Distance Education Theory
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Distance education provides students academic opportunities they might otherwise be unable to obtain within a local, standard classroom. Educational theorists grapple with the goals, unique advantages and disadvantages of distance education. While long distance correspondence courses have existed for generations, distance education theory is a relatively new field of scholarship triggered by recent advances in telecommunications technology enabling the mass delivery of education through online courses.
The three contemporary founders of distance education theory are Otto Peters, Borje Holmberg and Michael G. Moore. During the 1960's, Otto Peters proposed an industrialization theory to explain the proliferation of distance education options. Roughly twenty years later, Holmberg proposed the theory of didactic interaction to describe the differences between synchronous and asynchronous. Moore then proposed a relationship between teacher-student interactions and structures. He argued that a greater quantity and quality of interaction enabled students and teachers to overcome structural barriers such as space and time.
Working adults often engage in distance education due to its convenience. Therefore, theories related to the specific instruction of adults, rather than children, are also relevant to distance education theory. For example, Knowles' theory of andragogy as an alternative to the traditional pedagogy may be used to explain the focus upon individualization and autonomy found within distance education theory.