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We are interested in exploring the effectiveness and drawbacks with regards to "distance education", where the traditional classroom setting is eliminated and course material is distributed over media such as teleconference, tapes/CD-Rom, video streams, etc. How can we improve current practice? Can this be implemented on a broader scale? To what extent? Our research will be primarily theoretical in nature.

Initial Description

Team Members

Project Description


Distance education is becoming a more common method of higher education. The goal of our project is to research and analyze the benefits/drawbacks of distance education. How do they compare to traditional "face-to-face" classroom environments?


In achieving our goal, we will explore the following questions:

  • How does distance education compare with traditional classroom environments?
  • How can modern technologies be applied most effectively in distance learning/teaching?
  • What qualities make for effective distant students/teachers? Which types of people thrive in this kind of education system?
  • How does distance education change the traditional student-student and student-teacher interaction? What is the impact of this change? How could these interactions be most effective?


  • Internet research
  • Interviews with students/teachers of distance learning
  • Interviews with university professors within the traditional education system
  • Interviews with administrators of the University of Colorado School of Education
  • Interviews with K-12 educators within the traditional education system

Specific Challenges:

  • Coming up with the relevent questions to ask during the interviews.
  • Coming to a definitive conclusion regarding this subject.
  • Ensuring the information we gather from Internet sites is legitimate and representative of the subject on a larger scale.

Relationship To Course:

In the process of our research, we expect to gain in-depth knowledge of distance education and learning in general, which is one of the primary goals of this course. We hope that our presentation will contribute to the understanding of characteristics of learning for everyone in this course.

Project Proposal

Statement of Problem

Distance education is becoming a more common method of higher education, particularly for people already in the workforce. The goal of our project is to research and analyze the benefits/drawbacks of distance education. How do they compare to traditional "face-to-face" classroom environments? We hope to be able to decide whether distance education is a practical method of education. Can it work as a replacement for traditional, higher-level education? If a lack of effectness is present in distance education, do the practicality factors (time, cost) out-weigh these drawbacks?

The approach we will pursue will involve interviews with students of distance education, instructors of distance education, and instructors of traditional education. Our questions will focus on how learning is achieved most effectively. Using these informed opinions, we will determine whether distance education can address these issues. We also plan on using the Internet for our research. With this, we hope to analyze existing examples of distance learning. For instance, the University of Colorado's CAETE.


Currently, distance education has become useful for people already working in the industry. This method of education allows the students to mantain their careers while also pursuing further education. It is a time-effective and cost-effective method of education for these type of students since work schedules prevent them from attending traditional classes.

By doing this project, we expect to gain in-depth knowledge of learning in general. We will see first-hand the dynamics of education that are effective and those that are not. Furthermore, we'll be able to study the impact of collaboration and design on learning. For instance, collaboration done in-person in traditional educational institutions will be absent. Collaboration must be mediated with technology (email, instant messenger, teleconference, etc.). As for design, standard course design would not be appropriate and must be modified to accomadate physical distance factors. Software and technology must be designed to meet the needs of distance education students, providing a unintrusive learning environment.

Null Hypothesis

We think that distance education is not as effective as traditional education. Face-to-face student/teacher and student/student interaction is vital to the learning process and currently, technology does not provide enough capability to simulate this interaction. Despite the progress made in recent years within the realm of technology, more must be done before distance education can be truly successful. In this case, "success" is defined by effectiveness. Do students aquire the same amount of knowledge when learning at a disance?

In our interviews, we hope to gain insight on the dynamics of effective learning from experts in educational theory. By knowing more about what students need in order to be successful, we will be able to see what aspects of distance education are effective and where they may fall short.

Project Work

Progress Reports




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