Journal of Distance Education/ Revue de l'enseignement à distance Spring/Printemps 1999 Vol. 14, No. 1, 102-114
What’s the Difference: A Review of Contemporary Research on the Effectiveness of Distance Learning in Higher Education Ronald Phipps and Jamie Merisotis American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, 1999, 48 pages Available online at http://www.ihep.com/difference.pdf Mark Bullen With the increasing popularity of web-based instruction, it seems there has been an explosion of published research, evaluation, and other literature related to distance education. For some time now I have found it increasingly difficult to stay on top of this growing body of literature. So when this report first came across my desk (or screen), I felt a sense of relief that finally somebody had taken the time to synthesize and evaluate some of this growing body of distance education research. The stated purpose of this 48-page report is to examine the research on the effectiveness of distance education in order to inform public policy. The specific questions the report sought to answer were: 1. What are the findings of the research on the effectiveness of distance education? 2. Are they valid? 3. Are there gaps in the research that require further investigation? 4. What does the literature suggest for the future? The report is divided into four main sections: 1. What Does the Original Research Say About the Effectiveness of Distance Learning? 2. What Are the Key Shortcomings of the Research? 3. What Are the Gaps in the Research that Require Further Investigation and Information? 4. Implications. It is important to note that the review is limited to material published in the 1990s that dealt with two-way interactive video, one-way prerecorded video, two-way audio/oneway video, and computer-mediated learning. No definitions of these technologies are provided, which is particularly problematic for computer-mediated learning because it could refer to online...
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