Kathy A. Krendl Ohio University
The term distance education can be used to describe many different types of education. For example, correspondence study, the earliest form of distance education, has been in existence for generations, relying on the postal system as its primary distribution system to overcome the distance that separates the student from the instructor ( Keegan, 1988). Contemporary use of the term, however, is typically applied to educational contexts in which students and instructors are separated physically but linked electronically using technologies that support high levels of interaction. Often the linkages between students and instructors use a wide array of technologies putting together combinations of media -- voice mail, fax, e-mail, Internet, computer conferencing, video- conferencing, and so on. That is, the distinguishing characteristics of distance education as it is used today focus on the use of instructional technology to overcome the boundaries of time and space that separate instructors and students and to enable either real-time or asynchronous interaction between and among instructors and students. The term itself describes many different types of linkages and interactions that can occur between students and instructors (see, e.g., Keegan, 1988; Smith, 1988).