Book Review: Distance Education: A Systems View

September 27, 2004

It is not easy for me to write an objective review of the Second Edition of Moore and Kearsley’s (2005) book titled Distance Education: A Systems View. I have known both authors for many years, and have a lot of respect for their scholarship and professionalism. So, let me confess that this is a biased review in favor of the book and its authors!

I used the First Edition of Distance Education: A Systems View in my courses about the field at San Diego State University and have already put the Second Edition on the reading list of my current and future students. I highly recommend the book as a text for novice students, or graduate students who must form a general understanding of the field.

Professionals, and researchers with substantial background are also well served by reading this book, specially by chapters 1 and 2, as well as 9 10 and 12. These chapters provide in depth analysis of history, theory, research and scholarship in distance education, subjects that are missing in many current books published about distance education.

In recent years, several books have been written about distance education. But, very few cover the field in its entirety as Distance Education: A Systems View does. The book has been written by two experts with many years of scholarship and experience in distance education. The depth and breadth of their knowledge about the field is well reflected in this volume.

Moore and Kearesley, in the first chapter, emphasize the importance of a systems approach to understanding and practice of distance education. They state: “We believe a systems view is very helpful in an understanding of distance education as a field of study, and that adopting a systems approach is the secret of successful practice.”

The second chapter titled “The Historical Context” is very significant for students, and professionals who are new to the field, as well those who have been in the field for some time. The general lay view is that distance education is a new field. Chapter 2 provides an excellent perspective of the practice and development of distance education since its inception in the mid 1880’s until now. The third chapter titled “The Scope of Distance Education” provides further depth and understanding to a field that encompasses several other disciplines and employs their theoretical and practical bases in its practice.

Chapter 3 through 8 are devoted to more technical aspects of distance education such as course design and development, teaching at a distance, profile of distance learners, management, administration and policies in the field. The systems approach is what binds these chapters together and provides the reader with an integrated view of the relationship between instructors and learners, and the structure of the institutions in which they teach and learn.