Diverse Models of Distance Teaching Universities

Diverse Models of Distance Teaching Universities

Sarah Guri-Rosenblit (The Open University of Israel, Israel)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 7
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch102
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Abstract

Universities offering studies through distance teaching methods vary enormously in how they were initiated, the clienteles they aim to serve, how they are funded, and the kinds of programs they offer. Distance teaching at university level is provided currently through at least five major organizational models: Single-mode distance teaching universities; dual- and mixed-mode universities; extensions; consortia-type ventures; and virtual technology-based universities. Each of these models can be divided into additional sub-groups. The fully-fledged distance teaching universities, for instance, are treated in the relevant literature as a generic group, but differ from each other in many respects (Guri-Rosenblit, 1999). Some are operating as huge national universities, while others function on a limited provincial level. Few adopted an open admission policy, while most others require the same entry requirements as their conventional counterparts, etc. The dual- and the mixed-mode universities, as well as the consortia-type ventures, constitute nowadays the leading models of distance teaching provision. They operate in many national settings, and represent a rich composition of diverse higher education institutions, such as: research versus mainly teaching-oriented universities; large and small establishments; fully accredited or experimental in nature; offering mainly continuing education courses versus full academic degrees. However, this overview analyzes only the underlying premises of distance teaching in each of the five major models. Its scope does not allow discussing in detail the sub-groups contained in each model.
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Introduction And Background

Universities offering studies through distance teaching methods vary enormously in how they were initiated, the clienteles they aim to serve, how they are funded, and the kinds of programs they offer. Distance teaching at university level is provided currently through at least five major organizational models: Single-mode distance teaching universities; dual- and mixed-mode universities; extensions; consortia-type ventures; and virtual technology-based universities.

Each of these models can be divided into additional sub-groups. The fully-fledged distance teaching universities, for instance, are treated in the relevant literature as a generic group, but differ from each other in many respects (Guri-Rosenblit, 1999). Some are operating as huge national universities, while others function on a limited provincial level. Few adopted an open admission policy, while most others require the same entry requirements as their conventional counterparts, etc. The dual- and the mixed-mode universities, as well as the consortia-type ventures, constitute nowadays the leading models of distance teaching provision. They operate in many national settings, and represent a rich composition of diverse higher education institutions, such as: research versus mainly teaching-oriented universities; large and small establishments; fully accredited or experimental in nature; offering mainly continuing education courses versus full academic degrees. However, this overview analyzes only the underlying premises of distance teaching in each of the five major models. Its scope does not allow discussing in detail the sub-groups contained in each model.

In spite of the visible differences between the various models of distance teaching at university level, there is a common trend of blending boundaries between distance and campus universities that took place in the last decade all over the world. Institutions that traditionally offered solely conventional instruction are now becoming distance education providers. The democratization of higher education and the emergence of the new information and communication technologies constitute the main reasons for this change of boundaries. The new technologies have prompted nearly all higher education institutions to enter the ‘distance education business’ at various levels of experimentation and application (AFT, 2001; Allen & Seaman, 2004; Bates, 1999, 2005; Bradburn, 2002; Collis & Moonen, 2001; Evans & Nation, 2000; Littleton & Light, 1999; National Research Council, 2002; Selinger & Pearson, 1999; Trow, 1999).

The new information and communication technologies have drastically changed the status of distance education within the academic world. Traditionally, distance teaching was considered as operating on the margins of higher education systems (Guri-Rosenblit, 1999, 2005). Since the nineteenth century, correspondence institutions, extensions and distance teaching universities opened the gates of academe to diverse clienteles that for a variety of reasons were unable to attend regular face-to-face classes and remained outside the conventional universities. The target populations, studying through distance education, were considered as distinct and special, usually older than the age cohorts at classical universities, and mostly ‘second chance’ students according to a variety of criteria. Nowadays, millions of people, both traditional students and working adults, are studying through distance teaching methods for a plethora of reasons and purposes.

This overview puts a special focus on examining both the merits and problems associated with the utilization of the new information and communication technologies in the context of each of the five major models of universities teaching via distance education methods.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Virtual Technology-Based Universities: Universities that teach students mainly through the new information and communication technologies.

Distance Teaching Universities: Universities that teach students via a wide range of distance education methods and technologies.

Consortia-Type Distance Teaching Venture: A collaborating venture between several universities or between universities and other partners, joining forces to offer together distance teaching programs.

Dual-Mode Distance Teaching Universities: Universities that teach concurrently on-campus and off-campus students. Usually, the same admission requirements and the same study materials apply to both categories of students.

Extensions: Extramural departments or divisions which operate within universities and offer mainly continuing education and professional upgrade courses. Extensions are typical mainly to American universities.

Single-Mode Distance Teaching Universities: Universities that were founded for teaching solely distant students. Most of these universities were established since the early 1970s, and have followed the model of the British Open University.

Mixed-Mode Distance Teaching Universities: Universities that provide both traditional face-to-face study frameworks and online courses for their on-campus students and teach as well distant students.

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