ERIC Number: ED329209
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1987
Computer Conferencing and Electronic Mail.
This paper discusses a number of problems associated with distance education methods used in adult education and training fields, including limited opportunities for dialogue and group interaction among students and between students and tutors; the expense of updating and modifying mass-produced print and audiovisual materials; and the relative inflexibility of many distance education systems in responding to the needs, interests, and experiences of individual students. Two examples of computer-mediated communication--electronic mail and computer-conferencing--are described in terms of their potential to "humanize" the design of distance education projects, and in terms of their special features: (1) lower communication costs; (2) asynchronous communications; (3) ability to store communications; and (4) organize and structure inputs, outputs, and communication patterns in a variety of different ways. Three main challenges in trying to use computer-mediated communication in the distance education situation are then discussed together with suggested solutions: scale (there are much smaller groups of students than in many of the typical distance teaching projects); integration (the new technology must be integrated with existing print and audiovisual media, as well as into complex course development and presentation systems); and optimization (the new technologies should be used to provide maximum benefit in terms of quality learning). It is concluded that computer-mediated communication has the potential for being more than just an electronic substitute for correspondence tuition and face-to-face meetings in the distance education context. (8 references) (CGD)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Open Univ., Walton, Bletchley, Bucks (England). Inst. of Educational Technology.
Note: "Reproduced from: Thorpe, M. and Grugeon, D. (Eds.) Open Learning for Adults, Harlow, Longman, 1987, pp. 186-193."