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Distance Education in Higher Education Institutions
NCES 98062
October 1997

Future Plans for Distance Education Course Offerings

Institutions' plans for distance education course offerings is important information for policymakers as they consider how distance education may serve students in the future. To provide some of this information, institutions currently offering distance education courses (i.e., in fall 1995) and those planning to offer distance education courses in the next 3 years were asked about the number of distance education courses they plan to direct to various remote sites and the types of technologies they plan to use to deliver these courses. Institutions were asked to indicate whether they plan to reduce the number of courses, keep the same number, start or increase the number of courses, or had no plans with regard to that site or technology.

Delivery of Distance Education Courses to Remote Sites in the Next 3 Years

With the exception of correctional facilities, where 18 percent of the institutions plan to start or increase their distance education course offerings (Table 19), about half to three-quarters of the institutions that currently offer or plan to offer distance education courses plan to start or increase their distance education course offerings to the other types of remote sites. About three-quarters of the institutions plan to start or increase their distance education offerings to other branches of their institution or to other college campuses, about two-thirds plan to start or increase their offerings to work sites, 61 percent plan to start or increase their offerings to libraries, elementary/secondary schools, or community-based organizations, and about half plan to start or increase their offerings to students' homes.

In general, more public 2-year and 4-year institutions than private 4- year institutions plan to start or increase their distance education course offerings to most remote sites (Table 20). For example, while 68 percent of public 2-year and 69 percent of public 4-year institutions plan to start or increase their offerings to libraries, elementary/secondary schools, or community-based organizations, 45 percent of private 4-year institutions indicated that they plan to start or increase their offerings to the same sites. Similarly, 82 percent of public 2-year and 86 percent of public 4-year institutions plan to start or increase their offerings to other branches of their institutions or other college campuses, compared with 61 percent of private 4-year institutions.

Technologies to be Pursued During the Next 3 Years

About three-quarters of the institutions that currently offer or plan to offer distance education courses plan to start or increase their use of two-way interactive video, two-way online (computer-based) interactions during instruction, and other computer-based technologies to deliver their distance education courses in the next 3 years (Table 21). Fewer institutions had plans to start or increase their use of the other technologies, ranging from 8 percent planning to start or increase their use of audio graphics to 49 percent planning to start or increase their use of one-way prerecorded video.

It is interesting to compare the current use of various technologies with plans for their use in the next 3 years (see Table 22). Among institutions that offered distance education courses in fall 1995, two way interactive video and one-way prerecorded video were the most frequently used technologies, with 57 percent and 52 percent of the institutions reporting that they currently used these technologies to deliver their distance education courses. Among institutions that offered distance education courses in fall 1995 or that planned to offer distance education courses in the next 3 years, 81 percent and 77 percent, respectively, plan to start or increase their use of two-way interactive video, and 52 percent and 44 percent, respectively, plan to start or increase their use of one-way prerecorded video. While 14 percent of institutions that offered distance education courses in fall 1995 reported that they currently used two-way online interactions during instruction, three-quarters of institutions that offered distance education courses in fall 1995 and 64 percent of institutions that planned to offer distance education courses in the next 3 years plan to start or increase their use of two-way online interactions during instruction. Similarly, while 22 percent of institutions that offered distance education courses in fall 1995 currently used other types of computer-based technologies, 84 percent of institutions that offered distance education courses in fall 1995 and 74 percent of institutions that planned to offer distance education courses in the next 3 years plan to start or increase their use of other computer-based technologies.

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