Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Effective Teaching in Distance Education

Effective Teaching in Distance Education. Many of us involved with library instruction in higher education (and some in the K-12 world too) are being asked to find ways to teach to students not located on campus. When I worked at Michigan State University, I gave several library instruction sessions via television to students located around North America. A lot of the work we do putting library instructional material online aids distance learning efforts as well. This short essay has some ideas for how to be effective in teaching in the distance education setting.

From the site:

For over 100 years, distance education has served as an alternative method for delivering academic course work to students unable to attend traditional campus-based classes. The format of distance education varies from correspondence-style courses to technologically based courses using the Internet. Distance education offers students considerable benefits, including increased access to learning, lifelong learning opportunities, and convenience of time and place (St. Pierre, 1998). Distance education may be essential for learners who are truly place-bound because of factors such as employment, child-care demands, disability, or remoteness of the location where they live (Rintala, 1998). This digest presents information on the many forms distance education can take and keys to successful teaching with distance education.


Distance education is a method of education in which the learner is physically separated from the teacher and the institution sponsoring the instruction. It may be used on its own, or in conjunction with other forms of education, including face-to-face instruction. In any distance education process there must be a teacher, one or more students, and a course or curriculum that the teacher is capable of teaching and the student is trying to learn. The contract between teacher and learner, whether in a traditional classroom or distance education, requires that the student be taught, assessed, given guidance and, where appropriate, prepared for examinations that may or may not be conducted by the institution. This must be accomplished by two-way communication. Learning may be undertaken either individually or in groups; in either case, it is accomplished in the physical absence of the teacher in distance education. Where distance teaching materials are provided to learners, they are structured in ways that facilitate learning at a distance.

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