H., & Christensen, E. W. (1999, July). Distance learning and cultural diversity: Potential users’ perspective. The International Journal of Organizational Analysis, 7(3), 224–243. Barret, M., Drummond, A., & Sahay, S. (1996). Exploring the impact of cross-cultural differences in international software teams: Indian expatriates in Jamaica. In J. D. Coelho, W. Conig, H. Bremar, R. O’Callahan, & M. Saaksjarvi (Eds.), Lisbon, portugal. Proceedings of the 4th European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS). 347–356. Bates, T. (2001). International distance education: Cultural and ethical issues. Distance Education, 22(1), 122–136. Baym, N. K. (1995). The emergence of community in computer-mediated communication. In S. G. Jones (Ed.), Cybersociety (pp. 138–163). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Bellman, B., Tindimubona, A., & Arias, A. Jr. (1993). Technology transfer in global networking: Capacity building in Africa and Latin America. In L. M. Harasim (Ed.), Global networks: Computers and international communication (pp. 237–254). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. Bhawuk, D. P. S., & Triandis, H. C. (1996). The role of culture theory in the study of culture and intercultural training. In D. Landis and R. S. Bhagat (Eds.), Handbook of intercultural training (2nd. ed.) (pp. 17–34). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Bochner, S., & Hesketh, B. (1994). Power distance, individualism/collectivism, and job-related attitudes in a culturally diverse group. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 25(2), 233–258. Branch, R. M. (1997, March-April). Educational technology frameworks that facilitate culturally pluralistic instruction. Educational Technology, 38–40. Bruner, J. S. (1973). The relevance of education. New York: Norton. Bruner, J. S., Oliver, R. R., & Greenfield, P. M. (1966). Studies in cognitive growth. New York: Wiley. Chen, A-Y., Mashhadi, A., Ang, D., & Harkrider, N. (1999). Cultural issues in the design of technology-enhanced learning systems. British Journal of Educational Technology, 30, 217–230. Chen, G. M. (2000). Global Communication via Internet: An Educational Application. In G. M. Chen and W. J. Starosta (Eds.), Communication and global society (pp. 143–157). New York: Peter Lang Publishing. Chen, G. M., & Starosta, W. J. (1998). Foundations of intercultural communication. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon. Cifuentes, L., & Murphy, K. L. (2000). Images of Texan and Mexican cultures shared in a telecommunications partnership. Distance Education, 21(2), 300–322. Collis, B. (1999). Designing for differences: Cultural issues in the design of the WWW-based course-support sites. British Journal of Educational Technology, 30(3), 201–215. Crook, C., & Light, P. (1999). Information technology and the culture of student learning. In J. Bliss, R. Saljo, and P. Light (Eds.), Learning sites: Social and technological resources for learning. New York: Pergamon. Chapter 14, 183–193. Driscoll, M. P. (1994). Psychology of learning for instruction. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Driven, R., & Putz, M. (1993). Intercultural-communication. Language Teaching, 26, 144–156. Dunn, R., & Griggs, S. A. (1995). Multiculturalism and learning style: Teaching and counseling adolescents. Westport, CT: Praeger. Fairclough, N. (1989). Language and power. London: Longman. Feenberg, A. (1987). Computer conferencing and the humanities. Instructional Science, 16(2), 169–186.


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52 Globalization and the Reinvention of Distance Education Terry Evans Deakin University,Australia tevans@deakin.edu.au

Daryl Nation Monash University,Australia Daryl.Nation@celts.monash.edu.au

Human behavior can be genuinely purposive because only human beings guide their behavior by a knowledge of what happened before they were born and a preconception of what may happen after they are dead; thus only human beings find their way by a light that illumines more than the patch of ground they stand on. —P. B. and J. S. Medawar, The Life Science (1977) quoted in Boorstin (1984, p. 557)

INTRODUCTION The growth of the Internet has presented institutions and practitioners with a dilemma. On the one hand the capacities of the Internet to provide a powerful array of interactive means for enhancing distance education are a boon. On the other hand, these capacities have been espoused by all educational providers and viewed just as positively to the extent that nowadays no self-respecting university, at least in the developed world, is without a Web presence and online education. Therefore, distance education institutions now find that their boon is also producing a new wave of competitors using forms of quasi distance education. The resolution of the dilemma rests on rethinking the theory and practice of distance education in relation to the resurgence of constructivist theory and the development of Internet-based educational technologies. Matters such as interaction and dialog, which have had an important place in the theory and practice of distance education, need to be reconsidered and reformulated in this light. Good distance educational design has not only recognized the importance of interaction, but also the importance of students’ contexts in influencing their learning. These matters need to be reconsidered in the light of the virtual world that surrounds students’ realworld experiences. Active engagement with the resources and facilities of the Web needs to be part of “new distance education.” The Web is not just a means to deliver distance education; it 777


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also has important influences in other aspects of students’ lives. The globalizing potential and consequences of the new distance education need to be understood and recognized within the emerging theory and practice in the field. Distance education has a rich history of theory and practice. It is important that this history is built upon to formulate a new phase of distance education in a way that incorporates the appropriate strengths and values of the past into a new form of multimedia education at a distance.

THE EMERGENCE OF DISTANCE EDUCATION Distance education emerged as a descriptor for those forms of institutional education occurring outside the classroom and beyond the campus in the 1960s. By the 1970s, it had achieved broad acceptance and in the 1980s it “arrived” as one of the “flavors of the decade” in education, in higher education especially. International confirmation of this new terminology and status occurred at Vancouver 1982 with the official change of the name of the global peak body from the International Council for Correspondence Education (ICCE) to the International Council of Distance Education (ICDE) (Evans & Nation, 1989c, pp. 7–8; Moore, 1990, p. xiv). In Australia, the new term was given substance in 1980 with the establishment of the journal Distance Education by the Australian and South Pacific External Studies Association (ASPESA). The deliberate intention was to create an international journal “emphasizing research on distance education” (Keegan & Mitchell, 1980, p. vi). There had been other journals and newsletters addressed to members of the field; however, to a large extent, these contained news of activities and events, reports on policy and practice, and professional debates rather than research and scholarship. There had also been reports on research and theoretical discussions but these were on the margins. Notable examples were the I.C.C.E. Newsletter, which commenced in 1970; epistolodidaktika, sponsored by the European Home Study Council; the Australian and South Pacific External Studies Association Newsletter, started in 1974; and Teaching at a Distance, produced by the Open University of the United Kingdom (OUUK), which also began in 1974. While there has been a substantial and sustained development of research in distance education since the early 1980s, this was built upon earlier pioneering efforts of considerable substance and diversity—much of which had been published in Europe, in languages other than English, in the 1960s and 1970s. B¨orje Holmberg’s (1977, 1981, 1985) work has been recognized as the one of the important single contributions in this regard, and it remains of immense significance particularly because he devoted considerable effort to systematic bibliography. Holmberg’s work is distinguished by his attention to the relationships between policy, practice, research, and theory. Charles Wedemeyer’s (1981) magisterial Learning at the Back Door synthesized a wide range of research and theory in relation to his extensive experience in pioneering the application of educational technologies in the University Extension programs at the University of Wisconsin from the early 1960s (1981, pp. xiii–xvii; Moore, 1990, pp. xv–xvi). This book demonstrated the powerful effects of a critically reflective approach to practice and remains as an object lesson to practitioners and researchers to this day. During the heyday of the ICDE in the 1980s there was much research and scholarship proceeding in the tradition pioneered by Holmberg and Wedemeyer. The collection Distance Education: International Perspectives, edited by David Sewart, Desmond Keegan, and Holmberg (1983), which drew together work from Australia, Europe, and North America, endeavored to set the agenda for further work through judicious sections from the mentors and their acolytes. The rhetoric of its preface offers a paradigm case of the “spirit of the age,” which was manifested


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similarly in many other contexts: Distance education, for long the Cinderella of the educational spectrum, emerged in the early 1970s and early 1980s as a valued component of many national educational systems in both developed and developing countries. The foundation of the Open Universities, developments in communications technology and in audio-, video- and computer-based learning, a new sophistication in the design of print-based materials and better support systems for the student learning at a distance, have all contributed to the availability and quality of distance education programs. (1983, p. ix)

In a similar vein, ASPESA sponsored the publication of Diversity Down Under: In Distance Education, which offered South Pacific perspectives on developments in policy and practice and contained some attempts to relate these to relevant scholarship and research (Smith, 1984). The First American Symposium on Research in Distance Education held in 1988 at Pennsylvania State University also proceeded in this tradition. It attempted to give some coherence to policy, practice research, and scholarship in the field in North America and spawned Contemporary Issues in American Distance Education (Moore with Cookson, Donaldson, & Quigley, 1990). We do not intend to deal extensively with definitional debates and disputes. However, we do recognize that such disputes exist and that they are integral to policy, practice, research, and theory in the fields central to our theme: distance education and educational technology. Indeed, as we write the practical reminders are chronic and important. In 1999, Monash University’s Distance Education Centre was merged into a new Centre for Learning and Teaching Support as part of a new teaching and learning plan that centered on flexible learning as it overarching concept. As Monash entered 2001 distance education disappeared as a mode of enrollment/study to be replaced by off-campus distributed learning. At Deakin University in 2000 discussions and deliberations led the university to propose the establishment of an e-campus as the focus for all its online activities and services. The e-campus is to be a “place” that all students and staff visit as part of their online university life, and it will be the home campus for all those students who are currently designated as off campus. Both Deakin and Monash are, in one sense, dispensing with distance education and, in another, making it even more integral to their organizations. Doug Shale’s (1990) contribution to the First American Symposium canvassed issues related to the reconceptualization of distance education and came to the conclusion that it was useful to retain a relaxed view of the boundaries pertaining to the morphology of distance education and a stricter view of the educational processes inherent in the field. The emphasis must be placed on the social transactions that are inherent in the teaching and learning processes, with a keen and pragmatic eye on the effects of technological changes on institutionalized education. We maintain the “relaxed attitude to nomenclature”; expressed in 1989 and reaffirmed in 2000 (Evans & Nation, 1989b, p. 37; 2000, pp. 160–164). In doing so, we invoke the spirit of Wedemeyer (1981) to remind us of the usefulness of a perspective developed from nontraditional learning and, even more importantly, to deal with the practical and policy problems of the field on the bases of broad-ranging theories and evidence from research. In this regard, we have found it useful to make educational technology central to own work.

THE IMPACT OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY Educational technology was at the center of the renaissance that elevated distance education the status of master concept in the 1970s. This recognition was manifested significantly by the decision of the British Open University to create a major division and name it the Institute


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of Educational Technology (IET). The IET was founded as an academic unit charged with responsibility for devising and maintaining, in concert with academic colleagues in its faculties, a system of teaching and learning that eschewed the classroom as the main context for these activities and was centered on teaching materials. In its operation the system was supported by tutors whose main engagement with their students was through written assignments and occasional face-to-face sessions (Evans & 1993b, 1989a, pp. 237–245, 1989c pp. 6–7, 1993a, pp. 7–10, 1993c. 196–214). Our involvement in distance education as practitioners stretches back to the early 1970s and this experience convinced us to develop research and theoretical interests in the field from the mid-1980s (Evans & Nation, 1987, 1989a, 1989b, 1989c, 1993a, 1996, 2000). This project has recognized the importance understanding the relationships between practice, research, and theory. It has emphasized the utility of understanding educational endeavors in the context of the cultural, economic, political, and social contexts within which they occur. It has sought to bring to the field insights from social sciences, generally, and sociology, particularly, to challenge and complement a dominant paradigm drawing inspirations from various traditions in educational psychology. Educational technology has moved to the center of our attention as this project has progressed. Our initial forays into public debate manifested a concern that distance education, under the control of educational technologists, was in danger of becoming a multinational instructional industry that alienated “its students from each other and wider educational and social processes” (Evans & Nation, 1987, p. 49). This narrow or traditional view of educational technology understood it as a movement rooted in behaviorist psychology, often practiced as instructional design, that attempted to program students’ learning. Our engagement with educational technology revealed that there were considerable changes afoot within educational technology in both its senses: the tools or media that were being developed for educational purposes and the theoretical and research endeavors driving the changes in material technology (Evans & Nation, 1993b, pp. 196–209). Our approach has sought to incorporate research and theory from the humanities and social sciences that understand education in its cultural, economic, political, and social contexts. In particular we have drawn extensively on Anthony Giddens, whose theory of structuration attempts to unite an understanding of the individual and society (Giddens, 1984, 1991a, 1991b, 1994, 1998, 1999a, 1999b). In an attempt to further a constructively critical dialog between educational technologists influenced by constructivism and those proceeding from critical theory, we have turned to Wedemeyer (1981) as a source for the basis of this accommodation. Writing in 1980, Wedemeyer was able to proceed on the basis of decades of practical experience in university extension providing Learning at the Back Door to those denied conventional access to university studies. He was the driving force in the Articulated Instructional Media (AIM) project undertaken in the mid-1960s at the University of Wisconsin. He was proud to claim that “this experiment . . . laid the theoretical, academic, technological and operational bases for the creation of the new institutions of open, distance and independent learning” (Wedemeyer, 1981, p. 204), a view supported by others (Moore, 1990, pp. xii–xiv). Two decades after the publication of his master work, Wedemeyer’s principal manifest objective has been fulfilled: distance education in all its guises has entered the mainstream. Its immense value today rests with the strength of its underlying educational philosophy and with the breadth of the theoretical, academic, technological, and operational principles it canvassed and the integrity between them it achieved. This is well illustrated by his address to “technology as means”:


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The continuing danger in a technologically oriented society and culture is the technology becomes and end in itself. . . . Yet technology usually originates as a means towards some useful or even humanistic end. It is one of the tasks of humanists, educators, and social scientists to resist the evolution of technology to ends, and insist that technology remain only a means. (Wedemeyer, 1981, p. 102)

He proceeded with a reminder that educators had a duty to use technology, according to these principles, and if they failed to do so, the void would be filled by those with instrumental rather than humanistic motives. Those in distance education and educational technology who espouse constructivist theories and practical approaches could usefully consult Wedemeyer for assistance in coming to terms with those who offer critical or humanistic critiques of constructivism. His work is informed by the antecedents of the “new constructivists,” such as Robert Gagn´e and Jerome Bruner. It is also informed more comprehensively by other work from a variety of other humanities and social sciences and interpreted within an intellectual framework with its basis in the classical American pragmatism of John Dewey and George Herbert Mead. Above all, it is grounded in a quest for policies and practices that make paramount the learning needs of students.

GLOBALIZATION AND DISTANCE EDUCATION As the deep interrelationship between distance education and technology moves into a new generation (Bates, 1991; Garrison, 1985; Nipper, 1989) with the new educational technologies, then some new and significant interconnections unfold as a consequence. In particular, the new educational technologies, based as they are on computer and communications systems, open new forms of interactive and multimedium distance education to a new world of students (although it should be recognized that the postal system arguably has a broader global reach). However, the computer and communications media also bring to the doorstep of distance education a range of matters that were either nonexistent before or were at least of minor significance. In essence, these matters can be considered under the rubric of globalization and particularly in terms of theoretical explanations of the reflexiveness of social life (for example, Giddens, 1984), which help explain the practical conditions that distance education faces. Evans (1997) considered the interrelationships between globalization and distance education and he argued for a broad understanding of the term, thus: Globalisation implies that most people, if not all, are connected more or less contemporaneously with distant events, sometimes whether they like it or not. This “time-space compression” (Giddens, 1994, p. 7) is not just limited to communications and transport, but also to economic activity. The social and cultural implications . . . are intimately connected. (1997, p. 18)

Many would argue that the human experience is altering fundamentally within a globalizing world—that is a world where social, economic, cultural, and political activity is becoming more integrated and less demarcated by distances, national borders, and cultures. It is doing so not just because of the speed and interactivity of new communications media, but also because of the fusion of cultural conditions. For some, in this latter cultural sense, globalization is substantially Americanization in that the dominant influence via the Internet is from the United States. However, this is somewhat of an oversimplification in that prior to the Internet, other media also often reflected a significant American flavor (film, for example). And another


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predominantly English language nation, the UK, has been globally influential through other media (for example, popular music, television, newspapers) as well. Certainly, it seems that the domination of English as the global language has been further strengthened via the Internet and the Web. As we shall illustrate, these matters are important for theory, practice, and research in distance education. Toward these ends Edwards, using Robertson’s (1992) work, considered the impact of globalization on forms of distance education. He argued that it is not so much the fact of global connections that is important, “but (rather) in the contemporary world there is an intensification of the processes and the awareness of the globe as a single environment” (Edwards, 1994, p. 10). In effect the natural world has always been “globalized,” for example, its climate and weather systems have been part of a complex and interrelated “global” system. Historically, it can be shown that from the earliest times humans have sought to explore the margins, and often extend the boundaries, of their territories. Indeed it was in response to the colonization of much of the world by European powers—such as Portugal, Spain, and especially Britain— that the first antecedents of distance education were established (see Bolton, 1986). In effect, human societies, at least for the past two centuries, have been seeking to explore and colonize the “new” world and then to overcome what the Australian historian Blainey (1966) called “the tyranny of distance” between the centers of the colonial powers in Europe and their new colonies. It was always a long technological and cultural struggle with time and distance. It seems that computer and communications technologies have, to the extent that their media allow, fostered a “disrespect” for time and distance, although nature is usually able to impress its diurnal and seasonal rhythms on everyone, everywhere. The tensions between the globalizing forces of contemporary life and the ways in which people live and learn (Giddens, 1991a, 1991b) can have major implications for open and distance education theory and practice, and for (distance) learners’ self-identities (Evans 1989, 1995a, 1995b). Perhaps the best example of this is found in the interrelationships between the developed and the developing world where the possibilities and consequences of the new forms of distance education seem most alluring and yet most threatening. It is first worth noting that the term developed nation is misleading. “It conveys,” as Evans (in press) suggests, “a sense that the ‘developing’ is over and that the countries in question have reached a stage of being developed: there is no further room to improve.” Contrarily, a fundamental characteristic of a “developed country” is that it is speeding simultaneously along various lines of development . . . it is actually a compulsively developing one; one which values change and progress as central in its national culture.(original emphasis) It is as if the so-called developed nations actually have a “compulsive development culture.” Likewise, compared to developed nations, developing nations are not usually developing at the same pace and do not possess a compulsive development culture. Indeed, it could be argued that without some miraculous or equally profound progress, a developing nation is unlikely even to keep pace with the speed of development in the developed world. It has often been considered that appropriate forms of distance education may be able to assist developing nations to leapfrog some developmental stages by taking developed world educational programs and inserting them “in-country.” In this way the learners benefit from a standard of program that their own nation’s educational infrastructure cannot provide. The are examples of where this has been of general benefit (Perraton, 1993, 2000); however, as Evans (1997) noted, there is a series of “access versus invasion” dilemmas to be broached, especially when distance education is facilitated by the new educational technologies. For example, Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a developing nation that has had a long-standing involvement with distance education at both the school and higher education levels. It has used distance education in attempting to deal with not only the serious needs for education in the country but also to cope with the poor communications, isolation, and remoteness of many of the


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communities involved. As Guy (1991, 1997) commented the access to developed world distance education courses is not without its invasive consequences, especially in a nation that is founded on over 800 language and cultural groups. However, the current PNG government is not resiling from distance education, but rather sees the new educational technologies as enabling access to education to be provided in even the remotest PNG communities where no electricity, telephone, roads, or airstrips exist. The answer is seen to rest on solar electricity, computers, and satellite communications to enable people to access a world of (distance) education. The rhetoric of globalization abounds in educational contexts today. The rhetoricians address the two main platforms of educational endeavor: the pedagogical and the curricular. At the pedagogical level educators are encouraged to see their practices as being mediated, usually through electronic communications, along global lines. It is said that communications media, both directly and indirectly, are able take their teaching to learners around the globe, or conversely, they may use global resources via these media, to foster or enhance their own teaching. At the curricular level, it is said that no longer can the teacher just teach about the local, but rather global matters must be covered in order that the learners become knowledgeable global citizens. The rhetoric of globalization has its parallels (if not origins) in the transnational corporations, governments, governmental agencies (especially transgovernmental agencies such as UNESCO and the World Bank), and nongovernmental organizations. Much of the rhetoric is underpinned by the arguments and values of economic rationalism, whereby the worth of individuals, products, and services is determined by their economic value in the (increasingly global) marketplace. However, the consequences for the languages, cultures, and communities involved are difficult to predict other than that they are likely to be profound and, in some respects at least, deleterious. Developed nations face their own dilemmas concerning the globalizing forces of distance education. There is a reflexiveness embedded in the globalizing forces of (distance) education. As the PNG example illustrates, distance education is not only affected by globalization, but it also operates as a globalizing entity in itself, and in so doing adds its own particular influences. As we have argued previously (Evans & Nation, 1996, pp. 163–165), this is a version of what might be called the “global-local” tension within globalization, which operates through to the level of the individual person. As Giddens (1994) makes clear, the “intensified reflexivity” of globalization creates the conditions for “a world of clever people” where “individuals more or less have to engage with the wider world if they are to survive in it. Information produced by specialists (including scientific knowledge) can no longer be wholly confined to specific groups, but becomes routinely interpreted and acted on by lay individuals in the course of everyday actions” (p. 7). “Clever people” need to be able to read, understand, analyze, and act locally on the basis of their learning: Not only does this say something about the need for high levels of education for the population, but it implies that the curricula involved need to reflect both global and local needs. We can also infer that, due to the reflexive, and therefore dynamic, nature of globalization, people need to engage in lifelong education in order to participate fully in social life. (Evans & Nation, 1996, p. 164)

In many respects one might expect that the advent of the new educational technologies has enabled distance education to enter a new plane and become an even more powerful area of theory, practice, and research. However, just as globalization operates reflexively between the local and the global, and just as the “access” to distance education can be an “invasion” for a developing nation, so the new educational technologies present new possibilities for distance education but also, as we argue below, they sow the seeds of the demise of distance education as a field of research, theory, and practice.


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WRESTLING THE SCORPION: THE END OF DISTANCE EDUCATION? In some respects distance education is a relatively recent area of educational research, theory, and practice. Its name was formalized in the 1970s, although the history of its practices goes back beyond the turn of the 20th century. It has operated under various terms, with probably correspondence education being its most enduring predecessor. It can be seen that distance education (using this term to cover all its preceding forms) both relies upon, and is a demand of, the modern industrial world. It was this world that provided the means of printing and reproduction and the means of communication and transport to enable distance education to operate. Likewise, it was the ever-expanding developed areas of the world, together with the demands for people with education and training to work and run the newly pioneered areas, that helped to create the need for education and training to occur “at a distance” from where it was provided. The “traditional” forms of face-to-face education were found wanting in most respects, although they did offer some direct and indirect forms of assistance, whether it was through boarding education or through providing the people to develop or support the new distance education. In this sense it can be seen that the modernization that led to what some call the first generation of educational technologies used in distance education (Bates, 1991; Garrison, 1985; Nipper, 1989) created the opportunities and conditions for its existence. The second generation of audiovisual media supplement or enhance distance education considerably. Arguably, the rise of the large open universities around the world in the last decade or so can be traced to the development of the United Kingdom Open University (UKOU), which itself was inextricably linked to the use of (BBC) radio and television. The impetus the UKOU gave to distance education during the 1970s and 1980s was largely connected to its systems for the development and use of print and audiovisual media, although there were other very significant factors too, not the least of which was the need for greater access to educational opportunities for all people. Things were somewhat different in the United States, which, with exceptions, seemed to remain somewhat immune to these forms of distance education. American distance education typically pursued interactive audio and video links for remote class tuition, rather than the print-based tuition and assessment, supported by other media, that is commonplace in international distance education. Since the emergence and rise of the computer-based communications technology, distance educators have seen their capacity to provide their wares enhanced. In particular, the database, graphics, word-processing, communications, and multimedia capacities have proven to be untapped reserves for the distance educator. However, the computer-based communications technology scorpion has a sting in the tail that may prove more than just painful for distance education. This is because, despite the size and influence of some of the world’s mega universities (Daniel, 1996), distance education has remained a relatively marginal endeavor in educational policy and practice. The traditional universities have increasingly become aware of the importance of computer-based communications technology to their existences, too. Not just for educational purposes directly—although this is probably where the sting will be terminal for distance education—but also for their marketing, business, and administration needs. Some years ago Smith and Kelly (1987) encouraged a debate as to whether distance education might shift from the “margins to the mainstream” of education. Certainly, there were some clear reasons for thinking that this was a possibility, for example, in that distance education appealed to an important and expanding number of mature-age learners needing to undertake


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continuing education. However, a decade later Evans, Nation, Renner, and Tregenza (1997) issued a rather different prognosis for distance education. Partly on the basis of their research into reforms in traditional universities, they addressed the Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia’s 1997 conference thus: We do not wish to romanticise distance education, indeed, we remain critical of various aspects. However, the current circumstances lead us to wonder whether it is time for ODLAA members and other fellow travellers to assert themselves on national and institutional policy agendas so that the research theory and practice which has been nurtured over previous years is not lost, and maybe then re-invented, by people who are ignorant of its importance and potential for taking (tertiary) education into the next millennium. (Evans et al., 1997, p. 152)

The problem identified is twofold. Conventional universities were embracing the new educational technologies, in effect, to teach their at-a-distance students without the benefit of the expertise and understanding that decades of research, theory, and practice in distance education could provide. Additionally, we can see that the sorts of changes that new technology has brought to society, work, and finance more generally has impacted on the nature of education in ways that sting distance education again. As we argued above, distance education itself is a product of modernity. Its forms of administration, production, and distribution are characteristic of modern (Fordist) societies, much in the way Peters (1983) described (somewhat controversially) nearly two decades ago. However, the new technologies and the way that they have been deployed by business, government, and other institutions have yielded significant, and sometimes fundamental, changes to the way work and society operates. Some refer to this new condition as postmodernity or late-modernity. Within this context various forms of education have been spawned that draw, to a greater or lesser extent, from education. These are forms such as, open learning, flexible learning, fleximode, open campus or virtual campus. Edwards (1994, 1997) saw the emergence of open learning and flexible learning as consequences of postmodernity. Likewise, Campion (1992) and Campion and Renner (1991) explained these new configurations in post-Fordist terms. These authors are critical of these shifts in terms of their impact on the quality of education and learning, indeed, Campion (1996) is particularly so. Others, such as Jakupec (1996, 1997), Nicoll (1997), and Kirkpatrick (1997), are similarly critical, especially in terms of seeing these new forms of distance education as being influenced by, or having arisen from, the dominance of “economic rationalist” neo-conservative politics in the 1990s. These critiques of the various late-modern offshoots of distance education are often founded on the assumption that the types of learning that are fostered by these approaches are likely to be of the repetitive, “banking” kind eschewed by Freire and others in the 1970s (see Freire, 1972). The expectation of the critics is that learning will be reduced to “serving the system” and not be of a kind that empowers learners. These concerns are supported by a good deal of evidence that suggests that new forms of distance education (and many other forms of education and training) are coming under the influence of what we might call “neo–instructional industrialism,” that is the old industrial approaches to distance education re-jigged into online forms. This should be seen as a trend to be resisted and avoided; indeed, if distance education is to survive its stings, it will need to be on the basis that it is rejuvenated in a way that uses the new educational technologies to foster dialog and critique. In order to do so it will need to address the challenge of the constructivists who are becoming influential in the design of new forms of distance education. We take up this matter in more detail below.


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BEFORE AND BEYOND CONSTRUCTIVISM Since the early 1990s constructivism has ridden a populist wave to become a fashionable theoretical position on which to build educational practices. For many it seemed to represent a significant, even radical, departure from previous approaches. Certainly this is understandable for those who were trying to break away from largely behaviorist-influenced or behavioristderived approaches to educational technology, such as programmed learning, which had gained favor in the 1970s and 1980s. The increasing “technologization” of teaching, learning, and assessment during this period made some educational psychologists with humanist, rather than behaviorist, leanings increasingly nervous. Constructivism’s origins, as is often the case with “modern” theories, have long and deep roots into epistemological histories. Candy (1991) took the view that its origins can be recognized as early the 5th century BC in Greece. However, in terms of current approaches, there were significant contributors to the field in the second half of the 20th century. In psychology, Kelly propounded a form of personal construct theory in the mid-1950s (Kelly, 1955). In sociology, Berger and Luckmann popularized the notion of the social construction of reality in the mid-1960s (Berger & Luckmann, 1967). In educational psychology, Piaget had a profound influence on teacher education and early schooling, which can be seen to reflect and articulate constuctivist ideas (Piaget, 1971). In Australia, Connell’s work on the child’s construction of politics provides another valuable thread to the notion of construction (Connell, 1971). Arguably, in philosophy, the hermeneutic propositions of Husserl are again congruent with the meaning-making elements of constructivism (Husserl, 1965). The resurgence in interest in what might be called constructualist thought is largely attributed to Glasersfeld, who added a new “radical” edge to the notion of constructivism (Glasersfeld, 1995). Then, as we have argued, it was the next decade when constructivism took off as a movement. It has been highly popular in science education for children, and to a lesser extent in educational and instructional design for adults, including in distance education. Jegede is a scholar of both science education and distance education, and so it is not surprising that he was among the vanguard of those in distance education who advocated that constructivism be taken seriously for the research and practice of teaching and learning in distance education (Jegede, 1992). However, perhaps the most notable statement in terms of the impact of constructivism on distance education came from Hawkridge (1999). He was the foundation director of the Institute of Educational Technology at the UK Open University (arguably one the most important developments in distance education of the 20th century). He is also an eminent scholar in the field of educational technology. Hawkridge’s statement is based on a review of the state of theory, research, and scholarship in educational technology since the 1970s in an editorial for the British Journal of Educational Technology. He identified three challenges that remained to be met: First, educational technologists should understand and apply constructivism rather than behaviourism in their development of teaching and learning systems. Second, they should develop systems for teaching and learning that match the opportunities offered by the hardware and software of modern computers and telecommunications, including the Web. Third, they should answer the moral and ethical challenges from those who criticise educational technologists for not caring enough about teachers and students, for not endorsing an emancipatory view of education. (Hawkridge, 1999, pp. 299–300)

This summary grows from earlier analyses by Hawkridge (1976, 1979, 1981, 1983, 1991) in which he reflected critically on the mission of educational technologists, addressed the views


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of critics, and continued to suggest changes in approaches related to changing conditions in education and society and progress in educational theory and practice. We have addressed these analyses in considerable detail previously (Evans & Nation, 1993a, 1993b, 1996, 2000). However, it is important to note here that some of the challenges to educational technology were also similar to challenges made to aspects of contructivism’s earlier forms. For example, Berger and Luckmann’s work in sociology lost favor under the weight of Marxist and neo-Marxian critiques of interactionist sociology generally. The absence of notions of social structure (class), power and authority in the individualist theories of social constructionism, symbolic interactionism, and so on rendered them unpopular by the mid to late 1970s. Of course, the structuralist theories were themselves rendered unpopular by the various theoretical positions of postmodernism, poststructuralism, and feminism. Hence, we would argue, that constructivist principles are likely to be only partially successful in achieving Hawkridge’s mission. Indeed, they are especially likely to be so if the proponents and exponents of constructivism in distance education and educational technology do not recognize both the useful related work that has been done in and/or through distance education since the early 1970s that was not labeled constructivism, but that represents a relevant and strong base on which to build, and also that constructivism is limited by its weakness in terms of both the recognition of and articulation with social theories. This is not to deny that the transformation in thinking demonstrated by reconstructed behaviorists is important for the future of distance education (and education more broadly). However, the fact is that most of those espousing constructivism remain unwilling or unable to recognize the need for substantial analyses of the economic, political, and social contexts within which teaching and learning occur and, even more so, they seem unable to grasp the rich potential of investigations from a diverse range of related disciplines. In our view, failing to make these connections will only remake distance education into a softer, individualistic form of instructional industrialism. Having said this, considerable progress has been made to bridge the paradigmatic chasm between those who can be regarded as instructional industrialists and proponents of critically reflexive education. It is especially noteworthy that Jonassen, an heir to the Gagn´eian cognitivist tradition, is an instructive case. A recent publication, written with two colleagues, addressed to aspiring school teachers begins: Constructivism is a relatively new idea in education. It is an even newer idea to educational technology. It is so new to some educational circles that some people perceive it as a fad. We think not. Constructivism is an old idea to sociology and art. And as a way of understanding the learning phenomenon it is ageless. People have always constructed personal and socially acceptable meaning for events and objects in the world. . . . People naturally construct meaning. Formal educational enterprises that rely on the efficient transmission of prepackaged chunks of information are not natural. They are pandemic. The modern age values understanding less than it does the efficient transmission of culturally accepted beliefs. It doesn’t have to be that way. Modernism can support meaning making as well. This book looks at how modern technologies, such as computers and video, can be used to engage learners in personal and socially constructed meaning making. . . . Learning With Technology is about how educators can use technologies to support constructive learning. In the past, technology has largely been used in education to learn from. Technology programs were developed with the belief that they could convey information (and hopefully understanding) more effectively than teachers. But constructivists believe that you cannot convey understanding. That can only be constructed by learners. So this book argues that technologies are more effectively used as tools to construct knowledge with. The point of the book is that technology is a tool to think and learn with. (Jonassen, Peck & Wilson, p. iii)


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We have argued elsewhere that the notion of technology as tool is somewhat impoverished and that technology is more usefully seen as the science, art, and craft of using a tool (Evans & Nation, 1993, 1996). Hence educational technology is the art, science, and craft of educators when they use a tool—be it a computer or chalk—for educational purposes. Notwithstanding this, Jonassen, Peck, and Wilson are espousing what distance educators such as Morgan have named as the new educational technology (Morgan, 1997). Despite the importance of Jonassen, Peck, and Wilson’s recognition of the social elements in educational technology, the allegation of the novelty of constructivist ideas in educational theory and practice illustrates the point of weakness we mentioned above in relation to Hawkridge’s summation of 30 years of educational technology. Accepting that Jonassen, Peck, and Wilson acknowledged that sociology has an enduring record for espousing the importance of the social construction of knowledge, it would be even more useful if they could point to substantial contributions in this regard, such as those made by Basil Bernstein, Geoffrey Esland, and Michael Young in the late 1960s and early 1970s and given general currency through OU courses in Education (Bernstein, 1971; Esland, 1971; Young, 1971). These contributions have continued to develop and retain their vitality today (for example, Young, 1998). It is worth discussing one of these contributions in more detail, because it illustrates the weakness in terms of both educational technology and science education. In 1971 Esland identified the potential for educational psychology to create and facilitate the theory and research that could act as a basis for understanding teachers and learners as constructors of meaning. He did so in the course of a study of the emergence of curriculum reforms such as “Nuffield science,” which were influenced very heavily by the work of Jerome Bruner and Jean Piaget. From this epistemological perspective, children and adolescents are “little scientists” who can be led to discover what scientists have come to know. Esland’s study demonstrated that these reforms to teaching and learning in schools were often founded on the rocks of psychometric approaches in the tradition of behaviorism and Gagn´e. He noted then the tendency for psychometricians to incorporate Bruner and Piaget’s ideas into their models and, in the process, to lose or misunderstand their emphasis on the meaning making capacities of learners. Bruner’s early work, with its conformity to the scientism of 1960s and 1970s academic psychology, also contributed to this misunderstanding. His mature work demonstrates much more clearly that an understanding of meaning making is the central aspect of educational psychology and that anthropology, art, literature, music, sociology, and other social sciences all have important contributions to make to any complete analysis (Bruner, 1986, 1990). For some years we have asserted that the social theorist Anthony Giddens offers a most effective basis for a thoroughly connected understanding of meaning making in economic, political, and social contexts (Evans & Nation, 1996, pp. 163–165; 2000, pp. 164–168). For example, Giddens has continued in the tradition of interdisciplinarity that Bruner valued in the Harvard Department of Social Relations. He has produced some powerful eclectic theoretical works that allow others to analyze, articulate, and explain their own research, reflections, and theorizing in terms that recognize the power of human agency within the changing social, economic, and political conditions. Giddens’s understanding of the “reflexivity of modernity” offers a substantial theoretical basis for the learning society that is rapidly becoming the challenge we face as individuals making our way in the world personally, domestically, economically, politically, and socially and as members of organizations (such as educational enterprises) attempting to reform the world (Giddens, 1991a, pp. 36–45). With Kasperson (2000, pp. vi–vii), we agree that many can be bewildered by Giddens’s overwhelming style—in his technical works, at least. We remain optimistic, however, that the time has come for his ideas to have a more pervasive influence.


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CONCLUSION The emergence and success of the British Open University in the 1970s signaled that distance education could hold a preeminent part in place in higher education nationally and internationally. As late comers to the field, the British educational authorities were able to draw upon the experience of those in Europe and the New World who had pioneered the establishment of a variety of programs of correspondence education, based in various organizational contexts, in colleges and universities in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Unlike most of these pioneering programs, the Open University was a single-purpose institution devoted exclusively to educating part-time students whose circumstances or desires meant that they could not attend campus-based programs. In many respects, the fledgling New World democracies recognized that education had to be taken to their citizens at the pioneering frontiers of their lands. They saw it as necessary and practical to take the classroom to the adults and children, from various religious and cultural backgrounds, who were building the new nations. The initiative for many of these developments was essentially local and/or national, but like most educational endeavors there was always an international element in evidence. These were expressed through the emergence of organizations such as the ICDE and its predecessors. They played an important part in the development of the open university movement in the 1980s. The fact that universities were the focus of many of the developments was also influential, but never so exclusively, in the birth of research and scholarship aimed at understanding and improving policy and practice in the field. In an age of “hyper (un)reality,” in which incantations about the necessity and inevitability of global, mega and/or virtual universities are part of many a cultural, economic, political, and social discourses, it is essential for practitioners, policymakers, researchers, and theorists to maintain educational technologies as a central interest. We have ceased to be surprised that educators and their clients need to be reminded that technologies emerged in the Stone Age and that the “new” communications and information technologies are simply the latest manifestations of a phenomenon that is always integral to education. The preeminent task for practitioners and scholars is to pursue the job of understanding and improving their use on the most substantial scale possible. From our first involvement in distance education we have valued the confluence of knowledge from practice, research, and theory. Our experiences as undergraduate baby-boomers taught us to privilege the classroom and the campus. Charismatic lecturers, lively seminar groups, raging debates in “the caf,” and the “demos” were imagined as the best in the undergraduate experience. Correspondence education was secondhand and second rate for both students and teachers, according to this mentality. Our own experience both confirmed and denied this. Any genuinely critical reflection on the totality of experiences of campus life and classroom-based teaching and learning will soon reveal many flaws. Our approach, centering critical reflections on the practice of ourselves and our colleagues, has been founded on a rich tradition of scholarship developed by pioneers such as Charles Wedemeyer. It is heartening to realize that this book has given considerable emphasis to contributors who have been willing to value the richness of these traditions in research theory. While it may be imprudent to single out one bearer of this tradition, we believe it is instructive to reflect on recent contributions by Otto Peters (2000, and Chap. 7 in this book). Peters is often misunderstood as “the high priest of industrialized distance education.” In fact, he is a practitioner, researcher, and scholar of substantial range and diversity. A close reading of his publications reveals, above all, that any useful understanding of educational endeavors requires a deep consideration of the cultural, economic, and political contexts in which they occur. This remains of paramount importance for the future of distance education and its children.


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We remain disappointed that there are still too many practitioners, researchers and theorists in our field, by whatever name we call it, who seem incapable of recognizing the importance of contributions from earlier generations and from a variety of academic callings and approaches. Let the debate continue as we reflect critically during construction of the “new universities” required of the future. “Tear downs the wall(s)!” —Waters (n. d. p. 136)

REFERENCES Bates, T. (1991). Third generation distance education. Research in Distance Education, 3(2), 10–15. Berger, J., & Luckmann, T. S. (1967). The social construction of reality. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Bernstein, B. (1971). On the classification and framing of educational knowledge. In M. F. D. Young (Ed.), Knowledge and control: New directions for the sociology of education (pp. 47–69). London: Collier-Macmillan. Blainey, G. (1966). The tyranny of distance: How distance shaped Australia’s history. Melbourne: Sun Books. Bolton, G. (1986). The opportunity of distance. Distance Education, 7(1), 5–22. Boorstin, D. J. (1984). The discovers. London: J. M. Dent & Sons. Bruner, J. (1986). Actual minds, possible worlds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Bruner, J. (1990). Acts of meaning. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Campion, M. (1992). Revealing links: Post-Fordism, postmodernism and distance education. In T. D. Evans & P. A. Juler (Eds.), Research in distance education 2 (pp. 45–51). Geelong: Deakin University Press. Campion, M. (1996). Open learning, closing minds. In T. D. Evans & D. E. Nation (Eds.), Opening education: Policies and practices from open and distance education (pp. 147–161). London: Routledge. Campion, M., & Renner, W. (1991). The supposed demise of Fordism: Implications for distance education and higher education. Distance Education, 13(1), 7–28. Candy, P. C. (1991). Self-direction for lifelong learning: A comprehensive guide to theory and practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Connell, R. W. (1971). The child’s construction of politics. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press. Daniel, J. (1996). The mega-universities and the knowledge media. London: Kogan Page. Edwards, R. (1994). From a distance? Globalisation, space-time compression and distance education. Open Learning, 9, 3, 9–17. Edwards, R. (1997). Changing Places? Flexibility, lifelong learning and a learning society. London: Routledge. Esland, G. M. (1971). Teaching and learning as the organization of knowledge. In M. F. D. Young (Ed.), Knowledge and control: New directions for the sociology of education (pp. 70–115). London: Collier-Macmillan. Evans, T. D. (1989). Taking place: The social construction of place, time and space and the (re) making of distances in distance education. Distance Education, 10(2), 170–183. Evans, T. D. (1995a). Globalisation, post-Fordism and open and distance education. Distance Education, 16(3), 256–269. Evans, T. D. (1995b). Matters of modernity, late modernity and self-identity in distance education. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 10(2), 169–180. Evans, T. D. (1997). (En)Countering globalisation: Issues for open and distance educators. In L. Rowan, L. Bartlett, & T. D. Evans (Eds.), Shifting borders: Globalisation, localisation and open and distance education (pp. 11–22). Geelong: Deakin University Press. Evans, T. D. (2002). Policy and planning in the developed countries: Coping with compulsive development cultures. In S. Panda (Ed.), Planning and management of open and flexible learning (pp. 13–19 in press). London: Kogan Page. Evans, T. D., & Nation, D. E. (1987). Which future for distance education? International Council for Distance Education Bulletin, 14, 48–53. Evans, T. D., & Nation, D. E. (1989a). Critical reflections in distance education. In T. D. Evans & D. E. Nation (Eds.), Critical reflections on distance education (pp. 237–252). London: Falmer Press. Evans, T. D., & Nation, D. E. (1989b). Dialogue in practice, research and theory in distance education. Open Learning, 4(2), 37–43. Evans, T. D., & Nation, D. E. (1989c). Introduction. In T. D. Evans & D. E. Nation (Eds.), Critical reflections on distance education (pp. 5–8). London: Falmer Press. Evans, T. D., & Nation, D. E. (1993a). Distance education, educational technology and open learning: Converging


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53 Distance Education in the Perspective of Global Issues and Concerns Jan Visser Learning DevelopmentInstitute jvisser@learndev.org

INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT: THE BROAD CONTEXT The history of international development is more than 50 years old. The origin of its prehistory may be located hundreds of years earlier, when the efforts of navigators and new conceptualizations by scientists started changing our idea of the world and of our place within it (e.g., Boorstin, 1985; Koestler, 1959). Those who had the economic power, and thus had access to the technology of the day, discovered that they were not alone in the world and that other peoples— mostly seen as essentially different and invariably inferior—co-inhabited the planet. Different forms of, often exploitative, cohabitation emerged during colonization. That period ended during the third quarter of the last century. Emancipation and decolonization, largely driven by the formerly oppressed, led to the recognition among those who eventually relinquished power that not everything in the world was right. In fact, it laid bare great inequalities that conflicted with long-held moral convictions—convictions that had, until then, been solely applied (and even then only partially) to the societies of those who held the convictions. Such inequalities, it was realized, were immoral and they threatened stability. A new world order was called for. Initial ideas about development focused on technology transfer. The world was seen as polarized between developed and underdeveloped nations (terms that were later replaced by industrialized and developing nations). A simple rationale underlay the development philosophy. Those countries that saw themselves as developed had little to learn from those that required development; contrariwise, the developed nations felt obliged to share their expertise with those whose different state of development was assumed to have resulted from the absence of such expertise. There was thus a formidable urge on the part of some to teach and an assumed great need on the part of hundreds of millions of others to learn. While the development discourse reflecting this philosophy has become more nuanced over the decades, much of its basic assumptions are still very much alive. 793


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The above remarks provide a backdrop for the subsequent discussion of the development of distance education as a contributing factor to building a better world. The following four statements are offered as an advance organizer for that discussion: 1. The development effort undertaken over the past half century has, to a considerable extent, focused on creating and improving education systems, modeled after those of the industrialized West. 2. Educational needs in developing nations (defined as implied by the previous statement) have been so enormous—compared to the available resources—that traditional modalities to meet them could not be but insufficient. The search for alternatives, including distance education, was a natural consequence of this recognition. 3. The visions underlying the concepts of development and education tend to explain the world, its history, and the possibilities to shape its future in linear terms. They furthermore assume that the knowledge systems of the developed world are superior to local or indigenous knowledge systems. The history of international development of the past half century justifies questioning the validity of these visions. 4. When the international development effort took off, the prevailing global issues and concerns were limited in scope and biased toward the problems that had upset the world during the late 1930s and early 1940s. It took another half century to discover that the world was infinitely more complex than we had ever thought. A more comprehensive picture of global issues and concerns has started to emerge during the last decade of the 20th century. However, we are far from understanding fully how to deal with the implications of those issues from a learning point of view. SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER This chapter looks at distance education in the perspective of global issues and concerns, a topic closely linked to the very reasons why distance education became an important international development issue. I particularly focus on the discrepancy between the established practice of distance education and the overriding purposes for educational development. This leads to a critique of the field as it currently stands, a critique, though, that is equally valid for many other modalities of educational practice. The above referred critique of distance education is linked to the larger question of the meaning of learning. After an analysis of the development of distance education in the next two sections, I therefore elaborate on the need to revisit the meaning of learning as it relates to the demands of our time. This then allows holding current perceptions of distance education against the light of an enhanced vision of learning, leading, finally, to recommendations about what to emphasize and what to de-emphasize in developing the field further. TAKING A CLOSER LOOK AT THE PROBLEM The development of distance education globally, particularly in the developing world, has largely been driven by the desire to overcome the shortcomings of established schooling practices. The literature of the period when distance education started to position itself as a serious alternative to or complement of school-based offerings would often contrast distance education—or, as it used to be called, correspondence education and, in some other cases, radio or TV education—with so-called traditional or conventional education (e.g., Edstr¨om, Erdos, & Prosser, 1970; Erdos, 1967; Faure et al., 1972; Perraton, 1976; Young, Perraton, Jenkins, & Dodds, 1980).


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Different considerations motivated the emergence of distance education as a significant alternative. Chief among them was the growing awareness of the injustice inherent in the deprivation of a large proportion of the world’s population of opportunities to learn commonly available to others. At the same time there was the expectation that “new media” would usher in an era of until-then-unimagined possibilities to overcome the barriers of the past. In an address to the State Department on August 20, 1971, Arthur C. Clarke expressed it this way: “The emerging countries of what is called the Third World may need rockets and satellites much more desperately than the advanced nations which built them. Swords into ploughshares is an obsolete metaphor; we can now turn missiles into blackboards” (1992, p. 208). Hope and vision were accompanied by the desire to gather evidence in support of the claims that media, and the instructional design principles underlying their use, could indeed help to overcome the formidable obstacles faced by educational leaders and planners in developing countries. Most notable perhaps was a worldwide research project undertaken by UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning in 1965 and 1966 under the leadership of Wilbur Schramm, resulting in the landmark publication of three volumes on New Media in Action: Case Studies for Planners and a companion volume on The New Media: Memo to Educational Planners (UNESCO: International Institute for Educational Planning, 1967a, 1967b). Other prominent sources reflecting the thinking of that time regarding the educational use of media are Schramm’s (1977) Big Media, Little Media; Jamison & McAnany’s (1978) Radio for Education and Development; and Jamison, Klees, & Wells’ (1978) The Costs of Educational Media: Guidelines for Planning and Evaluation. During the same period the instructional design field was coming of age with such classics as Gagn´e’s The Conditions of Learning (first published in 1965) and Gagn´e and Briggs’ Principles of Instructional Design (first published in 1974), giving confidence that the process of making people learn and ensuring that their learning achievements would match their originally identified learning needs could be not only controlled but also managed within a considerably wider range of parameters than those traditionally considered. Particularly, it became clear that that process was not necessarily or exclusively dependent on a human facilitator. The above factors taken together provided a powerful reason to search for the solution of the world’s educational problems in settings beyond those of the conventional schooling practice. Naturally, it also raised questions about the quality of the contemplated alternatives as compared to the traditional practices they were supposed to replace or complement. Two inadequacies of traditional education are usually highlighted in such sources as mentioned above. Then as well as now, traditional schooling systems cater for only a limited part of the audience they are supposed to serve. This results in great inequity globally regarding how people can see themselves as active participants in a world that is larger than their immediate environment. It led Julian Huxley, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for UNESCO in 1946, later UNESCO’s first director-general, to consider that “Where half the people of the world are denied the elementary freedom which consists in the ability to read and write, there lacks something of the basic unity and basic justice which the United Nations are pledged together to further” (cited in UNESCO, 2000, p. 27). While Huxley recognized that various factors are responsible for such inequity, he saw what was then called “Fundamental Education” (p. 27) as essential to “the wider and fuller human understanding to which UNESCO is dedicated” (p. 27). The problem is far from over. According to the 2000 issue of the World Education Report (UNESCO, 2000), the world total of illiterates still stands at 875 million, i.e., a very significant proportion of the 6 billion inhabitants of our planet. Moreover, the number of children in the primary school age not going to school continues to be of the order of magnitude of 100 million.


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However, access to learning opportunities was not the only problem. The other major shortcoming of the schooling system, recognized in at least part of the literature cited earlier (e.g., Faure et al., 1972; Young et al., 1980), had and has to do with the schooling tradition itself, particularly the kind of learning it instills in students, the social consequences of expectations it generates, and the often poor relevance of what is being learned for those who learn and their surrounding development context. The former of the two deficits constitutes a violation of the fundamental human right to education. That right is specified in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Table 53.1). The World Education Report 2000 (UNESCO, 2000) gives ample coverage of how that right and its implications have been perceived and discussed since the Declaration was adopted and proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 10, 1948. It is important for our discussion that the Declaration links education to “the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms” (cited in UNESCO, 2000, p. 16). Education, in the view of the Declaration, thus transcends the mere concern with the acquisition of particular skills and pieces of knowledge. Instead, it relates it to the ability to live in harmony with oneself, one’s environment, and one’s fellow human beings. Consequently, the deficit of the school system should not be interpreted solely in terms of the lack of opportunity to acquire such competencies as the ability to read and write, but rather in terms of how such, and other, abilities “promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial and religious groups, . . . and the maintenance of peace” (UNESCO, 2000, p. 16). Insofar as distance education strives to overcome the shortcomings of the school systems, it should be judged by the above standards. The primary question to be asked is not how the development of distance education has improved access to and participation in education, and at what cost, but rather: Does distance education contribute to a better world? Put this way, the question also includes concerns about the second major area identified above, the one that motivated the distance education field to see itself as an opportunity, not only to open up possibilities for learning to the as-yet unreached, but equally to do so in ways that would be responsive to questions about the purposes of education, the meaning of learning, and the critique of the existing schooling tradition. MEANS OR END? Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights represents a rare instance in the development of international discourse about educational policy where an unequivocal reference is made to the purposes of education beyond the scope of particular content concerns. TABLE 53.1 Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 26 1. Everyone has a right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit. 2. Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace. 3. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children. From: Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948; cited in UNESCO, 2000)


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It advances the perspective that education is not an end in itself, but rather a means toward how we, humans, collectively shape the ways in which we socially organize ourselves, live together, and share the resources of our planet. The terms in which that perspective is formulated reflect the post-World War II concerns of the time when the Declaration was drafted. The ensuing debate and subsequent international frameworks developed over the past half century have consolidated, strengthened, and expanded the original vision of Article 26, allowing it to evolve and become responsive to currently felt global concerns. Sustainable development and poverty eradication are but two of the global concerns that were not explicitly expressed in the original formulation of Article 26, which are now felt to be essential for a stable and harmonious world order. Particularly the last decade of the past century has seen heightened interest in discussing the purposes of education in the light of global issues and concerns. Those issues and concerns have to do with such matters as our fragile environment; the growth of the world population; our ability to interfere technologically and scientifically with who we are; the depletion of the world’s resources; the advancement of peace, not as the mere absence of war, but as a culture, a set of values, attitudes, traditions, modes of behavior, and ways of life (United Nations, 1999); and the impact of pandemic diseases. An impressive range of world conferences—the World Education Report 2000 (UNESCO, 2000) mentions 15 of them, starting with the World Conference on Education for All in Jomtien, Thailand, in 1990 and ending with the World Science Conference in Budapest, Hungary, in 1999—has helped to put the crucial issues of our time on the agenda of the international community, while seeking to understand how education can contribute to addressing them. Two major UNESCO reports produced during the 1990’s—Learning. The Treasure Within (Delors et al., 1996) and Our Creative Diversity (P´erez de Cu´ellar et al., 1996)—should be seen in the same light. This renewed attention to the overriding purposes of education should come as no surprise. For the first time in several million years of hominid development, the human species faces challenges of a magnitude it has never had to deal with before. I have argued elsewhere (J. Visser, 2001), drawing also on the views of authors such as Koestler (1989/1967), Pais (1997), and Sakaiya (1991), how these challenges are part of a context of change patterns that are unique for our time and markedly different from those that characterized the human condition a mere couple of decades ago. They require human beings to be able to function in entirely unpredictable situations. Lederman (1999, April) thus calls for schools to look across all disciplines, across the knowledge base of the sciences, across the wisdom of the humanities, the verities and explorations of the arts, for the ingredients that will enable our students to continually interact with a world in change, with the imminence of changes bringing essentially unforeseeable consequences. (p. 3)

It needs no arguing that, by extension, the same rationale should apply to any alternative to the school, such as distance education systems that are being put into place to overcome the shortcomings of the school. However, it would be a mistake to look at the school, and its alternatives, as a panacea for the complex set of problems referred to above or to look at it in isolation. Schooling is not the same as learning. Schooling plays a role, and it can play a much more useful and effective role if it were profoundly reconceptualized, but that role is limited and relative to the role played by other factors that condition the learning environment at large. To appreciate the relative importance of the schooling tradition—including how that tradition is reflected in the practice of distance education—as well as to critically do away with those elements of the tradition that violate the attainment of agreed purposes, we must first develop a more comprehensive picture of what learning is.


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LEARNING: THE COMPREHENSIVE PICTURE One of the greatest impediments to the development of a learning society is the difficulty to overcome the preconceptions about learning with which we grow up (J. Visser & Y. L. Visser, 2000, October). The need to broaden our views of learning has been amply discussed in a series of transdisciplinary debates, promoted and conducted under the auspices of UNESCO and the Learning Development Institute since 1999 (J. Visser et al., 1999; Meaning of Learning [MOL] project, n.d.). Further insight can be derived through disciplined inquiry into learning as perceived by those who learn. Such inquiry typically focuses on the entire human being or on the activity of an entire collaborative entity in a cultural-historical perspective. It thus involves units of analysis whose order of magnitude by far transcends the habitual research perspective, which tends to focus on learning tasks that are narrowly defined in scope and time and that may involve only very specific learning behaviors assumed to be undertaken by isolated individuals. (A similar point is made by Cole, 1991, regarding the need to redefine the unit of analysis in the study of socially shared cognitions.) Research such as referred to above was reported by Y. L. Visser and J. Visser (2000) in their analysis of so-called learning stories. That research focused on the perceptions about learning from the perspective of individuals. John-Steiner (2000) went beyond the individual level, making the collaborative team or partnership the unit of analysis, in her study of creative collaboration. The preliminary results reported by Y. L. Visser and J. Visser (2000) indicate that the advance toward meaningful learning should focus on: the development of felt ownership of knowledge; the emotional integration of any particular learning experience in an individual’s perceived lifespan development; the generative nature of learning; the real-life context as the natural habitat for learning; the interaction with the learning of others as a basis for one’s own learning; the power of learning to turn negative self-perceptions into positive ones; the discovery of persistence as a strategy to manage life’s challenges. Such learning was found to be particularly facilitated when initially negative conditions could be transformed into positive challenges; when role models were present or emotionally significant support was available in the environment of the learner; or when there were opportunities for independent exploration of one’s learning and metacognition. Much in the analysis of the above-referred individual learning stories points toward the importance of context, particularly the social, cultural, and historical integration of the learning individual. John-Steiner’s (2000) analysis of cases of creative collaboration reinforces, makes more explicit, and enhances that notion. In analyzing her cases, she builds a strong argument against the prevalent cultural model of the solitary creative mind and stresses the principle that “humans come into being and mature in relation to others” (p. 187). Interdependence, or social connectedness, is thus a crucial dimension of any learning context, a dimension that needs to be balanced with that of the learner’s individuality. Feldman (2000), shedding foresight on the importance of John-Steiner’s work, refers to the search for “balance between individuality and social connectedness” (p. xii) as the central theme of the current century, contrasting it with the past century’s focus on “intellectual development that placed the lone seeker of knowledge . . . at the center of the developmental process” (p. ix). Such a shift of focus comes at a good time. The global issues and concerns considered in this chapter are too involved and too complex to be addressed by solo efforts. They call for


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visions of learning that are built around notions of sustained collaboration and dynamically evolving dialectic relationships between individuals and communities. Such visions have only marginally to do with the content of learning. Rather, they impact on how people learn and therefore on how the learning landscape should be restructured. They are an equally powerful motivation to start thinking differently about learning, “undefining” the concept (J. Visser, 2001), and recasting it as a disposition to dialog—expressed at different levels of complex organization—for constructive interaction with change. A final important contribution to creating comprehensive visions of learning can be found in the efforts to review significant research findings of the past and present, emanating from different disciplines, with a view to summarizing them in the framework of transdisciplinary major themes. An excellent example of such an effort is the work undertaken by the Committee on Developments in the Science of Learning of the National Research Council (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 1999). The Committee identifies five major themes that are important in changing our conceptions of learning. They have to do with: (1) how we develop coherent and accessible structures of information; (2) the ways in which we develop expertise and acquire the capability to solve problems we have never dealt with before; (3) new insights in learning and mental development at the initial stages of the human lifespan; (4) the role played by metacognitive and self-regulatory processes; and (5) the relation between learning and the cultural and community context in which symbolic thinking emerges.

ACHIEVEMENTS TO DATE Earlier in this chapter I referred to Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as an instance of broad consensus within the international community about the crucial importance of a global concern and the potential role of education—and thus also distance education—in addressing it. Considering that many more such global concerns have lately been added to the shared conscience of humanity, it is of interest to look back and ask ourselves what has been done. What we see is not encouraging. There is little doubt that considerable achievements in implementing Article 26 mark the more than five decades since the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The field of distance education can claim credit for at least part of those achievements. However, as the World Education Report 2000 (UNESCO, 2000) points out, surprisingly little of what was achieved reflects a concern with more than increasing the numbers of those who benefit from structured learning opportunities. In the words of the report: While . . . there has been a great deal of progress worldwide over the past half century towards implementation of the right to education in terms of access to education, it nevertheless remains that the vision that came to be embodied in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was not just a quantitative one. It was also a qualitative one concerning the purposes and hence contents of education. (p. 74)

The language of the above quote is confusing as it equates “purpose” and “content.” It is important to distinguish between the two concepts. The concept “content” connotes subjectmatter knowledge. This may easily be interpreted as a commodity traded between those who possess it, the teachers, and those who wish to acquire it, the students. Content, however, is only one element that may or may not contribute to attaining a particular educational purpose. The following example may elucidate this. It is sometimes thought that the teaching of subjects such as history and geography can have a potentially important impact on how students will think about and treat their fellow human


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beings pertaining to other cultures or whose existence is marked by different histories. Such a thought may indeed have motivated the 1949 International Conference on Public Education, which, mindful of the words of the Universal Declaration, recommended “the teaching of geography as a means of developing international understanding” (cited in UNESCO, 2000, p. 77). While I shall be critical, in what follows, of the rather na¨ıve assumptions inherent in this recommendation, it should be noted that this was one of only two International Conferences, held during the 20 years following the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that produced anything reminiscent of the global issues raised in the Declaration. It is unlikely that the simple introduction of a piece of curriculum, or the restructuring of existing curriculum, in accordance with the above idea, will more than marginally contribute to the earlier-mentioned larger goal of international understanding so long as “teaching” means “transmission of pieces of knowledge.” Much more is needed in changing attitudes. Both Bandura (1969) and Gagn´e (1985) argue that human modeling and practicing of the model are essential. In the case of our example, the content of disciplines like geography and history may be about as relevant to being exposed to models of human behavior, and being encouraged to practice them, as is the content of disciplines such as physics, chemistry, biology, or mathematics. In fact, as a segment of the traditional school curriculum, the latter set of disciplines may be more adequate, if purposefully taught, in a strategy to contribute to international understanding. Practitioners of the natural sciences and mathematics are known for their disregard of conventions that would limit them in their pursuit of the advancement of knowledge in their field. This is exemplified by how, during the coldest periods of the cold war, there has always been scientific exchange across the so-called iron curtain. Moreover, even as the Nazis rose to power in Europe, and the Second World War ravaged the continent and its scientific community, interests within the latter ensured that after the end of the war, wounds could quickly be healed. Numerous accounts of the lives of scientists and the development of science in the 20th century (see, for instance, Pais, 1991, and Perutz, 1998) describe in detail, and with great attention to the human qualities involved, what was at stake. The above argument shows that appropriate procedures, involving apparently unrelated content, can very well serve the purpose of developing tolerance and international understanding. The proper teaching of science could bring to life the human models that Gagn´e (1985) and Bandura (1969) call for. Practicing those models can well be undertaken in the context of collaborative projects across geopolitical and other boundaries among students (sometimes also involving practicing professional scientists) in areas like environmental science. Current technologies facilitate the building of such distributed learning communities.

CHALLENGES AHEAD The prevailing focus in the rhetoric of distance education has for a long time been on such issues as cost-effectiveness, economies of scale, and parity of esteem, all of them defined with reference to the traditional school context. This has left the thinking about distance education in the fold of the dominant classroom model. Despite the advent of powerful new technologies and the increasing realization that the problems of today are essentially different from yesterday’s problems, there is a disturbing lack of imagination in how discourse and practice remain locked up in the conceptions of the past. The abundant use of such terms as online classroom and virtual school is but one expression of how powerful a place the ideas of school and classroom continue to occupy in our language, and thus our thought processes. Even when new terms are introduced, such as e-learning, the reality behind them is often as sadly representative of the unaltered past—cast for the occasion in new molds—as the choice of the term itself is testimony to the absence of creative thinking.


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Simonson (2000) calls for strategies that provide “different but equivalent learning experiences” (p. 29) to learners in face-to-face classes and in online classrooms. This so-called equivalency theory, while recognizing the differences in instructional contexts between the two modalities concerned, may do little to promote a fundamental rethinking of what goes on inside the learning space, whether virtual or real, the implicit assumption being that the face-to-face classroom is the norm and that equivalency rather than improvement should be sought. Contrasting with the above is the sense of critical appreciation of the state of distance education in the world, emanated from a group of 23 experts from around the globe, convened by UNESCO, at a meeting in Karlsruhe, Germany. One of the recommendations made by that group states: Now that distance education has reached its desired level of recognition and esteem vis-`a-vis traditional educational alternatives, time has come for it to take a critical look at itself, asking questions about how existing experience fits in with the requirements of and opportunities inherent in present day society and how it reflects the current state of knowledge about how people learn. It is recommended that such a critical attitude drive any future development in the field of distance education in UNESCO and its Member States. (UNESCO, 2001, February, p. 4)

The group framed its recommendation with particular reference to “the evolving notions of a learning society and of lifespan human development” (p. 4). It furthermore recommended that distance education be seen as “just one modality—or set of modalities—among many others that together shape the learning environment, which is multi-modal and aware of multiple dimensions of human intelligence, at the cognitive, meta-cognitive and affective level” (p. 4). In connection with the above recommendation, the group of international experts convened by UNESCO devoted particular attention to the opportunities inherent in the currently available technologies. Market forces, rather than considerations about how and why people learn, determine that such technologies will be used. In the absence of clear thinking, their use will likely result in the replication of past practices by new means. At best, this means that nothing changes; at worst it means that with accelerated speed, and more forcefully than ever, bad practices will be consolidated and reinforced. Or, in the words of the report (UNESCO, 2001, February): The advent of the Internet and the invention of the World Wide Web have, supplemented by a wide and growing range of multimedia technologies, particularly during the past decade, fundamentally changed the equation of what is and what is not possible. It has particularly created opportunities for the rediscovery of learning as a dialogic and social process through which diverse people join in the creation of dynamic learning communities, collaborating with each other while using their full human potential to continually develop their capacity to stand prepared for an everchanging world. Such a process is one of shared construction, which, while it may contain linear elements, is greatly enhanced if the learning environment allows building blocks—of different granularity—to be brought in flexibly, as they are needed. The possibility to create, store and subsequently retrieve for use or further processing such building blocks in digital format is an important asset of today’s technology. It awaits further exploration, particularly in the context of the [earlier referred] much needed reconceptualization of learning. In this process, the traditional roles of those who learn and those who facilitate other people’s learning are bound to change so fundamentally that terms like “student” and “teacher” become less appropriate to designate the actors in the learning environment. The human and social processes that can be created, while using these new technologies to attend in massive ways to the innate human need to learn, can and must take full account of research findings that have redefined learning as a process of participatory construction rather than as individual acquisition. (pp. 5–6)


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The group thus recommended the inclusion of experts in communication and information technology in collaborative multidisciplinary partnerships involved in the reconceptualization of learning. Without doing so, it argued, there is the great risk that the use of improved technology will only reinforce and consolidate practices that, though unfortunately often part and parcel of established educational practice, have long been recognized to be counter to the development of humanity’s critical and creative capacity and of the human ability to confront the complex problems of today’s world. (p. 6)

The latter observation resonates with Salomon’s (2000, June) criticism of “technocentrism,” which “totally ignores some crucial social and human factors” (p. 4). He observes that without taking these factors into account, “virtual distance learning . . . is in danger of yielding virtual results” (p. 4). Salomon thus urges an emphasis on two things: tutelage and community of learners. The former aspect has received attention in L. Visser’s (1998) work on affective communication and in Gunawardena’s (1995) work on social presence. The latter aspect has been emphasized by the group of people who gathered initially around the ideas promoted by UNESCO’s Learning Without Frontiers (2000) program and who later converged around the vision of the Learning Development Institute (2001).

COMPLEX COGNITION FOR A COMPLEX WORLD Gell-Mann (1994) refers to learning as a process in which complex adaptive systems, such as human beings, interact with other complex adaptive systems, making sense of regularities among randomness and allowing them to mutually adapt. In a similar vein, the report of the Committee on Developments in the Science of Learning (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 1999) affirms that “learning is a basic, adaptive function of humans” (p. xi). To understand that function, and thus the practice of its facilitation, account must be taken of the entire developing transdisciplinary knowledge base that has its roots in such widely diverse disciplines as “cognitive development, cognitive science, developmental psychology, neuroscience, anthropology, social psychology, sociology, cross-cultural research, research on learning in subject areas such as science, mathematics, history, and research on effective teaching, pedagogy, and the design of learning environments” (p. xxi). Broadening our conception of learning is an essential prerequisite if learning is to have relevant meanings in the context of adaptive human behavior regarding the global issues discussed in this chapter. Learning, then, should be understood to mean more than what is implied by its regular reference to particular desired changes in human performance capability. In a broader sense, which includes the more specific meaning just mentioned, learning can be seen in relation to the unending dialog of human beings with themselves, with their fellow human beings, and with their environment at large, allowing them to participate constructively in processes of ongoing change. In other words, learning must be “undefined.” A possible redefinition thus calls for human learning to be seen as “the disposition of human beings, and of the social entities to which they pertain, to engage in continuous dialogue with the human, social, biological and physical environment, so as to generate intelligent behavior to interact constructively with change” (J. Visser, 2001). Few people would doubt that learning impacts on the human brain. However, that recognition should not be taken to mean that the individual human mind in isolation should be the prime focus of attention for educators, whether at a distance or in the face-to-face mode. Quite to the contrary, it is increasingly recognized—for instance, by the collective of researchers that contributed to Salomon’s (1993) explorations into the distributed nature of cognitions—that


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knowledge is socially constructed as a result of purposeful interaction among individuals in the pursuit of shared objectives that are situated in sociocultural and historical contexts. Views such as those referred to above should perhaps not be seen as new or surprising, as Nickerson (1993) points out. Rather, they are a consequence of the ways in which, for a very long time, formal instructional practice has kept its eye trained on the individual. So strongly has that been the case that the reality of the communities to which those same individuals belong could no longer be seen. What used to be obvious thus became forgotten and now stands to be brought to the forefront again. Nickerson refers in this connection to Ulam (1991), who says: “Sometimes obvious things have to be repeated over and over before they are realized” (p. 303). In this particular case, however, more is necessary than the frequent repetition of the obvious; the obvious must first be resuscitated. To do so, we must develop a vision of learning that is ubiquitous; unrelated to conditions such as age, time, space, and circumstance of learning individuals; manifests itself not only in the behavior of individuals but at diverse levels of complex organization; and that, in whatever context it takes place, does so as part of a pattern of interrelated learning events occurring in what can best be called a “learning landscape.” Cognition is, and has always been, an ecological phenomenon. Being an ecological phenomenon, it is also evolutionary. The two notions are interrelated, as Levin (1999) points out. “Ecological interactions take place within an evolutionary context and in turn shape the ongoing evolutionary process” (p. 46). Invoking terms such as ecology and evolution is not an exercise at inventing sophisticated metaphors. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (Gove, 1993) defines ecology as a “branch of science concerned with the interrelationship of organisms and their environments, esp. as manifested by natural cycles and rhythms, community development and structure, interaction between different kinds of organisms, geographic distribution and population alterations” (my emphasis). The origin of the word is, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1999), the Greek “oikos,” which means “household, home, or place to live.” These descriptions apply as much to the world of learning entities as they apply to the world of living organisms. This should come as no surprise. The capability to make sense of regularity among randomness, which, according to Gell-Mann (1994), is the essence of learning, is also key to any life form’s chances of survival in an environment populated with other forms of life. My use of the term learning landscape may be taken to be metaphorical. Like the real landscape, the learning landscape is the result of, on the one hand, the natural—that is ecological— interplay of different learning entities seeking to establish themselves in the midst of others and, on the other, of the consciously planned action on the part of some actors to reshape and adjust what nature tends to produce. I use the term landscape deliberately because of its connotations, some of which are more poetic than operational. This, then, brings into play, in addition to the usual parameters of effectiveness and efficiency of the learning environment, also its aesthetic and ethical qualities. The planners and leaders whose actions impact on the learning landscape may well want to consider this extended meaning of the metaphor and look for beauty and harmony in the learning landscape as a major indicator for the quality of the ecology of cognition. It is probably no exaggeration to say that, so far, the work of governmental educational planning agencies, as well as of related entrepreneurial and institutional efforts, to create the infrastructural conditions for the facilitation of learning, leaves considerable room for improvement in terms of the need to be environmentally aware of what else happens in the learning landscape. This observation obviously includes much of the distance education effort as well. The term learning landscape reflects the idea of “complex cognition,” a concept recently proposed by the author at a Santa Fe Institute seminar (J. Visser, 2000, November). Cognition is a complex phenomenon in the sense that it evolves according to the laws that govern the behavior of complex adaptive systems. The conditions that underlie such behavior are well known (see,


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e.g., Gell-Mann, 1995; Holland, 1995). The stock market, the weather, and biological systems are examples of it. The notion of distributed cognitions approximates the idea of “complex cognition.” However, as Salomon (1993) points out, the meaning attributed to the term distributed cognitions varies considerably, depending on the theoretical perspective adopted by different researchers. On one end of the spectrum there is the view that “cognition in general should be . . . conceived as principally distributed,” the “proper unit of psychological analysis . . . [being] the joint . . . socially mediated action in a cultural context” (p. xv). This view contrasts with the common perception that cognitions reside inside individuals’ heads. On the other end of the spectrum one finds the conception that “‘solo’ and distributed cognitions are still distinguished from each other and are taken to be in an interdependent dynamic interaction” (p. xvi). This juxtaposition of views is resolved in the concept of complex cognition, which makes the distinction irrelevant, integrating the diverse points of view in a single notion. Cognition is individually owned and socially shared at the same time.

DISTANCE EDUCATION IN THE PERSPECTIVE OF GLOBAL ISSUES AND CONCERNS I have so far deliberately refrained from focusing on distance education per se. The problem area chosen as a guiding framework for the intellectual pursuits I made reference to, that of the interaction between humanity’s capability to deal with global concerns and the development of its capacity to learn, calls for a comprehensive approach that must not be restricted to the field of distance education alone. On the other hand, the question whether distance education may play a crucial role within such a comprehensive approach is a relevant one. I explore that question in this final section. While addressing it, I particularly look at what kind of questions need to be asked and what different orientations need to be developed if distance education is to play a crucial role. One of the overall conclusions of this chapter is that the phenomenon of learning is infinitely more involved and complex than assumed in most of our actions to create the conditions that promote and facilitate learning. The earlier referred learning stories research (Y. L. Visser & J. Visser, 2000) suggests that significant learning often takes place rather despite than because of the conditions we created for it. I contend that this doesn’t have to be so—that, in fact, we can be more clever than we seem to be. To employ such enhanced intelligence, our approaches must become bolder and our views more comprehensive. The global issues and concerns referred to in this chapter—the profound questions about how we live together on our tiny planet and share its resources, sustaining life as we came to know it and became conscious of our place in it, playing our role in, how in time, perhaps, a next phase in its evolution may emerge—find no response in our designed learning systems. Yet, most people share these concerns and feel they can no longer be dismissed or simply be seen as an afterthought of our more specific attempts at developing human capacity. The history of how the educational establishment, including the distance education variety of it, has failed to address such most-crucial challenges as the ones inherent in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is proof of the fruitlessness of attempts to use our traditional learning systems in an isolated fashion while dealing with global issues and concerns. Such attempts must be undertaken, as urged in the earlier quoted UNESCO report, in a wider framework, namely that of the learning society and of lifespan human development, taking full account of the convoluted ways in which humans learn (UNESCO, 2001, February). The important question then is: How can distance education contribute to improving the ecological coherence of the learning environment so that it will allow meaningful learning to


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evolve in response to the crucial global issues and concerns that mark the beginning of the third millennium? The question branches off in a variety of directions, some of which will be highlighted in the following sections. To bring some order in the observations and conclusions that follow, I deal with them, respectively, at the levels of society at large; collaboration among institutions and organizations within society; the organization of specific institutions; and the learning process. Implications at the Societal Level At the level of society at large, the responsibility for the creation of the conditions of learning is a distributed one. This view contrasts with the common idea that such a responsibility resides solely or mostly with ministries or departments of education. Obviously, the latter idea comes from the misconception that education and learning are one and the same thing. It is important to make a distinction between the two and to look at the instructional landscape as a sublandscape of the learning landscape. Instruction is—or should be—a designed way to facilitate learning for specifically defined purposes. The preoccupation with instruction results in a wide variety of instructional opportunities. Within the conception, advocated in this chapter, that society at large is responsible for the totality of learning that goes on within it, the various instructional opportunities should be aware of each other and interconnect with each other. They form, as an organically interlinked whole of designed opportunities to learn, the instructional landscape. The instructional landscape does not stand on its own. Many other sublandscapes together make up the learning landscape, in a way similar to how Appadurai (1990) describes the dynamics of global diversity in terms of different “scapes.” Other sublandscapes included in the learning landscape are, for instance, the media landscape (see Allen & Otto, 1996) and the sociocultural organization landscape, of which the family is part. A truly ecologically functioning learning landscape will be characterized by the smooth integration among all the various sublandscapes—together with their subordinated sublandscapes—that compose the learning landscape. Because of its potential flexibility and openness, the distance education modality can play an important role in bringing about ecological integration within the learning landscape. Doing so would be a more laudable goal—and a truly more exciting challenge—than the current emphasis on replication, for ever-expanding markets, of outdated learning structures by new means. Implications at the Level of Interinstitutional Collaboration While in some parts of the world there may seem to be no limit to the resources that can be brought to bear on addressing the problems of human learning, whosoever takes the trouble to look at the world at large will soon discover that there is an important challenge in creating sustainable solutions that benefit large numbers of people. Sustainability in this context means that the cost of what we do at a particular time will not be charged to a future we are unable or unwilling to visualize or take responsibility for. It should also be noted that solutions that benefit many people do not necessarily have to rely on mass-produced and mass-delivered options. There is enormous potential for promoting and facilitating learning in the networking of those who have a passion to learn (e.g., Rossman, 1993). This applies to both individuals and institutions. Anything that detracts from the likelihood that interinstitutional collaboration would occur, such as the artificial opposition between learning at a distance and in the faceto-face mode, is thus counter to exploring this potential.


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The tendencies of some institutional environments towards expansion (e.g., Daniel, 2000, July), sometimes through the merger with smaller entities, may seem to contribute to creating larger networks. However, there is the risk that the strong presence of large conglomerates reduces the diversity of the learning landscape, thus taking away one of the most powerful resources in the learning habitat. To the extent that the learning landscape functions in ecologically sound ways, in other words, to the extent that diverse sublandscapes are the active ingredients of the learning landscape, such homogenizing forces may be counteracted by heterogeneous dialogues resulting from interaction with different ideological and cultural traditions (Appadurai, 1990). There may, as yet, not be enough evidence to draw conclusions about how the various tendencies toward globalization will affect diversity. It would be prudent, though, to keep an open eye toward what may be happening and to assess such possible impact on an ongoing basis. It is equally prudent to encourage ways of networking that deliberately thrive on diversity, i.e., multinodal collaboration among institutions that have a distinct identity, as opposed to building networks that are run out of a central node. Against the backdrop of the above cautionary remarks, I posit that increased networking around the globe is an important condition for the formation of dynamic learning communities that are sufficiently global in outlook to become a basis for learning to live together (Delors et al., 1996) with the global concerns of our time. For this to be possible, collaborating institutions must once again become what they used to be: universities, places of inquiry not limited by the boundaries of bureaucracy and traditional divisions among disciplines. UNESCO’s UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs (n.d.) program is an interesting example in the above regard. Implications at the Institutional/Organizational Level The closing observation in the previous paragraph is also the first recommendation under the present heading. The model of monolithic, bureaucratized, and compartmentalized institutions dominates the institutional heritage of the 19th and 20th centuries. Such institutions now find themselves in need of becoming players in a networked environment, often having great difficulty to respond adequately to the challenge. In using the term universities above, I do not intend to restrict my considerations to higher education institutions. The connection between higher education and higher learning—i.e., learning at a higher level of metacognitive awareness and capability—is rather weak, whence the meaning of the adjective “higher” in higher education seems to have little relevance as a qualifying concept for the kind of learning that is promoted by higher education institutions. To play an effective role in shaping the increasingly networked learning landscape of the 21st century, institutions whose mission is to promote and facilitate learning must enhance their ability to interact constructively with their changing environment. In terms of the redefinition of learning called for in this chapter (see also J. Visser, 2001), this means that such institutions must conceive of themselves as learning organizations. The literature in this area is vast and so well known that there is hardly a need to mention such names as Senge (1990); Argyris (1993); Senge, Kleiner, Roberts, Ross, and Smith (1994); Marquardt (1996); or Hesselbein, Goldsmith, and Beckhard (1997). The change of attitude implied in becoming a learning organization should go hand in hand with the development of systemic awareness and abilities in the institution, both in terms of its internal processes and with regard to its role vis-`a-vis other institutions and the learning landscape at large. It must equally focus on the profoundly human (as contrasted with bureaucratic) mission inherent in fostering learning, a particularly acute challenge for


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institutions whose traditions are rooted in the philosophy of the industrial era (Peters, 1994). Clearly, this is a change that affects everyone in the institution: students, faculty, administrative staff, as well as management.

Implications at the Learning Process Level The most important implications are at the level of the learning process. Very little impact on our ability to deal with global issues and concerns is likely to result from our continued preoccupation with knowledge as a thing, as opposed to knowledge as a process. To reorient the learning process away from its habitual focus on acquiring isolated pieces of knowledge, the overriding vision in learning must be on problems (e.g., Jonassen, 1994; Hmelo, 1998; Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 1999 [particularly Ch. 2]), transdisciplinarity (Nicolescu, 1996; 1999, April), and consilience (Wilson, 1998). Reintroducing this overriding concern in our conscious efforts to promote the development of human learning does not mean a radical doing away with everything that has to do with disciplines, content-based curricula, or even rote learning of particular facts. There is abundant evidence to support the idea that such things have their relative usefulness. However, that usefulness gets reduced when it is the only focus in learning and when it cannot be embedded in a larger frame of relevance. The overall focus on problems, transdisciplinarity, and consilience is a vital condition, also, for learning to become, once again, dialog. It is equally a prerequisite for the development of critical thinking, creativity, and the socialization and contextualization of cognition. Moreover, placing students, and those with whom they learn, eye-in-eye with the real world of whole problems and interconnected knowledge and associated emotions regarding those problems, will be most beneficial to bring back yet another important aspect of our humanity in the learning process: the fact that we function with our entire bodies, not just the neocortex. The challenge to the distance education community in considering the above implications lies in the need to move past the customary rhetoric of cost-effectiveness and economies of scale. Such notions are based on the idea that the existing principles of instruction are adequate and merely require the redesign of the processes of their application to benefit larger audiences in affordable ways. I have tried to argue that the problems with the development of learning in the context of today’s challenges are much more complex and fundamental. They require the field to be reinvented. The difficulty in meeting that challenge is rather psychological than substantial. The problems are known and the tools are there.

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54 Leading ODL Futures in the Eternal Triangle: The Mega-University Response to the Greatest Moral Challenge of Our Age John Daniel UNESCO j.daniel@unesco.org

Wayne Mackintosh University ofAuckland w.mackintosh@auckland.ac.nz

This chapter concentrates on one particularly successful manifestation of open distance learning (ODL), namely the large-scale single-mode providers, which have been called the megauniversities (see Daniel, 1996). Within the context of leading strategic futures in higher education, we argue, ďŹ rst, that the principles of open learning will continue to be the guiding vision for the future of the university and, second, that the large open learning systems of the mega-universities are an important model for the university of the future. In order to achieve the objectives stated above, the structure of this chapter is based on three main areas of focus that are derived from the following questions:

r What is the state of tertiary education provision around the world? When examining the imbalances between global supply of tertiary education and the magnitude of the moral demand for access, it is clear that the imperative of providing a decent education for all is the greatest moral challenge of our age. Thus, distance education will have to play an important role in helping to resolve this crisis. r Why have the large open learning systems used by the mega-universities been so successful? A clearer understanding of the drivers underpinning the success of the megauniversities in conjunction with an extrapolation of what this may tell us about ODL futures will provide insights into how we can start to tackle the looming higher education crisis on our planet. r What have we learned from the mega-university experience regarding the future of the university? Innovations that have the potential for radical transformation in society also very often include the potential for great risks for society. This section draws on the megauniversity experience with particular reference to technology futures for the university. 811


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The mega-university experience, as a particular form of distance education practice, has gained a rich and extensive experience in both the highly industrialized and the developing regions of our world. In many respects, the practice of distance education in the mega-university context is unique when compared to other forms of distance education and face-to-face higher education provision. Furthermore, the mega-university, as institution, has the most extensive experience in technology-mediated learning. It is a unique innovation in the higher education sphere with global relevance. The mega-university is consequently an important area of study with particular reference to leading the creation of new strategic futures for the university.

CONFRONTING THE GREATEST MORAL CHALLENGE OF OUR AGE Global access to tertiary education has grown from 6.5 million enrollments in 1950 to 88.2 million enrollments in 1997 (UNESCO, 2000a, p. 67). This represents a growth of more than 1200% in less than one generation. Although increases in the absolute capacity of higher education provision can partly be ascribed to population expansion, clearly there has also been a philosophical shift from “class to mass” (World Bank, 2000, Introduction). Although in 1995 a little more than half of the students enrolled for higher education (47 million) were living in the developing world, it is disconcerting to note that only a few industrialized countries report a tertiary gross enrollment ratio in excess of 50%: for example Australia, Denmark, North America, Norway, New Zealand, and countries in Central and Western Europe. For most of the developing world the gross enrollment ratio is below 15% and the average for Sub-Saharan Africa in 1995 was distressingly below 3%. Using demographic projections of the 18–23-year-old cohort Saint (1999, p. 2) pointed out that at least 16 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa will need to double current tertiary enrollments in the coming decade just to maintain the existing and unacceptably low gross enrollment ratio. What is more frightening is that the dismal performance of higher education in many parts of the developing world is limited to the traditional age cohort of tertiary education and does not begin to describe the severity of the problem. For instance, these figures do not reflect the blight inflicting the lives of billions of adults falling outside the parameters of the traditional cohort who, for whatever reason, were not able to benefit from a tertiary education. For the majority of these people, the contemporary prerequisites for lifelong learning in the modern economy are an unattainable aspiration. Furthermore, as the tertiary education sector closes for business around the globe today: r one out of every 4 adults on our planet will still suffer from the bane of illiteracy, which translates to some 900 million people who may never have the privilege of a tertiary education;

r there are 250 million children in the world who will not receive or complete their basic education, which excludes them from the fundamental right of learning and they are destined to be barred from access to a tertiary education that nowadays is generally regarded as a prerequisite condition for gainful employment in our emerging knowledge economy.

Harnessing the forces of the global knowledge economy to ensure that all people of the world get a decent education is the greatest moral challenge of our age. In an ideal world, the university as institution, combined with its traditional values concerning the well-being of society, should be well positioned to assist in tackling the “Education for All” challenge that was articulated recently at UNESCO’s World Education Forum in Dakar in April 2000 (UNESCO, 2000b). However, in the real world, universities are faced with the perplexing task of balancing the tensions of the eternal triangle. That is, to improve quality, cut their costs, and to serve more and more students.


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Open distance learning systems, particularly the large mass providers of distance education, have recorded notable successes in managing the dynamics of the eternal triangle. Clearly, distance education will have to play a pivotal role in this future. Complicating matters is the fact that distance education no longer has a distinct and definitive pedagogy and the concept includes a myriad of delivery alternatives capable of effective provision where teaching and learning behaviors are separated in time-space relationships. Today the concept of “distance education” for example, includes the dual-mode systems pioneered by Australia, the distributed classroom models using compressed video that have gained popularity in the United States, the large single-mode open learning systems perfected by the British Open University, and more recently Web-based and Web-enhanced delivery alternatives. Apart from the rich variety of forms that are used nowadays for providing distance education, we have also experienced phenomenal growth in the use of distance education as method at traditional universities. In 1990 only a small proportion of traditional universities offered courses by distance. Today no self-respecting university president can admit to not offering courses online. If all universities are involved in distance education today, this raises the question whether open universities will be needed in the future. Alternatively stated, what do the open universities offer that is special? Given the sheer magnitude of the tertiary education crisis, we desperately need mass providers like the mega-universities to operate within the tapestry of alternative forms of university-level provision. Traditional face-to-face delivery and the variety of other forms of distance education will simply not be able to scale up provision to the levels required of the global demand in a manner that is capable of maintaining a sustainable balance among the tensions of the eternal triangle. Accordingly, this chapter’s focus on the mega-universities is considerably more than an intellectual and scholarly analysis of the characteristic features of mass ODL provision. It is also a justified proposal for an important delivery model that is capable of contributing significantly toward the resolution of the greatest moral challenge of our age.

THE DRIVERS UNDERPINNING THE SUCCESS OF THE MEGA-UNIVERSITIES The mega-university systems, as one of the most important innovations in higher education of the 20th century, have successfully combined the challenges of access and quality in an approach that can be scaled up in ways that reduce cost without compromising the core social values of the university: for example, promoting the development of the systematic skepticism and intellectual independence of its learners. Before analyzing the reasons underpinning the innovation associated with the mega-universities, it is useful to establish a frame of reference by comparing the learning systems of the mega-universities with the conventional campus model and dual-mode systems. Under the conventional campus model, individual faculty members carry the responsibility for teaching. They have relative freedom to organize the learning environment regarding the implementation of the curriculum and have considerable latitude concerning how to teach in the classroom and how to assess learners. The campus model is a robust model and does not require too much organization from the part of the university. Quality of provision is therefore variable and this model is extremely difficult to scale up beyond the physical limitations of campus facilities and the threshold number of learners that an individual faculty member can realistically manage. The dual-mode systems pioneered by the Australian universities have succeeded in expanding access to off-campus students by using distance education methods to augment face-to-face provision. Typically in dual-mode systems, the lecturer responsible for classroom teaching is


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also responsible for teaching the distance education students. Dual-mode systems have the advantage that learning resources designed for the distance education mode can also be used effectively in the classroom. Therefore, the pedagogical discipline associated with the design of effective distance education resources can have a positive impact on the quality of the pedagogy in the classroom. Furthermore, interaction in the classroom (for example, identifying areas where contact students are struggling), can be fed back into the distance education component of the course. Dual-mode systems do, however, require a more sophisticated organization system from the university. Furthermore, as with the campus model, it is also difficult to scale up the levels of access beyond that which an individual faculty member can cope with. The distinguishing pedagogical feature of the mega-university is that, instead of giving individual faculty members the responsibility for teaching, they have developed sophisticated learning systems based on innovative divisions of labor where the responsibility for teaching is carried collectively by the organization. The differentiating feature of the large open learning systems is that the institution teaches, whereas in conventional forms of delivery, an individual teaches. This is a radical difference (Keegan, 1980, p. 19). By breaking the traditional lecturerstudent bond and designing a total teaching system where the functions of teaching are divided into a range of specializations, the mega-universities have been able to scale up the delivery of quality teaching to levels that are simply not possible in conventional campus-based or dual-mode models. Who are the mega-universities? The mega-universities are large open universities found in various parts of the world that report enrollments of more the 100,000 students each. In 1999 there were 11 such institutions enrolling approximately 3 million students between them (Daniel, 1999, p. 30), and they are listed in Table 54.1. Today, it is likely that the number of mega-universities has grown and that they could collectively account for 4 million students. The 100,000 enrollment criterion is an arbitrary cut-off classification. However, the interesting characteristic of these institutions is not primarily their size, but rather the fact that they are all distance education institutions. In other words, the mega-universities were not able to achieve these levels of access and provision using the traditional campus model. Hence, the

TABLE 54.1 Mega-Universities of the World Name of Institution China TV University System Centre National d’Enseignement a` Distance Indira Gandi National Open University Universitas Terbuka Payame Noor University Korea National Open University University of South Africa Universidad Nacional de Educaci´on a Distancia Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University Anadolu University The Open University

Country

Enrollment

China France India Indonesia Iran Korea South Africa Spain Thailand Turkey UK

530,0001 184,6141 242,0002 353,0002 117,0003 210,5782 130,0002 110,0002 216,8002 577,8042 157,4502

Budget $US Million

Unit Cost6

1.24 56 10 21 13.3 79 128 129 46 305 300

(Source: Daniel, 1999, pp. 30–31) Notes 1. 1994 figure. 2. 1995 figure. 3. 1996 figure. 4. Central (CCRTVU) unit only. 5. Open education faculty only. 6. Unit cost per student as a percentage of the average for other universities in the country (approximate).

40 50 35 15 25 5 50 40 30 10 50


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pursuit of scale requires the establishment of a learning system. Furthermore, it is not surprising that the largest student numbers and majority of mega-university institutions are working in the developing world, particularly when assessed against the moral challenge facing higher education that was articulated earlier in this chapter. Strategy is enriched when it is informed by practice, therefore this chapter draws specifically from the experiences of two notable pioneers, namely the University of South Africa (UNISA) and the British Open University (UKOU). It is not possible within the limited scope of this chapter to cover adequately the experiences of each mega-university, and the specific choice of the two institutions is justified as follows:

r UNISA was the first single-mode, distance education university of the world and while breaking new ground in this field, the organization made fundamental errors in the design of components of its open learning system, which it is now steadily correcting. This attests to necessity of designing robust learning systems that fit the unique requirements of mass distance education provision. Furthermore, UNISA is the only mega-university on the African continent and, as a result, has first-hand experience of the unique challenges associated with Sub-Saharan Africa where the tertiary education crisis is rampant. However, UNISA is also riddled with infrastructural complexities that are not replicated in the same magnitude elsewhere in the developing world. r Many judge the UKOU to be the most important innovation in higher education and open distance learning. Arguably, the most significant achievement of the UKOU is that it was designed as a total learning system from the student outward. Very few institutions have been able to achieve comparable levels of UKOU learner-centeredness. The UKOU also pioneered the first large-scale university system based on the principles of open learning and was instrumental in implementing the course team approach for the design and development of quality learning materials. Notwithstanding the justifications for the inclusion of the experiences of the two institutions above, there are important links between the history of the two institutions and the lifework of an American visionary, Charles Wedemeyer, whose foresight concerning learner independence helped direct the realization of the principles of open learning in the mega-universities. This is an early example of globalization in distance education where the development of the megauniversities was linked by the thinking and experience from America, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. The drivers underpinning the success of the mega-universities will be discussed in terms of:

r the vision of open learning that has directed their strategic futures; r the practical experience gained by operating at scale concerning the key operational elements responsible for its accomplishments; and

r finally the proof in the pudding, by measuring output in terms of the elements of the eternal triangle. The Compelling Vision of Open Learning The creation of the UKOU in 1969 was a significant milestone in the evolution of universitylevel provision. Supported by the political will to increase access to higher education for working adults in Britain and the desire to do this using new mass-media technology, the UKOU was designed as a totally new learning system. Its vision was ambitious. Walter Perry, the founding vice-chancellor of the UKOU, articulated this vision at the inaugural ceremony


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in 1969 as being “open as to people, open as to places, open as to methods and, finally open as to ideas” (cited in Daniel, 1995, p. 400). The principles of “open learning” do not only refer to the general aim of opening access to higher education more widely, but also refer to openness concerning methods and ideas. This mission statement still inspires the UKOU today and given recent technological developments, the vision could be amplified by adding: to be open as to time and open to the world. The principles of open learning will continue to be the guiding vision for the future of the university. To illustrate the significance of this statement we return to the time of the creation of the UKOU. The vision of open learning at the UKOU evolved from the foresight of Charles Wedemeyer, who played a significant role in the planning of the new UKOU. Wedemeyer’s thinking was influenced by two other distance education prototypes:

r the Articulated Instructional Media (AIM) project that was steered by the vision of Charles Wedemeyer during the period 1964 to 1968; and

r Wedemeyer’s evaluation of the UNISA distance teaching system in 1967, which had already been in operation for two decades prior to the creation of the UKOU. The decisive characteristic of Wedemeyer’s interest in distance education is that it was driven by the vision of promoting the fundamental right of learning and was not a whimsical curiosity into the use of technology in education. Wedemeyer placed pedagogy above technology and held the belief that the learner should be the center of the educational endeavor as clearly expressed in the following statement: “Perhaps no tenet of education is more widely held or more frequently expressed than that education must be centred in the individual” (Wedemeyer & Childs, 1961, p. 13). Deserving particular mention regarding the realization of the vision of open learning is the Articulated Instructional Media (AIM) project, which began in 1964 under Wedemeyer’s leadership at the University of Wisconsin. The goal of the AIM project was to find meaningful ways of connecting (i.e., articulating) a variety of communication media for teaching in a distance education setting. During the period between 1965 and 1969, there were numerous contacts and visits by Wedemeyer to the United Kingdom with senior officials of the foundation team of the UKOU (see Moore & Kearsley, 1996, pp. 25–27). One of the founding director of studies at the UKOU, Walter James, wrote the following to Wedemeyer: You bear some responsibility for the emergence of the Open University in this country. It was your talk on Articulated Instructional Media (AIM) that stimulated us to produce at Nottingham the first university course in this country in which television broadcasts and correspondence instruction were integrated; and it was this experience which produced interest in the University of the Air idea. (Cited in Wedemeyer, 1982, p. 24)

Returning to the other mega-university example selected for this chapter, UNISA began teaching at a distance in 1946 and is therefore the oldest single-mode distance-teaching university in the world. The UNISA prototype is distinctive because it was designed and created before the new epoch associated with the mass communication media. Consequently, the organization has gained valuable experience regarding the fundamental transformation associated with moving from one delivery epoch to the next. Furthermore, UNISA was conceived and designed to be a university, and was not originally created as an open learning system (whereas the UKOU was designed from its inception to be an open learning system). Through its traditions as a university, combined with the appointment


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of reputable scholars, UNISA did pioneering work by gaining an academic reputation for the standards and quality of the distance education method, which in the early years was necessary to deconstruct misconceptions of the perceived superiority of the conventional university. The UNISA mega-university prototype was important because, according to Peters: Nowhere else was it possible to let correspondence studies mature over the years into an accepted method of university teaching. Nowhere else was it possible for distance-teaching pedagogical routine to be developed so early from a university-based pedagogical experiment. (1998, p. 158)

Wedemeyer’s vision concerning the fundamental right to learning, combined with his experiences of the AIM project and evaluation of the UNISA DE system, certainly helped to promote the practical implementation of the principles of open learning in the mega-university experience. Furthermore, Wedemeyer’s early work with the idea of a team of specialists used to develop learning resources for distance education was implemented with unprecedented success at the UKOU. Strategists working in the field of innovating new futures in the field of distance education would do well to gain an intellectual grip on the foresight of Wedemeyer’s philosophy because it still holds profound relevance today as we move into the digital epoch of educational provision. Accordingly, we argue that the principles of open learning will remain a guiding vision in the evolution of the future of the university. Key Elements of Operational Success By providing distance teaching at scale, the mega-universities have established that success in this area must contain the following four elements:

r Excellent multimedia study materials that are designed and developed by multiskilled course teams to promote independent and autonomous learning;

r Individualized support provided to learners by faculty with special training in working with adults to complement the learning resources that are uniform for all learners;

r Good logistics and administration to ensure a high quality of service to the student; r Faculty members who remain actively involved in research to maintain the intellectual excitement that students find beneficial and attractive in their learning. The discussion of the four elements listed above should be interpreted from the perspective of the relationship between technology and distance education. Hence, a few cursory remarks about this relationship and the corresponding pedagogical implications are necessary. The mega-universities have learned that the quality of pedagogy is not necessarily determined by specific technology choices, rather, it is a function of the pedagogical design that the technology implements. Each technology has its own pedagogical requirements. Also when operating at scale, the division of labor is fundamental to the approach, and this produces a better result than having everyone do everything. The mega-universities have been involved with technology-mediated learning since their inception—the practice of distance education is simply not possible without technical mediation, and traditionally this has been a differentiating feature of distance education when compared to face-to-face provision. The distance education process is a technology in its own right. Consequently, the mega-universities do not necessarily view the new digital technologies from the same foundational perspectives as conventional university counterparts. The experience is one of using technology at scale to provide quality learning and the mega-universities have developed distinct university structures, processes, and specializations effectively to manage the pedagogical applications of technology. However, what is clear with each wave of new


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technology—and this is particularly the case with emerging digital technologies—is that the levels of organizational complexity and corresponding demands for new areas of specialization are increasing by an unparalleled order of magnitude. The fact that distance education is a technology in its own right has direct implications for the pedagogical structure of teaching and learning. In fact, the dominant modes of learning in classical distance education are different from conventional face-to-face instruction. This has resulted in the development of specialized distance education skills and a corresponding research base in the design of “interactive texts” as well as advances in the particular pedagogy of simulated communication such as Holmberg’s guided didactic conversation (Holmberg, 1995). The demands for pedagogical specialization with particular reference to digital ICTs will increase in the future, and the organizational requirements for campus-based institutions moving into this field will, in many cases, be considerably more demanding than initially envisaged because of the changes in the fundamental structure of the pedagogy and resultant changes in learning behaviors. Conventional classroom pedagogy will not be able to deliver the goods, and the implementation of course-team development in these environments, incorporating an increasing variety of specializations, will become progressively more important for future success. We now return to the discussion of the four critical elements of success based on the megauniversity experience. First, the innovation associated with the course team: the idea of teamwork in teaching outside the mega-university context is not widespread in university practice, even though many universities may purport to support the ideals of teamwork. Although the traditions of the academy espouse a collegial model, faculty members tend to work independently and institutional reward and incentive practices tend to promote individual scholarship. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Web-based teaching is being received so warmly by individual faculty because of the perception that it facilitates online teaching by academics working alone. However, the course-team is one of the critical success factors of the open universities. When Lord Perry, the founding vice-chancellor of the UKOU, is asked what he considers to be the key innovation of the organization’s success, he will unhesitatingly reply, “the course team.” At the UKOU, the course team is considerably more than bringing together of a range of experts and specialists—it is a culture of scholarship. The course team makes the art of teaching intellectually challenging for members of the team, and this excitement is communicated to the students through the course materials. Teams may vary in size from 3 to 30 members, with faculty members serving as the core and they are joined by instructional designers, media experts, editors, TV producers, and other professionals. The members of the team do not perform discrete functions, but collectively give meaning to the distinguishing characteristic of distance education namely that the “institution” and not “individuals” teach in open learning systems. This culture of scholarship means critical review. At the UKOU, it is tradition that the first draft of each member of the team gets comprehensively criticized on both academic and pedagogical grounds. Prior to the 1990s, UNISA did not use a course-team approach for the development of its courses and relied on the pedagogical skills of individual faculty members, not unlike the teaching practice of the campus-based professor. This strategy was not able to compete pedagogically because of the superiority of course-team approach and second, because of the inherent limitations of conventional classroom pedagogy, which was the dominant frame of reference for many UNISA academics. In 1994, UNISA embarked on a process of fundamental pedagogical transformation, culminating in a revised tuition policy being approved by the university, which incorporates the principles of course-team development. UNISA underestimated the magnitude of the


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transformation to the team-approach, particularly with regards to changing existing organizational culture to a culture of team-based scholarship. The lesson learned is that universities that are commencing with the organizational transformation—that will be necessitated by shifts to e-learning of any scale—should not underestimate the magnitude of such change. Furthermore the requirements for courseware to be more flexible and to change more rapidly in the future should also not be underrated. The mega-universities have successfully learned how to carry out distance education at scale, and this is not merely a technological accomplishment. The innovation associated with proper implementation of the scholarship of course-team development has meant that the mega-university is capable of better quality teaching than conventional universities on both academic and pedagogical grounds. These levels of academic and pedagogical quality require a huge investment, particularly in terms of expensive academic time. The mega-universities seek economies of scale that are needed to spread this substantial investment over large numbers of students. The significant levels of investment to maintain the quali