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Distance Learning

Distance Learning
Principles for Effective Design, Delivery, and Evaluation

September 2001 | 256 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
'Mehrotra Chandra's latest text offers a valuable vein of sanity for an audience of 'administrators and faculty' involved in assessing and evaluating strategies for launching distance learning programs in their educational organisations' - Andrea Barrett, British Journal of Educational Technology

`Essentially this is a skill based, practical work rather than one based on theory or presenting original research. It will be useful for anyone who is considering whether or not distance learning might be of value to their institution, as well as those who are engaging in this type of provision for the first time. However, the accessible nature of this book, and the information contained within it will be a useful introductory resource for many staff in Education and Continuing Education' - Escalate

Message from authors

1. In a number of chapters, we have provided readers with Web sites which may be useful to them in obtaining additional information related to what we have covered. Since some of these Web sites may be discontinued and new ones developed, it will be beneficial to keep this information updated on a Web site to accompany the book.

2. The Web site will also be useful for providing readers with additional

information regarding the material covered in the book. For example, we may

bring to readers' attention other Web sites that offer concrete examples of

how some instructors have designed syllabi and/or assessment procedures for

their distance learning courses.

3. A related topic has to do with technology issues related to distance

learning. The Web site may suggest possible sources that would be useful to

readers in obtaining up-to-date information in this regard.

4. Readers will also appreciate learning about (a) centres of distance

learning in the United States and other countries; (b) discussion lists that would

allow them to interact with colleagues who share similar interest; and (c)

organizations involved in conducting and publishing research on various

aspects of distance learning.

In short, the Web site will be an effective and efficient way of keeping

readers informed regarding new developments related to the ever evolving

aspects of distance learning. It will be organized in terms of the topics

presented in the book and will include user-friendly commentary,

annotations, and examples.

In this book the authors lay out practical principles and advice to help individual teachers and administrators learn how to design, implement, and evaluate distance learning courses via a variety of formats. The book is a response to an explosion of interest in distance learning and increasing pressures to expand traditional on-campus courses into this realm, especially with the advent of the Internet. Such an effort requires rethinking course design, selecting appropriate modes of delivery, creating strategies to promote active learning, maintaining ongoing contact with students, and assessing learning outcomes. However, many faculty members and administrators have had limited experience designing such courses. This book shows them how.


· Research that informs recommendations and a wealth of examples and strategies based on field-tested models, student preferences, and the authors' own extensive experiences results in advice that readers can trust.

· Comprehensive coverage addresses available delivery options (and their respective strengths and shortcomings), factors to consider in selecting a delivery mode, designing a syllabus for a distance course, fostering student learning and development, providing student support services, and assessing student performance.

· Practical matters are stressed throughout, such as attracting students, ensuring high rates of completion, conducting program evaluation, and preparing a self-study for accreditation review.

Background and Audience

Overview of the Contents

Our Companion Web Site

1. Distance Education: What Is It? And Why Is It Expanding So Rapidly?
Impacts of Technology on Distance Education

The Prevalence of Distance Education in the United States

Societal Changes Contributing to the Growth of Distance Education

The Impact of Distance Education on Traditional Instruction

Criticisms of Distance Education


2. Attracting Students to Distance Learning
How to Assess the Need and Demand for a Distance Program

Target Audience

Instructional Design and Mode of Delivery

Strategies for Marketing Distance Courses and Programs

Specific Ideas for Promoting and Marketing Distance Programs


3. Good Practices in Distance Education: How to Promote Student Learning and Development
The Good Practices

Summary Tips

4. The Syllabus for Distance Learning Courses
What Is a Syllabus?

More Than a List

Outline for a Syllabus: Putting It Together

Other Issues

Summary Tips

5. Delivery Methods for Distance Education
Synchronous or Asynchronous?

Synchronous Delivery Methods

Asynchronous Delivery Methods


6. Selecting Delivery Methods
Fundamental Principles to Observe in Selecting Delivery Methods

A Decision Tree Approach to Selecting a Delivery Method


7. Support Services
Support Services Prior to Enrollment

Support Services for Enrolled Students

Support Services After Course or Program Completion


8. Ensuring High Completion Rates
The Problem of Retention

Retention in Distance Education Programs

Strategies for Improving Completion Rates

Summary Tips

9. Assessing Learning Outcomes
Guiding Principles

Methods of Assessment


Summary Tips

10. Program Evaluation
Evaluating Program Inputs

Program Processes

Assessing Outcomes

Analysis of Costs and Outcomes


Summary Tips

11. Accrditation
Guidelines for Distance Learning

Providing Evidence Regarding the Program's Effectiveness in Meeting the Guidelines


Summary Tips

Author Index
Subjedt Index
About the Authors

"The overall strength of this volume is its emphasis on practical considerations that an instructor is likely to encounter in creating a distance course. . . . particularly strong in presenting easily understood principles of good practice for those who must plan and implement distance learning."


"This book is a fine example of what is needed for distance learning teachers,
administrators, and evaluators throughout the world. It provides good coverage of the timely topics that face distance educators daily. For those considering starting a distance learning course or program, this book would provide a solid footing upon which to make important decisions."


Chandra Mohan Mehrotra

Chandra M. Mehrotra is Professor of Psychology and Dean for Special Projects at The College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota. He received his Ph.D. in psychology from Ohio State University. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Gerontological Society of America (GSA). He received his college's Distinguished Teaching Award in 1979, the APA Division 20 Mentor Award in 2003, and the GSA's Outstanding Mentorship Award in 2011. He directs faculty training programs in aging research with support provided by the National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, and the Hartford Foundation. His books... More About Author

C . David Hollister

C. David Hollister is Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Minnesota. Since 1993 he has been actively involved in the development and accreditation of the school’s Master of Social Work distance education program, and he teaches distance learning courses on community practice methods and on substance abuse. He has published a number of articles evaluating distance education and has presented papers on distance education at meetings of the Council on Social Work Education, at the annual University of South Carolina Conference on Educational Technology in Social Work, and at international conferences. He is Associate... More About Author

Lawrence McGahey

Lawrence McGahey is Associate Professor, Chair of the Chemistry Department, and Chair of the Natural Sciences Division at The College of St. Scholastica. He has been involved in the development of St. Scholatistca’s distance education program as a member of the Graduate Council and Graduate Curriculum Committee. In addition, he has experience both in developing and incorporating web-based instructional materials into science courses. His research and teaching efforts have been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Research Corporation, and the U.S. Department of Education. He is also a manuscript reviewer and annotator for... More About Author

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