Distance Education in Higher Education Institutions: Incidence, Audiences, and Plans to Expand

April 2, 2002

Distance education is emerging as an increasingly important component of higher education. For example, the Education Network of Maine, an independent arm of the Maine university system, televises college courses to 11 regional centers and other sites throughout the state, making available 85 courses and 14 degree programs which, in the fall of 1995, served about 2,900 students (Chronicle of Higher Education, May 31, 1996). Other university system and state networks for distance education include Colorado Electronic Community College, EdNet in Oregon, the Iowa Communications Network, the TeleLinking Network in Kentucky, and BadgerNet in Wisconsin. Cooperatives and consortia which cross state lines include the Western Governors University, a “virtual university” sponsored by the governors of 15 states (and one U.S. territory), and the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, which consists of 12 large universities, including Pennsylvania State University, the University of Iowa, Ohio State University, the University of Minnesota, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Illinois (Chronicle of Higher Education, December 8, 1995).