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The Homestead Campus of Miami-Dade Community College, in Florida, serves a sparsely populated area with a culturally diverse population including migrant farm workers, prison inmates, and U.S. Air Force personnel. To increase access to college services, the campus focused on implementing a computer-based distance education program as its primary technology initiative. The campus undertook an analysis of the costs and benefits associated with implementing the program to determine its viability as an academic alternative. Benefits determined for the distance education program included an increased market, allowing the campus to expand enrollment; improved productivity, by embracing the concept of student-centered facilitated learning; and decreased facilities investment, since distance programs do not require physical space. Considerable costs were also determined, however, including costs for equipment acquisition or adaptation to expand existing computer networks and electronic mail systems; for personnel in the areas of technical support, technology training, instructional design, and program support; and for curriculum development to adapt courses to distance delivery. While start-up costs of distance education can be high, the return on investment can be significant, providing a wide array of institutional benefits. (KP)

Descriptors: Access to Education, College Planning, Community Colleges, Computer Networks, Computer Uses in Education, Cost Effectiveness, Distance Education, Educational Technology, Nontraditional Education, Personnel Needs, Program Costs, Program Implementation, Special Needs Students, Two Year Colleges

Autor: Lever-Duffy, Judy C.


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