University of Maryland, University College
TMAN 645 -- Spring 2000
Susan M. Anstead


There are many forces affecting the development of high school distance education. One example is school overcrowding. In 1996, school enrollment broke the all-time school enrollment record of 51.3 million set by the baby boom generation in 1971, hitting 51.7 million students. It is expected that this growth will continue, reaching 54.3 million by 2006. High school enrollment alone is expected to grow by 13 percent from 1997 to 2007. The Department of Education estimates that 6,000 new schools will have to be built, most of them being high schools. The average high school costs $15.3 million to build. [Overcrowding in American Classrooms]

As school enrollments continue to surge, electronic learning becomes more and more of an option to address the needs of certain segments of the population. When adequate educational facilities are not available, and the cost to build new facilities is so high, electronic learning as a supplement to conventional high school can take some of the pressure off of the expanding educational needs.

A second factor is cost. As outlined above, building a new high school costs $15.3 million.  [Overcrowding in American Classrooms]  Once the school is built, there are ongoing maintenance and operational costs. Teachers and students experience additional costs in transportation.  [Distance Education; InnoVisions]  This includes personal transportation (such as by car) and bussing. Although there are costs associated with distance education, such as technology, transmission, maintenance, and support, the cost per student of distance education is less than that of traditional high school.  [Distance Education at a Glance]

The third factor I will address is non-traditional students. This may include students in rural areas, older students, and students who for one reason or another cannot attend a traditional high school. This is especially important for youth in crisis situations, such as pregnancy, delinquency, or heath problems. Distance education provides them with opportunities for learning that their communities could not provide.  [Distance Education, A Primer]


Electronic learning is different that many other forms of electronic commerce, in that it provides a "service" rather than a "product". As a result, discussions of suppliers and customers should be addressed differently. Suppliers are those entities that provide services to the institution (in this case, high school) which enable them to pass on to the customer. In this case, I will define suppliers as "technology" and customers as "students".

The development of technology, in particular the internet, has transformed electronic commerce in only a few years. As more and more people connect to the Internet, more possibilities exist for distance education. With access to the Internet, distance educators and their students can use the following technologies:  [Computers in Distance Education]

Through this development of technology, institutions are now able to provide better service and opportunities to their students. Examples include the following:  [Distance Education at Dalhousie]


Intranets and Extranets are valuable tools in high school distance education. Intranets are defined as private, web-based networks of a single organization, which contain internal information protected from outsiders by a firewall. [Vitro, Robert]  Extranets extend the organization's intranet to external investors, suppliers, and customers.  [Vitro, Robert]

In high school distance education, an intranet can be used as a means to provide staff support. [Vista School District]  Through this intranet, staff can communicate amongst themselves, and also with administrators. Most administrative functions, such as checking class rosters and submitting grades, could be processed through the intranet as well. In short, the intranet would provide an electronic method of communication and administration.

The Intranet can be also be expanded to include students. Extranets offer an opportunity to store and provide learning materials and services in an easy and engaging manner. [St-Pierre, Armand]  Students and faculty can enter password-controlled sites that serve as electronic classrooms. These sites may contain message boards, chat rooms, e-mail capabilities, and links to outside resources.


Computers in Distance Education; Engineering Outreach, College of Engineering, University of Idaho; October 1995; [Online]; Available at:

Distance Education, A Primer; University of Texas; September 1998; [Online]; Available at

Distance Education at a Glance; Engineering Outreach, College of Engineering, University of Idaho; October 1995; [Online]; Available at

Distance Education at Dalhousie; Distance Education Task Force, Dalhousie University; April 1995; [Online]; Available at:

Distance Education; InnoVisions Canada; April 10, 2000; [Online]; Available at

Overcrowding in American Classrooms; U.S House Democratic Policy Committee; September 11, 1997; [Online]; Available at

St-Pierre, Armand; Using Web Media and Internet Resources to Enhance Teaching at a Military Training Institution; April 8, 2000; [Online]; Available at:

Vista School District Digital Intranet; Vista School District; May 1, 1998; [Online]; Available at:

Vitro, Robert; Module IV -- Overview; University of Maryland, University College; Spring 2000; [Online]; Available (limited) at