Distance education programs/courses in some format have been available to students since the 1840s. Throughout most of this time there has been controversy over the effectiveness of such programs/courses (IHEP, 1999; Matthews, 1999). The concept of online teaching and online asynchronous learning (ASL) started in the 1980s and is an area of rapid growth (McMullen, Goldbaum, Wolffe, & Sattler, 1998). In a period of 3 years, from 1995 to 1997, the number of schools in the United States (US) developing such programs increased by almost 200% (Morse, Glover, & Travis, 1997). The US Department of Education (2001) reported that in 2000-2001 there were more than 2.8 million enrollments in college-level degree granting programs in Internet- and Web-based distance education courses in the US.
Main Thrust Of Article
From the material above, it is obvious that there is wide variation in the outcomes achieved by various online programs. This section looks at key elements to be considered in the curriculum design process in developing an online program by reviewing the technology, pedagogical issues, process and support issues. Skinner (1968) was one of the first to describe the minimum characteristics for what he called a teaching machine. His focus was on the capabilities of the machine and the program. He felt that the machine should:
Key Terms in this Chapter
Asynchronous Learning Tool: Software package designed to support education at any location and at any time.
Synchronous Online Distance Education: Courses which use software to provide video, audio, and information to students who are not physically attending a class, but who are required to be at a specific location at a specific time to participate in the class.
Asynchronous Learning: Learning which occurs at the place and time of the students’s choosing not the instructor’s.
Distance Learning: A broader term for distance education which focuses on the student.
Online Distance Education: Software which supports courses for students who are not present and an in person class.
Asynchronous Online Distance Education: Courses which use software that contains course content and pedagogy that allows students to participate when and where they want.
Distance Education Program: Courses designed for student who are not present in an in person class.