Analyzing the Trends: Distance Education–Resistance is Futile

by Chris Cumo

THE IDYLLIC UNIVERSITY has ivory-laced buildings, sprawling greens, and vast oaks through which light bathes the campus in a gentle sheen. Its nucleus is the classroom, where teacher and student trade ideas, the professor gesticulating to make a point, her hands and blouse smeared with chalk and the board covered with a string of provocative assertions. Such interaction between student and instructor faces competition from online courses.

Some three decades ago Open University began offering courses by modem, though all faculty were then full-time according to John Hirschbuhl, who has been writing about distance education for nearly 20 years as professor of education and director of instructional services at The University of Akron. At first, teams of five or six instructors designed and taught the online courses. Today, 7083 part-timers and only 832 full-time faculty teach
online at Open University according to James Farmer, a research analyst at instructional Media and Magic, a Washington, D.C. multimedia company.

The adjunct model of distance education has reached its pinnacle at the University of Phoenix Online, where adjuncts teach all courses. The University of Phoenix even recruits adjuncts through its website; anyone with a Master’s degree and five years of

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