Distance Learning in Higher Education: A Programmatic Approach to Planning, Design, Instruction, Evaluation, and Accreditation

By Howell, Scott L. | Quarterly Review of Distance Education, July 1, 2009 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Distance Learning in Higher Education: A Programmatic Approach to Planning, Design, Instruction, Evaluation, and Accreditation


Howell, Scott L., Quarterly Review of Distance Education


Distance Learning in Higher Education: A Programmatic Approach to Planning, Design, Instruction, Evaluation, and Accreditation, by Alfred P. Rovai, Michael K. Ponton, and Jason D. Baker Distance Learning in Higher Education: A Programmatic Approach to Planning, Design, Instruction, Evaluation, and Accreditation, by Alfred P. Rovai, Michael K. Ponton, and Jason D. Baker. (New York: Teachers College Press, 2008, 224 pages, $49.00).

The three professors from Regent University who authored Distance Learning in Higher Education: A Programmatic Approach to Planning, Design, Instruction, Evaluation, and Accreditation have prepared, in this reviewer's opinion, the first comprehensive, quality, introductory text on distance education in the field. Often while reading this book I thought, "I wish I had written this book" - it really says what it should say with no glaring omissions, does it in a simple and straightforward manner, and finally places under one cover the most relevant elements of the emerging distance education model of the twenty-first century. The book also presents advantages and disadvantages for distance educators to consider among possible options and between best approaches.

Many of the concepts covered in the text (e.g., adult learning, strategic planning, design, assessment, evaluation, and accreditation) are generalizable to other educational emphases, including, but not limited to, online education, e-learning, continuing education, distributed education, adult education, and blended learning. The publisher could easily repurpose this book to any of these emphases simply by substituting distance learning in the title with one of the other emphases, and by having authors make only minor textual changes. While the content is somewhat generic and introductory, the book's strength is in its comprehensive coverage of foundational topics and in the interrelatedness of those topics.

Even though the book itself includes many references about technology, and much of the discussion revolved around uses of technology in a subject-related context, its focus is not on technology. I assume the authors were strategic in their decision not to include technology in the book's title, but make no mistake - a technology theme threads itself throughout the entire book. It may be that these words found in the "program and course design" chapter represent the authors' perspective on the subject: "one can argue that technology itself is neutral and that the real issue is how people use the technology" (p. 75).

The book is generally well written with a good mix of findings from the literature and practical suggestions from the field. I was pleased to see the three authors acknowledge from time to time that while the literature suggests one thing, experience and intuition should temper theoretical and inconclusive findings. For example, in the "program evaluation" chapter, the authors address the theoretical elements of a good evaluation but then acknowledge that "evaluators must not equate evidence with truth. Rational decision making is based on both evidence and professional judgment. The danger is that evaluators and administrators may make decisions based solely on measurements because of the appearance of truth" (p. 120).

It is evident from the manner in which content is introduced and information discussed that the authors are also trained in instructional science and design. The authors skillfully frame each chapter using advance organizers and intersperse meaningful tables and figures at appropriate times to simplify and clarify denser text and difficult discussions. The book itself is a notable example of how to prepare instructional materials and write a reader- and instruction-friendly book.

A total of 10 figures and 10 tables are distributed across 1 1 chapters and approximately 160 pages of text, not including the three appendices. A reader with limited time or significant background in distance learning could easily skip from table to figure and then yet another figure to table without reading intervening text to capture writer essence.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Distance Learning in Higher Education: A Programmatic Approach to Planning, Design, Instruction, Evaluation, and Accreditation
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?