Distance education is the educational process in which the instructor and learner are physically separated, and interaction between them is conducted through technology. Distance education is neither a recent nor a new phenomenon. It has a long tradition. However, the development and adoption of sophisticated communication technologies often creates that impression (McGorry, 2003). Distance education has a strong background in Turkey and is recognized as a method of learning for all levels of education except primary (years one to five). On the other hand, distance education has been centralized and controlled by the state. The Ministry of National Education (MONE) is responsible for all distance learning activities from kindergarten to the secondary level. The Higher Education Council is responsible for distance learning implementation in universities. Recent statistics show that the demand for postsecondary education in Turkey is rising. Admission to higher education is centralized and based on nationwide examinations administered by the Student Selection and Placement Centre every year. Every year, approximately 1.5 million students enter the examination and nearly 420,000 of these students are placed into a higher education program (including the Open Education Faculty, OEF). In fact, in the 2001 to 2002 education year, the number of students at the secondary school level reached 2.24 million. This shows that the demand for postsecondary education will rise in the near future. However, it is not possible to double the capacity of the universities in a traditional sense. Therefore, it is expected that distance education will be thought of as one of the solutions to redress the balance. However, awareness about distance education based on the Internet is limited.
In accordance with the Higher Education Act issued in 1981, Anatolian University was authorized to provide distance education in Turkey on a national scale. In 1982, the Open Education Faculty in Anatolian University started to admit students (Ozkul, 2001). Legally, there is no difference between the open education and conventional diploma degrees. There are no age restrictions. The Open Education Faculty enrolls nearly 300,000 students annually. The average age of the students is 24. About 70% of the students have a full-time job and 8% are part-time workers.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Blended Learning: An instructional model that combines two or more instructional models.
Compatibility: The degree to which an innovation is perceived as being consistent with the existing values, past experiences, and needs of potential adopters.
E-Learning: Refers to learning that is electronic or computer based, but the term is often used to refer to learning via the Internet.
Innovation: An idea, practice, or object that is perceived as new by an individual or other unit of adoption.
Diffusion: The process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system.
Distance Education: A type of formal education in which the majority of the instruction, which is transmitted through technology, occurs when the student and instructor are not in the same place.
Relative Advantage: The degree to which an innovation is perceived as better than the idea it supersedes.