Trends and Issues in Distance Education: International Perspectives, Second Edition
reviewed by Julie Delello - January 18, 2013
Title: Trends and Issues in Distance Education: International Perspectives, Second Edition
Author(s): Lya Visser, Yusra Laila Visser, Ray J. Amirault (eds.)
Publisher: Information Age Publishing, Charlotte
ISBN: 1617358282, Pages: 356, Year: 2012
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As technology advances, the demand for distance learning is expected to surge globally. Updated and revised, Trends and Issues in Distance Education: International Perspectives (2nd Ed) reflects a diverse set of global perspectives with an emphasis on the trends, developments, and challenges of distance education within an international forum.
Organized into four sections, the editors Visser, Visser, Amirault, and Simonson present the reader the opportunity to explore the ways in which distance education is being utilized across the globe. Using a cultural lens, thirty prominent researchers and authors contributed 21 chapters that take a comprehensive look at the rapidly evolving field of distance education. Furthermore, the authors present personalized case studies which demonstrate the wide range of technologies and strategies used in distance education-- from the most advanced technologies (e.g., 3-D technologies) to the most rudimentary technologies (e.g., crank radios) (p. xiv).
The first section of the book Perspectives on Global Trends and Issues in Distance Education defines and recognizes the global need for distance education in the 21st century. With the dramatic need to help millions of individuals who do not have the opportunity to go to school, a global investment in human rights and capacity building is imperative. Even with the great discrepancies across geographical areas, the authors recognize that, as a society, we need new visions, new ideas, and a better understanding of the trends and issues associated with distance education initiatives. Accessibility, convenience, and availability across different cultures and regions along with a rich picture of the global state of the practice of distance education are topics identified throughout section one. Furthermore, each chapter contributes to an awareness of the transformational shift that is occurring in distance education which will require new and relative theories be developed within an ever-changing field.
Section Two Applied Distance Education Initiatives in Diverse Settings focuses on the diversification of distance education across the world. Throughout the four chapters in this section, the eight authors cover the globe from America, Guyana, Portugal, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Zambia, each differing in terms of infrastructure, technological capacity, and economic stability. This section shifts from developing American virtual schools to interactive radio instruction in developing countries. Although the techniques and geographical locations differ, the reader is asked to also explore the similarities in the differing approaches to distance learning. The authors demonstrate that although, much has been achieved much remains to be done (p. 151).
Part three of the book Distance Education in University and Other Formalized Higher Education Settings presents six chapters demonstrating the advancing relationship between distance education and higher education. Higher education has expanded remarkably in recent decades moving away from the traditional brick and mortar learning to one of e-learning, allowing the public global access to formal educational opportunities. Distance learning makes it possible for an individual who may be restricted by time, geography, or other factors to learn outside the traditional boundaries of the classroom. As education through distance education transforms current traditional practices, concerns arise as to the quality of such globalized programs. In this chapter, the authors discuss the inherent challenges and pressures higher education institutions face in implementing distance education in terms of costs, support, and accreditation practices.
Section four, the last part of the book, Distance Education in the Workplace and In Non-Formal Settings, focuses on the trends and challenges of implementing distance education within informal environments. Many times, traditional education is not possible. The section authors demonstrate how distance education is being used as a means to train industry personnel and provide education and vocational skills to marginalized groups including refugees and prisoners around the world. According to Wilson (2012), The road trodden by distance learners is particularly under-used and difficult to findoff the beaten trackand strewn with its own particular difficulties, such as lack of information, support appropriate technologies those who make this journey do so for a variety of reasons, in a variety of ways (p. 312). The authors emphasize the need for training in order to respond to the innovation of technology as well as the need for human capacity to be built in order for individuals to participate in a globally competitive environment.
This text is an excellent introduction for students, practitioners, instructors, and researchers studying the trends and issues in distance education. One of the strengths of this book is that its rich content draws upon a wealth of international experiences of the authors. However, despite the wide range of approaches and perspectives represented, the topics seem redundant at times. Furthermore, the spectrum of trends, cultures, and circumstances are too broad for one volume.
Although the reader wont walk away from the literature with countless answers to the critical issues addressed, the text should serve as a platform for discussion on the emerging trends and issues facing distance education across the world. Each chapter is well-written, authoritatively supported, and complete with thought-provoking comprehension and application questions, resources for further exploration, and a list of key references. Overall, those involved in the writing of the book should be commended for their passionate insights into the field of distance education and for their scholarly contributions to the 21st century.
Visser-Valfrey, M., Visser, J., & Moos, C. (2012). The difficult route to developing distance education in Mozambique. In L. Visser, Y. L. Visser, R. Amirault, & M. Simonson, (Eds.), Trends and issues in distance education: International perspectives (2nd ed.) (pp. 137-154). Charlotte, NC: Information Age.
Visser, L., & Visser, Y. L. (2012). Introduction: From cover to cover. In L. Visser, Y. L. Visser, R. Amirault, & M. Simonson, (Eds.), Trends and issues in distance education: International perspectives (2nd ed.) (pp. xiii-xv). Charlotte, NC: Information Age.
Wilson, A. (2012). Learning landscapes: European perspectives on distance learning in prisons. In L. Visser, Y. L. Visser, R. Amirault, & M. Simonson, (Eds.), Trends and issues in distance education: International perspectives (2nd ed.) (pp. 311-323). Charlotte, NC: Information Age.