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Author(s)

C Daniel Prather

Volume

17

Issue

1

Publisher

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Abstract

Distance learning, which, for the purpose of this study, is defined as academic courses that can be completed via the computer and internet and entirely absent from the traditional classroom, has seen tremendous growth in the past decade. In fact, according to management guru Peter Drucker, "The future [of higher education] is outside the traditional campus, outside the traditional classroom. Distance learning is coming on fast" (Gubernick & Ebeling, 1997, para. 4). Indeed, according to the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO), about 1 in 13 post-secondary students enrolls in at least one distance learning course each semester (U.S. GAO, 2002). These distance learners, who tend to be older and more likely to be employed full-time while attending school part-time, are changing the landscape of higher education (U.S. GAO, 2002). In an effort to better understand this phenomenon, a case study was conducted on this topic. Sources of evidence include the available literature on distance learning, as well as the websites of those institutions with collegiate aviation programs. This study, which was conducted during Fall 2005, provided an understanding of the historical, theoretical, and contemporary issues surrounding distance learning. A significant contribution of this case study is a current listing of those institutions offering either online aviation courses or complete online aviation academic degrees. In addition, the study revealed that 21 percent of collegiate aviation programs are currently offering courses via distance learning, which represents an increase of 30 percent in the past 5 years. It is predicted that the number of collegiate aviation programs offering courses via distance learning will continue to grow in the future, as both technology and student needs evolve.

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