Handbook of Distance Education

Article excerpt

Handbook of Distance Education, by Michael G. Moore and William G. Anderson (Editors) Handbook of Distance Education, by Michael G. Moore and William G. Anderson (Eds.). (Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 872 pages, $185.00)

I was pleased to see the range of topics in the handbook, especially those pertaining to learners, design and instruction, and different audiences. My personal research interests center on the learner, and these three parts of the volume immediately called to me. As I thumbed through the table of contents, I was pleased to see names that I recognized. But, I was also excited to see names that I did not recognizewhich means new things to explore and, ultimately, new learning.

The Handbook of Distance Education was developed as an "authoritative compilation reflecting the state of the art" (p. ix) of distance education. Moore states in the preface that the purpose of the handbook is "to open up the imagination of readers" (p. ix) to the new possibilities available in distance learning. The handbook includes a wide spectrum of topics: an historical perspective, the learner, course design, management and policy issues, audience and economic issues, and it ends with an international perspective.

This book was written by authorities in distance education for users and deliverers of distance education. Moore, in his overview, states that the compilation of this book was fueled by a desire to create a resource that would allow researchers to "know what is known" (p. xiii) in the field before embarking on new research or the design and delivery of new programs. Authors were asked to include the following in their chapters: (1) the current state of their special research area; (2) empirical research evidence available to support that knowledge; and (3) what further research is needed in the area (p. xiii).

Moore stresses that the Handbook is not about using specific technologies but about "the consequences of separating learners and teachers" (p. xiii). And, one of the consequences is the need to use technology to deliver instruction. He stresses that distance education should not be identified with a specific communications technology and urges caution about technology because with each new technology there are associated pitfalls.

This book contains 872 pages and includes an overview, preface, 55 chapters, and two indexes (author and subject). It is organized into seven parts.


Chapters 1-6 focus on the history and theory of distance education. The impact of digital media on distance education is discussed in Chapter 7. A list of studies on new media research concludes the chapter, and the appendix, "Learning with New Media in Distance Education," presents a timeline of digital media and the changes that subsequently took place in learning and teaching behaviors. In Chapter 8, Garrison, Anderson, and Archer present their framework for computer conferencing, and a model for "elements of an educational experience" (p. 116), which includes three types of presence: social, teaching, and cognitive. Technological, pedagogical, and organizational issues relating to CMC are also discussed. In Chapter 9, Terry Anderson discusses the value of interaction in distance education and presents six types of interaction associated with distance education: student-teacher, student-student, student-content, teacher-content, teacher-teacher, and content-content.


These chapters focus on the learner and the multiple aspects that influence learning: context, student advising, computer-mediated instruction, facilitation, learning communities, cognitive and other learning factors, and gender issues. Gibson, in Chapter 10, discusses learners enrolled in distance education classes-individuals and learning communities. She urges us to expand our focus on the individual learner to include team training and learning organizations. …