Due to the scattered population and the political goal of equal rightto education, distance education has become popular in Norway.Technological advances have led to more and more distance educationcourses being offered via the Internet. In this thesis we focus oninternet-based distance education and its characteristics.
We examine the benefits and limitations of using distance educationcompared to traditional education. Also, we examine the effects ofdistance education and its accompanying teaching aids on education ingeneral. We try to characterise the typical student taking distanceeducation courses and determine what his or her typical needs are.
The thesis is based on a survey performed over two semesters amongregular students and distance education students in entry-levelcomputer science classes at the University of Oslo. The course designwas very similar for both groups of students, with the main exceptionthat the distance education course used slides with accompanying soundrecordings in lieu of lectures, and that the distance educationstudents did not participate in group tutoring sessions.
We found that the average distance education student worked full timeand therefore used less time on studies than the regular students. Thedistance education courses also had a larger percentage of drop-outsand a slightly higher failing rate on the exams. Furthermore, we foundthat it was hard to establish communication among the students in thedistance education courses, which led to a higher workload for theteaching assistant. The feedback from the students in the distanceeducation courses was generally positive, and they were especiallysatisfied with the slides with accompanying sound. Several of thedistance education students also commented that the freedom in thecourse design made it suitable for combination with full time work.
To conclude, we evaluate the distance education courses and suggestpossible changes to their design.