In the developed world, lifelong learning is considered necessary in the fields of education and health. Webbased technologies are used to update skills and provide access to the latest research and information. Asynchronous, synchronous, and self-paced open-learning courses provide professionals with the ability to meet the continuing education requirements for maintaining their credentials without taking them away from the workplace. They are accepted as an effective means of providing information on the latest instructional strategies, medical research, and procedures. The remoteness of the Pacific region presents significant challenges to providing high-quality, interactive, distance education. These geographic, economic, cultural, linguistic, professional, and technological challenges require creativity and flexibility in the design of courses and in instructional methods. This article explores the experiences of educators in providing distance-learning opportunities throughout the region between 1998 and 2006.
During the past 6 years, the telecommunications infrastructure has been dramatically strengthened to support distance learning through a mix of both new and existing technologies such as cable television, radio, video, and the Internet. The high cost of bandwidth limits the use of video streaming and other technologies common in developed nations.