Introduction to Distance Education
In developing its Institutional Plan for Distance Education and Off-Campus Instruction, Prairie View A&M University assessed the place of distance education in the institution’s general mission. Clearly, the mission compels the University to extend the boundaries of the campus to the boundaries of the state and beyond.
Distinguishing characteristics of the University’s mission are its designation as 1) a landgrant institution, 2) special purpose institution serving diverse populations, and 3) a constitutionally mandated “institution of the first class.” Fulfilling its mission commits the institution to offer a comprehensive set of undergraduate and graduate degree programs through the doctorate; conduct basic and applied research in all areas, but particularly in agriculture, the sciences, engineering and selected social sciences including juvenile justice; and produce intellectual products that can be extended to improve the well-being of families, individuals, agencies, rural and urban organizations, and the varied professions.
Distance instruction is principally the employment of alternative instructional delivery methods to extend programs and services to persons unable to attend college in the traditional manner wherein instruction is typically offered on the main campus from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in a classroom or laboratory facility in which the faculty and the students are physically in the same place. Underlying the land-grant mission is the commitment to create opportunities for all persons. Neither socio-economic status, ethnicity, educationally unrelated handicap, nor geographic location must limit educational opportunity at Prairie View A&M University, a peoples’ university.
Within the scope of its fiscal and human resources, Prairie View A&M University cannot fulfill its mission if it does not respond to the need for “just-in-time,” non-place bound educational opportunity made possible through mediated instructional delivery (e.g., interactive video, satellite, web et cetera) or face-to-face delivery. As “an institution of the first class,” Prairie View A&M University commits itself to seeking to continually be relevant to the public. Relevance means responding appropriately to traditional and non-traditional students. Technology has redefined the modes of student-faculty communication and expanded flexibility in responding to students’ interests, lifestyles, and learning styles.
Distance education at the University conforms to criteria of the Commission on Colleges, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools; “Best Practices for Electronic Instructional Delivery of the Southern Regional Educational Board; standards for distance education of the Texas Higher Education Coordination Board; and expectations and rules of the Texas A&M University System.
Mission of Distance Education
Distance education at Prairie View A&M University has as its central purpose the elimination of geographical distance as a barrier to equal access to quality courses and programs. Target populations for the distance education program include pre-baccalaureate and graduate students, practitioners, active duty military personnel, business professionals, and students at colleges outside Texas where curricula are limited in specific areas. Current programs offered at distant sites include education, agriculture, sociology, engineering, social work, and nursing.
While distance delivery of the educational program is primarily to benefit the citizens of Texas, it is extended beyond the state and nation to the extent available resources may be allocated without compromising quality delivery of programs on campus.
Goals of Distance Education
- To promote the state’s goal of increasing the number of high school graduates in Texas who earn college degrees.
- To offer to distant site students courses and degree programs through varied formats at a quality level comparable to that of offerings on the main campus at Prairie View A&M University.
- To meet training needs of target populations including, but not limited to, practitioners; active duty military personnel; business professionals; pre-baccalaureate and graduate students; and persons in foreign-based colleges and universities with limited college curricula.