"I never think of the future. It comes soon enough."
- Albert Einstein

The Internet has made it possible for students to take courses "anytime, anywhere" promoting the greatest increase in distance education in U.S. history. This shift has also created significant debate in the educational community about the quality of education. While the debate centers around online education, it is one applicable to all of education.

It might help to think of it this way, the traditional lecture course is measured with something called the Carnegie Unit of Measurement. The Carnegie Units suggests that courses be designed so that students spend two hours of study for every one hour spent with you. That means that traditional courses included two hours of 'distance education'. With technology we have new ways to replicate and extend what occurs in that hour.

Even if we agree, however, that students have always enjoyed a bit of distance education with their campus experiences, online courses still represent something new, something most of us did not experience as students. In fact, fully online courses are such a comparatively new phenomenon that even the strongest supporter of the medium usually agrees that we have much to learn. But, as new research on the brain has shown, so do all of us involved in education.

The unique requirements of online teaching and learning do clearly point to one reality - not all faculty are suited to teaching in this medium, just as not all students learn best from what is largely a written and visual means of communication.

We explore in this lesson a bit of history of distance education, the various forms of distance education, developments in online education, and how you can design an effective online course. You'll also find a bit about "netiquette."

- by Andy Howard and Kristina Kauffman


This module contains the following main readings:

  1. Distance Education - Past, Present and Future
  2. Online Courses
  3. Netiquette


By the end of this module you should be able to:

1. Apply key concepts in the design of online courses to ensure quality.

2. Identify a variety of forms of distance education and describe characteristics, capabilities, and limitations of the delivery technologies used.

3. Describe proper methods of communications using Internet technologies.


notebook image

Knowledge Check

An advantage that posting boards have over chat rooms is that posting boards:

A. can be accessed over the Internet.
B. do not leave a history of comments.
C. are lively like a class room discussion.
D. do not require synchronous participation.