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Donald G. Perrin Ph.D., Journal Editor
Most colleges and universities now offer some online
courses; virtual high schools are established in several states; and business,
industry, corporations, government, military, and health sciences are deeply
committed to distance learning in its many forms, synchronous, asynchronous,
blended; CBT, interactive multimedia, internet, online; and video via tape,
disk, cable, two-way interactive, broadcast, and satellite. Questions of quality
and equivalence with traditional courses are largely resolved, and the tide has
reversed so that on-campus courses now benefit from the interactive technologies
developed for distance learning.
Innovation continues, and competition brings new and
improved course materials and technologies on an almost daily basis. Distance
learning is no longer a group of early adopters touting their achievements, but
a mainstream option for learning anywhere and everywhere, any-time and
all-of-the-time; for almost anybody and everybody who are willing to work to
meet the predetermined standard. Learning management systems automate routine
tasks and record keeping; authoring systems facilitate translation of content
and pedagogies into interactive learning media; and there are teaching and
learning options for every learning style.
The nay-sayers and luddites (Dr. Noble not withstanding)
have been quieted by the success of Distance Learning. It opens up educational
opportunities for millions of people who could not otherwise attend classes or
earn certificates and degrees. It solves logistical problems of training in the
workplace. It provides opportunities for students to better schedule their
education, work, and life with family. It provides a major resource for home
schooling, which now serves over one million students in the United States.
Five years ago, the State of California faced a need for
buildings to support increased enrollment that was three times the available
construction budget. It determined that Distance Learning would have to fill the
gap. Today, almost every institution of higher education in the State of
California has a distance-learning component.
This issue of USDLA Journal is about research and
evaluation of online learning. It delves into faculty developed web sites,
institutional support, pedagogy, and learning options for students. It considers
course structure, motivation, interactivity, media, blended learning, learner
satisfaction, learner retention, and course management.