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Distance Education & the Academic Librarian


Joseph E. Gurubatham, President
Griggs University/Home Study International

Wednesday, June 24, 1998
Columbia Union College

  1. Objectives of Presentation
    1. Discuss trends and challenges in distance education
    2. Examine impact of distance education on libraries
    3. Report on Griggs University/Home Study International
  2. Introduction
    1. Distance education–definition
      A formal educational process in which the majority of instruction occurs when student and instructor are not in the same place.
    2. Historical perspectives
      • 19th century schools
      • SDA correspondence school
      • Recent developments
    3. Statistics
      • 90% of colleges with enrollments of 10,000 or more offer distance education courses
      • More than 10,000 college-level courses are offered via internet
      • Student body demographics
  3. Distance Education Methodologies
    1. Synchronous–Teachers and students are present at the same time during instruction, even if they are in two different places
    2. Asynchronous–Teachers and students do not have person-to-person direct interaction at the same time and place
    3. Delivery systems–numerous means and methods are used to deliver instruction at a distance. Some examples:
      • Audio (phonograph records, cassettes)
      • Audio tutorials
      • Bulletin board systems
      • Computer-based training
      • Fax machine
      • CD
      • Digital book
      • E-mail
      • Hypertext
      • Interactive video
      • Internet
      • Laser disc
      • Multi-media
      • Phone
      • Programmed instruction
      • Radio
      • Satellite
      • TV
      • Video
      • Video conference telecourses
      • Virtual reality
      • Voice mail
      • World Wide Web
    4. Anatomy of a Telecourse
  4. Use of Technology in Distance Education
    1. Basic questions
      • What do you want the technology to do for you?
      • Which technology do you want to adopt?
      • What is the most effective way to teach a student at a distance?
      • What technologies to avoid?
    2. Potential problems to consider
      • Technological overkill
      • Getting ahead of the market
      • Human physical limitations
      • Cost considerations
      • Socialization skills
      • Access issues
      • Competition
      • Perceptions of inferior quality
      • Legal issues
    3. Basic expectations for distance education
      Four key words:
      • Access
      • Interactivity
      • Reliability
      • Quality
  5. Distance Education and the Library
    1. ALA, ACRL and accreditation guidelines
      Key words:
      • Access
      • Training/Support
      • Monitoring of use
        ALA/ACRL Guidelines:
        Access to library resources is essential for quality higher education regardless of where students, faculty and programs are located . . . The originating institution is responsible for library services . . . Finances must be adequate to provide high quality “comparable” service . . . Convenient and direct electronic or physical access at levels “comparable to on-campus students” . . . All aspects of library services must exist for all students.
    2. Options for consideration
      Worst case: Distance education students are told to find their own library services
      Alternate Options:
      • On-line catalog/indexes on the web
      • Trained staff to deal with distance students
      • Toll-free phone service
      • E-mail access
      • Regional library support
      • Remote reference services
      • Rapid document delivery
      • Orientation and support for faculty
      • Orientation and support to students
      • Documentation of utilization
    3. Role of the future librarian
      The new librarian will be a cyberlibrarian. The librarian will be evaluating available resources for adequacy, appropriateness and reliability; will be forging strategic alliances and cooperative arragements with other agencies and libraries; will be teaching information management literacy to teachers and students; will be constantly evaluating, documenting and assessing how effectively students and teachers are utilizing library sources.
  6. Future of Distance Education
    • There will be a huge shake-up
    • Learner centered–flexible, convenient, affordable
    • A mosaic of learning options
    • Outcomes focused
    • More use of computer-based platforms to deliver instruction
    • More asynchronous opportunities
    • Faculty will become more tutors, less “medium of information delivery”
    • Competition will be fierce; major for-profit companies will get into the act
    • Many institutions may flee technology-based distance education
    • Strategic alliances will be formed
    • Internet-based distance education will be a major force
    • There will be significant consolidation
    • Colleges, whose primary competitive advantage is geographic convenience, will be threatened
    • More outsourcing of functions
    • More collaborative efforts


Abbott, T. E. (1994). Distance Education and Off-Campus Library Services: Challenges for the Accreditation Process and Librarians. In E. D. Garten (Ed.), The Challenge and Practice of Academic Accreditation: A Sourcebook for Library Administrators, pp. 77-86, Westport CT: Greenwood Press.

American Council on Education. (1996). Guiding Principles for Distance Learning in a Learning Society. Washington, D.C.: American Council on Education.

Kabel, C. J., Moulden, C. M. & Fritts, J. (1995). Assessment of Faculty Awareness and Attitudes Regarding Library Services to Off-Campus Students. In C. J. Jacob (Comp.), The Fifth Off-Campus Library Services Conference Proceedings, pp. 205-209, Mt. Pleasant, MI: The Central Michigan University.

Slade, A. L. & Kascus, M. A., Eds. (1996). Library Services for Off-Campus and Distance Education: The Second Annotated Bibliography. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited.

Copyright ©1998 Joseph E. Gurubatham

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