Date of this Version
In considering how best to tackle this topic, I ultimately decided that in Nebraska the "best" approach is usually the "most straight forward" one. Given that much of the conversation about distance education is filled with myth and marketing hype, I decided what we could best contribute to the conversation would be the facts. While some of the other authors may have a better in-depth grasp of distance education opportunities and realities in Nebraska, Erik and I come as native Nebraskans with a good understanding of the history, economy, communities and cultures in our home state. My early faculty career here at UNL included producing thousands of radio and television programs in home economics and agricultural areas including a weekly educational television program in consumer affairs. I spent approximately 20 years of my career outside Nebraska in the U.S. Department of Agriculture in international training and development positions and as head of Communication, Information and Technology for the USDA Extension Service. Six of those 20 years were spent in Tanzania, East Africa, establishing a large human resource development program. My academic degrees are in journalism, nutrition and adult and continuing education - all from UNL. My current position as president of the ADEC distance education consortium which includes approximately 55 state university and land grant college members provides a unique perspective on the field of distance education locally, nationally and internationally. Erik France, who is assisting me in this work, is a journalism and business graduate from UNL and is currently doing his masters degree in the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication. Erik conducted a series of Nebraska interviews related to the issues we were asked to cover. I also think he provides a youthful, up and coming perspective that is important for us to hear. We also consider this paper to be a draft, a document to stimulate those of you attending this conference and others who may want to contribute ideas following this conference on our ADEC website. We posted the paper to the website - http://www.adec.edu and would welcome additional insights that will assist us in completing the document by November 15. We have chosen to organize the document around five propositions - for each of these, I will provide rationale and discussion material, Erik will then provide perspectives from his interviews that relate and then we will ask for reactions from those of you in this room.