June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.41.1 - 12.41.16
1.0 BACKGROUND AND INTRODUCTION Globalization of the economy has impacted the workforce education and training needs in most of the major industrial nations. In the United States, there has been a steady transition from a predominately production/manufacturing based economy to an economy in which services account for more than 50% of the GDP. The World Factbook- United States Economy, states that in 2004, nearly 80% of the GDP in the U.S. was generated by services related industries1 . This shift has made the acquisition of a university degree (Associate or Bachelor) by former and current employees of the manufacturing and agricultural sectors more desirable, and financially attractive. Along with the growing demand for higher education by working adults in the civilian sector, military personnel preparing to enter the civilian employment sector, have created a rapidly growing market for education of non-traditional students.
Since most of the non-traditional students are generally unable to take classes on the campus of an educational institution, the providers of higher education for this segment of the student population have to utilize distance learning systems. Although the initial stimulus for the development of distance learning systems was provided by non-traditional students, the recent growth in the demand for distance education has been augmented by a significantly large number of regular students who take some classes online, concurrent with enrollment in face-to face classes.
In 2003, Allen and Seaman2 estimated that there were nearly 2 million students in completely on-line courses. The corresponding figure for 2006 is estimated to be 3 million. These researchers also estimated that in 2003, more than 80% of all institutes of higher education offered at least one on-line class, and one third of these entities conducted completely on-line degree programs.
The rapid advance in the adoption and acceptance of on-line distance education systems has been facilitated by the spectacular progress made in the availability and affordability of broad-band telecommunications systems during the last 2 decades. Additionally, Human Computer Interaction (HCI) designs are becoming increasingly user-centered, and the design of asynchronous on-line class delivery systems is a very representative example of learner-centered approach to design of HCI associated with distance learning systems. Recent advances in the design of sophisticated on-line courses, incorporating multi-media, have enhanced the effectiveness and acceptability of web-based on-line distance learning systems.
Excelsior College (EC) has been a pioneer in the service of non-traditional students since 1971. This institution was quick to adopt web-based asynchronous distance learning systems as the primary mode of instruction for the predominantly non-traditional adult student population of the college. During the last 5 years, the Schools of Liberal Arts, Nursing, Health Science, and Business and Technology have developed several hundred web-based on-line courses for management and delivery through the Web CT Distance Learning System. To ensure that all of
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