Distance Education Policy Issues:
Peter J. Dirr
President, Public Service Telecommunications Corporation
Director, Professional Development Institute
for Cable in the Classroom
This chapter traces its roots to 1990, when the author, then deputy director of the Annenberg/ CPB Project, wrote a chapter entitled “Distance Education: Policy Considerations for the Year 2000, ” which appeared in Contemporary Issues in Distance Education (Moore, 1990). At that time, the author suggested six questions that researchers might address to develop baseline information on the newly emerging field of distance education. Those questions were as follows:
How needed is distance education in the United States?
Who are the clients for distance education? What are their needs?
Who should pay for distance education and how much?
Can newer technologies help distance education overcome some of the barriers to traditional education opportunities?
Where will our next generation of distance educators come from? What types of training will they need?
What are the research needs of distance education as we approach the year 2000?
Some of those questions are as valid today as they were in 1990, especially given the growing number of persons participating in distance education in the United States.
In writing his 1990 chapter, the author relied entirely on issues from his own experiences in reviewing hundreds of proposals for funding and then in overseeing several of the leading distance education projects of the time. In preparing the current chapter, he has relied on a review of articles on distance education that have appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education, the American Journal of Distance Education, and various other sources of distance education literature. The variety of articles almost defy classification, but certain issues emerge