Distance learning opportunities have rapidly burgeoned in educational environments across disciplines. The result of its growing use has been felt by the career and technical education (CTE) teacher education community. This chapter examines the literature and implications regarding the implementation of distance education in the delivery of CTE teacher preparation programs, along with the issues and challenges it brings. First, a brief historical account of distance education in institutes of higher education is provided. Secondly, a review of the research on distance education’s presence in (CTE) programs is discussed. Thirdly, future trends are articulated for CTE teacher educators, CTE teacher candidates, and CTE researchers.
Technology has changed the methods by which education is delivered. Students enrolled in distance education, particularly those programs using telecommunications technology, can have almost the same instructional contact and interaction as students in traditional settings (Galusha, 1998). These technological changes have also driven the growth of distance learning opportunities, as students who are time bound due to job or travel difficulties and cannot attend a class at a specific time, or place-bound due to geographic location, can now access courses and degree programs at their convenience (Zirkle, 2003).
Colleges and universities across the nation are facing several changes affecting the nature of courses and degree programs they offer. Legislative calls for ease of access, affordability, and increased numbers of students enrolled in postsecondary education have caused institutions to focus more efforts on new technologies to deliver courses and degree programs. As the technical skills shortage in the United States continues to grow, these issues have begun to affect career and technical education programs as well.
As the teacher shortage also continues to be felt across the country (U.S. Department of Education, 2008), these same educational institutions are exploring the feasibility of offering all or part of their teacher education programs through distance learning methodologies. This issue is of particular interest for career and technical education teacher education, which has seen nearly two decades of decline in the number of institutions offering career and technical education teacher education programs (Bruening, Scanlon, Hodes, Dhital, Shao, & Liu, 2001a; Camp, Case, Dean, & Fannon, 1998; Hartley, Mantle-Bromley, and Cobb 1996; Lynch 1996; Pucel and Flister 1997; Zirkle, 2004; Zirkle, 2002).
This chapter will focus on examining the issue of the utilization of distance education methodologies in career and technical education teacher education programs, and will center on two basic research questions:
To what extent are colleges and universities utilizing distance education in the delivery of their career and technical education teacher education programs?
What are the significant challenges and opportunities experienced by colleges and universities as they utilize distance education in the delivery of their career and technical education teacher education programs?