Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in the nineteenth century, advances in technology have provided people with the means for a new form of education, known today as distance education. In recent decades, the wondrous array of electronic communications technology has given distance education new status. It seems to have something to offer almost everyone. It is now a normal form of education for those in employment, for homemakers and for those who choose not to go to schools or universities for the purpose of learning. In response to this interest, institutions of distance education attempt to provide for their students a complete education system, from enrollment to examination, that is equal in quality, in quantity and in status to that offered to ordinary students in schools, colleges and universities around the world. In the 1990’s, more than ten million students, most of them adults, study at a distance. Distance education is a rapidly growing field with respect to both practice and promise. With respect to practice, distance education has permeated all sectors of education, ranging from primary school to higher education to business and industry. With respect to promise, it is a field which may redefine 21st century education. (Kember, 1995)
What exactly is distance education? As with any rapidly emerging field, there is some disagreement among proponents as to what should be allowed under the distance education "umbrella" and what should be excluded. As a result, the definition of distance education varies from one organization to another. The New Oxford Dictionary defines it as "a method of studying in which lectures are broadcast or conducted by correspondence, without the stude...
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... guide the learner and to participate in generating new meanings through electronic dialogue. (Langford & Hardin, 1999)
Huch, Mary. Where does the Information superhighway go? Nursing Science Quarterly, 1999, 12:3, 215-220.
Kember, David. Open learning courses for adults. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications, 1995.
Keegan, D.J. The foundations of distance education. London: Croom Helm, 1986.
Langford, David R. and Hardin, Sonya. Distance learning: issues emerging as the paradigm shifts. Nursing Science Quarterly, 1999, 12:3, 191-196.
Markel, Mike. Distance education and the myth of the new pedagogy. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 1999, 13:2, 208-221.
Willis, Barry. Distance education: a practical guide. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications, 1993.
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