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NATIONAL CENTER FOR EDUCATION STATISTICS

Statistical Analysis Report December 1999

Distance Education at

Postsecondary Education

Institutions: 1997-98

Laurie Lewis

Kyle Snow

Elizabeth Farris

Westat

Douglas Levin

American Institutes for Research

Bernie Greene

Project Officer

National Center for Education Statistics

U.S. Department of Education

Office of Educational Research and Improvement NCES 2000-013

U.S. Department of Education

Richard W. Riley

Secretary

Office of Educational Research and Improvement

C. Kent McGuire

Assistant Secretary

National Center for Education Statistics

Gary W. Phillips

Acting Commissioner

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is the primary federal entity for collecting, analyzing,

and reporting data related to education in the United States and other nations. It fulfills a congressional

mandate to collect, collate, analyze, and report full and complete statistics on the condition of education in

the United States; conduct and publish reports and specialized analyses of the meaning and significance

of such statistics; assist state and local education agencies in improving their statistical systems; and

review and report on education activities in foreign countries.

NCES activities are designed to address high priority education data needs; provide consistent, reliable,

complete, and accurate indicators of education status and trends; and report timely, useful, and high

quality data to the U.S. Department of Education, the Congress, the states, other education policymakers,

practitioners, data users, and the general public.

We strive to make our products available in a variety of formats and in language that is appropriate to a

variety of audiences. You, as our customer, are the best judge of our success in communicating

information effectively. If you have any comments or suggestions about this or any other NCES product

or report, we would like to hear from you. Please direct your comments to:

National Center for Education Statistics

Office of Educational Research and Improvement

U.S. Department of Education

555 New Jersey Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20208-5574

December 1999

The NCES World Wide Web Home Page is:

http://nces.ed.gov

Suggested Citation

U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Distance Education at

Postsecondary Education Institutions: 1997-98. NCES 2000-013, by Laurie Lewis, Kyle Snow, Elizabeth

Farris, Douglas Levin. Bernie Greene, project officer. Washington, DC: 1999.

For ordering information on this report, write

U.S. Department of Education

ED Pubs

P.O. Box 1398

Jessup, MD 20794-1398

or by calling toll free 1-877-4ED-Pubs.

Content Contact:

Bernie Greene

(202) 219-1366

iii

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Many see the rise in the availability of

technology-supported distance education—that is,

the delivery of instruction over a distance to

individuals located in one or more venues—not

only as a revolutionary opportunity to increase

access to postsecondary education, but also as an

opportunity to hasten the overall pace of reform

in higher education (Ehrmann n.d.). In contrast to

the institutional status quo, what was once an

eclectic assortment of individually accessed,

noncredit educational courses is quickly being

knit into comprehensive degree- and certificategranting

programs (Phipps, Wellman, and

Merisotis 1998). Indeed, if a recent article in The

Chronicle of Higher Education (April 9, 1999,

A27) is any indication, the distance education

industry is thriving: “For an industry that barely

existed three years ago, the level of activity is

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