As we wrap up the week on Definition and History, here’s my take on the definition of distance ed:
phaedrus » Blog Archive » Definition of Distance Ed
There isn’t a valid one because the construct of “distance education” is meaningless. Sure, Keegan has a nice list of diagnostic characteristics. Kearsley avoids the question. The Commission on Colleges Southern Association of Colleges and Schools defines it “for the purposes of accreditation review, as a formal educational process in which the majority of the instruction occurs when student and instructor are not in the same place. Instruction may be synchronous or asynchronous. Distance education may employ correspondence study, or audio, video, or computer technologies (see Morehead’s statement).” But each of the definitions is flawed by one basic assumption — that there is a distinction between distance and non-distance education.
The purpose of defining it in order to suggest what technologies might be available is a valid one. It’s useful to know if the course is “online” or “correspondence” or “compressed video” but to suggest that using the subsets of technologies available in those “labels of convenience” as somehow different than “real education” is misguided and inappropriate.