In this feature we take a look at how distance education is changing the way teachers teach and students learn, and bring to light the experiences of instructors, students, and distance education technologists. We profile universities with online programs, offer practical advice on setting up a distance education course, and provide resources and opportunities on how you can get involved.

OVERVIEW

Vid Mohan-Ram describes the status of distance education, the latest developments, and current trends in his overview.

PRACTICAL ADVICE

  • How do you start? How much work will it be? Will students want to take my course? Paige Jones, instructional technologist at Purdue University, answers such questions in her article on organizing a distance education course.

  • Alan Chute, chief learning strategist at Lucent Technologies, gives us pointers on how best to organize a room for video and desktop conferencing, how to make sure your students stay focused, and what you should wear!

  • Barry Willis, associate dean for outreach at the University of Idaho, reveals Distance Education's Best Kept Secrets: "There is no technological silver bullet!"

  • Alexander Muermann brings up issues that virtual universities and virtual societies must deal with if distance learning is to succeed.

UNIVERSITY PROFILES

  • The Open University:

    Next Wave's Kirstie Urquhart profiles one of the oldest distance education universities in the world--The Open University: Its past and its future.

  • The e-University:

    Gillian Sebestyen describes an exciting new British venture to develop an electronic university to develop courses suited to distance learning.

  • The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill:

    Next Wave's Vid Mohan-Ram describes how the university is establishing an electronic network (the Collaborative Electronic Learning Laboratory) with North Carolina's minority universities to share curriculae.

  • The University of Phoenix Online:

    Alfred Badger, director of online learning technologies, discusses the benefits of the technology his institution uses to handle 16,000 students.

  • Indiana University:

    Kenneth Pimple, research associate at the Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions, relates his experiences teaching research ethics by distance education.

  • Birkbeck, University of London:

    Kirstie Urquhart describes a new distance education model that uses the Internet to teach a course on the "principles of protein structure."

PERSPECTIVES

  • Moby-Dick's Message Board: Patricia Wareh, a Ph.D. candidate in comparative literature at the University of California, Berkeley, describes what it's like to be a distance education instructor for Barnes & Noble University, and what instructors can expect from their students, regardless of the subject being taught.

  • Cereal in the Classroom: Adrienne Helgerman, senior manager of marketing operations at Digene Corp., reveals what it's like to be a virtual student as she undertakes an MBA.

  • Making the Transition: Jory Weintraub and Susanne Bockholt, two life science Ph.D.s who recently made the move into distance education through the University of North Carolina's Collaborative Electronic Learning Laboratory (CELL), describe the transition from traditional to electronic learning.

  • People Skills: Linwood Webster, an information technologist also in the CELL program, tells us what qualities you need to bring to the online campus if computer scientists are to be successful in the virtual world of distance education.

  • How I Got To Where I Am: Sunil Maulik founder of GeneEd, a new start-up company on the West Coast, describes how he got involved in distance education and how you can start your own distance education venture.

RESOURCES

  • Robert Steiner, associate director in Leadership Programs and Distance Learning at Teachers College, Columbia University, discusses opportunities and the educational implications of distance learning.

  • Katie Cottingham, writer for GrantsNet, reviews some of the grant opportunities out there that support distance education initiatives.

  • The Resources Page provides a comprehensive list of Web sites and links on distance education.