Distance Ed Now

"Distance learning is thought by some to be significantly changing American higher education. Today’s distance education courses depend on the multitude of constantly changing communication technologies that can transmit instruction and relay materials between learner and teacher. These technologies have taken shape at a mind-boggling pace, erasing traditional barriers of time, space, and place and represent the capacity to fundamentally change the paradigm for transmitting knowledge and skills from master to learner. For reasons of access, economy, effectiveness, and convenience, distance learning has swept higher education and, in the view of some, changed the role of the academy from a cloistered retreat to a marketplace that some institutions would prefer not to enter. Whether one is a zealot for or against distance learning, one cannot escape its impact."

—Distance Learning Manual, August 2004
Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges
Western Association of Schools and Colleges

California Community Colleges Distance Education Report, July 2007

In 2005-06, system-wide DE student headcount represented 11.81 percent of total student headcount.  The average annual rate at which DE student headcount has grown was 18.73 percent for the period of 1995-96 through 2005-06.  At the current rate of expansion, DE student headcount will reach the 15 percent of total student headcount in fiscal year 2008-09.

The primary mode of training faculty at the colleges continues to be through the faculty’s own initiative followed by Flexible Calendar Program sessions which focus on developing a distance education course.  When developing, teaching and delivering distance education courses, colleges rank student learning as the most important element. 

Technology support costs for distance education courses now ranks highest of all cost categories compared to costs for traditional modes of instruction.  Once technology is implemented for DE, institutions find that associated technology costs for DE sessions are higher than technology costs for traditional sessions.  All other costs associated with DE sessions (i.e., faculty salaries, instructional supplies, curriculum course development and course production) are the same as those costs associated with traditional course sessions.  Institutions continue to add full degree and certificate programs to their distance education offerings making these programs more readily accessible to students whose preferred mode of learning is through technologically mediated instruction.

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