The University of London was the first university to offer distance learning degrees, establishing its External Programme in 1858. In Australia, the University of Queensland established its Department of Correspondence Studies in 1911. Another pioneering institution was the University of South Africa, which has been offering Correspondence Education courses since 1946. In New Zealand, university-level distance education or extramural study began in 1960 at Massey University. The largest distance education university in the United Kingdom is the Open University founded 1969. In Germany the FernUniversität in Hagen was founded 1974. There are now many similar institutions around the world, often with the name Open University (in English or in the local language), and more than a dozen of them have grown to become 'mega-universities' , a term coined to denote institutions with more than 100,000 students.
Charles Wedemeyer of the University of Wisconsin at Madison is considered the father of modern distance education in America. From 1964-1968 the Carnegie Foundation funded Wedemeyer's Articulated Instructional Media Project (AIM) which brought in a variety of communications technologies aimed at providing learning to an off-campus population. According to Moore's recounting, AIM impressed the British who imported these ideas and used them to create the first Open University, now called United Kingdom Open University (UKOU) to distinguish it from other open universities which have emerged. UKOU was established in the late 1960s and used television and radio as its primary delivery methodologies, thus placing it in the forefront of applying emerging technologies to learning. It is fair to say that all "open universities" use distance education technologies as delivery methodologies.
There are many private and public, non-profit and for-profit institutions offering courses and degree programs through distance education. Levels of accreditation vary; some institutions offering distance education in the United States have received little outside oversight, and some may be fraudulent diploma mills. In many other jurisdictions, an institution may not use the term "University" without accreditation and authorisation, normally by the national government. Online education is rapidly increasing among mainstream universities in the United States, where online doctoral programs have even developed at prestigious research institutions.
In the twentieth century, radio, television, and the Internet have all been used to further distance education. Computers and the Internet have made distance learning distribution easier and faster. Private, for-profit Phoenix University, which is primarily an online university, now has two hundred thousand students and expects to serve five hundred thousand by 2010, yet little is known about student success or lack of success in such a fast-growing institution.
In 2006 the Sloan Consortium reported that more than 96 percent of the largest colleges and universities in the United States offered online courses and that almost 3.2 million U.S. students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2005 term.
In Ontario, Canada the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities established the elearnnetwork.ca in 2007 to provide access to students in small and rural communities across Ontario who wanted to pursue college or university courses from their community by distance education.
In the province of Manitoba, the department of Education, Citizenship and Youth provides three options in distance education: Independent Study Option, Teacher Mediated Option and Web-based Course Option.
The Independent Study Option (ISO) provides the opportunity and flexibility for both school-age and adult learners to study a wide range of compulsory optional print based distance education courses from Grades 7 to 12. This form of distance education also provides students with support by email or phone. The Independent Study Option also offers several courses in French. In the event that a student leaves the province on a temporary or permanent basis, the ISO also provides the opportunity for continuing the study of Manitoba curriculum en route to receiving a Senior Years graduation diploma.
Teacher Mediated Option (TMO) supports the delivery of distance learning courses that are scheduled within the school day and use a variety of technologies to assist students including: instruction twice a school cycle for 40 minutes per class by audio teleconference, recording of classes as required for use up to five days after the class has occurred, and corresponding with an instructor between classes by email or phone. These courses are only available to students attending school or an adult learning centre.
Web-bases course in Manitoba are available to schools wishing to deliver high school courses on the internet. Manitoba uses the Blackboard learning System CE version 6.2. While being delivered through the internet, these courses are taught by a teacher who may be off-site. Assignments are submitted online by students to teachers, and a final examination is written on site.
The types of available technologies used in distance education are divided into two groups: synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous technology is a mode of online delivery where all participants are "present" at the same time. Requires a timetable to be organized. Asynchronous technology is a mode of online delivery where participants access course materials on their schedule. Students are not together at the same time.
There are also Learning Management Systems or Learning Management Content Systems which can be used for both Synchronous and Asynchronous learning.
Distance Education has traversed four to five 'generations' of technology in its history. These are print, audio/video broadcasting, audio/video teleconferencing, computer aided instruction, e-learning/ online-learning, computer broadcasting/webcasting etc. Yet the radio remains a very viable form, especially in the developing nations, because of its reach. In India the FM Channel is very popular and is being used by universities, to broadcast educational programs of variety on areas such as teacher education, rural development, programs in agriculture for farmers, science education, creative writing, mass communication, in addition to traditional courses in liberal arts, science and business administration. The increasing popularity of mp3 players, PDAs and Smart Phone has provided an additional medium for the distribution of distance education content, and some professors now allow students to listen or even watch video of a course as a Podcast . Some colleges have been working with the U.S. military to distribute entire course content on a PDA to deployed personnel.
Assignments have adapted by becoming larger, longer, and more thorough so as to test for knowledge by forcing the student to research the subject and prove they have done the work. Quizzes are a popular form of testing knowledge and many courses go by the honor system regarding cheating. Even if the student is checking questions in the textbook or online, there may be an enforced time limit or the quiz may be worth so little in the overall mark that it becomes inconsequential. Exams and bigger tests may be harder to regulate.
Used in combination with invigilators, a pre-arranged supervisor trusted with overseeing big tests and examinations may be used to increase security. Many Midterms and Final examinations are held at a common location so that professors can supervise directly. When the Internet became a popular medium for distance education many websites were founded offering secure exam software and packages to help professors manage their students more effectively.
DISTANCE EDUCATION TRAINING FOR DISTANCE EDUCATION TRAINERS: The Roadmap to Effective Distance Education Instructional Design Project
Jan 01, 2005; This article provides an overview of a 6-university collaborative project, Roadmap to Effective Distance Education Instructional...