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Issues in Distance Education


LEIT 535 Distance Education Design and Delivery

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Ethical Issues in Distance Education Policy

Melina Gallo

Ethical Issues in Distance Education Policy<BR> Website Report Number One<BR> Melina L. Gallo <BR>

One policy area that distance education administrators should consider before engaging in an internet-based program is setting some ethical guidelines for student and instructor protection. Such guidelines may range from providing informal netiquette suggestions for students regarding spamming and flaming, to more serious legal issues such as libel, plagiarism, and copyright infringements.

Students who post their own research on the web may have valid concerns about unauthorized usage of their words and ideas by unscrupulous visitors. Likewise, administrators may be apprehensive about the possibility of students plagiarizing papers or even the limits of instructors' use of copyrighted materials for educational purposes.

These considerations should not be cause for panic, and comparisons with current programs can be useful (e.g. how easy is it for students to plagiaries papers in traditional classrooms now?) but the different dimensions that this technology brings to some age-old problems should be recognized. For example, the ease of anonymity and the very large scale on which disinformation may be spread can compound the relatively rare problems of cheating, tampering with shared databases, and harassing other people.

Thorough research, discussion and establishment of an ethics policy prior to the advent of distance education classes may head off some of these problems before they arise. Though many situations will need to be dealt with on a case by case basis, clearly defined ethical guidelines can be a valuable tool for any distance education program in dealing with such issues.


Barrie, John M. and Presti, D.E. (1996) The World Wide Web as an Instructional Tool. Science, 274, 371-372.
also available at:

Educom Review Staff (1995). Royalties, Fair Use & Copyright in the Electronic Age. Available at:

The Pricing Issue

Nancy L. Garrison

Price, cost, and benefit. These three words are in integral part of establishing a Distance Education (DE) program or class. Both universities and corporations struggle with the cost of creating DE programs, what price to charge students, and how much the instruction will benefit students.

I read the article, "Online v. On-Campus Tuition: A Lesson in Comparing Apples to Oranges" in Inside Technology Training (ITT). This article reviewed an article from Forbes Magazine: "I got my degree through E-mail."

The Forbes article described some cases where getting online degrees was more expensive than getting degrees while on campus. The article was reacting to the theory that if people get their degrees online, they will not have to pay for room, board, and other "on campus" expenses. The article gave the following examples of universities where the online tuition was more expensive:

The article also describes the University of Maine’s DE program that costs less then on campus classes.

The ITT article further researched the information given in the Forbes article. ITT explained that the programs (online v. on campus) were not always the same. For example, the Duke University on-line program actually included a trip to Europe, Asia or South America and a laptop computer. The major point of the ITT article was in order to compare programs (price and instruction), a student needs to make sure he or she is comparing the same things (apples to apples).

The administration issue is what do institutions and organizations charge for DE programs or classes and how much do students (or their work departments) want to pay. The ITT article, as well as the Forbes article, pointed out from a student’s perspective, there are a lot of issues to sort through when deciding how to get a degree (online or on campus), both from the pricing and learning perspectives. The articles did not discuss the issue of what to charge students, but as we saw in our class discussions, this is a big issue. Both universities and corporations must consider the same issues when trying to establish pricing for their programs or classes. When establishing tuition costs and completing a competitive analysis, universities must be careful to compare their programs with similar programs at other universities.

Gubernick, Lisa and Ashlea Ebeling, I got my degree through E-mail Forbes, June 16, 1997. Pages 84-86.

Online v. On-Campus Tuition: A lesson in Comparing Apples to Oranges, Inside Technology Training, September 1997, Page 8.



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