Email me your questions

FAQ Board

LEIT 535 Distance Education Design and Delivery

Back to Home Page

Other Distance Education FAQ sites

FAQ (Website Report #6

General Questions

What is the history of DE?

Tris Ottolino

The question that I decided to answer is: "What is the history of distance learning?

I was able to find the answer to this question on a website titled The Official FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) from (Rita Law). The URL for this site is

Distance education actually started over 100 years ago in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Today, in other countries, distance education is associated with Open Universities. These are well-known and highly respected universities. Open universities started in the United Kingdom in 1971. "The largest distance learning student body in the world is part of the University of South Africa (UNISA). UNISA has more than 200,000 people enrolled world wide" (Rita Law).

Distance education stared mainly because many countries has sparsely populated areas. It did not make sense for people to travel great distances in order to obtain an education. In many cases, people were unable to seek further education because of distances between the institution and their homeland. In the 1890's, external programs were offered at the University of Queensland in Australia. The distance learning programs in this country are recognized as a model for other countries.

The United States began developing distance education programs in the late 19th century. In the 1930's, programs were offered over the radio and in the 1960's courses were offered on the television. New York became the leader in distance education in the 1970's. The development of the first accredited school, the "Regents External Degree Program", began in New York. California also developed a program at California Coast University.

Still today, distance education is not totally accepted by all occupations. "This prejudice appears to be lessening as the facts of distance learning become known, and as such degrees grow in numbers" (Rita Law).

The site where I found the answer to this question also posed several other questions that would be of interest to the new-comer to distance education. The answers to the questions were also provided. Some of those questions were:

  1. What is distance education
  2. Who needs distance learning?
  3. How do I find the distance learning program that is best for me?
  4. What is a diploma mill and how do I determine the quality of a school?
  5. Where are the "on-line universities"?
  6. How do I stay motivated to complete a degree?

All information used to answer the question was retrieved from the Official FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) from (Rita Law). The URL for this site is: [].

What is distance education? (and other Qs)

Joan Harris

To be uploaded at a later date.

Is distance education effective? (and other Qs)

Lauren Wellen

In the guide for the on-line journal, Distance Education, the first section has four major questions that are asked about distance education (DE). The questions asked are:

What is Distance Education?

Is Distance Education Effective?

How is Distance Education Delivered?

Which Technology is Best?

The "key players" in DE are students, faculty, support staff, and administrators. The answers are based on research and focus on programs for adults seeking a second chance in education, those that have limited time, distance limitations, and those trying to update their knowledge base for their work place.

Distance Education is posted on the web by Engineering Outreach which is a part of the College of Engineering at the University of Idaho.

What are some common DE terms?

Lorretta Pearson

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Distance Learning Terms
by Loretta Pearson

What is CAI?
Computer-Assisted Instruction is the educational use of computers to provide drill, tutoring, simulations or training in problem solving skills. It requires the use of specific computer software designed for the task.
What is CMI?
Computer-Managed Instruction is the educational use of computers to handle testing, grade records, and other classroom management tasks.
What is multimedia?
Multimedia is the combination of text, sound and video to present information in ways that bring pages of information or ideas to life.
What is Interactive Multimedia?
A back-and-forth dialogue between a user and a computer which allows the use and manipulation of multimedia.
What is IAV?
InterActive Video merges two electronic media: computers and television, for the purpose of presenting visual instruction.
What is CMC?
Computer Mediated Communication is the use of the World Wide Web in order to communicate with other users and often to deliver instruction.
What is an IMF?
An Interactive Media Facilitator is a person who assumes overall responsibility for an on-line educational environment, acting as a buffer between the students and the instructor. This person is responsible for technical problems encountered by the instructor and/or the students and is expected to respond quickly and effectively.

How can a distance learner overcome the challenges unique to distance learning?


Deb Walsh

Learning, under any circumstances, requires motivation, planning, and the ability to analyze and apply the information being taught. For the distance learner, the task of learning is more complicated because of the unique factors associated with distance education.

The distance learner is usually isolated, lacks immediate teacher support, and must adapt to using unfamiliar technology. Because of these circumstances, distance learners may not be confident about their learning and, consequently, may not achieve a deep understanding of course material.

To successfully master new information so that it becomes meaningful and valuable, distance learners must be selective and focused in their learning. To accomplish this in a DE setting, learners need to respond appropriately to distance learning challenges:

What is the difference between synchronous and asynchronous interaction, and what are some of the advantages and disadvantages of each?

Doris Cheung

Synchronous is "a term that refers to communication in which interaction between the sender and the receiver is not delayed" (Willis, p. 302). In other words, the interaction occurs in real time. Types of synchronous interaction include two-way audio, two-way video, computer document conferencing, and "chat" rooms.

Asynchronous refers to "communication in which interaction between the sender and the receiver does not take place simultaneously" (Willis, p. 291). This delay in communication may be a matter of hours, days, or even weeks. Examples of asynchronous interaction include voice mail, correspondence by mail, fax, computer e-mail, and electronic bulletin boards.

Some advantages of synchronous interaction are:

Some disadvantages of synchronous interaction:

Asynchronous interaction can offer the following advantages:

Disadvantages of asynchronous interaction include the following:

Neither of these types of interaction is necessarily "the better choice" for instructional delivery, and in fact, a combination of synchronous and asynchronous technologies "can provide an environment rich in various opportunities for interaction" (Berge, p. 23). The advantages and disadvantages of each, however, must be considered in relation to factors such as the instructional goals and objectives to be achieved, the resources available (i.e., human and material), the learner, and the learning environment.


Berge, Z. L. (1995). Facilitating computer conferencing: Recommendations from the field. Educational Technology (January-February), 22-30.

Guide #11: Interactive videoconferencing in distance education. Engineering Outreach: Distance Education at a Glance. University of Idaho: College of Engineering at

Romiszowski, A. J. Web-based distance learning and teaching: Revolutionary invention or reaction to necessity? Handout from 10/20 class.

Willis, B. (Ed.). (1994). Distance education: Strategies and tools. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

What is the Difference between Audioconferencing and Audiographics?

Linda Geller

Audioconferencing and audiographics are components of teleconferencing. Audioconferencing uses audio-only communication. Audiographics combines technologies for voice communication with those that allow image or data transmissions (Wolcott, 1994).

Audioconferencing describes the activity of a number of people at remote locations connected simultaneously through the telephone system. This setup allows participants to hear each other as if they were all sitting in the same room. Technical components of a typical audio-only conference might include: telephone hand sets, speaker phones or microphones, an audio bridge that interconnects multiple phone lines and controls noise; and a speaker device to facilitate multiple interactions.

Audiographics describes a delivery system that combines audioconferencing with an interactive computer graphics system. Computers are linked by modems or networks, and connections can be either point-to-point or multipoint. The computer screen is used as a projection device with the capacity to enable both instructor and students to draw and edit the image that appears on all screens. Technical components of the audiographic environment might include speaker phones, computers, graphics tablets, scanners, fax machines, document cameras and electronic whiteboards.

For an in-depth discussion on instructional audio, including its advantages and limitations and instructional design issues, visit Guide #6 at the Distance Education at a Glance website.

Reference: Wolcott, L. L. (1994). Audio tools for distance education. In Barry Willis (ED.), Distance education: Strategies and tools (pp. 135-164). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

Should we be concerned about copyright in a distance learning environment?

Janet Giesen

Information presented here is general in nature and therefore, should not be considered the final word on the subject. Therefore, the reader should visit the sites listed here, read other sources to become familiar with the legal aspects of copyright, and obtain legal advice from a licensed attorney, if necessary.

The answer to the question about whether we must consider copyright is an unequivocal yes. Copyrighted works on the Internet, which are often used as an instructional medium in distance learning environments, include news stories, software, novels, screenplays, graphics, pictures, Usenet messages, and even E-mail. As one can see, almost most everything on the Internet is protected by copyright law.

Copyright is the legal right to exclusive ownership and distribution extended to creators of works, fixed in a tangible means of expression, such as literary, musical, artistic, or dramatic works, for a specified amount of time. For works created on or after January 1, 1978, protection begins at the moment of creation, whether registered with the government or not, and that the protection lasts for fifty years after the author's death. Different time limits apply for works created before 1978.

Willis (1994) provides further information related to legislation about distance education and copyright. The Copyright Remedy Clarification Act (1990) states that universities supplying a distance education program can be sued for copyright violations and that individuals involved with production and design of the program can be named in the lawsuit as well.

To aid those in education and other venues, Fair Use, under the domain of copyright, renders the privilege to use copyrighted materials, for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research. It limits the copyright owner's monopoly by allowing others, especially in education, the right to make reasonable uses of the copyrighted material without specific consent of the author (Willis, 1994, citing Hutchings-Reed).

Within a classroom devoted to instruction, authorization is given to instructors and students engaged in face-to-face instructional activities to use copyrighted works such as slides, videos, print media, and computer software. However, permission is not extended to transmitting these materials via networks, such as compressed video or satellite, without the copyright holder's approval. Penalties for copyright infringement are steep and may include damages ($20,000 to $100,000 per work involved), legal fees, and court costs per infringement.

Consider these two facts when using electronic information, material, data, images, etc. in a distance learning environment: 1) For copyright purposes all copying technologies are viewed in the same way as photocopiers. In other words, a fax copy of an article would be viewed the same as a photocopy of the articles, 2) If a class presentation is videotaped and placed into a media center collection or shown outside the classroom, say, for an audience of parents, friends, relatives, or business executives, that videotape could then be considered a public performance, thus, infringing on copyrighted material.

Here are some basic rules regarding copyright (and there are more):

  1. Assume that everything you are reading, seeing, hearing, etc., is protected by copyright. This includes anything on the Internet.
  2. If you want to use others' works in the creation or distribution of new materials, you need to think of copyright.
  3. When in doubt, request permission from the copyright author and explain the purpose of its use.
  4. If you are unable to obtain permission, then do not use the material in question.
  5. Realize that the laws are currently in flux and that changes in the law(s) occur frequently. Keep up to date with copyright laws, especially those that relate to distance learning and education.

To avoid copyright infringements, institutions involved in distance learning programs should design and implement copyright policies accompanied by manuals and to provide subsequent training concerning copyright policy (Willis, 1994) and ensuing changes in the law. The implementation of distance education has become even more complicated, especially in the area of copyright and copyright laws. Both distance education faculty and students should be aware of the legal issues and consequences of copyright.

Currently, there is a great deal of leeway in the law regarding the use of online images (and Internet copyright in general) however, these laws are evolving and subject to change. If applicable, make sure that you identify your images and web site as containing copyright material, implement technical solutions such as SiteShield, and strongly pursue violations of your copyrights. Due to the nature of distance learning, electronic access increases opportunities to easier access to others' works, thus, increasing exposure to liability for copyright infringement. It is important, then, that all users of distance learning become aware of and follow the law and specific distance learning copyright issues.

Resources and Related Sites:

(an especially good site regarding U of Texas' policy)

(16 sites specific to copyright issues with 4 focusing on distance education)

(copyright issues related to distance education in outline format)

(copyright and asynchronous distance learning)

(copying and copyright issues)

(basic U.S. patent, trademark, & copyright information)

(answers to common myths about copyright on the Net)

Willis, B., Ed. (1994). Distance education: Strategies and tools. Educational Technology Publications, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

Design and Utilization Questions

Supporting Equipment in Two-way Videoconferencing Classrooms

Kevin Himmel

Regarding the two-way video/audio conferencing system, what other technical equipment can be used to facilitate instruction during a class session?

Document Camera- The document camera projects images through the videoconferencing system to both host and remote sites. Mostly instructors use this piece of equipment to show slides, models, three-dimensional objects, magazine articles, and/or photographs.
Computer- A computer in a classroom can hook directly into the videoconferencing system and project an image on both the host and remote sites. The instructor can show presentation software, simulations, Web-based materials, or any other application from the computer that aides in instruction.
VCR- The VCR is directly hooked into the videoconferencing and allows the instructor to show a supplemental videotape. The VCR also has the functionality of taping class session, which can be viewed for later feedback.
Fax Machine- A fax machine within the classroom can be used for sending hard-copy information to other sites. This medium can also be used as a backup for sending information in case of technical difficulties on the videoconferencing system.
Speaker Phone- A speaker phone is used for emergency contact in case of technical difficulties. The speaker phone can also be used to bring in guest speakers into the class session, who may not have access to the videoconferencing technology.

What Design Considerations Should be Made When I Plan a Course via Teleconference Technology?

Margaret Nissen

Spontaneous interaction is a much desired element of any educational environment. However, in a Distance Learning environment such spontaneity must be planned. This may sound like an oxymoron, but what is meant is that there must be time set aside for interaction between students and faculty at distance sites.

Spontaneity doesn't come easily over long distance video because of a few reasons. The first is the slight delay that occurs when the signal is switched from one site to another. To avoid people verbally stumbling over each other and cutting each other out, the interaction must be planned for and acknowledged. Another reason to plan these interactions is to urge students to participate more fully in the class. Students at the distant site may feel a little isolated and students at the send site may be so engaged by the instructor that they forget they have classmates at another location.

One strategy to encourage interaction with all students is for the teacher to ask questions that can be answered privately or written down and answers faxed to the send site. The answers can be read aloud by the instructor and a discussion can be based on them.

Support materials are very important in a distance learning environment. When an instructor seems remote, resources like print-outs, websites, and presentations take on more importance. Delays, audio and video problems can all interfere with instruction so that support materials are essential. Videotaping of classes as study aids is not practiced everywhere but class videos can be valuable study aids for some students. If Electronic presentations are used, special care must be taken to make sure the fonts are large and clear as they are going to suffer some loss of quality through transmission.

Some of the content for this report came from, "Video Instruction at a Distance", Judith V. Boettcher, Syllabus, August 1997, V. 11, No. 1

Preliminary Actions for Videoconferencing Class/Meeting

Lori Hamilton

When using a two-way videoconferencing system for a class session or a meeting, what are some things a person or group of people should do before starting the class or meeting?

Arrive in plenty of time before the class or meeting begins to ensure the technology is working properly.
Organize your presentation and materials before the class or meeting begins.
Set the camera presets around the room, so all participants will be seen during the class or meeting.
Make sure the lapel microphone is clipped to presenter or instructor's outfit, so the he/she can walk around the room and be heard at all sites.
Have a close up camera preset on the presenter or instructor.
Introduce yourself and allow the class or meeting members to introduce themselves to the rest of the group.
Be prepared with an alternative plan if the technology should have difficulties.
Keep the class and meeting interactive, involving all sites in the conversations, discussions, activities.

Internet/Web Information Questions

World Wide Web: Technology to Enhance Learning?

Toumani Sidibe

To be uploaded at a later date.

Can I create my own web page?

Sally Petersen

Yes, everyone can create their own web page. In fact, having your own,
personal home page is going to be as common as having a car phone!

Most people think that you need money in order to develop your own web page,
however, you can likely create a home page for less than a couple of dollars.
The more prevalent problem is finding the time to design a personalized web

Actually, the design and development time of a customized page is controlled
by you, the author. You can design a simple web page using Microsoft Word,
or an elaborate page using one of the many web-authoring software programs
available today, such as Microsoft Front Page, Claris Home Page, Adobe
Pagemill or Netscape Composer.

The best thing about these programs is that you don't need to know anything
about HTML (hypertext markup language). HTML is a text-based publishing
language that underlies every web page. When using one of the software
packages noted above, the HTML code is invisibly written for you through the
use of standard templates.

Once you complete your home page, you will need to view your work by using a
Web browser. Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer are the two
contenders available today.

After checking your site on the Web using your browser of choice, you can
"publish" your work! An organization you belong to may allow you web space
for free. Once your web site has been established, you will need to upload
your page(s) using FTP (file transfer protocol). You can do that by
downloading an FTP program from the Internet <A
HREF="">Ipswitch Inc.</A. This program will allow you
to transfer your web page files to your established site.</P>

As you can see, creating your own web page can be as easy as 1 - 2 - 3!

Komando, Kim. "It's Easier Than You Think to make Your Own Web Page."
Computer Basics: The Cutting Edge. September 15, 1997.
Raeburn, Paul. "So You Want to be a Web-Page Wizard." Business Week. April
7, 1997.

What are the advantages of using video conferencing over the Internet in the K-12 classroom?

Sherri Griffin Blyth

It appears that there are several advantages of using video-conferencing over the Internet in the K-12 classroom. Yvonne Andres, a teacher involved in the Global SchoolNet Foundation, found that video-conferencing over the Internet fosters relationships between students, educators, and scientists who participate. In the March 1995 article, "Scientist on Tap: Video-Conferencing over the Internet", Andres documented experiences she had with a class on this subject.

Andres Global Schoolhouse classroom used a tool CU-SeeMe, developed by Cornell University, to do video-conferencing over the Internet. One day, Larry a scientist from Jet Propulsion Labs(JPL) , appeared in the classroom via CU-SeeMe. Larry was using CU-SeeMe for the first time and was having some difficulties. He promised to teach the students about rockets and space exploration if they told him how to configure and use CU-SeeMe.

As a result of this incident, a long term relationship was formed between Larry and the students. He gave lectures, shared stories, and provided satellite images to the students. Other employees at JPL found out about this situation and volunteered their time and services as well. Soon other scientists from other companies joined the effort. Thus the Scientist on Tap program was developed.

It appears (although not scientifically documented) that video-conferencing over the Internet and programs such as Scientist on Tap can lead to increased motivation to learn on part of the students. Students in the Global Schoolhouse program have been very enthusiastic about learning via video-conferencing. Programs such as these also help students develop critical thinking skills. Students are not always repeating information, they appear to be actually processing and thinking about what they have learned. The students question the guest about what he/she is telling them. All of this questioning and processing of what they are being told promotes cognitive thinking skills in the students.

Overall, it seems as if video-conferencing over the Internet is creating opportunities for students to interact with people throughout the community and throughout the world. This can only enhance the learning environment for the K-12 students.

What type of courses are available on the internet?

Dan Ward

At the last count, over 25,000 courses were being offered worldwide by way of the Internet. Distance education courses are offered at all educational levels, from pre-college, through the undergraduate level, and into the graduate level. The courses themselves can be part of an overall program or stand-alone, or can lead to a certificate or provide continuing education credit. Courses dealing with business and society comprise the majority of classes offered on the Internet, but all areas of study are represented. The following web sites can provide you with additional information about a specific course, type of course, or program of study that is being offered on the Internet.


CASO's Internet University. The Internet's largest index of: College Courses by Computer. This site has more than 1,130 pages of ONLINE ED information, provided to the Educational and Internet communities as a service of CASO (Cape Software).

Global Network Academy maintains an online distance education catalog of courses and degree programs worldwide.

Lifelong Learning's Directory of Online Colleges, Internet Universities, and Training Institutes.

The International Centre of Distance Learning This site, managed by the Open University, list over 10,000 distance learning courses and degrees by Country.

Peterson's Education and Career Center - Distance Learning; contains information on distance learning institutions, consortia, programs and courses.

World Lecture Hall website is arranged by subject. It contains links to pages created by faculty worldwide who are using the Web to deliver class materials. For example, you will find course syllabi, assignments, lecture notes, exams, class calendars, multimedia textbooks, etc. The University of Texas-Austin maintains it.




Home Syllabus TextForum IssuesLinks