The Distance Education In Higher Education In America Education Essay

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This research topic entitled "The Distance Education in Higher Education in America" is basically aimed at determining the advantages and disadvantages of distance education in the United States of America as well as its impact on the American students who patronize this particular method of learning as opposed to the orthodox or traditional method of education.

In order to achieve this, this study will take a descriptive-explanatory qualitative research approach which will mainly employ two main research strategies namely the interview method and survey questionnaire method. A total of 100 respondents divided into two types of respondents which are the students (70) and the teachers (30) will be randomly selected by the researcher to participate in the study.

Data will be gathered through the interviews and the gathered survey questionnaires which will be conducted and facilitated by the researcher himself. The findings of the content analysis from this study will be subjected to simple statistical procedures such as descriptive statistics that will be generated through the aid of the statistical software SPSS version 16.

Introduction

Topic Area: Distance Education

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In his book entitled, "Education in the United States" Butler, N. M. (2009) describes the history of education in the United States as being a by-product of the colorful history of the country which heavily influenced the current educational system that America has today. This particular author also characterized education in America as being spontaneous in all its aspects and areas of development and as a system that has been consistently progressive over the past decades.

Also, another important characteristic of American education is its being state-controlled which implies that education is mandated as compulsory by the state and is therefore made widely available for all its citizens. Fortunately, when the state became in total control of American education, the interest in education further grew from among the people (Butler, N. M. 2009).

Moreover, with the state being on top of American education, all the policies, regulations, system, curricula and the funds needed in putting up schools and ensuring that education is readily available for everyone were all handled by the school boards which were given jurisdiction and authority over all school districts as mandated by the state. With regard to the rise therefore of distance education among students in America, specifically those taking up their Master's degree, the authority when it comes to making major educational decisions becomes out of the scope or power of the school authorities (Holmberg, B. 2005).

Because of the change in set-up and delegation of power in distance education, this method of education has not yet been highly recommended by the government in America. Nevertheless, the advancement of technology and the changes in the lifestyle of Americans made it possible for many universities and institutions to also adopt this method of education and learning (Holmberg, B. 2005).

According to Towie, B. (2008), there is a continuously rising trend in distance education in various American learning institutions especially those individuals taking up higher studies due to the fact that distance education offers them the convenience of studying and at the same time tending to their other obligations in life such as the family and their work (Moore, M.G. & Kearsley, G. 2005).

Title: The Distance Education in Higher Education in America

Research Questions

In line with the above-mentioned research objectives, the researcher has also listed down some of the most important research questions which this research study aims to answer and address by the end of the study. These research questions are identified as the following:

What is the scholarly definition of "distance education"?

How did "distance education" begin and how has it progressed until the present day?

What are the different forms of "distance education"?

How is "distance education" normally practiced, executed or implemented within various educational institutions and universities?

What are the advantages and benefits in "distance education"?

What are the disadvantages and risks in "distance education"?

What are the effects of "distance education" among students taking up Master's degree?

How has "distance education" changed the views and perceptions of students taking up their Master's degree on education and learning itself?

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What are the differences between "distance education" versus the traditional method of education among students taking up Master's degree?

How would you describe and characterize students taking up Master's degree through "distance education" versus students who took up their Master's degree through the traditional method of education?

Specific Project Objectives

This research topic entitled "The Distance Education in Higher Education in America" is basically aimed at determining the advantages and disadvantages of distance education in the United States of America. This paper will examine what distance education is and what specific benefits or risks can be taken out of it by the citizens of America who intend to take distance education rather than the orthodox method of teaching or traditional education mainly done "on site" or within the classroom premises.

To be more specific, this paper will also look into how distance education may possibly affect the students taking up their Master's degree in Project Management. This paper will identify whether or not it would be beneficial for students taking up their Master's degree to take distance education rather than the traditional means of learning inside the campus or university.

Furthermore, this paper will look into how the rise in popularity of distance education may affect the current structure of the educational system in America. By the end of this study, the researcher will offer a recommendation on whether distance education is more beneficial for students, specifically those students taking up their Master's Degree. In line with this, the researcher has identified the most important objectives wherein this study will revolve around. These objectives are the following:

To define "distance education" using scholarly journals, books and articles

To trace the history and early beginnings of "distance education" in America and how it has progressed until the present day

To describe the different forms of "distance education" and how this method is normally practiced, executed or implemented within various educational institutions and universities

To enumerate the advantages and benefits in "distance education"

To enumerate the disadvantages and risks in "distance education"

To identify the effects of "distance education" among students taking up Master's degree and finally,

To compare "distance education" versus the traditional method of education among students taking up Master's degree

Review of Existing Research

In a study conducted by Holmberg, B. (2000) on the trends and status of distance education in the United States, the studies revealed that there are mainly two reasons why individuals resort to distance education which involve one, concerns about work while the other rationale is divided into several different reasons classified under the social, political and economic aspects. The results of the study also reflected the basic nature and characteristics of distance education which is illustrated as the active use of technical media to carry out a specific learning course between a student and a teacher.

While this study focused on the different trends in distance education in America, there is still a current lack of study in terms of the impact of distance education among American students which this proposed business research intends to address.

Research Methodology

This research project entitled the "Distance Education in America" is intended to carefully investigate the impact of distance education among American students, particularly those taking up their Master's degrees as well as the possible advantages and disadvantages of utilizing this method of learning and education.

In order to achieve this aim, this research proposal will utilize an exploratory-descriptive approach in research which mainly involves a mixed method of both qualitative and quantitative research designs. A descriptive approach will be utilized to differentiate the quality of learning between "distance education" and the traditional method as well as the specific advantages and disadvantages of taking the Master's Program via distance education.

More specifically, this study will take a descriptive-explanatory qualitative research approach which will mainly employ two main research strategies which are the interview method and survey questionnaire method. According to Creswell (2003), a descriptive research approach suits this specific proposed business research study as it is an effective means of accurately gathering and collecting data in relation to the data's actual and present condition.

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In the semi-structured questionnaire that will be used for this study, two types of respondents will be selected by the researcher to participate and they are the students and the teachers. The strength of using a semi-structured questionnaire in the study according to Punch (2003) is that as a research strategy it has the right amount of breadth and flexibility in gathering significant data from the respondents. Its suitability in different contexts is also another major advantage in utilizing this research technique.

The first part of the research question mainly involves very basic and simple demographical information which includes the gender of the respondent and the school or university where the respondent (either a teacher or a student) attends. The second part of the research questionnaire on the other hand contains specific statements with regard to the respondents' opinion on the advantages and disadvantages of implementing distance education. They are to indicate the answers using the six-point Likert Scale which will later be elaborated by the researcher upon approval of this research proposal.

The interviews on the other hand will be conducted and facilitated by the researcher himself in order to validate the answers and responses of the respondents based on the gathered survey questionnaires. According to Bell (2005), the interview research technique is effective as it discusses in detail the insights and underlying reasons for the answers indicated by the respondents in the survey questionnaire. Moreover, it validates whether the answers in the survey questionnaires are accurate or not which therefore serves as the basis of the researcher to consider whether the gathered data are relevant and useful or not.

In line with this, the researcher intends to record, transcribe and document the interview conversations that will be conducted for this research study for future references. All gathered and collected data will be assessed by the researcher through the SPSS program and content analysis. According to Blaxter, Hughes & Tight (2006), content analysis is beneficial in this proposed study as it identifies the main characteristics and relevance of each of the gathered data in relation to the aims of the study. The findings of the content analysis from this study will be subjected to simple statistical procedures such as descriptive statistics that will be generated through the aid of the statistical software SPSS version 16.

Value of the Research

In this paper, the researcher will be assessing and determining the specific advantages and disadvantages of implementing distance education across America. The main problem that this research study intends to address is the lack of knowledge of current educational institutions and universities with regard to the possible risks and disadvantages of adopting and implementing distance education.

This is apart from the fact that many American citizens themselves also lack the proper knowledge and awareness when it comes to the possible risks and disadvantages of taking up distance education rather than attending to a university or campus which makes use of the traditional method of learning or education.

Moreover, in line with the fact that most Americans taking up their Master's degree over distance education are not aware of the possible risks of taking these courses and degrees without proper exposure and interaction with other students, the researcher intends to expose these risks and disadvantages in order to make these students aware of their disadvantaged position in taking up such a course through distance education.

This research proposal is therefore significant as it aims to determine the specific advantages and disadvantages of implementing distance education across America. Currently, there is a lack of knowledge among educational institutions and universities with regard to the possible risks and disadvantages of adopting and implementing distance education which this study aims to identify. Also, with the intent of exposing the possible risks that American students may face when it comes to taking up their Master's degree over distance education, this study will benefit both current and future students to stop and consider whether distance education is indeed beneficial for them or not.

Conclusion

Distance education is a current educational phenomenon that rose to popularity through the emergence of technology. In fact, because of this, many universities and educational institutions adopted and implemented this method of learning and education due to the fact that it was technology-driven. Nevertheless, there remains a need to explore its effectiveness as a learning method as without the right knowledge and awareness of the possible risks and disadvantages of learning through distance education, many American students, particular those taking up the Master's Program may suffer the given risks and disadvantages of this method of learning.