Introduction to Distance Learning

Virginia Yonkers, UAlbany

Department of Educational Theory and Practice

Welcome to the Introduction to Distance Learning Homepage.

Getting Started

This Homepage will be used to help provide links and online files for the Introduction to Distance Learning Master's level course.  On the right side are links to course resources, useful links according to discipline and education level, and suggested technologies.  I will also be adding links to student pages as they are developed.

Defining Distance Learning 

One of the first things we will do in class is to define Distance Learning.  My working definition might be broader than what yours is. I define distance learning as any type of learning in which the instructional design, the instructor, the student, and/or the resources are at a distance from the classroom.This broader definition, therefore, includes outreach and enrichment programs, museum education, online learning, workplace learning, interactive software and media enhanced resources (multi-media programs), public education programming on the radio and TV, correspondence courses, and homeschooling.  

 Finding Information 

Throughout the semester, you will be asked to find sources about distance learning.   

Some of the sources you might use are commercial sites (identified with a .com in the URL).  These are good sources to use in collecting information on new products and services that may be available or in development. 

Peer reviewed sources means that colleagues have reviewed the information as part of the selection process.  While sources that are peer-reviewed are usually academic resources, many professional organizations also have peer reviewed resources.  

Practitioners usually use best practices resources.  These are usually suggestions on how to accomplish work, giving short cuts, the most successful ways to accomplish a task, and/or activities to help master a profession.  While these might have some research to back them up, most best practice sites are based on personal experience. 

Research based information can be either quantitative or qualitative.  In most cases, researchers start with a research question, design a way to study the question, then analyze and present their data.  

An opinion source may give information to support their argument; however, theirs is a definite perspective that may or may not be grounded in research or evidence.

It is possible for a source to meet the criteria of more than one of these labels.  However, it is important to identify the purpose of any source you use.


Olson, T. & Wisher, R. (2002)  The effectiveness of web-based instruction: An initial inquiry.  The International Review of Research in Open and distance Learning, 3 (2)

Roblyer, M. & Wiencke, W. (2004).  Exploring the interaction equation: Validating a rubric to assess and encourage interaction in distance courses. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 8 (4)

Farmer, J. (2004). Communication dynamics: Discussion boards, weblogs and the development of communities of inquiry in online learning environments.  Presented December, 2004 at ASCILITE Conference in Perth, Australia.

Phillips, R. (2004). The design dimensions of e-learning. Presented December, 2004 at ASCILITE Conference in Perth, Australia.

Garrison, D. & Anderson, T. (2003).  E-Learning in the 21st Century: A Framework for Research and Practice.  New York: RoutledgeFalmer.

Brown, R. (2001).  The process of community-building in distance learning classes.  JALN, 5 (2)

University at Albany Homepage: You can find links to the online library services, ETAP  course offerings, and WebCT for the course.

Peer Reviewed On-line Journals and Proceedings



AJET (Australian Journal of Educational Technology)

Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology



Journal of Educational Technology and Society

Journal of Interactive Media in Education

The Journal of Literacy and Technology

Language Learning & Technology


Peer Reviewed Journals (Most are available online through the Library)


AACE Journal (formerly Educational Technology Review)

British Journal of Educational Technology

Computers and Human Behavior

Distance Education

Education Media International


Bibliography for Summer 2006

Winter 2007 Bibliography

Student Projects 2007








Evaluation Rubrics



K-12GroupA (Primary and Secondary)

K-12GroupB(Primary and Secondary)   


 Distance Learning Sources:

 Merlot  This site has a searchable database of pre-existing web-based material according to subject, education level, and type of material (reference, interactive activities, software, etc…).  While it is not necessary to be a member (which is free), it is recommended in order to access all resources.

 Webcams in Education This is a directory of educational webcams divided into 4 categories: The Natural World, Man-made, History,  and interesting sites.  Stick with the educational site since the other offered sites include those with a great deal of advertisements and/or adult themes.

 BBC Education

This site includes a number of multimedia resources designed for use by students at home or at school from preschool to University.  The site allows you to search by keyword or use links to categories that include teacher resources, discipline, and levels.  It includes downloadable audio and video clips and interactive computer activities.

Global SchoolNet Foundation

This is a project based international collaborative organization.   The site includes potential collaborative partners and teaching ideas for culture, community, and science.  The organization also runs an international cyberfair competition in which schools work with their communities to build a community web site.

More Distance Learning Resources....