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Book Chapter

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Nearly 50 years ago, Schon (1971) urged universities to become aware of life ‘beyond the stable state’ and Toffler (1970) predicted that the information age would force academia to accommodate an ‘accelerating pace of change.’ Their prescient observations about the future have characterized American higher education for nearly 50 years, perhaps best exemplified by the role distance education (DE) has played in this process. DE’s remarkable progression in the US arena began well before the electronic era, extending over a 225-year period. It is a phenomenon that perhaps represents the most significant transformation within academe in a millennium, presenting exciting opportunities and formidable challenges. This chapter offers a descriptive analysis and commentary of key aspects of DE at the post-secondary level in the US, with perspectives gained from the author’s 35 years of scholarship and practice in the field.


Author Michael Beaudoin is a University of New England Professor Emeritus.

Published originally under CC.BY.4.0 license as chapter in book (available open access from publisher, Springer):
Qayyum, A., & Zawacki-Richter, O. (Eds.). (2018). Open and Distance Education in Australia, Europe and the Americas: National Perspectives in a Digital Age. [PDF version] doi: 10.1007/978-981-13-0298-5

Book description:
"This book describes the history, structure and institutions of open and distance education in six countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, the UK and the US. It discusses how open and distance education is evolving in a digital age to reflect the needs and circumstances of national higher education systems in these countries, and explores the similarities and differences between the ways in which they are organized and structured."



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