Having met the author when I was a student at the University of Victoria when he was the Director of Graduate Admissions, I had a lot of confidence in his ability to present a no- nonsense approach to the idea of Distance Education. And for the most part, he delivered. [Note: This review is of the 1999 edition, vastly out of date now 20 years later).
WHAT I LIKED
The book does a pretty good job of giving an overview of those universities where it is possible to do the majority of the degree through distance education (correspondence, audio tapes, video tapes, fax, e-mail, internet lists, etc). And there are some sections for the uninitiated to figure out if distance education is for them. Some notable highlights, in my opinion, include:
- Athabasca University: its primary method is distance ed;
- California State University (Dominguez Hills): it has an interesting MA in Humanities (Art, History, Lit, Music, & Philosophy are the core courses);
- City University: some campus centres around the world;
- Heriod-Watt University (Edinburgh Business School): one of the UK systems with solid academic credentials but only for the truly independent learner;
- Ohio University: offers two methods: independent study (with interaction and support) or truly independent study (with little support, no interaction but at half the cost);
- Open University (Open Learning Agency): a strong presence in British Columbia;
- Queen’s University: Only three BAs available by this method, but strong MBA program offered through regional centres throughout Canada;
- Regents College (University of the State of New York): perhaps one of the better “”credit for life”” univs.;
- University of London: Similar to HWU in Edinburgh, this offers a great deal (financially and academically) but is for the serious learner only who can work alone;
- University of North Dakota: Offering an MSc in Space Studies, which alone is enough to be worth noting;
- University of South Africa: Has a huge selection of courses available, perhaps more than any other univ in the book, and has reasonably solid international credentials;
- University of Waterloo: as always, a solid choice regardless of the medium; and,
- Vermont College of Norwich University: has an interesting mentoring program tailored to adult learners, but the residency requirement might be difficult;
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
The majority of the book is all-too-brief overviews of each university. He covers them all — but the most useful tool is missing from the book. There are appendices that list, for example, the universities offering each degree. However, what is missing is a simple table that would help the reader narrow down the search. The table would list:
- degree available, perhaps broken by section?;
- estimated cost of the degree? (the overviews list the cost of a unit/credit, but then fails to tell you how many units/credits it takes for a degree);
- if there is a notation on the transcript that the degree was obtained through distance education?;
- if there is a residency requirement? (many people would eliminate a huge number of places solely on that basis alone); and,
- if they give credit for life experiences? (this would aid those who would select/deselect on that basis from both sides of the argument)
The overviews give you a lot of info, but a nice index would improve the process.
Legend: 1/5 Finished 2/5 Not bad 3/5 Good 4/5 Enjoyable 5/5 Excellent
THE BOTTOM LINE
No-nonsense approach to distance education.
Disclosure: I used to know the author as Director of Graduate Admissions at the university where I was a student.
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