2May 1, 2001Distance Education Report
R E P O R T
Distance Education Report
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Donald P. Ely, Associate Director, ERIC Clearinghouse onInformation & Technology; Chere Gibson, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison; David Giltrow, Independent Consultant, Educational Technology & Communication, Santa Fe, New Mexico; Darcy W. Hardy, Ph.D., Director forDistance Education, Center for Instructional Technologies, University of Texas atAustin; Joseph Holland, University of Wisconsin-Stout; Marge Jeffers, WTCNDistance Education Network, Fox Valley Technical College; Marina Stock McIssac,Educational Media and Computers, Arizona State University; Karen L. Murphy, Ed.D.,Associate Professor, Texas A&M University; Don Olcott, Jr., VCampus Corporation;Christine Olgren, Ph.D., Chair, Distance Teaching and Learning Conference,University of Wisconsin-Madison; Todd Price, Ph.D., Executive Director, WYOUCommunity Television, Madison, WI; Rick Shearer, MA, MBA, InstructionalDesigner, World Campus, Pennsylvania State University; John Witherspoon,ProfessorEmeritus, San Diego State University; Linda L. Wolcott, Ph.D., Department of Instructional Technology, Utah State University. To order back issues, call Customer Service at 800-433-0499. Back issues cost $17.00each ($390 for the previous year’s complete collection), free shipping and handling inthe US. You can pay with MasterCard, VISA, Discover, or American Express. This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard tothe subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher is notengaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice orother expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should besought. Authorization to photocopy for internal or personal use, or the internal or per-sonal use of specific clients, is granted by
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Part of Parmentier’s job is to advise Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and his senior staff on all policies, pro-grams, and budgets for the department’s education andtraining activities. He sets the policy guidelines that impacteverything from the Defense Language Institutes toPartner for Peace nations, and our allies. He says,“Essentially, when it comes to learning technologies, weare seen by all parties as an honest broker, a neutral venue,and a keeper of the flame for SCORM software.”Parmentier describes the military as “a historic learninginstitution capable of taking in raw recruits and training andupgrading their skills.” As an extension of that historicmission, Parmentier’s office now supplies the guidelines(like SCORM) that, among other things, will help shape suchkey programs as the $600 million Army University Onlineinitiative. The service hopes to boost retention by helpingactive-duty Army personnel (90% of the enlisted do not havea baccalaureate degree) complete college degrees at a distance.Parmentier suggests that there have been three learningrevolutions: writing, printing, and digitization. SinceSCORM is a “living document,” no one can know whatthe next 10 or 20 years will bring, “but it will be a learningenvironment where even the architects will be astounded athow quickly the change occurred.”
Steven Donahue teaches English as a Second Language and Pronunciation Online at Broward Community College in SouthFlorida. He can be reached at <firstname.lastname@example.org.>
s institutions try to figure out how to generate revenuefrom distance education, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has decided to post nearly all of its course mate-rials on the Internet, free of charge.Although MIT’s initiative is not direct competition fordistance education — the plan does not offer courses forcredit or any interaction with instructors — it may help shapethe future of distance education. The plan, known as MIT OpenCourseWare, will makeavailable the core teaching materials used in its courses, suchas lecture notes, course outlines, reading lists, assignments,and perhaps, videotaped lectures.Over the next ten years MIT will make available the mate-rials for some 2,000 courses at a cost of $7.5 million to $10million per year during the initial phase of the project.MIT will not offer these courses for credit. Rather, it willmake available the course materials worldwide for non-com-mercial purposes such as research and education.According to MIT, this will help faculty at institutionsaround the world develop new curricula and courses, partic-ularly in developing countries that are trying to expand theireducation systems.Other benefits include serving as a resource for individ-ual learners, serving as a model for other institutions tomake similar content available, and stimulating theexchange of ideas about innovative ways to use theresources in teaching and learning. The biggest benefit of MIT OCW is the message it sendsto other institutions and potential students: While thesematerials are an integral part of the education process, theinteraction between and among instructors and students is what makes education.Hopefully this move will raise the bar for educators toshow them that lecture notes and links to resources shouldnot pass for education. Education, whether it is online or faceto face, only works through an active exchange of ideasbetween people. If your program doesn’t provide that, youmay as well give it away.
It’s the Interaction, Stupid!