Summary of Basic Skills / Literacy Programs’
Concerns/Barriers for Teaching at a Distance
Concerns/Barriers Number of Concerns
Funding / Staffing Issues 36
Student Equipment Issues (Lack of Computers/ 29
FTE Issues 15
Instructor Training 14
Distance Education Not Appropriate for Basic Skills 14
Students, Especially Lower Functioning
Students Need Computer Training 13
Retention/Progress Issues 12
Student/Instructor Communication 9
Administering Assessments, Etc. 9
Materials Distribution Issues 7
Need Guidelines/Information from State Level 7
Student Integrity 6
Program Does Not Have Adequate Equipment 6
Student Support Services Limited 4
Student Motivation / Persistence / Ability to Work 4
Selecting Materials to Use 4
No Concerns/Barriers 4
• Administration would not agree – said our college was too small
• Miscommunication with administration
• Do not want to start anything new at this time.
• Prefer to wait until more research is completed in Basic Skills area.
• Educating/Encouraging staff to implement more Distance Education/Learning
• The student may not have the benefit of a well-lit, quiet, well-structured learning
• Student goal setting and maintaining motivation throughout the program
• Providing supplemental student instruction
• Interactive computer CD’s are usually site licensed, can’t distribute.
• Creating a sense of community and support
• The modern workplace often necessitates that employees work in teams and are able to
use group problem-solving strategies. Further, research indicates that ABS students are
social-learners—they are motivated by the social relations of established learning
communities. Often our students need the face-to-face encouragement provided by
caring, observant instructors. Much needs to be done to insure that the often over-
whelming (and unaddressed) social development needs of ABS students do not get
unintentionally overlooked in the mad rush to embrace the latest technology.
• We are currently working with the GED Illinois software product. A few of our concerns
relate to the ability to uniquely designing the product to fit our needs such as, we would
like to limit the students ability to jump from subject to subject without completing a
lesson. We have found that we are loosing valuable time and unable to count any hours
due to no lesson completions. We would like to be able to view an entire classroom for
• Program orientation and training
• Desire to reach more students via distance learning
• Not matching faces with names
• Students lose the benefits of traditional instruction. These benefits include: One-to-one
personal instructor contact, meeting and forming bonds with fellow students, and the
retention advantages that come with both of the above.
• Formalized evaluation system for distance learning outcomes
• I am still concerned, when we go on-line, that we do not duplicate the offerings of
colleges close to us, and we have a great many colleges close to us. I would like to dig in
and find a niche that is not filled by other schools that can serve our students just as well
as we could through existing distance ed programs.
• May be too frustrating for students
• Access to and ensuring availability of resources for all students is of paramount
importance in order to make effective use of distance learning.
• There is often greater interest in computer-assisted instruction than in the Video format.
Additionally, older materials available in VHS format are not readily available in DVD
format which students often have access to.
• Securing an appropriate location
• Placement and referral of students
• Providing volunteer tutors
• Collecting completed assignments
• Technical difficulties
• Time constraints for preparing materials for online learners
• Tracking student goal completion for non-academic goals without daily conversational
• How to market distance ed for Basic Skills
• Adequately placing students with distance ed – i.e. – many have low skill levels with
computers, but fairly high reading levels
• Criteria for selection of participants
• A concern that I have is the amount of time that is required to tract students’ progress,
questions, and hours, and the time it takes to do any required paper work. We have a
good system in place right now, but I feel like it could be improved. We are still a work
in progress here, and continue to make adjustments and improvements in this area.
• The one concern we have is getting students to officially sign rosters for registration
purposes. When they are new students this is not a problem because they come to an
orientation. When they are continuing students, sometimes this is a problem.
• Providing transportation to a computer lab would be impossible task at this time.
• Many students prefer classroom instruction depending on the program area.
• Our program has a very limited service delivery area and its own curriculum, which
makes it less feasible or necessary to use distance learning. This reality does not
influence our belief that distance learning can be effective with basic skills students.
• Distance learning should incorporate the best practices of other institutions which may
a. A student does not set foot on the campus or college facility providing the
b. A method of remote/online registration of students is facilitated.
c. Remote standardized placement testing (such as the TABE) is being provided.
d. A method of giving course examinations without the student having to physically
come to a campus that still maintains program integrity has been clearly defined.