E-learning Everywhere – the growth of E-learning

E-learning Everywhere – the growth of E-learning – various types and sources are discussed

Alexander Russo

Online courses are spreading through K-12 education amidst questions about cost, effectiveness and accountability

In Charles County, Md., Superintendent Jim Richmond’s voice rises with excitement when he talks about providing academic courses to students online, allowing them to learn wherever–and whenever–they want.

“I’ve been working on it for the last six months,” he says. Though the exact number of online courses being offered by his school district this fall remained undetermined by mid-summer, “I’m very much sold on the use of online technology and its capabilities for our students,” says Richmond, whose fast-growing 23,000-student district is located in southern Maryland. “With the use of technology, we could double the [Advanced Placement] offerings. The capability is going to be unlimited.”

The newest form of technology-based learning–increasingly called “e-learning”–is gaining a foothold in school districts across the country, some of whom like Charles County are devising their own approaches. A larger number of schools and districts are buying into online services offered by a handful of proprietary firms or statewide agencies, all of who tout this as a viable alternative to traditional classroom instruction and a superior method of learning for some students.

Despite its growing popularity and the companies’ unbridled promotional claims, questions remain about the appropriateness of online learning for the majority of students in elementary and secondary schools, the lack of research data on its effectiveness and the high costs and complicated logistics of developing online programs.

Next New Thing

Just when you think you have the federal E-rate application process figured out and know how to talk confidently with your technology specialists, along comes e-learning–also known as cyber learning, virtual learning, e-education and (if you’re old-fashioned) distance education.

It’s a whole new world out there. Now VHS stands for a virtual high school, not the videotape you put in the VCR, and it’s no longer good enough to know about networks and servers and processor speeds and all the rest that came before.

The technology has come a long way since the primitive days of computer-assisted instruction and videotapes. “In 1989, the primary delivery mechanism was satellite-delivered courses,” says Linda Roberts, former director of the Office of Education Technology at the U.S. Department of Education. “Today, the technology delivery systems have indeed become much more affordable, much easier to use and more amenable to meeting the needs of school districts around the country.”

Now you can stream video over the Internet, create course-based chat rooms where students can discuss ideas and thread conversations together over e-mail. Chat rooms and instant messaging can simulate classroom discussions. Computerized simulations can replace lab experiments, and homework assignments can be sent, graded and returned as e-mail attachments. Neither students nor teachers have to be in a designated location at any particular time, and they don’t have to go through the material at the same pace.

In theory, online learning eliminates the tyranny of scheduling classes, finding classroom space and coordinating students to do roughly the same thing at the same time. That flexibility is proving tremendously appealing to some superintendents and district administrators around the country.

“We want to be able to provide more opportunity for our students for them to be able to achieve on their own time and at their own pace,” says Cindy Loe, associate superintendent for the 115,000 student Gwinnett County, Ga., schools. “Online courses allow us the opportunity to do that.”

For the most part, these new online learning programs are targeted at secondary school students, on the assumption that younger students may not have the study skills, reading abilities and self-discipline to fare well without a class to go to. But it’s not just home-schoolers, high-achievers and dropouts who are flocking to online courses, say those familiar with the programs. Others include highly motivated students who need flexibility in their schedules because of jobs or extracurricular activities. Some districts and companies providing these courses, such as K12, launched this fall by former U.S. Education Secretary Bill Bennett, plan to enroll younger children.

Online learning also is looked to increasingly as a way to deliver professional development for teachers and other staff, which is no surprise given its origins in the corporate training and postsecondary education environments. For teachers, says Roberts, formerly of the U.S. Department of Education, “the opportunity to learn online is a whole new ballgame.”

A Rapid Spread

E-learning already has captured the attention of the corporate sector and much of higher education, with 70 percent of colleges and universities in the United States now offering at least some courses online, according to Market Data Retrieval, a research company specializing in technology in schools. Forty percent have created online degree programs, and this fall Arizona becomes the first state to formally recognize an online graduate degree in educational administration toward principal certification. The leader in the field, University of Maryland University College, had more than 62,000 online enrollments last year and offers 20 complete degree programs online.

For elementary and secondary education, the number is much smaller, experts agree. Roughly 15 percent of high schools provide access to online courses, according to one report. The Southern Regional Education Board, which recently surveyed 16 states, found that fewer than 5 percent of classroom teachers and students had any firsthand experience with an online course.

Though estimates vary, the total number of students taking courses online has been estimated to be as few as 10,000 students nationwide, according to Peter Stokes, executive vice president for Eduventures, a Boston-based education research firm. And only a tiny percentage of the nation’s 53 million elementary and secondary students take any of their instruction online. “It isn’t a big number,” says Stokes.

But more and more states and school districts are developing homegrown courses or importing them from commercial vendors. State education agencies have led the way, due to the large costs of developing online courses and the technological know-how that is required. By most accounts, Apex Learning, class.com, eClassroom, the Florida Online High School, Keystone National High School and Concord Consortium s Virtual High School offer the most courses and serve the most students.

Other states, including Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin, have either implemented or are in the process of developing online high schools of one sort or another. The federally funded Concord Consortium initiative, developed in Hudson, Mass., provides 150 online courses to students at roughly 200 schools in 20 states.

With the arrival this fall of Bennett’s K12 and the anticipated entrance of other media companies into the field, many predict massive growth in online education over the next few years.

A Cure for What?

According to its most ardent proponents, online learning is the elixir that can help address all sorts of problems facing school systems today: teacher shortages, limited course offerings, too many dropouts, the flight to home-schooling, lack of Advanced Placement classes in some places, the need for individualized learning, charter school competition, poor teacher quality and lack of physical space.

For district leaders, such as Liverpool, N.Y., Superintendent John Cataldo, the goal is reaching rural, homebound, incarcerated and other students who are not well-served by traditional classrooms. In rural schools especially, he says, “the opportunities for AP or elective courses are pretty limited.”

Cataldo has noticed some side benefits of online programs, such as Liverpool’s fledgling series of course offerings, particularly improved staff morale and additional teacher recruitment and retention opportunities. “A staff that’s feeling very good increases the chances of them feeling good about their instruction,” he says.

Helping schools and students deal with increased academic demands is another common motivator. In some districts, such as Gwinnett County, Ga., student interest in online courses stems in part from the increased number of credits required for high school graduation. Starting with courses for seniors, Gwinnett County is “working toward putting our entire high school curriculum online,” says Loe, the associate superintendent. The district aims to achieve that goal within three years.

The motivations for online learning vary widely and sometimes blend together. But behind all of the sometimes-breathless rhetoric about online learning is an implicit warning to those school leaders who may be more hesitant: Don’t let your school district be left behind or someone else may be teaching your students.

Significant Limitations

For the vast majority of students with typical academic needs and adequate access to traditional courses, however, it remains unclear whether the current capacities of online learning add enough value to make it worth the time and money.

“There is in fact some confusion about what the utility of the online virtual high school will be,” says Stokes, of Eduventures.

While some online content is rigorous–developed by public school teachers and aligned to state or content-area standards–weak course content is perhaps the most significant obstacle to wider and more effective use of e-learning today. In fact, most of what is available commercially was originally created with corporate or postsecondary use in mind and only recently was adapted for younger learners.

“Information sharing is not the same as learning,” says Christopher Dede, the Wirth Professor of Learning Technologies at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. “Sometimes people forget that in distance education.” For the foreseeable future, online education will remain “not exactly” as good as face-to-face teaching for most students, he adds. “The best that you can get is second class, but it’s better than nothing.”

Creating and distributing online courses is also a costly endeavor, nearly everyone agrees. Though software tools are making it increasingly easy for teachers to develop online courses, it takes time and money to train teachers and develop courses. Technical requirements for providing rich and interactive online content can sometimes exceed the current capacities of districts. And the costs don’t necessarily go away once the course is developed and ready to go. Teacher salaries and course and technology upgrades create ongoing costs that are sometimes underestimated at the planning stages.

Other limitations, some of them short-term, include learner isolation, technical glitches, lower-than-average completion rates, lack of evaluative data and objections from teachers’ unions. In addition, there are equity issues. Not all students have access to a computer outside of school, and parents are not equally able to provide the additional academic support that online learning can require. A recent article in the Texas State Teachers Association magazine summed up some of these concerns: “The students are so young, the stakes for them are so high, and the technology so new.”

A recent study of Kansas superintendents highlights many of these issues, as well as potential benefits of online learning. Conducted by Mulvane, Kan., Superintendent Donna Augustine-Shaw, the study found a number of concerns about online learning among school superintendents, including lack of familiarity, staff resistance, inadequate state funding, lost accountability and the belief some districts were using online programs to recoup revenue losses from declining attendance.

Augustine-Shaw’s study, which was conducted for her doctoral research, quoted superintendents on their apprehensions and skepticisms. One commented, “If you want to drive a ‘virtual school bus’ into another school district, the student’s district should give its permission.” Several superintendents recommended districts not implement virtual schools, and one dubious school leader said, “Funding, that’s why everyone’s doing it.”

District Leadership

Despite these concerns and competition from various state and national initiatives, some school districts have struck out on their own. In fact, the Florida High School program began in 1996 as the brainchild of two local districts, Orange County and Alachua County, and the Concord Consortium’s Virtual High School is managed by the Hudson, Mass., Public Schools, whose superintendent, Sheldon Berman, has emerged as a leading authority on online coursework. Dozens of school districts have decided to develop their own courses (see related story, page 24).

Opinions vary widely about whether districts should create their own online programs and develop their own courses, especially when others are readily available.

Bill Thomas, who has been director of educational technology with the Southern Regional Education Board in Atlanta for the past five years, thinks some school districts that have set off to develop their own online programs might do better to enroll their students in their state’s virtual high schools or other entities that already have developed online courses.

“I doubt that most school districts … have enough resources to take on significant roles in this area,” says Thomas, a former district technology administrator in Fairfax County, Va., who has studied online learning in SREB’s 16 states. He believes most districts would be better off developing one or two online courses in key subjects and buying the rest from other providers.

But some district leaders want to have courses developed by their own teachers or they feel as if they have no choice but to develop their own courses to provide quality materials and topflight instruction.

One district that chose to start its own online program, Gwinnett County, Ga., wanted to deliver its own curriculum rather than that of teachers of unknown quality from around the country, says Wendy Metcalf, who serves as Gwinnett’s online campus administrator. Having first piloted online courses with the Concord Consortium for 18 months, the Gwinnett County district enrolled 350 online students this past summer and 258 during the previous school year and offered nine high school courses.

“We wanted to make sure that our students were taking online courses that were aligned with our academic standards and skills,” says Loe, associate superintendent in Gwinnett, which adopted its own standards for approving outside classes and staff-developed courses. “We wanted to have the controls that we needed.”

Homegrown Counsel

While consensus is lacking about what approach to online learning works best, technology experts and those involved with developing online courses agree that keeping a few things in mind can help tremendously:

* No. 1: Plan carefully.

“My first advice would be that it’s better to get it right than be first,” says Milwaukee Superintendent Spence Korte. “Being first is kind of a cheap thrill.”

Programs rushed into place often cost more, have more glitches and erode confidence. “Don’t get an inferiority complex if you don’t have the biggest computer on the block,” Korte says.

Milwaukee actually began with online professional development before moving cautiously into online courses for students, says Korte. Only after four years of practice at staff training online did the school district pilot its online instructional program this past year. And unlike other districts that chose one provider or created their own program from the ground up, Milwaukee plans to continue working with a variety of content providers and online groups, as well as developing some homegrown courses, in order to provide options to its 166 schools.

Careful planning also is in evidence in the Durham public school district in Ontario, Canada. The 67,000-student district has moved slowly in developing its online campus, which eventually will provide training for students, teachers and other staff. After two years of research and development, one of the school district’s first steps last year was to try out learning modules in a regular classroom context.

This blended approach improved course development and helped students determine whether online learning was for them.

“Most people aren’t taking their time,” says Todd Hitchcock, e-learning project manager for the Durham Virtual Campus. So far, Durham’s offerings include four complete online courses for high school students and four online modules used as part of traditional courses. “People start out very fast. But then they get the content in one area and have to move to another,” which can be very expensive.

He adds: “I have heard too often, ‘I don’t know what that e-learning thing is but we want it and we want it in 100 days.”

* No. 2: Think education, not technology.

Too many online education programs are being developed “without thinking about why,” says Harvard’s Dede, who calls the trend worrisome and suggests that well-heeled districts are being tempted into spending money without much hope of making significant educational improvements. Superintendents need to understand, he says, “this is part of an education plan as opposed to an ed tech plan.”

Adds technology consultant Linda Roberts: “The starting point is not technology. The starting point is education. What can technology offer?”

Some local efforts have floundered because they entrusted their online programs to technology specialists rather than educators, says SREB’s Thomas. “It’s not a technology issue, it’s a curriculum and instruction issue.” Others have had unrealistic expectations of the burdens placed on teachers in an online environment. Teacher-student ratios have to be monitored carefully. “It’s a 24-7 experience (for teachers),” says Barbara Stein, a senior policy analyst in the National Education Association’s teaching and learning division. It is “much more time-consuming than teaching a 45-minute course.”

A Collaborative Approach

* No. 3: Cooperate, don’t compete.

Because online learning erases traditional geographic boundaries between districts and states, the need for cooperation and collaboration among various levels of government and between states remains a serious issue for online learning during these early stages.

The Genesee Intermediate School District outside Flint, Mich., using a regional optical cable system that serves 21 local school districts, is brokering 54 online courses starting this fall. For the time being, most students will be limited to taking no more than two online electives per semester. “It makes a whole lot more sense than replicating things in each district,” says Genesee Superintendent Thomas Svitkovich. “Local schools still have autonomy in how they want to access the system.”

In this regional initiative, the intermediate district will collect state aid for students taking online courses and districts will continue to receive “the same amount of funding as if [students] were sitting in a regular course,” says Svitkovich. Depending on the course provider, however, districts could be asked to pay a fee of up to $267 per course.

However, joint ventures are intrinsically cumbersome and old ways are slow to go, says Larry Anderson, founder of the National Technology Planning Association at Mississippi State University. “We really don’t know, aren’t sure yet, how to let go of tradition and take advantage of the new opportunities that are available to us,” he says. “If I offer an online course, what do I do about the student who lives 600 miles away who wants to take my course but doesn’t reside in my district?”

The lack of coordination among districts is creating problems for online programs, says Tom Layton of CyberSchool, which originated in the 17,800-student Eugene, Ore., Public Schools. “It’s a mess. It’s an absolute mess. Everybody’s trying to do everything.” CyberSchool was among the first public schools to offer online courses, starting in 1995. Focusing on electives, it offers 50 courses ranging from the Greek historian Herodotus to horror literature and enrolled 250 students from 30 different states last year.

Today, there are five providers of online education in Oregon, some of whom Layton contends are not faring well. “Everyone’s got a different administrative structure, a different file structure. Schools and districts don’t know how to work and play well with others.”

While most technology platforms are incompatible, some online programs are trying to find ways to trade courses among themselves, like one big grownup Pokemon card-swapping session. Others are trying to find ways to allow different programs to share information.

* No. 4: Figure out the money.

Online learning may be cheaper than operating a daily classroom with two dozen students, but it is not cheap. And it’s about to get more expensive. For the most part, state and federal funds have been used thus far to support the development and early stages of online learning programs, but that arrangement is changing in some places. The Concord Consortium, for instance, is moving to a fee-based structure for its Virtual High School now that its five-year federal grant has expired.

The recent experience of the Internet Academy, run by the Evergreen School District in Vancouver, Wash., highlights many of the financial issues that districts encounter. The fast-growing district had 200 students taking at least one online course last year and expects to exceed that number this year despite adoption of a much-reduced list of courses offered online and new limits placed on who can take courses.

But Evergreen learned quickly that you can’t run a small online program for long if neither students nor the state is paying for it. “It was going to get shut down,” says program director Teresa Baldwin. “The board said you’ve got to shut it down if it can’t pay for itself.”

Evergreen officials were surprised at the number of students who wanted to take online courses as electives or to make up for classes they had failed. But with no way to recoup expenses in the short term, Evergreen has had to limit its offerings and charge students taking classes they’ve previously failed $300 per online course, Baldwin says.

“No one has really come to grips with the money issue,” says Thomas of the Southern Regional Education Board.

In the future, local school districts will have to pick up at least part of the tab. This is already the situation in Kentucky and Pennsylvania. The state legislature in Florida has told its online high school to start paying its own way. Other states are making funding determinations on the basis of whether the course is provided by the home district or whether it is required for graduation.

In Pennsylvania, about 100 school districts expect to lose an estimated $840,000 of disputed state funding to the Western Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School if a judge’s May 11 decision granting the charter’s claim to the money is upheld. The school districts have not honored invoices from the online charter, one of several in the state, arguing that it did not meet the requirements of a charter school under state law. (See related story, page 32.)

Online charters are also likely to crop up in more and more states, says Peter Stokes of Boston-based Eduventures. According to Peter Stuart of K12, eight states already have or allow online charters–Alabama, California, Kansas, Nevada, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Hybrid Forms

Increased interactivity, more engaging formats and resolution of technical issues will be instrumental to improving online learning. In the meantime, however, several different hybrid forms have been developed, along with some innovative tricks, to work around limitations in current technology.

Inrernet2, a high-speed, closed-access version of the Internet that has been created mostly for research institutions and government agencies to communicate, should allow some schools to provide more lively online courses at speeds 1,500 times faster than a TI line at present. Five states–Michigan, Missouri, Oregon, Virginia and Washington–already are slated to link elementary and secondary schools to Abilene, part of the Interner2 backbone. That backbone is being developed to help universities, research organizations and the government transmit information independently and more speedily than the current Internet allows.

But bells and whistles and awesome content aren’t the entire solution. Sometimes the answer is much simpler. One school district has addressed its poor course completion rate by asking parents to sign a contract stating that if the student drops the online course they will pay the full tuition cost. Gwinnett County, Ga., employs a staff member to serve as a watchdog over students involved in an online course, to help monitor their participation and address technical glitches that may be hindering their progress.

Gwinnett’s online program requires that students meet their teachers at least at the start of the semester before they are allowed to enroll in the online course and the school district funds an online learning counselor to help students who are falling behind. The Durham Public Schools in Ontario, Canada, require live telephone contact once each week between the teacher and every student enrolled in an online course. Other measures tested by online educators include providing voluntary real-time chat room sessions, communicating independently with parents about student progress and hiring site coordinators at each school.

Schools are also developing hybrid programs to combine the best of the physical and electronic classrooms. The Daniel Jenkins Academy for Technology, part of the Polk County, Fla., district near Tampa is housed within a technology-based middle school. It enrolled 34 students last year and expects to double that number this fall. Students have access to furnished labs and other learning spaces but no high school teachers. Students take all their courses online, as many as six or seven at a time, through the Florida High School program.

Students are issued laptops and can stay home one day a week if they want or take electives at a nearby traditional school. But having someplace to go gives these students “a culture and a community,” including dances, a prom and other student activities, says Sue Braiman, principal of the Daniel Jenkins Academy. As a result, students often work together on their courses in a way that is unlikely to happen otherwise.

Even under these relatively ideal circumstances, however, Braiman has decided that math courses will be offered only on campus this fall. “What happened is that the students did not fare well with the online math classes,” she says. “It is difficult to represent math on a computer screen.”

Uncertain Future

School districts will face a growing set of choices as media conglomerates and traditional publishing companies enter the online learning market. “The key challenge for districts will be to have effective strategies for making decisions about technology,” says Stokes of Eduventures, “especially given that there is very little centralized information available” about quality and stability of the proprietary firms offering online instruction. “Administrators need to be preparing to ask the right questions, seek the right counsel and develop a plan that will enable them to align their investments with their school’s mission.”

Consolidation within the private sector will continue, leading to better course content but creating short-term havoc for schools working with a company that’s bought out by another, says Stokes, who tracks these ventures. Some online providers have disappeared in the past year and others are downsizing because they are not yet profitable and venture capital is becoming increasingly difficult to secure. “The risk for schools in getting into bed with for-profits is that they may not be viable in the future,” he says.

Yet some school leaders think the risks are worth taking. Says Milwaukee Superintendent Spence Korte: “If I had made my judgments based on what was possible with the Apple IIe, I never would have envisioned where we are now.”

E-learning brings creative opportunities amidst the unknown. “This is an experiment in progress,” says Roberts, formerly the technology guru at the U.S. Department of Education. “It’s evolving.”

Alexander Russo is a Chicago-based free-lance writer. E-mail: alexanderrussa@aol.com

The Lingo of E-learning

Don’t yet speak the language of e-learning natives? Here’s a basic glossary of terms compiled by Geannie Wells, director of AASA’s Center for Accountability Solutions, that you may encounter in this issue of our magazine and in general when reading about online learning.

Asynchronous learning: learning in which teacher participation occurs at a different time from students

Bandwidth: amount of data that can be carried per unit of time; low bandwidth in certain areas restricts the amount of multimedia content that is practical

Broadband: high-speed transmission; the specific speed used to define broadband is subjective, but the word often implies any speed above what is commonly used

Courseware: any type of instructional or educational software program

Distance education: educational situation in which the instructor and students are separated by time, location or both

Distributed learning: when students take courses from a variety of sources (and delivery modes) to customize a program of study; often the term is used synonymously with online learning

Distance learning: desired outcome of distance education; the two terms are often used interchangeably

E-learning: the delivery of content via internet or satellite broadcast and may include supplemental media such as interactive TV and CD-ROM; covers a wide set of applications and processes such as Web-based learning, computer-based learning, virtual classrooms and digital collaboration

F2F: face to face

Internet2 or Next Generation Internet: the future of the Internet with higher bandwidth and new functionality and services

Platform: an underlying software system on which online courses run

Streaming media (audio or video): files played as they are being downloaded over the Internet instead of users having to wait for the entire file to download first; requires a media player program

Synchronous learning: a real-time, instructor-led online learning event in which all participants are logged on at the same time and communicate directly with each other

Web-based course: distance education course materials supported by computer-mediated communications and delivered via the Web; ancillary materials such as print, videos and CD-ROM may be required

Additional Resources on E-learning

The following printed and electronic reference materials were selected or this resource list because of their relevance to online courses in K-12 education.

Reports/Books

“Best Practices for Electronically Offered Degree and Certification Programs,” Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, www.neasc.org/cihe/best_practices_electronically_offered_degree.htm

“Criteria for Evaluating Online Courses,” North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. www.evalutech.sreb.org/criteria/online.asp

“Developing a Distance Education Policy for 21st Century Learning,” American Council of Education, www.acenet.edu/washington/distance_ ed/2000/O3march/distance_ed.html

“Distance Education: Quality Checklist,” National Education Association, www.nea.org/cet/briefs/16.html

“Essential Principles of Quality: Guidelines for Web-based Courses for Middle and High School,” Southern Regional Education Board, www.sreb.org/programs/EdTech/pubs/EssentialPrincipals/EssentialPrinci pals.asp

“NetCourse Evaluation Standards,” VHS NetCourse Evaluation Board, Hudson, Mass., Public Schools and the Concord Consortium, vhs. concord.org/Pages/Main+OfficeCourse+Evaluations+(FA-Semester)

“Quality On the Line: Benchmarks for Success in Internet-based Distance Learning,” Institute for Higher Education Policy, www.ihep.com/quality.pdf

“Web Courses for High School Students: Potential and Issues,” Southern Regional Education Board, www.sreb.org/programs/edtech/pubs/HSWeb/Web%2OCourses.pdf

Facilitating Online Learning: Effective Strategies for Moderators by George Collison and others, Atwood Publishing, Madison, Wis.

Articles

“Cyberschool,” Teacher Magazine, May 2001. Educators are closely watching Florida Virtual School as they consider the pitfalls and pluses. www.educationweek.org/tm/vol-12/08tm.htm

“Education As Commodity,” Electronic School, June 2001. As the Internet becomes more commercialized, the K-12 world will need to follow the lead of higher education and define who owns this wealth of instructional information. www.electronic-school.com/2001/06/O6Olip.html

“South Dakota Shows Human Dimension Still Key to Online Learning,” eSchool News, May 23, 2001. One state’s attempt to offer Advanced Placement classes for high school students via the Internet underscores the need for human interaction and sound scheduling. www.eschoolnews.com/showstory.cfm?ArticleID=2627

Web Sites

Case Studies of Virtual High Schools. Descriptions of online secondary schools focusing on their structure, curriculum and target audience. vhs.ucsc.edu/vhs/casestudies.htm

Distance Learning Database. Cosponsored by Petersons.com and Excelsior College, this site provides information on universities offering online courses or degree programs in educational administration, www.lifelonglearning.com

Distance Learning on the Net. Descriptions of various Web sites and links to programs, guides and other topical information are provided. www.hoyle.com/distance.htm

Distance Learning Resource Network. A dissemination project of the U.S. Department of Education’s Star Schools Program. Resources are tailored to students, educators and adult learners. www.dlrn.org

Southern Regional Education Board: Education Technology Cooperative. A site providing information on Web-based courses for middle and high school students in SREB states. www.sreb.org/programs/edtech/webbased/webbasedindex.asp

U.S. Department of Education: Distance Learning. Government site promoting quality distance education. www.ed.gov/Technology/distance.html

Web-based Education Commission. Established by Congress to develop policy recommendations to maximize the educational promise of the internet for pre-K to grade 12 learners. www.webcommission.org

COPYRIGHT 2001 American Association of School Administrators

COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group