Distance Education Planning
There is little variance of opinion about
the value of coordinated telecommunications planning. Hezel's
(1987) study showed that most distance educators recognize economies
of scale in the development and installation of services for
multiple institutions. Even though the use is extensive there
is a growing feeling that telecommunications is not being used
to its full capacity. As a result, educators have strong inclinations
to develop uniform systems that can equitably provide education
to dispersed populations (Hezel, 1987; Ladd, 1989). Because of
the high front-end costs of telecommunications, the cost of building
new campus buildings, and the reduction of faculty and staff,
there is a renewed interest in forming regional and state consortia.
It is the community development model raised to an expanded geographic
area so that educational communities can share their limited
Brey (1991) observed that one of the most
important consequences of distance learning during the 1990s
will be the accelerated removal of the traditional barriers to
competition among postsecondary institutions
for students and institutional resources. Most states are confronted
with conflicts between institutions that want to limit this new
competition, and hence prevent the growth of distance learning
programs, and those institutions that want the removal of all
barriers. This will be a problem at the interstate and national
levels, where the power of state agencies to regulate the delivery
of distance education programs into their states may not exist,
and will undoubtedly lead to calls for intervention by the federal
government and regional accrediting associations. It is hoped
that the Western Governors' University will create a model that
will show how educational institutions can collaborate and grow
an even larger need for education.
There are already a number of national
programs including the National Technological University (NTU)
University of Phoenix Online, Nova University, and the Fielding
Institute to name only a few. The accrediting agencies are still
grappling with courses that cross state borders as well how to
accredit distance learning programs. Which accrediting agency
has jurisdiction over the program will also pose a problem.
The technological concept of digital fusion
is driving the installation of a wide bandwidth infrastructure.
Digital fusion describes the merger of telecommunication technologies
through computer control and the ability of laymen to use them
more easily. The components are wideband transmission services;
fiber optic or coaxial cable in homes and offices to deliver
audio, data, and video educational programming; computer desktop
video to produce programming; and high definition television
(HDTV) which is digitized video. Through merged technologies,
video, audio, and data can be delivered by fiber optic cable
to the computer, stored on disc, and utilized to produce educational
At this writing, we have moved technologically
to the telecommunications dream - audio, video and data - anytime
and anyplace. Many high level examples of this telecommunications
ideal exist. Since it is most likely that more video will be
used, it must be used judiciously and correctly. To date, most
educators have not learned how to use media, and this has resulted
in media not being used effectively as a learning resource (Knowles,
1983; Lane, 1989). We do not know enough about media and how
to use them in an educational context; educators are not technology
literate, and worse, very often, are afraid to admit it. Historically
and currently, there is little emphasis on how to plan, prepare,
and utilize media in education. If the use of media and technology
is to increase, educators must learn how to reach educational
goals and objectives through electronically mediated instruction.
Brey's 1991 study found that community
colleges and universities may double the average number of telecommunications
technologies used for live instruction. The total number of technologies
used by community colleges will increase 51 percent between 1991
and 1994; for universities it will increase 79 percent. Importantly,
this illustrates that educators are not focusing on only one
media such as video. This will allow components of a program
to better address the varying learning styles of students. By
using a mix of media now, educators will provide themselves with
an understanding of each individual medium while the national
infrastructure is being built. This will enable them to fully
utilize multimedia when it is easily available.
The use of telecommunications has increased
and hundreds of telecourses augmented by print materials now
exist and are offered for graduate and undergraduate credit.
Of the 3,000 United States colleges and universities, user institutions
increased from 25 percent in 1978 to 32 percent in 1986. A total
of 902 (32 percent) colleges and universities offered one or
more telecourses during 1984-85; 10,594 telecourses, an average
of 12 per institution, were offered to 399,212 students by 1986.
Courses are produced by at least 56 institutions and video production
houses and are offered in departments which range from business
to computer science. Faculty in these areas seldom have media
Brey's 1991 study indicates that the number
of colleges and universities with distance education programs
will increase during the 1990s. Approximately two thirds of higher
education institutions have distance education programs now.
By 1994, 80 percent of community colleges and 78 percent of universities
had distance learning programs.
Since the mid-1970s, improvement has been
made in distance education but the concept and use is still evolving;
all of the problems have not been solved (Hewitt, 1982). In the
face of growing trends in electronic education, institutions
will expect quality distance education programs, however, the
literature does not show that all are of equal quality. There
has been an ongoing demand for quality since telecourses appeared.
In 1952, Newsom stated that programming must be first-rate or
instructional television will fail. Eash (1972) evaluated 1960s
materials and notes that he became painfully aware of the shortcomings
of many glossy, highly advertised materials. Evaluation is important
because of the lack of quality programming (Berkman, 1976) and,
unfavorable student attitudes, and thus the success of the learning
experience rides on it (Berkman, 1976; Curtis, 1989). Bates (1974)
contends that the wrong criteria are applied to judge the value
of a program.
In 1984, the Center for Learning and Telecommunications
reviewed over 900 telecourses for possible inclusion in their
Telecourse Inventory (1984). Out of the 900 submissions, they
were able to recommend only 139. The 1985 Annenberg study (Lewis,
1985) showed that faculty valued technology's potential but were
highly critical of the quality of most video and computer software.
Kressel (1986) notes that the quality and evaluation of telecourses
continues to plague educators and policy makers; material is
being "cranked out" (pp. 4-6) everywhere from obscure
garage-top attics to high-tech production facilities. Kressel
asks if the issues of educational quality will be addressed so
that distance education will thrive? She warns that without evaluation
and quality control, distance education will fail; failure is
preventable if good practice is ensured by dissemination of effective
models, quality criteria, evaluation methods, and assistance
to state planners.
More than 95 percent of the nation's public
schools now have one or more computers, according to a report
by the Office of Technology Assessment. School reform movements
emphasize the importance of technology in instruction and computers
are common in a growing number of homes. Despite this, many teacher-training
programs produce graduates who are less proficient with technology
than their future students. While many schools of education offer
media courses, most did not require media courses for graduation.
David G. Imig, executive director of the
American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education says that
roughly 20 percent of the nation's teacher-training programs
are on the cutting edge of technology. About 60 percent offer
one or two courses which introduce students to technology or
concentrate its use in a few areas, while the remaining 20 percent
have not taken the first steps.
Ideally, schools of education should try
to weave technology throughout a teacher's education through
modeling the use of technology in courses, research and administration.
If technology is not used throughout, future teachers will perceive
technology as isolated and not relevant to a teaching career
or a valid instructional method. To date, schools of education
have had varying degrees of success in integrating technology
into their curricula. Many professors are reluctant to use technology
in their classes and are equally reluctant to use computers in
their work. Many schools cannot afford the equipment that would
let them make technology a priority. As the cost of equipment
drops, this situation should change. However, the case can be
made now for the cost effectiveness of delivering instruction
through distance education technologies.
Stages of Acceptance or Adoption
Rogers (1962) analyzed the stages of acceptance
and adoption used to accept things which are new and different.
He identified five states which included awareness, interest,
evaluation, trial, and adoption. Acker (1985) analyzed Rogers'
work and its application to education technology. To Rogers'
process he added six other conditions which included the perceived
and actual relative advantage of the innovation, complexity,
observability, ability to hold a trial, compatibility, and other
issues which include cost, type of equipment, equality, difficulty
of use, other uses, evaluations, comfort, and culture.
Conditions for the success of educational
technology include a recognized existence of a need for the programming,
articulation of purpose, identification of structure, leadership
of the innovation, teacher participation and support, appropriate
technology, and evaluation mechanism, and continuing adequate
resources (Armsey and Dahl, 1981).
In 1983, Olgren and Parker established
that dealing with human factors required as much or more time
for planning than technical design and order to build user acceptance
and the sustained use of the new applications. Park (1983) suggested
that the innovation should be introduced by an influential person
prior to use. He noted that teleconferencin users must "clear
a hurdle" to get from their first teleconferencing experience
to familiarity and acceptance of current teleconferencing technology.
That is, you must lose the mystique and fear that they feel for
teleconferencing. Those users who don't get across the hurdle
tend to drop their teleconferencing commitment and become poor
ambassadors to others contemplating adoption of the technology.
Bell and Weady (1984) suggest that human
factors and systems should be developed simultaneously. People
will not use a technology simply because it seems like a good
idea, or because it will save them time and money. To accept
and adopt teleconferencing and distance education, the technical
structure and the human interface must be both initially and
lastingly rewarding. Much remains to be done before education
defines its objectives and the world of communicators, in turn,
opens its mind to the problem of education (Souchon, 1986). Imaginative
planning and vigorous action are necessary to maintain a viable
educational system. The educational system of the future will
be shaped by planners in purposive fashion, or it will by default,
be shaped by accident, tradition and the senseless forces of
environment (Irvine, 1983).
General Barriers to the Use of Educational
A number of barriers to the use of educational
technology have been identified in recent years. They include:
lack of information about technology (Baer ,1978), length of
time for widespread use (Baer, 1978), inappropriate match between
technology and service (Lucas, 1978), and an approach where a
technology solution is seen as a Panacea (Benne, 1975). Pacey
(1983) identified a machine mysticism where there was a misperception
that technical advances lead unalterably to progress. This was
based on a myth that a cultural lag occurs everywhere as we try
to keep with progressive technology. A better solution is to
use technology to answer new patterns of problems. Dirr (in Barron,
1987) identified barriers of lack of money, lack of faculty commitment,
and a lack of trained support staff. Barron (1987) identified
faculty concerns as barriers to adoption which included the class
size, the lack of support for faculty from their peers, and the
lack of discussion and face-to-face involvement between faculty
and students. There is a perception that benefits are assumed
to accrue to students from face-to-face interaction with the
instructor which has not been validated in the research. There
is also a perception that distance education prevents students
from having hands-on experience in subjects such as chemistry
when the campus reality is that more students are performing
chemistry and physics experiments on computer keyboards instead
of at laboratory benches.
Holt (1992) suggests that "many who
wish to discredit the use of telecommunications claim that there
is no student-teacher interaction, as if face-to-face contact
is the only kind of interaction. Such criticism ignores the potential
of available sophisticated computer hardware and software or
the utility of the telephone line. It also assumes, erroneously,
that significant one-on-one interaction occurs in a classroom
of 25 students or more in a 50-minute period." He also validates
the "ain't made here" syndrome saying that "Local
control of the curriculum is highly cherished at all levels in
the educational establishment. Rather than relinquish any control
over either the subject matter or the teacher to outsiders, preference
is often given to local staff, even if they are poor instructors
or teaching outside of their field."
Holt suggests an astute selection of the
on-camera teacher backed up by an invitation (rather than a demand)
to teach and a reward for participation will start off the collaboration
effectively. He states that because some programs treat distance
education as an extension of the traditional classroom (lectures
in front of the camera), there is a perception that television-taught
classes take the same amount of instructor time as a traditional
class. In programs that make fuller use of the medium, time should
be allowed for a quality program to develop. The need to organize
the program, collect material, and script telecasts increases
the workload. Holt recommends that instructors in such classes
should be held responsible for no more than two class preparations
per day. He also believes that the educational philosophy should
be to use the medium to its fullest extent and make extensive
use of preproduced footage of illustrative material, music videos,
pretaped demonstrations, as well as the computer and video effects.
This brings a visual richness to the program that students expect
of commercial television.
Class size may demand that other faculty
members and non-faculty assistants be employed. This was the
case for Dr. Harry Wohlert, the ASTS German by Satellite teacher
who typically had 1,500-2000 students. For interaction an 800
number was provided for off-air hours. Holt says that two-way
video with six to eight class sites will lose an interactive
advantage. According to data currently available, student performance
is the same whether interaction is accomplished using two-way
or one-way video, but is strongly affected by other factors,
such as the quality of classroom management and the commitment
of the on-site teachers and administrators.
The barrier of teacher certification borders
on the "absurd" according to Holt. Some K-12 program
providers report that to obtain certification in certain states,
the teachers are required to take a physical examination, even
though they will never stand in front of a class in those states.
ASTS has had it's courses accredited in 48 states, without faculty
holding certification in those states. He points out that they
are viewed differently because they are university based and
all hold a doctorate.
Teaching partners at the distance sites
can ensure success or failure; "Appropriate training and
a positive attitude toward distance learning virtually ensure
success; lack of training and a negative attitude almost always
ensure failure" according to Holt. He recommends training
in management of instruction and operation of the equipment which
may vary in length from one day to a week depending on the complexity
of the receive system. Training for the on-camera instructor
should emphasize a tightly organized and well-paced program and
working in the studio environment to develop a sense of confidence
in handling the medium.
Faculty support for the distance education
teacher can be surprisingly negative. To avoid this, Holt suggests
that highly vulnerable non-tenured faculty should not be hired.
Older tenured faculty are often receptive to new methods and
their acceptance of distance learning by virtue of teaching in
the program may increase acceptance by associate and assistant
Holt concludes that "Convincing people
of the efficacy of the medium, working with accrediting agencies,
cajoling good faculty into participating as teachers, convincing
site coordinators that their role is crucial - all these and
more are crucial if a program is to be a success. It takes tact,
determination, commitment, and good humor, but given these, no
barrier is too high to overcome.
Psychological Barriers to Distance Education
A number of psychological barriers to the
use of educational technology have been identified. In addition
to "It's never been done that way before," other psychological
barriers include suspicion and fear of change as well as telephobia
which is a suspicion of change which involves television. Others
fear that they will make a fool of themselves in front of their
peers. "People who have watched TV for 20 years have built
up all kinds of cultural expectations about people ... on the
screen. They expect to see a polished performer reading a script
without a hair out of place. In contrast, executives or managers
on a videoconference tend to have their ties askew, don't always
look at the camera ... and seem unsure of what to say" (E.C.
Gottschalk, Jr., Wall Street Journal). Goldstein (1991) says
that he is certain that the "move from the tutorial to the
lecture that accompanied the rise of the modern university was
greeted with similar outcries.
I am equally certain that the differences
in learning outcomes are as overstated today as they were then."
Educational television and videoconferencing have been categorized
as only hype or show biz and there is still an unsubstantiated
fear that television may only entertain rather than inform. "As
long as that attitude exists, teleconferencing will be limited
to that use ... there must be a recognition that teleconferencing
is used not in a show biz environment but in a day-to-day environment,
married to applications" (Jack Fox, Western Union).
Distance learning is perceived as being
somehow fundamentally different from traditional instruction.
What is the difference between a live lecture delivered to 600
students in a campus lecture hall and the same lecture delivered
over a telecommunications system? This is an "intellectual
trap" that leads us to believe that distance learning is
so inherently different from what we have come to define as traditional
instruction that it demands entirely different rules or it cannot
possibly meet the established standards and therefore it is not
worth fixing (Goldstein, 1991).
While distance education has become well
established, there is still skepticism within the academic community
about whether this form of education is of comparable quality
to the more familiar classroom-based learning, as well as opposition
from those who regard it as a threat to traditional faculty roles
and classroom enrollments (Reilly and Gulliver, 1992). As long
as regulators and accreditors continue to apply measures intended
for classroom-based instruction to distance education, the skepticism
will be reinforced. This uneasiness with distance education is
heightened by the sense of a "competitive threat from the
entry of an "outside" institution into a state. The
"Not Invented Here" syndrome reflected in this response
is one of the greatest potential barriers to the national expansion
of distance education" according to Reilly and Gulliver.
Others have noted that television does
not transmit a personal high touch environment, but is rather
a cold, high tech medium which looses body language, chemistry,
electricity, does not maintain a lengthy audience attention span,
is not interactive and is known for low quality. In addition
to those problems, educators have noted that it lacks central
grading, testing and measurement elements.
The advantages of educational technology
have been noted as being cost efficient, providing access to
programming and having the ability to enrich education (Seidman,
1986; Wilson, 1987; Lewis, 1985). Changes have occurred. In 1994,
the Goals 2000: Educate America Act and the School to Work Bill
were passed; it appeared likely that the 1994 Communications
Act would also pass. Each bill provided major new educational
funding. Equally important was the embodiment of education's
system reform in the first two bills, and the recognition by
Congress that education needs continuing support for educational
telecommunications if we are to avoid creating a nation of technologically
literate haves and have-nots.
Strategic Planning for the Implementation
of Distance Education Programs
The literature lists major barriers to
distance education program implementation (Pearson, 1990). Lack
of successful institutional planning for the delivery of distance
education programs at educational institutions represents a major
barrier to implementation and success. The problem is that there
was no validated process for planning for implementation of successful
distance education programs. Pearson's study determined what
critical factors leaders of successful distance education programs
considered to be important prior to, during, and following implementation
of the program at their institution.
Thirty administrators in education, distance
education specialists and program providers were invited to participate
in a three round Delphi to determine the 20 critical factors
that should be considered in the planning process to implement
a distance education program at an educational institution. The
30 key leaders were asked with each Delphi round to refine and
rank those critical factors that they listed. The final round
produced 20 critical factors in rank order.
Panelists also indicated that the factors
were dependent upon each other for the ultimate success of the
implementation of the program. The critical factors they generated
contained a planning model which included the steps of purpose,
philosophy, organizational structure, people, finances, equipment
and facilities. The experts indicated that successful implementation
depended upon the completion and thorough investigation of each
of these critical factors.
The model set a high priority on human
and fiscal resources that can serve as a model for the strategic
planning of administrators of new programs in long distance instruction.
Planning for the implementation of the program requires a major
investment in time, people and funding. Serious consideration
should be given to the number one critical factor: "identification
of the need for the program." All the experts agree that
without this identified need, an institution should not move
ahead to purchase equipment, hire people, or even think about
delivering a long distance program. Faculty involvement, incentives,
motivation and training were ranked as serious issues for these
successful institutions. According to these experts, the educator
is a high priority in the delivery of long distance coursework.
While the fear of teachers being replaced by the technology appears
to be an overriding concern and barrier for many institutions,
the importance of the teachers remains critically high in the
from "A Technical
Guide to Teleconferencing and Distance Learning," 3rd edition