The integration of on-line instruction into a Kansas community college: A naturalistic study.
by Page, Kevin Eugene, Ph.D., University of Kansas, 2000
As the demand for alternative educational opportunities continues to increase in our society, many colleges are turning to on-line instruction as a way to provide education and training that transcend time, place and pace barriers. A review of literature showed that as with any new form of educational technology the integration of on-line instruction into higher education has met resistance from a variety of institutional, technical, faculty and social barriers. Also, the literature on the diffusion of innovations showed that the acceptance of a new innovation, such as on-line instruction, rarely has to do with its superiority over existing technology. Instead, the diffusion of innovations is largely a social process. Because on-line instruction is still a relatively new concept, most of the literature focused on the issues affecting four-year colleges and universities. The study found that while many of the issues affecting the integration and future of on-line instruction at the community college are the same as those impacting four-year colleges and universities, there are major differences in how these issues affect and are being managed by the community college. The study found that on-line instruction at the community college involved in the study has developed through an experimental approach. This approach took shape in many forms. First, the college's administration allowed on-line instruction to develop through a grassroots approach. This gave each stakeholder group a sense of ownership. Second, the college overcame technical barriers by introducing faculty to the capabilities of the technology instead of imposing rigid standards to follow. Third, the college has continually looked at the role of on-line instruction in relationship to its mission. The study also found that many faculty base their judgment of the quality of on-line instruction on its ability to replicate a traditional classroom experience rather than a more objective outcome of teaching effectiveness. The study concludes by identifying a number of critical, long-term issues concerning the future of on-line instruction at the community college.