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Distance Education in Higher Education Institutions
NCES 98062
October 1997

Factors Keeping Institutions From Starting or Expanding Distance Education Course Offerings

An important question for policymakers is the extent to which various kinds of factors may keep institutions from fully pursuing distance education as an instructional option. To help answer this question, all institutions in the study, including those with no future plans to offer distance education courses, were asked the extent to which each of 16 factors was keeping their institution from starting or expanding their distance education course offerings. The response categories were "not at all," "minor extent," "moderate extent," and "major extent." Among the factors institutions frequently reported as keeping their institution from starting or expanding their distance education course offerings to a major extent were program development costs (43 percent), limited technological infrastructure to support distance education (31 percent), and equipment failures and costs of maintaining equipment (23 percent; Table 23). However, in general, most of the factors listed were not perceived to be major hindrances keeping institutions from starting or expanding their distance education offerings. For example, factors to which many institutions responded "not at all" include inability to obtain state authorization (79 percent), restrictive federal, state, or local policies (58 percent), legal concerns (57 percent), lack of support from institution administrators (60 percent), and lack of fit with the institution's mission (58 percent).

The extent to which some of the factors were perceived to be keeping institutions from starting or expanding their distance education course offerings varied depending on whether institutions currently offered, planned to offer, or did not plan to offer distance education courses in the next 3 years (Table 24). For example, 40 percent of institutions that did not plan to offer distance education courses in the next 3 years felt that lack of fit with the institution's mission was keeping them from starting distance education course offerings to a major extent, while 80 percent of institutions currently offering distance education courses (i.e., in fall 1995) and 78 percent of those planning to offer distance education courses felt that it was not at all a factor. Similarly, lack of perceived need was a factor to a major extent for 34 percent of institutions that did not plan to offer distance education courses, while 61 percent of the institutions currently offering and 53 percent of those planning to offer distance education courses felt that it was not at all a factor.

 


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