Finally, Cyrs (1989), defined distance learning and teaching as education and training through live television by any electronic delivery systems including microwave, fiber optic, or satellite, using one- or two-way video and two-way audio, or in a packaged format using videotape with or without telephone or other electronic interface.
Characteristics of Distance Learning
Keegan (1986) stressed the following attributes as the main elements of distance education: the separation of teacher and learner, the influence of an education organization, the use of technical media, the provision of two-way communication, and the possibility of occasional feedback meetings. Additionally, technology has played a critical role in the growth of distance learning.
In describing changes influenced by technology, Gell and Cochrane (1994/95) stated institutions are having to become flexible and customer-driven in order to maintain direction and survive during this immediate-response-time decade. The education sector will not be hindered by space, time and location and will become a borderless activity. These researchers further posit that the education sector will lose its grip as the primary education provider and will therefore have to reinvent itself as a different learning sector beginning in the next century.
According to Gell and Cochrane (1994/95), if the concept of using telecommunication services to assist in the training of people is accepted, a range of basic issues and related questions such as the following should be answered:
* Why do many instructors at many universities deliver notably similar material?
* Why does teaching have to be delivered in real-time?
* Why should educational institutions build new buildings if their students can be reached through the distance-learning system?
* Why don’t more institutions share on-line information rather than reproducing the same systems at their location?
* How can traditional and virtual systems augment each other so that students can benefit?
In commenting on the changing role of universities, Ostar (1991) offered the perspective of a new kind of university(an interactive university) becoming the primary force for change. This interactive university embraces two-way communication and cooperation. The curriculum in the interactive university would be developed by scholars who are committed to excellence in transformation, application, and working with the communities they serve. Ostar noted that classrooms, libraries, and dormitories wouldn’t restrict the interactive university. This kind of university engages the community beyond its borders, encouraging it to become a vital and fundamental part of the campus environment.