Resources for Distance Education

My colleagues and I met yesterday with some folks from a seminary who are interested in setting up a distance education program. I did a few blog posts about this subject several years back when i was taking some courses toward a Masters in Distance Education through the University of Maryland University College. After moving to Logos, i didn’t continue in the program, but it’s an area i’m still very interested in, and most of those posts aren’t too relevant now (possibly excepting my brief reflections on whether the Apostle Paul counts as an early distance educator).

In our discussions, the question arose: what’s the one book you’d recommend we read to learn more about distance education? I don’t have an authoritative answer, since i haven’t kept up with the literature for several years now: probably there are better resources now that I’m not familiar with. But here’s my answer anyway, in case it’s helpful to others:

At the top of my list would be Distance Education: A Systems View by Michael Moore (not, not that Michael Moore). Chapter 5 is now made mostly irrelevant by the Internet, but otherwise it’s a good overview of the wide variety of issues that go beyond how you distribute content.

There are a few other titles, all with good content, though perhaps more academic and not as easy to read, or less broad.

  • Learning and Teaching in Distance Education (Otto Peters) is by one of the pioneers in the field (and therefore not completely up to date). My recollection is it focused more on the learning and teaching sides of the process, with less about administration and larger issues
  • Mega-Universities and Knowledge Media (John Daniel) focuses more on the role of technology in education, and has a good chapter on the economics involved.

Though it’s not about distance education per se, i’d also have to include Brain Rules by John Medina. This is a very approachable overview of some important findings in brain science and their practical application to every day life: why you should not talk on your cell phone while driving, how we remember and learn, the myth of multi-tasking, and so forth. It’s both engaging and good science, and i’d make it required reading for every professor/pastor/teacher.

Coakley/Ferch: Using Technology to Teach Exegesis in Higher Education

Challenges in teaching Biblical languages: how to take a toolbox approach and work more top-down? From “Cracking the Old Testament Codes”: need more attention at the paragraph, rather than the word, level. Showed some video from their computer lab showing how their teachers and students are using Logos in the classroom in real-time. One workstation is wired for student interaction, so a student can show what they’re doing to the whole group. Additional discussion about how to manage group licenses and resources. An outstanding need: a screen reader for Greek and Hebrew texts to support greater accessibility for visually-challenged students.