With the explosion of distance learning, academic libraries have had to change to meet the needs of their faculty, staff, and students. The ACRL (Association of College & Research Libraries) presented guidelines to help librarians manage these changes. The proliferation of articles on this topic points to the rapid acceptance of this form of education. This rapid expansion has offered interesting challenges such as providing equitable services for all students, and greater assistance to faculty in supporting their classes. How libraries respond to these challenges will impact the success or the failures of these programs.
Academic Libraries And Distance Learning
Distance learning can be defined by the fact that the student and the instructor are separated by space. The issue of time is moot considering the technologies that have evolved allowing real time access. Today, universities around the world use various methods of reaching their remote students. With the use of technology, access becomes possible, whether it is from campuses to remote sites, or to individuals located in their own homes or even the dorms on campus.
The development of course instruction, delivered through a variety of distance learning methods (e.g., including Web-based synchronous and asynchronous communication, e-mail, and audio/video technology) has attracted major university participation (Burke, Levin, & Hanson, 2003). These electronic learning environment initiatives increase the number of courses and undergraduate/graduate degree programs being offered without increasing the need for additional facilities.
During the 2000-2001 academic year, the NCES (National Center for Education Statistics) estimated in the United States alone there were 3,077,000 enrollments in all distance education courses offered by 2-year and 4-year institutions with an estimated 2,876,000 enrollments in college-level, credit-granting distance education courses, with 82% of these at the undergraduate level. (Watts, Lewis, & Greene, 2003, p. 4). Further, the NCES reported that 55% of all 2-year and 4-year U.S. institutions offered college-level, credit-granting distance education courses, with 48% of all institutions offering undergraduate courses, and 22% of all institutions at the graduate level (ibid, p. 4). It is clear that distance education has become an increasingly important component in many colleges and universities, not only in the United States, but also worldwide.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP): A protocol that enables people to use the Internet as the transmission medium for telephone calls.
Asynchronous Communication: Is when messages are exchanged during different time intervals (e.g., e-mail).
Real-Time: Communication, which is simultaneous; see Synchronous.
Virtual Library: More than just a means of collocating electronic resources (full-text materials, databases, media, and catalogues), a virtual library also provides user assistance services such as reference, interlibrary loan, technical assistance, etc.
Web (World Wide Web): A global system of networks that allows transmission of images, documents, multimedia using the Internet.
Electronic Reserves: The electronic storage and transmission of course-related information distributed by local area networks (LANs) or the Internet. Also known as e-reserves, in addition to displaying items on a screen, printing to paper, and saving to disk are often allowed.
Social Aspects of Communication: A social process using language as a means of transferring information from one person to another, the generation of knowledge among individuals or groups, and creating relationships among persons.
Next Generation Internet (NGI): Currently known as Abilene, the next generation Internet refers to the next level of protocols developed for bandwidth capacity, quality of service (QOS), and resource utilization.
Internet: A worldwide information network connecting millions of computers. Also called the Net.
Streaming Video: A technique for transferring data as a steady and continuous stream. A browser or plug-in can start displaying the data before the entire file has been transmitted. Synchronous and asynchronous communication: Synchronous communication is when messages are exchanged during the same time interval (e.g., Instant Messenger TM ).
Distance Learning/Distance Education: Taking courses by teleconferencing or using the Internet (together with e-mail) as the primary method of communication.
CRM (Customer Relationship Management): This term refers to how a company interacts with its customers, gathers information about them (needs, preferences, past transactions), and shares this data within marketing, sales, and service functions.
Chat: A realtime conferencing capability, which uses text by typing on the keyboard, not speaking. Generally, between two or more users on a local area network (LAN), on the Internet, or via a bulletin board service (BBS).
Blog: A blog is a Web site where entries are made in journal style and displayed in areverse chronological order.Blogs often provide commentary or news on a particular subject. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, Web pages, and other media related to its topic.The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual although some focus on photographs, videos, or audio (podcasting), and are part of a wider network of social media.The term “blog” is derived from “Web log.” “Blog” can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.