In an age of tightening education budgets and a perpetually
increasing load on the education system, society is seeking
to find new and innovative solutions for our future educational
needs. The explosion in world population and technological
development, coupled with an increased need for continuing
education and declining interest in the education profession,
threatens to bring our current system of education to its
knees. Amidst these concerns, the spotlight has been cast
on Distance Learning and the possibility that quality distance
education programs may provide some solutions for educating
existing and future generations. While the distance education
programs of the past were hindered by a lack of interactivity
between instructors, students, and their peers, the information
technology revolution of the past two decades can, and will,
provide the means to cost effectively bridge this gap.
Distance education is strategic to the 21st century university.
While the first and second generations of distance education
were delivered through print and broadcast media respectively,
the third generation of distance education requires interactivity.
Interactive technologies from the convergence of telecommunications
and computers span distance but also foreshorten time. The
ability to increase the speed of access and cycles of feedback
has fundamentally reshaped the way that the economy and
business work in today's world. (University System of Maryland,