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Distributed Education and Its Challenges: An Overview

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Distributed Education and Its Challenges: An Overview

June 01, 2001

Distance or distributed education is one of the most complex issues facing higher education institutions today. This paper is designed to provide college and university presidents with an overview of distance education, e-learning, or what we prefer to call distributed learning. We prefer the term distributed learning over distance education because "distance" is too restrictive a concept. Few institutions will be untouched by the discussion and debate surrounding distributed education. As a result, institutional leaders will need to understand its implications for themselves and their institutions. This first paper in the ACE/EDUCAUSE series, Distributed Education and Its Challenges: An Overview, provides a general framework for understanding the key questions that distributed education poses to the higher education community. This overview paper identifies significant issues associated with distributed education and suggests a series of questions to help institutional leaders establish and validate their options. We encourage institutions to use this paper as a primer and hope that it will catalyze in-depth, strategic discussions. In addition to framing the issues for various stakeholders, the paper outlines topics that will be addressed thoroughly in future monographs in the series, including issues of quality control and leadership.

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