Higher Education through Open and Distance Learning

By Keith Harry | Go to book overview

Chapter 8

America

Until relatively recently, distance education in the Caribbean was commonly equated with the University of the West Indies Distance Teaching Experiment (UWIDITE), which has been known for many years for its use of teleconference technology for facilitiating contact between students and university tutors. Brandon’s chapter describes recent developments in UWI and in other institutions which are developing their own distance-taught programmes.

Distance education in Latin America has a long history, as Chacón relates in his chapter, and continues to develop apace. Two open universities, Universidad Estatal a Distancia in Costa Rica and Universidad Nacional Abierta in Venezuela, were established twenty years ago at the time when single-mode institutions were mushrooming all over the world. Chacón documents other similar institutions in Latin America established more recently, but the trend towards dual-mode distance education is particularly strong.

Canada, as Shale describes, has a strong tradition of dual-mode distance education in universities as well as possessing the single-mode Athabasca University, the Open Learning Agency, which offers degree programmes in addition to programmes at other levels, and the francophone Télé-université, which is part of the Université du Québec system. The Canadian Association for Distance Education provides a national focus through its Journal of Distance Education, its Web site (http://www.cadeaced.ca) and its organisation of face-to-face and teleconferenced meetings and conferences.

Distance education in the United States is much more difficult to encapsulate because of its extensive and disparate nature. There is a parallel with Canadian distance education in that many conventional American universities offer distance-taught courses. In addition, a number of Canadian universities utilise the new information and communications technologies either alone or in partnership with other institutions. The United States experience is characterised by extensive usage of audio- and videoconferencing, cable and satellite television, and computer applications of many different kinds. Distance education is also employed by many different

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