A Prep Course on Distance Education
By John Makulowich
President Clinton's recent State of the Union address to Congress set the stage for education as the next major battleground for the Internet. In his words, "To prepare America for the 21st century, we must harness the powerful forces of science and technology to benefit all Americans ... [and] we must build the second generation of the Internet."
A related education initiative is the so-called Internet II project. This collaboration among universities, federal agencies and companies intends to develop a next generation Internet for research and education. Last October, representatives from 34 universities met in Chicago and unanimously endorsed the project and committed to gathering the necessary funding. There are now 98 colleges and universities signed up as charter members of the Internet II project. The chairman of the Steering Committee is Gary Augustson of Penn State University.
One positive effect that both the president's message and the Internet II project may have is to build momentum for distance education. Combined with the explosive growth in intranets and the focus on "right-sizing," corporations may see it as an excellent way to offer on-the-job training to their staff.
For those interested in getting a leg up on the field, here are three key Internet World Wide Web sites to visit. There are others, but these are a good place to start. You can find ample background about the Internet II Project at this URL: http://id-www.ucsb.edu/detche/library/www/internet2.html.
Distance Education and Training Council
Carrying the tag line "the Nationally Recognized Accrediting Agency for Distance Education Institutions Worldwide," the Distance Education and Training Council was founded in 1926 and was known as the National Home Study Council. Located in Washington, this nonprofit organization sponsors an accrediting agency, the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council. According to DETC, more than 3 million Americans are enrolled in DETC-accredited institutions. They estimate that, since 1890, 100 million Americans have taken distance study/correspondence courses. The Accrediting Commission of DETC has given its stamp of approval to more than 60 distance education institutions.
The American Center for the Study of Distance Education
Started in 1988 at Penn State University's College of Education, The American Center for the Study of Distance Education promotes research, study, scholarship and teaching in distance education. It also serves as an information clearinghouse. The center also wants to become a network of North American scholars. It offers printed and electronic publications, conferences and workshops, and training programs. You will find links to complete details about the center's activities at the URL.
United States Distance Learning Association
Also a nonprofit, the United States Distance Learning Association was formed in 1987 to promote the development and application of distance learning for education and training. In July 1991, it convened a National Policy Forum to develop and publish a set of National Policy Recommendations for education and telecommunications.
John Makulowich writes, talks and trains on the Internet.
Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. The URL for his home page is
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