The next three chapters (devoted to what should occur while students are enrolled) discuss support services, including an outstanding and lengthy section containing useful and concrete suggestions for what should be included on World Wide Web course and program support pages. The authors also address strategies to help ensure high course and program completion rates, including an interesting discussion of possible reasons for the lower completion rates often found in distance courses. This section concludes with what may be the best chapter in the book (Chapter 9) on assessing learning outcomes. The chapter is organized around a series of five guiding principles, fully explained and followed by suggestions for specific methods of assessment. These include group discussions, student logs or journals, term papers, student portfolios, and tests. Each of these methods is discussed from the standpoint of how they should be implemented in distance learning courses and programs.
The last two chapters (focusing on what should occur after students enroll) are the weakest in the book. Chapter 10 deals with program evaluation and suffers from a lack of specific suggestions. Chapter 11 on accreditation is interesting, but addresses only the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE) guidelines. Furthermore, there is no discussion at all of the many controversies related to accreditation of courses and programs delivered by distance education.
This latter problem is representative of the only major shortcoming of the book – its near-total lack of treatment of the difficult controversies that currently swirl around distance education. There is, for example, no mention of the recent, widespread proliferation of so-called "diploma mills," many offering, for a hefty fee and entirely on-line, complete licensure programs, undergraduate degrees, master’s degrees, and even doctoral degrees. Likewise, there is barely a half page of discussion of the issue of ownership of intellectual property rights, despite the fact that bitter debate over this problem continues on many campuses. Similarly, there is no mention whatsoever of the potential effects of commercialization of education that tend to accompany implementation of distance programs. Neglect of such well-known controversies is unfortunate but understandable in light of the fact that these authors are clearly advocates of distance learning, and in view of the book’s current length. It can be forgiven in consideration of the otherwise excellent text they have given us, and the fact they have scrupulously avoided the shameless and near-religious proselytizing often found in some books and articles by advocates of distance education.
There is an excellent companion Web site for the text, containing supplementary and enrichment materials. The authors state that the Website will be updated at least twice a year for at least two years after the publication of the book. An outstanding feature of this Web site is the extensive list of links to sites dealing with material related to each chapter. These links will be invaluable to those wishing to extend their knowledge of topics beyond that presented in the text. At the end of each chapter, a section in the book describes what will be found on the Web site relating to that chapter, and each chapter includes a useful section entitled "Summary Tips."