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Ten Scalability Factors in Distance Education

Ten Scalability Factors in Distance Education
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Author(s): R. Dwight Laws (Brigham Young University, USA), Scott L. Howell (Brigham Young University, USA) and Nathan K. Lindsay (University of Michigan, USA)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 8
Source title: Encyclopedia of Distance Learning, Second Edition
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Patricia L. Rogers (Bemidji State University, USA), Gary A. Berg (California State University Channel Islands (Retired), USA), Judith V. Boettcher (Designing for Learning, USA), Caroline Howard (HC Consulting, USA), Lorraine Justice (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong) and Karen D. Schenk (K. D. Schenk and Associates Consulting, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch309

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Abstract

The institutional decision about how much technology should be used to scale distance education enrollments, reduce costs, maximize profits, and protect course and program quality is both institutional specific and complex. Guri-Rosenblit (1999) noted that “many conventional universities worldwide operate as largescale universities and are in a continuous search to find the right balance between massification trends, quality education, and the catering to the individual needs of students” (p. 289). This research is an outgrowth of the authors’ own efforts to identify relevant scalability factors and their interrelationship one to another in a traditional university’s distance education program. This article identifies 10 additional factors beyond information technology (IT) or information communications technology (ICT) that merit careful consideration by decision makers as they define their own institutions’ degrees of scalability. Each institution’s level of scalability is determined or characterized in part by the interrelationship of these 10 factors within their given technological context or infrastructure: interaction, learning levels, student class standing, faculty tenure or continuing status, completion rates, cohort versus noncohort settings, degree- versus nondegree- seeking programs, market type, tuition costs, and profitability. The authors briefly examine their own distance education program and others, including those of mega-universities, across these 10 scalability factors.

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