Many educators and the public are interested in online distance education, in particular Internet-based schooling. The underlying assumption is that this is a new and untested fad in education. This is due in part to a lack of documentation within academia of the early development of online distance education, and, in part, to a shortage of experienced, practicing online schools. On the Internet, one may become confused by the flurry of activity and by the various claims from organizations that they are providing a revolutionary method of instruction--online teaching. Furthermore, many people are unaware of the long and distinguished history of distance education itself that is the root of current day Internet-based schooling. Despite the uncertainty, the public is clearly demanding online distance education. This dissertation helps to resolve these problems.
This study fills various needs for the purpose of showing the effective application of online distance education. Educational administrators, teachers, and the public must be assured that online distance teaching is a valid and proven instructional method. Furthermore, administrators and teachers need to know what to expect when planning, operating, and teaching in an online school. Through historical analysis and the presentation of a practicing Internet-based school, this study fills these needs.
This dissertation results from fifteen years of independent study and research by the author, combined with professional experience in the field of online distance education, including Internet-based school design and operation. Conclusions result from published studies in distance education; from research conducted in the 1980s concerning publicly
available online distance education; and from experience in developing, administrating, and teaching in an international, Internet-based school that has been in continual operation online since 1986.
The author concludes that: (1) online distance education has a proven track record; (2) there is continual demand from the global community for Internet-based instruction, as well as a public demand for traditional institutions to accept this nontraditional method of study; and (3) administrators and teachers can economically create and operate an effective Internet-based school that is accessible to and affordable for individual learners using low-cost personal computers.