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Guiding Principles and Practices for the Design


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									Guiding Principles and Practices for the Design
and Development of Effective Distance Education


    Innovations in Distance Education (IDE) was launched in 1995
    with a grant from the AT&T Foundation. The project is a major
    initiative to help universities create a supportive institutional
    culture in which the possibilities of distance education may be

    IDE’s mission is to develop a deeper understanding of the issues
    and opportunities presented by distance education, create new
    approaches to teaching and learning, and empower faculty to
    become leaders in the effective use of distance education. The
    intent is to ensure that institutional policy is supportive of
    distance education. The primary components of the IDE project
    are a Faculty Initiative and a Policy Initiative.

    This report focuses on outcomes of the Faculty Initiative. The
    Policy Initiative’s outcomes are presented in a separate report,
    Distance Education and the University Culture: Creating a Policy
    Environment for Distance Education.


    The overall objective of the Faculty Initiative component of the
    IDE project was to provide participating faculty an opportunity to
    experience and examine issues related to the design and
    development of distance education programs. Faculty and staff
    engaged in a series of activities sponsored by the IDE project,
    including professional development programs, distance education
    project teams for funded-year faculty, and a series of colloquia
    and seminars.

    Professional development opportunities for faculty and staff
    included a rich assortment of pedagogical, technological, and
    research forums related to distance education. During their
funded year, additional resources were made available to faculty
in the form of IDE “project teams” to support their distance
education program development. These project support teams
drew upon distributed resources already available throughout
the institution, as well as the expertise of staff members working
in Continuing and Distance Education and the Center for
Academic Computing. The IDE project enabled them to work
together in a focused way over an extended period, to better
coordinate and concentrate their efforts toward a common goal—
development of new or enhanced credit courses and noncredit
programs to be delivered at a distance in a variety of ways.

Guiding Principles and Practices Colloquium meetings were
established to encourage discussion and reflection involving
faculty, support team members, other Continuing and Distance
Education personnel, and IDE project administrators on the
issues, concerns, and strategies for developing an effective
distance education program. Out of these discussions, a set of
Guiding Principles and Practices for the Design and Development
of Effective Distance Education programs has been prepared that
reflects the experiences of Penn State, Lincoln, and Cheyney
university faculty and staff who participated in the IDE Faculty

The process used to establish this set of guiding principles and
practices included:

      Agreeing upon a set of categories of guiding principles and
       practices for the design and development of distance
       education programs;
      Establishing IDE faculty and staff teams to address each
      Creating a computer conferencing system to support
       asynchronous team collaboration;
      Participating in a monthly series of IDE Guiding Principles
       and Practices colloquia;
      Designing and implementing a one-day IDE Guiding
       Principles and Practices retreat;
      Developing draft versions of the Guiding Principles and
       Practices document that reflect the collective efforts of the
       six subgroups involved;
      Asking contributors and reviewers to read the draft
       document and provide feedback to refine and enhance the
       Guiding Principles and Practices;
      Presenting the draft document at the IDE Preconference of
       the International Council for Distance Education World
       Conference 1997 for further review and discussion;
      Refining and modifying the IDE Guiding Principles and
       Practices document.

The following assumptions were made explicit and discussed
during the colloquia and are provided here to help inform the
interpretation of this set of Guiding Principles and Practices.

   1. The primary audience for distance education programs
      under consideration is the adult learner participating in an
      educational experience in which he or she is separated
      from the instructor or other learners by space and/or time.
      We recognize that “traditional” college-aged learners,
      among numerous other audiences, also participate in
      distance education, but they are not the primary focus of
      this document.
   2. All distance education programs are approved by an
      academic unit of the institution in order to provide quality
      assurance regarding the instructor and content. Faculty
      participating in the design, development, and delivery of
      distance education are members of these academic units
      or are affiliated with or approved by them.
   3. Distance education includes a wide variety of academic
      offerings, including credit and noncredit courses of study,
      single- and multi-day symposia and seminars, and
      continuing professional education programs.
   4. The design models for distance education programs may
      include synchronous and/or asynchronous activities, as
      well as independent, cohort, and collaborative learning
      activities. Synchronous events are those that require
      participation with others at a given time, whereas
      asynchronous interactions are not time-dependent.
      Independent learning activities are individually paced and
      do not rely upon others for their completion. Cohorts are
      groups of individuals that move through a program of
      study with set start and end dates. Collaboration implies
      that individuals within the group depend upon others for
      part of the learning activity or experience.
   5. Technology is viewed as a supporting element of, not the
      driving force behind, distance education program design. A
      defining characteristic of the new distance learning
      environment often is the establishment and maintenance
        of learning communities. A variety of technologies may be
        used to support these communities, including the World
        Wide Web, electronic mail, and computer conferencing
   6.   Successful distance education learners need to be
        independent learners who are motivated and have focused
        goals in mind. Most need flexibility in program structure
        (many have other responsibilities, such as full-time jobs)
        and want practical information that they can use
        immediately. Some need to be taught how to use the
        technology for program delivery and assignments.
   7.   The terms “student” and “learner” are used
        interchangeably, although the latter is generally preferred
        because of the more active and autonomous role it
   8.   “Author” is not necessarily the same as “instructor,” since
        someone can “author” a course or a program but not
        necessarily teach it—and by “authoring” we mean
        preparation of electronic, as well as print-based media.
   9.   The role of instructors in distance education is likely to be
        somewhat different than in resident instruction and
        emphasizes alternate and/or enhanced skills. Distance
        education instructors must plan further ahead, be well
        organized, and communicate with learners in new ways.
        They need to be accessible to students, work in teams
        when appropriate, and play the role of facilitator or mentor
        in their interactions with learners. Finally, they may have
        to assume more administrative responsibilities than in a
        residential model.

The remainder of this document presents a set of guiding
principles that emerged from the work done during the first two
years of the Innovations in Distance Education project. The
principles are grouped into six categories: Learning Outcomes;
Interactions; Instructional Media and Tools; Social Relationships;
Assessment and Measurement; and Support Systems and
Services (see Figure 1). After a brief overview of each category,
several principles are presented. Each principle is followed by
one or more representative practices intended to provide specific
examples of how the principle might be implemented.

                              Figure 1
                      Learning Outcomes

The desired learning outcomes of any educational experience
should guide the design of an effective instructional model for
that experience. These learning outcomes, articulated by the
faculty (sometimes with learner input) for a course or learning
module, describe what skills or knowledge the learning activity
will enable the learner to acquire and what educational
experiences will be made available as a result of the instruction.
The learning outcomes serve as a “contract” between instructor
and student. It is vital that the instructor effectively
communicate these expectations and that the learner
understand them, in order to achieve the most effective learning
experience—whatever the instructional paradigm. Although the
planned learning outcomes need not be altered based on the
instructional model, new instructional design strategies may
need to be considered for the distance education experience to
support the intended outcomes.
Principle 1: Communicating the planned learning outcomes for
an instructional course is a crucial step in assuring an effective
learning experience. This principle applies to face-to-face
interactions, as well as to distance education instructional
models. The explicit articulation of learning goals and objectives
between instructor and student serves as the “contract,” defining
what is to be taught and what is to be learned.

      Representative Practices:

            Learning outcomes should be defined as part of
             the instructional design plan. Once defined,
             they should be publicly available and
             communicated clearly and explicitly to the
             student in whatever manner suits the design
             model-in print, face to face, or via a Web site.
             An effective way to communicate expected
             learning outcomes would be to provide
             learners with a set of learning objectives at the
             beginning of an instructional course.
            Asking learners to design an “Action Plan” that
             shows they understand and accept
             responsibility for achieving the learning
             outcomes may assist them in planning their
             approach to completing the distance education
             experience. This “Action Plan” could be a “first
             lesson” that may be as structured as requiring
             the students to map out their intended
             progress and timelines, or as unstructured as a
             request that learners complete a list of their
             expectations of the course.
            Planned congruence between the instructional
             events and learning outcomes is required in a
             distance education paradigm. The planned
             learning outcomes serve as a procedural guide
             for establishing and maintaining the coherence
             (and thus effectiveness) of course goals and
             objectives, instructional strategies, and
             evaluation techniques.
            Should changes in “contracted” objectives be
             necessary, ownership and understanding of
             these changes need to be negotiated with
             students and made public.
Principle 2: The instructional strategies designed should be
congruent with the planned learning outcomes. Specific activities
should be directed toward providing learners with the necessary
skills, knowledge, or experiences to meet the objectives of the
course. The course content should be designed to enable
learners to achieve the goals articulated in the learning

      Representative Practices:

            Use the planned learning outcomes to shape
             the design of the instructional activities for the
             distance education experience.
            Use performance-based learning outcomes—
             where possible—that are accessible and
             authentic in order to determine learners’
             attainment of course goals and objectives.
            Eliminate instructional activities that do not
             directly contribute to learning outcomes, since
             achieving those outcomes requires more time
             and effort within a distance education
            Where possible, the learning outcomes for
             distance education students should relate to
             real-life experiences through example and

Principle 3: Just as learning outcomes provide the basis for the
selection and application of instructional learning strategies, so
must evaluation of student performance be directed toward the
measurement and assessment of those learning outcomes.

      Representative Practices:

            Use methods of measurement and assessment
             of learner performance that are congruent with
             the planned learning outcomes and
             instructional strategies.
            Assessment for distance learners should be
             more frequent and varied than for learners in
             residence. Assessment need not always be
             quantitative, but also may be designed as a
             guidance mechanism.

Distance education has the potential to create a variety of highly
interactive learning experiences. Interaction refers to the pattern
and nature of communication among and between all elements
of the teaching/learning experience. When learners interact with
one another, with an instructor, and with ideas, new information
is acquired, interpreted, and made meaningful. Such meaningful
interactions that elicit learner participation are critical to the
learning process. Instructors, learners, materials, and the
technology interface used are all components to consider in
establishing and maintaining interactions necessary for an
effective educational experience.

Principle 1: Effective learning environments involve multiple
interactions. Educational technologies used in distance education
expand the three traditional interaction dyads (learner-
instructor, learner-learner, and learner-content) to include a
fourth: the interaction between learner and technology interface.
The use of multiple sites may also involve a fifth component:
instructor-instructor interaction.

      Representative Practices:

            Purposefully design interactions that support
             the learner in achieving the specified course
            Explain to participants in advance which
             educational technologies they will need to
             use—and why—and the methods that will be
             used to support them in using these
            Provide time and opportunity for learners and
             instructors to practice and master the
             technologies needed to interact with other
             learners, instructor(s), and resources.
Principle 2: To facilitate interaction in distance education, it is
important to provide an adequate infrastructure and sufficient
resources to support the development of course content, access
to appropriate technology, communication among participants,
and achievement of course goals.

      Representative Practices:

            Recognizing that technology can support
             multiple levels of interaction, but that
             technology alone does not lead to a learner-
             centered curriculum, implement appropriate
             technology to support desired levels of
            Plan appropriately to provide all learners who
             enroll with adequate instructional support,
             facilities, and resources (e.g., computer
             hardware, software, library materials,
             experimental/practice materials, simulations)
             to complete course objectives.
            Secure in advance the required copyright
             clearances and licenses for a networked
             environment to provide all learners with access
             to necessary resources.
            Use platform-independent systems to
             guarantee learners the broadest possible
             access to resources.
            Build alternative activities into the course
             design and arrange for support staff to be
             available in case of technical failure.

Principle 3: Distance education requires developing and
implementing new communication strategies and protocols
different from those employed in the traditional, self-contained
classroom. Alternative strategies can counterbalance the
obstacles to social interaction created by the separation of
learners from one another.

      Representative Practices:

            Employ distance education technologies to
             provide the opportunity for group collaboration
             and cooperative learning. Technological
             conferencing supports the implementation of
             current learning theory (including active
             learning, student-centered learning, and a
             learner-controlled environment), rather than
             the passive dissemination of information.
            Design instruction that supports collaborative
             and cooperative learning by encouraging
             positive interdependence, individual
             accountability, appropriate application of
             interpersonal skills, and/or group self-
            Enhance collaboration through small-group
             interaction, using synchronous or
             asynchronous methods.
            Use multiple levels of electronic
             communication, such as e-mail or audio-video
             conferencing, to provide the instructor with the
             ability to assess student understanding.

Principle 4: Various teaching/learning technologies incorporate
both advantages and constraints that must be considered in the
design of the learning environment. Simply accessing
information is not sufficient. Cognitive constructionist theory
suggests that the most important learning objective is
understanding, as opposed to the observable and measurable
behaviors emphasized by behaviorist learning theory. Students
must analyze, synthesize, and solve problems for learning to

      Representative Practice:

            Incorporate learner control of content and
             process to enhance learning. For example, the
             non-linear nature of the Web requires a new
             design model to guide students’ attention.
             Authors should arrange materials, link to other
             sites, and provide navigational tools to assist
             learners in selecting their own path or a pre-
             established one.

Principle 5: Expectations of instructor authority and student
responsibility vary, based on learners’ history, experiences, and
cultural background. Sensitivity is required in order to
understand the impact of planned or unplanned interactions in a
distance education setting.
      Representative Practice:

            Accommodate variations in the learning design
             regarding cultural “norms” about gender, age,
             and authority figures, so that learners are
             neither penalized for their cultural differences
             nor impeded in their learning processes by
             those differences.

Principle 6: Time taken to acquire a degree, intensity of study,
and interactions within a community of learners are regarded as
integral components of study in most institutions of higher
education. Residency requirements, or their equivalents, are
often designed to meet these goals. Components of residency
include: interaction among faculty, students, and peers beyond
direct instruction; access to informational and instructional
advising and academic support services and resources; and
exposure to and socialization in the field of study. Different types
of distance education programs (credit courses versus noncredit
programs, degree programs versus professional/certificate
programs) may require unique solutions to fulfill the objectives
traditionally achieved via residency requirements.

      Representative Practices:

            Professional programs and/or certificate
             programs taught at a distance may satisfy as
             well, if not better, the characteristics of the
             residency model through opportunities and
             experiences available in the workplace or site
             of career practice.
            Some portion of work in residence may be
             necessary in order to fulfill the objectives of
             doctoral and other academic programs. This
             residency may range from an initial orientation
             program to direct courses of study on campus.

                 Instructional Media and Tools
Designing an instructional experience for any learning
environment requires careful consideration of the available tools
and media that could be used by learners within that
environment. Thinking, attitudes, and approaches toward media
selection have changed significantly—especially in distance
education—with the extraordinary growth of the electronic
learning environment and the attendant media and tools now
available. Far too often, the technology itself becomes a driving
force in decision-making and diverts attention from the most
fundamental considerations in the design and implementation of
successful programs. It is important to remember that
technologies are tools, and their selection must be guided by
carefully considering the goals and objectives of particular
learning programs; the specific characteristics of the learners
served by those programs; and the realities of the costs, utility,
and benefits to learners that are associated with the
technologies that could be employed.

Principle 1: The selection and use of instructional media and
tools should be based upon their ability to support the pre-
determined instructional goals and objectives of the learning

      Representative Practices:

            Clearly define learning goals and objectives as
             a necessary first step in designing any distance
             learning program. Then select specific tools
             and media that will facilitate and enhance the
             realization of those desired outcomes.
            Be aware that technologies may produce
             learning impediments as easily as benefits.
             When infusing technology into the learning
             environment, there is a potential to incorporate
             superficially “innovative” strategies that may
             actually complicate or hinder learning. Such
             counterproductive activities can rob students of
             time and hinder their ability to focus on what is
             to be learned.

Principle 2: The selection of instructional media and tools
should reflect their accessibility by learners. A distance learning
program should incorporate a technology base that is
appropriate for the widest range of students within that
program’s target audience.

     Representative Practices:

           Ensure that students have reasonable access
            to any technology that is contemplated for use
            in any distance education program.
           Consider the relative benefits that may be
            derived from particular tools and media in
            relationship to the costs that students must
            incur to utilize them.
           Control costs and facilitate wider student
            access to instructional resources by using the
            lowest-level technologies capable of supporting
            the student in achieving the learning

Principle 3: Users of a distance learning system must be
adequately prepared and supported in order to maximize the
capabilities of instructional media and tools.

     Representative Practices:

           Ensure that learners have a functional level of
            familiarity with any tools or media that are
            being considered, or build into the program the
            necessary training and practice required to
            gain a functional competence with the selected
            media and tools.
           Create an adequate faculty development
            program to ensure that program planners and
            designers understand the full capabilities of
            selected instructional media and tools and
            know how to make the most effective and
            efficient use of them.

Principle 4: Adult learners bring varied social and cultural
backgrounds and diverse experiences to a distance learning
program. The unique contexts in which learners live and work
may influence the way they think about and use instructional
media and tools.

     Representative Practices:
           Consider the age and maturity of learners
            when contemplating the selection and use of
            any instructional media or tools in a distance
            learning activity.
           Consider the realities and time constraints that
            learners bring to their study and carefully
            select tools and media that will provide the
            necessary flexibility and support for students’
            learning experiences.
           Consider the impact that the learners’ social,
            economic, and cultural backgrounds will have
            on their ability to use and benefit from any
            media or tools that you contemplate using.

Principle 5: A wide range of technologies, both electronic and
non-electronic, may be used to deliver content, support
interactions, and provide student access to instructional and
administrative resources in a distance learning program.

     Representative Practices:

           Familiarize learners and authors/instructors
            with the continuum of technologies, each with
            its own related complexities.
           Carefully match desired instructional strategies
            (e.g., lectures, small-group discussions, role-
            playing) with appropriate supporting
           Keep the mix of technologies selected for use
            within an individual course or program simple.
            Don’t overwhelm or confuse the student by
            over-fragmenting course delivery.

Principle 6: When the instructional design model relies on some
component of electronic technology for delivery, contingency
strategies need to be considered that will enable a quick
recovery from technology-related interruptions.

     Representative Practices:

           Design adequate, dependable, reliable, and
            easily expandable delivery services at the front
            end, rather than attempting to cope with
            systems that are unable to keep pace with the
            demands placed upon them during program
           Build reasonable provisions for backup,
            technical oversight, and maintenance of the
            delivery system into the design of any distance
            education program.

Principle 7: Among the most important components in the
design of distance education programs are those that establish
the organizational and administrative infrastructures to ensure
that such programs can be efficiently and effectively developed,
managed, and executed.

     Representative Practices:

           Take advantage of available market research
            tools (such as surveys, focus groups, and
            interviews) to assess the market, determine
            likely student demographics, and analyze
            available resource needs (including
            infrastructure, overhead, and administrative
            costs) for programs before embarking on
            program design and development.
           Determine whether the rewards for developing
            distance education programs are
            commensurate with the effort involved in
            designing, creating, implementing, and
            managing such programs.
           Create an administrative infrastructure that will
            be easy for learners to understand and use
            during program delivery.
           Develop a supporting infrastructure that is
            secure enough to maintain the integrity of the
            information stored in the electronic
            environment, as well as the integrity of
            confidential information, including evaluation
            components (e.g., testing).
                      Social Relationships

Social relationships form the foundation for a community of
learners. Systematic instruction, whether face-to-face or
conducted at a distance, is enhanced by informal conversation,
trust-building experiences, the interjection of humor, the
opportunity to share personal and instructional goals, and
interactions among participants. If students feel they are part of
a community of learners, they are more apt to be motivated to
seek solutions to their problems and to succeed. The challenge
for distance educators is to design into the instructional situation
strategies and techniques for establishing and maintaining
“learning communities” among learners separated by space
and/or time.

Principle 1: The instructional design of any learning situation
must incorporate methods and strategies to reduce real or
perceived barriers to establishing the learning community.

      Representative Practices:

            Design activities for establishing “social
             relationships” among participants within the
             distance education model. Be aware that, at a
             distance, this takes more planning and
             forethought than with other educational
            Examine each technology described in the
             instructional design model in light of its
             capacity to establish and maintain social
             relationships among participants. Each
             technology has certain advantages and
             disadvantages in relation to this goal.

Principle 2: Defining the establishment and maintenance of
social relationships as an instructional goal of the distance
learning experience can enhance the learning experience for
learner and instructor alike.

      Representative Practices:

            Recognize and plan for a set of unique social
             relationships, unlike those achievable in a face-
             to-face instructional model.
           Design into the instructional program methods
            that support social interactions between
            learners, such as a “virtual student union” or a
            class list with student access information.
            Determine and adhere to institutional policy on
            providing student information within the
            program structure.
           Design opportunities for learners to provide
            personal interest information that may be
            shared within the distance education course or
            program. Be sensitive to individuals’ privacy
            rights by making socially related interactions
           Design methods for recognizing and
            maintaining the individuality of each learner in
            the distance education program.
           Where possible, maintain a personal
            connection with learners throughout the
            program through such means as group or
            individual visits, personal e-mail, or telephone
           Establish and maintain office hours or contact
            times throughout the duration of the program
            to encourage learner/instructor interaction.
           Communicate prior to the start of the program
            the rules of engagement for social and
            academic relationships, including sensitivity to
            diverse student backgrounds, receptivity to
            alternative ideas, and appropriate etiquette for
            electronic communications.
           Design interactive activities that support social
            relationships as part of the distance education

Principle 3: Participants’ confidence and competence with the
distance education paradigm and supporting technologies can
help reduce barriers to establishing social relationships.

     Representative Practices:

           Practice with pilot groups or trial projects to
            gain confidence and competence with a new
            distance education model. Start with small
             groups and enrollments, and expand as
             experience and skill levels increase.
            Provide access to experienced support staff
             and instructors willing to serve as resources for
             novice instructors.
            Provide adequate training for all participants in
             the distance education program that addresses
             issues in learning at a distance, using the
             supporting technology, and rules and
             guidelines for an effective distance education

Principle 4: Participants in an instructional experience are best
able to identify positive and constructive strategies for improving
the social relationships within the program. A safe and
comfortable atmosphere supports this exchange of ideas.

      Representative Practices:

            Design formative and summative evaluation
             activities that enable participants to provide
             anonymous feedback, as well as participate in
             open class discussions about the distance
             education experience.
            Design a “social space” distinct from other
             communication channels that encourages
             student discussion without oversight or access
             by the instructor.

                 Assessment and Measurement

Assessment and measurement serve several valuable purposes
for both instructors and students. Formal assessments of student
performance such as lesson assignments, tests, and exams
provide instructors with information on student achievement, the
basis upon which grades are calculated. Informal assessments,
such as question-and-answer periods during class time and class
discussions, also produce feedback from students. This
information can help faculty members adjust instruction to better
meet students’ needs. Assessment and measurement activities
provide students with milestones or benchmarks by which they
can monitor their own progress and adjust their learning
strategies accordingly. Their learning strategies should guide
them through the process of attaining the defined learning
outcomes. It is imperative that assessment and measurement
techniques reflect the instructional strategies used in the course
and the desired learning outcomes; these techniques should
evaluate student progress toward attaining the goals of the

Principle 1: Assessment should be used for three distinct
purposes: 1) as a basis for making modifications while the
course is in progress (formative evaluation); 2) as verification
that individual students have gained knowledge or skills
(certification); and 3) as an indicator of the extent to which the
course has effectively met its goals (summative evaluation).

      Representative Practices:

            Compensate for the absence of informal cues
             to student understanding by requiring students
             to begin each session by asking questions.
            Enhance the probability of student-generated
             questions by devising a way for students to ask
             questions anonymously.
            Overcome the instructor’s inability to perceive
             informal cues from students by assigning tasks
             to students working collaboratively in small
             groups. For example, one student might be
             assigned to assess the group’s understanding
             of material using guidelines from the instructor
             and to bring the group’s questions to the
             instructor and the class.
            Promote communication between students and
             instructor and among students by using
             electronic mail, voice mail, and/or other

Principle 2: Feedback from assessments is a key component in
the learning cycle and must be preserved in distance education.

      Representative Practices:
           Create “on-line quizzes” that evaluate student
            comprehension and automatically provide
            corrective feedback when an answer is
           Develop systems of learner-to-learner
            interaction during which students assess one
            another’s progress.
           Develop a “support system” (self-assessment
            activities, checklists, rubrics, and so on) to
            help novice students evaluate their own
            responses and those of others.

Principle 3: Effective assessment complements the desired
learning outcomes defined in the course and lesson objectives.

     Representative Practices:

           Select verbs carefully when writing course
            objectives, and choose verbs that describe
            what students will be asked to do with the
            knowledge or skill in the world outside the
           Share the objectives with the students from
            the very beginning of the course.
           Assess each outcome separately, using the
            verbs in the objectives as the verbs in the
            assessment task.
           Select media carefully when planning the
            assessment, recognizing that the use of
            several different media might be appropriate.
            For example, e-mail might be used to have
            students “describe,” on-line chats or telephone
            interviews might be used to have students
            “discuss,” and videotape might be used to
            “demonstrate” oral presentation skills or a
            physical accomplishment, such as a golf swing.
           Recognize and anticipate the large amount of
            time necessary to create effective assessment
            tools. Devote significant resources to

Principle 4: Assessment and evaluation should include student
review and feedback on their interactions with course materials,
instructors, and the distance education delivery system.
     Representative Practices:

           Design a variety of evaluation techniques into
            the learning environment that enables students
            to provide feedback on the course content,
            quality of instruction, and support and delivery
            systems. Evaluation techniques may include,
            but are not limited to, mid-course evaluation
            forms, random student phone interviews, and
            post-course assessment instruments.

Principle 5: As independent learners, distance education
students benefit from self-assessment strategies designed to
monitor their progress as part of the learning process.

     Representative Practice:

           Design self-check activities as part of the
            assignments. These activities serve as
            “norming” devices that enable students to
            adjust their progress within the course.

Principle 6: Carefully consider the nature of the learning
outcome for applicability to assessment via distance education
methodologies. Where appropriate, use on-site or other
assessment or evaluation strategies.

     Representative Practices:

           If needed, help students make local
            arrangements to complete course assessments
            and evaluations.
           Consider alternative methods of assessment
            and evaluation that do not require oversight or
            supervision but are valuable to the student and

                Support Systems and Services
The support systems and services for a distance learner must be
as complete, as responsive, and as effective as those provided
for the on-campus learner. In order to achieve this goal,
alternative support methods must be employed to ensure that
no distance student is significantly inconvenienced or barred
from getting the services required. Since distance students have
widely varying access methods available to them, redundant
systems should be in place for many support functions. The
overall support system should address, at the least, the following
areas: technical support, instructional resources, faculty
development, instructional design and development, and policy
changes aimed at creating an environment conducive to distance

Principle 1: A comprehensive system of support services must
be in place to ensure the effective use of instructional
technologies in distance education programming for learners,
instructors, and staff.

      Representative Practices:

            Provide access to needed technologies for
             instructors, learners, and staff. This could
             include provision of software, hardware, server
             space, or Internet access accounts.
            Train faculty and students in the use of “high
             tech” instructional components of courses
             through a noncredit offering. Instructors and
             learners should come away from the training
             both knowledgeable about and comfortable
             with using whatever instructional resources
             their courses require.
            Ensure that learners understand the equipment
             requirements and technology skills necessary
             to effectively participate in a program prior to
             their enrollment.
            Provide a common platform delivery
             environment where possible. Clearly articulate
             the platform and capabilities that distance
             education programs will support.
            Devise a system to ensure that instructional
             technology hardware and software capabilities
             remain reasonably current and in step with
            major shifts in the use of instructional delivery

Principle 2: For faculty to engage in distance education on a
broad scale, existing barriers must be removed and a number of
incentives introduced. Furthermore, supporting services must be
provided to ensure adequate faculty development in the areas of
applied instructional technology and effective distance education

     Representative Practices:

           Develop institutional policy to provide for
            distance education course authoring and
            instruction as part of an “on-load”
            responsibility for faculty. Modify institutional
            policy to ensure that faculty desiring to teach
            at a distance are not adversely affected in the
            promotion and tenure process. Convert
            disincentives to incentives.
           Foster faculty development through specialized
            training in emerging technologies and the
            application of technology to their curriculum.
            This may be accomplished in a variety of ways,
            including the use of distance education
            methodologies and technologies.
           To facilitate the design and delivery of distance
            education programming, address issues related
            to intellectual property, copyright fees,
            royalties, and so on, through the creation of
            new institutional policies and procedures.

Principle 3: Distance education learners and instructors may
desire instructional support seven days a week, twenty-four
hours a day, especially if programs are available worldwide.
Design of distance education programs should include specific
support strategies to create and maintain “learning communities”
that are available on a schedule as convenient as possible for
participants, as well as the institution.

     Representative Practices:

           Provide documentation, such as Frequently
            Asked Questions (FAQs), troubleshooting
            guides and procedures, and commercially
            available tutorials (in both electronic and print
            format), to address many support questions
            without direct human intervention. Other
            support services may require staffing beyond
            the normal working hours of the institution.
            Tutors and teaching assistants may serve at
            times when the instructor cannot. Additionally,
            knowledgeable students may help their peers
            in learning communities, which may help to
            reduce demands on staff, as well as provide for
            seven-day/twenty-four-hour coverage.
           Apply technology appropriately to support “just
            in time” course adjustments that embody
            flexibility, include current events, and promote
            enthusiasm, as well as address immediate
            learner or instructor support issues. Provide
            continuous motivation and encouragement to
            the learner.
           Employ collaborative learning methods, where
            appropriate, to ensure that learners derive
            benefit from others in their learning
            community. Help learners to consider their
            peers as valuable resources and provide them
            with incentives to provide mutual help.
           Build instructional strategies into the course
            that encourage learner participation and
            promote course completion.
           Provide round-the-clock access to central, vital
            instructional resources, such as digital library
            holdings, databases, and the like.

Principle 4: Learners and instructors must have immediate and
effective technical support. This should be viewed as a basic
“customer service” for those engaged in distance education

     Representative Practices:

           Provide “help desk” services for fielding
            questions and solving problems for learners
            and instructors. Train help desk personnel to
            be prompt, courteous, and highly competent.
            Coverage should extend beyond the normal
            work hours of the sponsoring institutions.
           Use existing, but expanded, support systems in
            order to address the more diverse needs of
            students who will be taking electronically
            delivered courses at a distance.
           Design feedback mechanisms in order to
            continuously track the needs and satisfaction
            of distance education students. Obtain
            information to answer such questions as “Was
            technical support helpful?” and “How long did it
            take to solve the problem?”
           Establish performance standards for customer
            support personnel. Provide incentives for them
            to give the best technical support possible.
           Provide intelligent on-line help systems to
            allow students to “self-troubleshoot” if all lines
            are busy. Supply a voice mail box to capture
            requests, and return calls promptly.

Principle 5: Extending the distance education mission of the
institution requires policy adjustments and accommodations for
supporting the distance education instructor and learners.

     Representative Practices:

           Create new institutional policies to account for
            potential increases in the design, development,
            and delivery expenses for distance education
           Revise fee structures that deter students from
            taking distance education courses.
           Pursue partnerships with other institutions and
            funding agencies to support the design,
            development, and delivery of distance
            education programming.
           Institute policies that support and encourage
            student participation in distance education
            programs. Create a greater awareness of the
            availability, viability, and benefits of distance
            education to students.
                      CATEGORY TEAMS

Donna Rogers, co-leader; Joan Thomson, co-leader; Craig
Bernecker, James Flemming, Dan Goepp, Celia Millington-

Carol Wright—lead, Mazharul Huq, R. Thomas Berner, Glenda
Shoop, Gina Leon, Jeri Childers

William Kelly—lead, Gregory Forbes, Robert Jones, Terry Borg,
Fran Osseo-Asare

Robert Lesniak—lead, Judy Ozment, Jeffrey Kohler, Alan Stuart,
Andrea Pisani-Babich, Dee Frisque

Kyle Peck—lead, David Passmore, Peter Maserick, Elizabeth
Walker, Carol Hodes

Philip Cochran—lead, Kyle Peck, Mary Frances Picciano, Anita
Colyer, Glenn Johnson

Gary Miller, project director
Deborah Klevans, project manager
Lawrence Ragan, associate project manager
Dehra Shafer, associate project manager

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