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An Overview of Asynchronous Online Learning

An Overview of Asynchronous Online Learning
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Author(s): G. R. Bud West (Regent University, USA) and Mihai C. Bocarnea (Regent University, USA)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 5
Source title: Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology, Second Edition
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, D.B.A. (Information Resources Management Association, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch471

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Abstract

Distance education typically refers to a process where students complete their coursework at a location other than a primary campus. Effectively, this method first developed in the mid-19th century in the form of correspondence courses in the United Kingdom. The correspondence course design includes the instructor and the student mailing assignments back and forth between the university and the student’s location. In many cases, the use of the Internet has replaced the correspondence-by-mail method of instructional delivery. With the advent of television and the further development of radio, some colleges and universities saw an opportunity to present classes via these media. By these methods, various instructors present lectures during set broadcast times while students continue to conduct assignments via correspondence. Additionally, some primary and secondary schools also began at the same time to provide information via television, mainly to supplement and reinforce standard pedagogical instruction in the classroom. Similar to correspondence courses, television and radio instruction generally decreased after the introduction of the Internet as an educational delivery vehicle. However, a notable exception currently exists in some university programs where instructors broadcast live satellite feeds to and from their classroom with classrooms located in regional community colleges, military installations, and other locations. In Virginia, Old Dominion University’s TELETECHNET initiative represents an example of one such effort where students both regionally and around the world sit in local centralized meeting places and access instructors while they teach classes at the home campus in real time through two-way television broadcasts. Once described as the wave of the future, some educators, researchers, and educational administrators suggest that online Internet instruction represents one educational process that has truly come of age. The use of the Internet as an instructional delivery system is exploding in the new millennium. With that explosion comes recognition of the existence of both opportunities and challenges for its effective use as a conduit for meaningful and structured education. In that regard, several researchers describe distinct time and location advantages in the use of Internet instruction, as well as its usefulness in developing knowledge about knowledge (Blair, 2002; Hung, Tan, & Chen, 2005). However, upon review of some examples of online coursework, one may witness a broad range of approaches and quality in online educational programs. In fact, experts specifically note that some online courses lack pedagogical emphasis and design and that universal promises of limitless Internet instruction fail the rationality test (Hung et al.; Wojnar, 2002). This suggests the importance of the Internet as a conduit of learning, but it also suggests a significant and, in some cases, unmet responsibility for those who would help mold and shape lives by instructing and helping to educate people through Internet and intranet mediums. In that regard, dialogue or online discussion has proven valuable in enhancing the online educational process (Blair; Dennen, 2005). Although many university programs use several methods of online discussion with varying degrees of success, some benchmarks have emerged and proven their effectiveness.

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