The future of education in the new millenium
What is DL?
Why do we need DL?
Who needs DL?
How effective is DL?
Factors affecting expansion of DL
Conclusion / Summary
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How effective is DL?

The concerns regarding distance learning's effectiveness as an educational tool seem justified. In the absence of face to face teacher-student interaction, are the students actually learning? The answer is a resounding "yes". Arthur Cropley and Christopher Knapper, two champions of "lifelong learning" studied distance research and practice in university education systems and concluded that distance learning provides the most effective basis for teaching lifelong learners (Evans, 1996: 175). Numerous studies have shown that with proper development, distance learners can achieve results that equal or surpass their conventionally educated peers. For example:

Study of Computer Based Delivery
A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology was conducted using 104 electronic technicians. 25 of the technicians received computer based training from a remote location, while a control group of 79 technicians utilized conventional texts in a traditional environment. At the conclusion of the study, the academic performance of each group was compared and the researchers observed no significant differences in examination scores. In fact, the test scores of the computer-based group were slightly higher! (Verduin, 1991: 220)

Study of Videodisc Based Delivery
A study conducted with 298 soldiers, and published in Educational Technology Systems, sought to determine the effectiveness of Videodisc based learning. As in the study of computer-based delivery, the video-disc trained participants scored significantly higher than the control group.

Study of Online/Internet Based Delivery (Virtual Classroom)
Perhaps the most significant study reviewed the results of Online/Internet trained participants versus conventionally trained participants. In this study, a professor at California State University at Northridge randomly divided the students in his applied statistics course into two groups. One group learned in a "virtual classroom' through the use of on-line texts, email, real-time chatrooms, and electronic assignments. The other group received the traditional classroom based lectures with pen and paper assignments. When concluded, the study revealed that the Online/Internet trained participants tested an astounding twenty percent higher than their conventionally trained peers. (Black, 1997)

…post-test results indicate the virtual class has significantly higher perceived peer contact, and time spent on class work, but a perception of more flexibility, understanding of the material and greater affect toward math, at semester end, than did the traditional class. (Schutte, 1997)

Research on delivery modes and their correlation to student achievement outcomes has shown that students learn better via teletraining mode than face-to-face instruction (Chute, 1989)

As for the lack of face-to-face interaction, research conducted by Linda Harasim at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education found that "on-line learning is not only active, but it is interactive," (Mason, 1989: 55). Her study of on-line distance learning programs revealed that the student-student exchange represented over 80% of the class interaction, compared with the 60-80% of verbal exchange coming from the teacher in a conventional classroom environment.

Conferencing exchanges in the [DL] courses are student-centered, involving dynamic and extensive sharing of information, ideas, and opinions among learners. Knowledge building occurs as students explore issues, examine one another's arguments, agree, disagree, and question positions. Collaboration contributes to higher order learning, through cognitive restructuring or conflict resolution, in which new ways of understanding the material emerge as a result of contact with new or different perspectives. (Mason, 1989: 55)