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A Comparison of Interaction in AV-based and Internet-based Distance Courses

A Comparison of Interaction in AV-based and Internet-based Distance Courses

At the center of the debate over the viability of distance education is whether the newer electronic technologies can offer enough interaction to maintain quality learner outcomes and critical mass. Two of the most commonly used forms of distance education are 1) two-way, fully interactive audio-video classrooms and 2) on-line instruction through the Internet or Worldwide Web. This study used qualitative methods to compare and contrast the interaction that occurred in distance learning courses offered via each medium. The research process confirmed findings that there were fundamental differences in the interaction that occurred in the two environments. On-line interaction is so profoundly different than interaction in the traditional and AV-based class room that it appears instructors and students will need a substantial period of adjustment to feel comfortable with it and to fully appreciate its value. It appears that, as distance teaching and learning moves to a 'mixed media' approach to teaching and learning, how interaction is handled with each of the media may be important to the success of a distance program.


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