Digital Dilemma: Issues of Access, Cost, and Quality in Media-Enhanced and Distance Education

By Gerald C. Van Dusen | Go to book overview

ISSUES OF QUALITY AND EFFECTIVENESS

It turns out that learning is not merely a cognitive
phenomenon. It is a social phenomenon as well. People
need much more than information: they need to know
why they are getting this information, how it can be
used, how other people use it, how other people
understand it. They need support, encouragement, and
relevance.
—Stephen Downes (quoted in Repman and Logan,
1996, p. 35)

The enormous educational potential of high-performance and networked computing is threatened, as we have seen, by barriers preventing access to the rich information resources made possible by IT and by increasing costs of servicing and upgrading the campus technology infrastructure. No education technology issue is of greater importance, or more frequently debated, however, than that of quality assurance. In truth, if issues of quality were not so complex and contentious, issues of access and cost would be much less difficult to resolve satisfactorily. Technology advocates and critics alike would nevertheless agree on one point: technologically mediated instruction must not imperil the well-deserved reputation for quality that American higher education has enjoyed both here and abroad.

The accreditation community is in the very early stages of addressing the many challenges to the traditional accreditation process that technology-enhanced and -distributed education has created. In truth, many of these quality issues are the same ones raised for earlier courses using slides and tapes, programmed instruction, mastery learning, and telecourses. As the new computer-based technologies go mainstream, however, a greater sense of urgency to resolve issues old and new press on accreditors. Among the emerging issues of quality assurance identified at a recent conference of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation are a lack of consensus about basic terminology, such as distance education, distributed learning, and technology-enhanced learning; a lack of consistent strategy in organizing a response to the many new and hybrid forms of distributed education; the changing definition of faculty roles and responsibilities; calls for uniform standards while maintaining diversity among institutions; the notion of [cyber-visitations]; and the reconceptualization of semester, class hour, and seat

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Digital Dilemma: Issues of Access, Cost, and Quality in Media-Enhanced and Distance Education
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Executive Summary iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Issues of Access and Equity 20
  • Issues of Cost and Affordability 40
  • Issues of Quality and Effectiveness 61
  • Conclusions and Recommendations 84
  • References 100
  • Index 118
  • Ashe-Eric Higher Education Reports 128
  • Advisory Board 129
  • Consulting Editors 130
  • Review Panel 131
  • Recent Titles 132
  • Back Issue/Subscription Order Form 135
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