К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №2 - 2008
Автор: Каратаева Л. Б.
Distance education is expanding worldwide.
Numbers of students enrolled in distance education are increasing at very high
rates. Distance education is said to be the future of education because it
addresses educational needs of the new millennium. This paper represents the
findings of an empirical study on a sample of Jordanian distance education
students into a requirement model that addresses the need of such education at
the national level. The responses of the sample show that distance education is
offering a viable and satisfactory alternative to those who cannot enroll in
regular residential education. The study also shows that the shortcomings of
the regular and the current form of distance education in Jordan can be
overcome by the use of modern information technology.
Distance education systems are being used
in along with the traditional education systems in order to respond to the
demand for higher education. Technological advancements, interactive learning
possibilities are forcing the traditional universities to make more use of the
distance education systems and technologies. Most of the traditional
universities to create the opportunity for their students to be independent
learners and learners who can organize their learning processes by using
distance education systems and technologies. It is thought that students who
can learn on their own and who can organize their learning processes will be
more .likely to use lifelong learning opportunities. In Turkey where there is a
great demand for higher education, the use of distance education systems and
technologies in traditional universities is not common. These traditional universities
can make use of the distance education systems and technologies in certain
lectures and cope with the pressure of the increasing number of students.
Successful implementation of the distance education applications in traditional
universities will affect the mega education system in a positive way.
In this article, the views of the students
at traditional universities on the use of distance education systems and
technologies and independent learning are determined. Findings indicate that
students do not have a positive attitude towards the use of distance education
systems and technologies, and they do not agree with the idea that distance
education systems can support independent learning.
With an increasingly young population, the
demand for university education in the world vastly exceeds the supply. The
number of people in the age group 18-23 in Arab countries alone is reaching
32.4 millions by the year 2000 (Gibbs, 1997). Considering that over 20% of this
number will be seeking university education, it is expected that the number of
prospective university students will exceed 6 millions by the year 2000. This
leaves over 25 millions out of university education (Gibbs, 1997). Earlier
studies on this respect expected the demand for university teachers to exceed
200,000 (Board, 1999). Besides that, nontraditional students (older, working)
are seeking further education to improve their competitiveness in the labor
market. This phenomenon is observed worldwide. According to (Darwaza & Abu
Basha, 1993, p.154), over 50% of college students in the U.S. are adult
learners (over 25 years of age).
With the increasing need for education in
modern society, the number of educational institutions has also increased.
Looking back to the process of industrialization and the creation of modern
society we see that the first applications of distance education started with
the institutionalization of education .Although the pressure increases on
educational institutions due to the societal demands, still education is not
accessible for a lot of people who demand education in institutions.
The first example of distance education
practice which was called ‘correspondence education’ was done through the
exchanging of learning materials between the student and the teacher by mail.
As success stories of the correspondence education students were heard, the
pioneer practices of distance education at universities were initiated in 1856
in Europe, in 1873 in the USA (McKenzie, Christensen and Rigby, 1968; Simonson
and others., 2000).
Besides the many reasons such as the
difficulty in responding to the increasing demand for higher education at
traditional campus-based universities, the recognition of education as a human
right, the increasing views on regarding education as a basis of democracy and
better analysis of education costs, the advancements in technology also
necessitated for many countries to make space for the distance education
systems in their educational systems.
Although various terms such as home study,
independent study, external studies, distance teaching and distance learning
have been used for distance education the common ground is that the learner and
the teacher are separate from each other during most of the learning process.
Distance education is a different way of
offering education as opposed to traditional residential education. The term
‘traditional residential education’ in this research refers to the on-campus
university education. Students have to attend classes at specific pace and
times. They have to be, therefore, a specified duration and sit for exams at
The term distance education refers to two
kinds of education. The first and historically older kind is the
synchronous-Open University style of education. In this form of education, students
get the bulk of their education through media other than physical attendance.
They start their studies at a specific time and have their exams at a specific
time as well. The time and pace are pre-determined. The students get their
tuition through printed materials, audio, video, radio and television. They
have to attend on-campus activities a few times every year. The second recent
kind, named asynchronous (or Internet) distance education benefits from the
recent advances in computer and communication technologies.
It provides the student with the benefits
of learning at his/her own time and pace. The course materials are provided via
electronic media that can be accessed by the student when and where it suits
him/her This form of education does not impose any restrictions on the time of
enrollment, duration of study, or the dates of exams. Normally, the student
does not have to attend any on-campus activities. This form of education
utilizes the Internet technology. Figure (1) presents the different systems of
university education. For more details, discussion and classification of
distance education, see (Alsunbul, 2002, p.69:74) & (Stein, 1998).
Looking back to the last two or three
decades only very few distance education institutions around the world are
associated with open universities were present. Nowadays many universities of
continuing regular education around the world already started or are planning
to start a program on distance education. According to U.S. Statistics,
khawalda (1995, p.6) & Lewis etal (1998) quoted that distance education was
offered by about 90 percent of all higher education institutions in the U.S. To
facilitate interaction in distance education, and to get high quality learning,
a solid foundation of skills and knowledge should be laid out. It is important
to provide an adequate infrastructure, sufficient resources to support the
development of course content, access to appropriate technology, and to
incorporate training with the goals of traditional education and achievement of
course goals (Gartio, 1996). With regard to Jordan, the kind of distance
education now mostly offered is the synchronous open-university style. Students
register at universities inside or outside Jordan. They get the course
materials in printed form or on computer media. These universities hold
intensive courses for their students at locations in Jordan. The timing of the
intensive courses is arranged to suit working people. The exams are held in
Jordan as well. These arrangements are intended to suit working Jordanians who
are interested in furthering their education.
Advocates of distance education claim that
this form of education is the most suitable form for today’s lifestyle. Some
studies by Dale (1998), Ahmed (1997) & Deloughry (1992), suggested that the
performance of distance education students is even better than that of
traditional residential education students. Mohamed (2005, p.11) & (Sandler
etal, 1983, p. 219) claimed that students preferred distance education to
residential education. Some studies concluded that the scientific material
provided in distance education is more organized than that provided in
residential education (Ahmed, 1997), (Almeda, 1998) & (Alsunbul, 2002, p.
Three main characteristics of today’s life
are cited as imposing great challenges on traditional residential education and
are urging for change. These include: The current era is marred with high rates
of unemployment. One of the main reasons for this is the lack of adequate
education. The traditional residential education system is not capable of
coping with the accelerating pace of change. Hence, in many disciplines it is
failing to provide the students with up-to-date knowledge (Ahmed, 1997) &
(Larose et al, 1998). Business organizations are in great need to acquire new
technologies and new scientific methodologies to improve their performance, but
in many cases are unable to spare their employees time to further their
knowledge. In these times of economic crisis and inflation, the increasingly
high cost of residential education is hindering a lot of people from continuing
their education. Distance education can provide a way out for those wanting to
study, but are faced with the above problems. It offers them the following
benefits (Alsunbul, 2002, p.73).
Portability (education delivered on-site),
accessibility (available any time, in the workplace or the home),
affordability, (cost effective for individuals and industry), incremental
(augmenting current programs and services), effectiveness (increasing employee
satisfaction and industry success), and flexibility (customized to individual
learning requirements and progress).
On the other hand, it is suggested that
successful distance education learners need to be independent learners who are
motivated and have focused goals in mind. These learners need flexibility in
program structure (many have other responsibilities, such as full-time jobs)
and want practical information that they can use immediately.
The Open University in England which
initiated the distance education system in 1970’s has been very successful in
providing flexible and technological educational environments and thus it had
an important role in the development of distance education systems. Open
University practice which creates a second chance for the college leavers and a
second degree for those who want to have another degree increases the quality
of education in a society. It also helps equality of education by making
education attainable for more people effects the professional business world by
creating vocationally qualified individuals. Other advantages of the system are
for those who can not attend schools because either they have to work care for
their children or they live in geographically isolated areas. The motivating
characteristics of this system are that, they provide the students the
opportunity to learn when they want, and, at their own pace which is suitable
for their capacity.
Until the beginning of 1980’s distance
education was defined as a system in which students received education
organized by an institution, separated from the teachers, communication between
the institution and learner facilitated through printed material, media devices
and computers (Moore, 1973; Holmberg, 1977). This system was criticized many
times because of the one way communication, lack of instant feedback for the
student and its socialization problems.
Despite all the criticisms, responding to
the increasing demand for education through distance education systems were
found to be more logical than increasing the number of traditional
universities. Although the cost of the preparatory stages of distance education
is comparatively high, the fact is that the same program can be applied for
many students at many times with the same quality. Effective distance education
costs can be also economical and this issue has utmost importance especially
for countries which have limited sources. Otto Peter’s studies with analysis of
the distance education institutions led him to propose that distance education
could be analyzed by comparing it with the industrial production of goods
(Keegan, 1996; Simonson and others, 2000).The first classification of distance
institutions at higher level was done by Peters. According to his typology
there are two main models which are western and eastern models. Comparing
western and eastern distance education models, it seems that the western model
is based on the development of individual learners and the eastern model is
based on the socio- cultural development of the community (Keegan, 1996;
Simonson and others., 2000).Perhaps the differences in the needs and
understanding of the applications in eastern and western models also
differentiated the problems found in the systems. In the western models the
emphasis was given to facilitating and helping the individual learning on their
own, whereas in eastern models the efforts
to make the distance learning accessible
for the majority of the people was of the highest importance.
Specific conditions of the countries, the
background and needs of the students and students’ thoughts and attitudes on
the education system have crucial roles in making the differences in the
practices in eastern and western models.
The distance learning market in the U.S.,
for example, is growing at a 25% annual rate (NCES, 1998, p.98). In addition,
many authors including Penfield (1996) & Broad (1999) claimed that no
significant difference in the achievement and attitudes is observed when
comparing a control group learning by Computer Aided-Learning at distance and a
similar group of regular students at the same university. NCES (1998) cited
many factors that prevent the widespread of distance education, including:
program development cost, limited infrastructure, equipment failure and cost of
maintenance, legal concerns, lack of fit with institution's mission, and
inability to obtain program authorization.
Technological developments and the use of
internet mostly removed the criticism which continued until the 1980’s about
the problems caused by one way communication. Providing a two way communication
and the possibility of occasional meeting for socialization purposes have
changed the distance education system into a new system in which technical
media is used in a two way communication between the separated teachers and
learners (Garrison and Shale,1987; Lewis,1989). In such a system students have
to plan their learning.
Wedemeyer and Moore especially emphasized
the importance of autonomy, independence and freedom in such a system (Moore,
1994; Keegan, 1996). Although the idea of a student who can learn independently
sounds nice, the reality can be different. Keegan (1996) says that term
“privatization is much closer to the reality”. Since the students are on their
own during most of the time of the learning process in distance education,
learning to learn by themselves will make them become more academically
successful. From the point of view of the information processing theories, no
matter what kind of education system is used, how the students organize their
own learning is of critical importance.
In this theory the individual understands
of his or her own learning processes, his or her self-motivation to reach an
aim and awareness of her own cognitive processes is considered as
self-regulated learning (Boekaerts, 1997). Metacognition is an important
component of self-regulated learning. It can be defined as knowledge and
regulation of human cognition (Shraw, 1998). People can control and regulate
their learning performance through metacognitive knowledge. Although the idea
that student should have the skills to regulate their own learning is generally
supported, this idea becomes a necessity for students in the distance education
Distance education seems to be a good
experience for an individual who is an independent learner and who learns by
himself. An introduction to distance education presented through developed
technologies during university education may be a first step for adult learners
to seize the technological educational opportunities in their future life. Most
of the adults acquire college-level learning outside the traditional
institutions. Distance education is the most popular way for them (Kizito,
2006). Although various dimensions of technology are used for both traditional
higher education systems and distance education in our country, the advantages
provided by the use of technology can not be benefited from sufficiently. The
use of computer and internet usage in higher education is increasing, although
the rates change for different faculties. However, the use of computers and
internet as means of meaningful teaching instruments has a low percentage
(Erktin, and others, 2002). The use of internet and computers for effective
teaching at universities is still avoided (Davenport and Eraslan, 1988).
Making use of distance education and its
technologies for providing better teaching, and for strengthening the
effectiveness of teaching programs are not frequently observed, and if they are
observed, the applications are usually experimental. Even the universities with
the poorest conditions can provide their students internet access, but here
what is mentioned is to the use of technology to improve the quality of
education and to guide the students in the planning and regulating of their learning.
These qualities are the essential qualities of distance education technologies
which will create benefits for students of the traditional campus-based
The advantages of distance education
lectures for the students of traditional universities can be the qualities of
independent learning, self-planning, qualities which will help them all their
future educational life. Distance education can bring ease to the education
system of developing countries. As the number of distance education lectures
increase in traditional universities, these universities will be able to offer
distance education degrees and programs by time. Before some application of
distance system in traditional universities, it seems that traditional
university students have to be convinced for the advantages of the distance
Since asynchronous education is expanding
worldwide, and people and organizations all over the world are realizing its
benefits. Official bodies responsible for higher education must start to
prepare the rules and regulations for an ordered introduction of this kind of
The following vision and procedures are
required for establishing an asynchronous distance higher educational system:
Integrated national IT strategy and infra
structure for the whole
country to include educational institutions, governmental sector and private
sector. The official body must provide easy and reliable access to the Internet
probably by integrating and expanding the current IT and communication system
to include the whole country and manage it by a centralized system.
The cost of using this service must be a
reasonably low one because a student in such a program will be an extensive
user of the Internet services. High costs of using the service will be a
defeating factor for the whole project.
Developing a unified legislation policy
system to control admission/admission requirements, transfer to/from
traditional institutions. For
this kind of education to have any credibility, we have to insist on the quality
of students joining this type of program. We should apply the same admission
rules applied by residential universities. A new measure of computer literacy
must be introduced in order to ensure that the student will be able to make
full use of the available technology in the learning process. This kind of
assessment tool has long been introduced in countries such as the USA, South
Africa, and India.
Putting quality standards and frames to
guarantee high quality distance education graduate no less than residential
There should be regulations at the national
level recognizing and formally accepting the degrees attained through this kind
- Language of teaching should be a
combination of country’s official languages to make it available for a much
- Course materials should be available for
download by students. This is an advantageous way since it makes it easier to
update, and more accessible to the students.
- Majors all fields of study can be
included in asynchronous distance education with the exception of fields
requiring high practical training such as medicine.
The proposed asynchronous university. A student must have full access to a
computer must have the proper and adequate equipment to provide quality
teaching and easy access for its students. For a much wider discussion of this
subject and specifications refer to (Broad, 1999) some majors might require
regional centers with electronic conferencing facilities.
Student assessment requirements
For the assessment procedure to be
credible, it has to ensure that the student and only the student is being
assessed. In residential education, this is not much of a problem as in
distance education. Regulations should be set in the case of asynchronous
distance education to compensate for the lack of physical contact. The lack of
physical contact between student and instructor must also be compensated for by
a higher rate of assignments, tests, and projects carried out by the students.
The only benefit this kind of education offers to the student is allowing
him/her to study at his/her own time and pace, but that should not be at the
expense of quality and standards.
Coordination program between distance
institutions, and other residential and none residential institutions
nationally and internationally to exchange experience.
Other issues such as training human
resources to prepare the courses and operators of the systems, number of credit
hours for a degree or none credit course(s), class meetings, transfer to
residential universities and so forth, should be taken in consideration.
Finally, as a preparation for these
applications further research has to be done investigating views of different
groups and investigating potential problems.
Nowadays, the Internet is used to deliver
regular classes to students who would prefer to take their classes from home,
as well as delivering education to distance education students who live far
away from campus, probably in a different continent. The use of the Internet in
distance education has led to the introduction of asynchronous education. It is
worth mentioning that a number of leading synchronous distance education
institutions are changing to this new form (Hanna, 1998). Although asynchronous
distance education is spreading fast worldwide, we are yet to see its wide
spread in the world. We believe that the introduction of this new kind of
education will have a very strong and positive impact on the educational system
as a whole, due to the following reasons:
- Asynchronous distance education provides
the opportunity of updating course contents to cope with the rapid change in
technology and knowledge.
- It provides the opportunity of
introducing new courses in a much easier and faster way than traditional ways
- It provides a better opportunity for
improving and enriching course contents by getting responses from a vast
population of students, since these courses are offered to a greater audience
than traditional residential and synchronous distance education courses
(Daniel, 1996). It can help overcome the problem of scarcity of qualified
university teachers in the developing countries (Board, 1999). An asynchronous
course can be offered to a much larger number of students than in a residential
course, thus drastically reducing the needed number of lecturers (Ahmed, 1997),
(Alsunbul, 2002) & (NCES, 1998).
- It improves time and place flexibility,
because it allows a student to determine the pace of study.
Hence, it can be said that asynchronous
distance education is better suited for today's needs and lifestyle. But for
this method of learning to have a role, there are great barriers to overcome.
- Computer literacy,
- English language proficiency,
- Cost of Internet,
- Degree accreditation,
- Defining an acceptable method of student
- Social-psychological-cultural studies
must be undertaken to tailor the courses and the methods of teaching to the
needs and traditions of the society.
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К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №2 - 2008