History

Background and History

The American Center for Study of Distance Education opened in the Adult Education and Instructional Systems Department in the College of Education in 1988 directed by Michael Grahame Moore. It published the American Journal of Distance Education (now published by Taylor and Francis Online) and the Distance Learning Online Symposium News. It was absorbed into the Department of Distance Education in Continuing and Distance Education from 1994-1998, and World Campus in 1998. It is now under the leadership in the Learning and Performance Systems Department in the College of Education at Penn State.

The American Center for the Study of Distance Education and the Adult Education program at Penn State was also the home of The National Research Symposium on Distance Education, held in July 1988 for the first time. The Symposium brought together leading practitioners and researchers from across the nation and from abroad to analyze the state of the field, to construct a national agenda for research, and to monitor and to report on its implementation. The results of the Symposium were reported to the world conference by a panel of five participants under the chairmanship of Dr. Moore.

The Adult Education program at Penn State also established itself as the nation’s principal provider of graduate courses in distance education. The course Introduction to Distance Education was offered for the first time as an Adult Education special course, ADTED 497, in 1987, and attracted an enrolment of 28 students from a number of disciplines in the College of Education, as well as a wide range of professional backgrounds. These included college teaching, corporate training, military education, the health sciences, prison education, and work in voluntary agencies, as well as practitioners in correspondence and broadcast education. That introductory course was followed by two further courses — Theory and Practice of Distance Education, and Course Design and Development in Distance Education. All three courses were originally taught on an audio-conference network, with students participating at the University’s Capital College, Behrend Campus, as well as University Park. Guest speakers joined the courses from Canada, Washington DC, Oklahoma, and more.  Graduate students soon began to work on dissertations related to the field of distance education. Today, the Lifelong Learning and Adult Education post-baccalaureate certificate in distance education is offered online through the program via Penn State World Campus.

The American Journal of Distance Education, originally based at the Center, continues its association with The Lifelong Learning and Adult Education program and Learning Performance Systems Department at Penn State.

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