Cyrs and Smith (1988) expressed the view that distance teaching has dimensions different from traditional face-to-face instruction. They identified the following differentiating factors for distance teaching: organization and packaging of the televised course, use of visuals in TV format, presentation skills, personal appearance, use of interactive study guides, questioning strategies, and consumer assessment.
Prior Research Studies
Dillon, Hengst, and Zoller (1989) conducted a study to ascertain who participates in distance teaching and why, what instructional strategies the faculty chooses, what the nature of the selection process is, and what differences exist between the strategies used by the faculty in the televised classes and the equivalent on-campus class. Data were obtained through surveys and structured telephone interviews. The researchers concluded that the unique attributes of distance education require a greater emphasis on involvement strategies than traditional on-campus instruction. The findings suggest that instead of focusing on a specific (tried-and-true) technology in reaching the distant student, the faculty should focus on enhancing student involvement in the teaching-learning process. There should be more systematic guidelines for selecting pedagogical methods that are correlated to the types of learning presented by the needs of the new learning environment. Faculty development efforts must address both faculty training and the institutional rewards for participation in providing education to the distant learner.
Dillon, Gunawardena, and Parker (1989) analyzed the reintegration of the teaching-learning behaviors in a distance education system through an evaluation of the student-support system for distant learners. Distance students noted that the major areas for improvement in services directly related to distance instruction were the availability of library and counseling services. The findings supported that the primary focus of improvements in the communication process should include a more sophisticated audio system, a better-coordinated delivery of materials, and improved coordination at distant sites. The transmitting institutions should implement a faculty-development program providing both instruction and rewards for faculty using the distance-learning approach.
Behm, Molise, and Threkeld (1989) investigated the learning environments of students to identify the differences between distance-learning settings and more traditional educational settings. Their study concluded that learner support systems should provide adequate involvement between learner and instructor, transmit feedback to the learner on progress and achievement, ensure that communication occurs between learners, provide access to class materials and resources, reduce administration, and increase the positive perception that distance learners are a part of and vital to the educational setting.