Identifying and Examining Degree-Granting Programs for Distance Education Experts: A Preliminary Analysis

Identifying and Examining Degree-Granting Programs for Distance Education Experts: A Preliminary Analysis

Serpil Kocdar (Anadolu University, Turkey) and Nejdet Karadag (Anadolu University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8119-4.ch012
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Abstract

This chapter reveals the results of a preliminary analysis of degree-granting distance education expertise programs by identifying the programs offered by higher education institutions all around the world and examining the general features of these programs from various aspects. As a result of this study, 27 degree-granting programs in 18 universities were identified in 12 different countries for distance education expertise. These programs were examined in terms of the aims and target population, educational models, delivery methods, admission and graduation requirements of the programs, and proposed career opportunities by these programs. The results of this analysis are intended to help develop a basis for the clarification of the profession; guide educational institutions, decision-makers, and program designers for developing distance education expertise programs; help individuals who intend to gain academic expertise in distance education to choose the most suitable program that meets their needs; and contribute to the research on leadership and expertise in distance education.
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Introduction

The demand for distance education (DE) is increasing at a rapid pace all over the world. According to the research conducted by Allen and Seaman (2014), approximately one-third of all higher education students in the United States of America (USA) had taken at least one online course by the year 2012. The results of a survey study, in which the data was gathered from 113,035 respondents across 12 countries, revealed that %46 of students took any online course in the past year (Dahlstrom, Walker & Dziuban, 2013). This increase in the number of DE students and programs in various fields of study led to the requirement for experienced human resources having specific skills and competencies particular to the field of DE. As a consequence of the recent developments in the field, DE expertise has emerged as a new profession in the world. For the purpose of training or educating DE experts, professional development and academic programs have arisen in some countries as a result of the necessity to develop high quality DE programs. The aim of these programs is to help learners gain specific knowledge, skills and competencies in the field. Some researchers have examined the roles and related competencies of the faculty for implementing and managing a DE program in the literature; however little is known about the programs of DE and their offerings in terms of their general structure, educational models, aims, target population and career opportunities as well as roles, knowledge, skills or competencies that the learners are intended to gain. In this regard, the purpose of this chapter is to analyze the current degree-granting academic programs for DE experts by identifying the programs offered by higher education institutions in the world and examining the general features of these programs from various aspects. The chapter covers the answers of the following questions:

  • Which higher education institutions offer DE expertise programs in the world?

  • In which level of higher education are the programs offered?

  • What are the aims and who is the target population of DE expertise programs?

  • What are the features of the programs in terms of their educational models, delivery methods, admission and graduation requirements?

  • What are the career opportunities (roles) for the graduates of DE expertise programs?

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