The Changing Costs of Delivery of Distance Education Programs

Authored by: Alistair Inglis

Handbook of Distance Education

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  May  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415897648
eBook ISBN: 9780203803738
Adobe ISBN: 9781136635571


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When online learning first became popular, it was widely believed that delivering courses online would offer a major opportunity to reduce costs. Quite soon however, it became apparent that cost savings were not as easily achieved in practice (Fielden, 2002; Rumble, 2001). Delivery of courses online typically incurs much higher costs initially, owing to the need to set up new infrastructure and processes, and to develop new teaching materials and train staff in new methods of teaching. However, as time has gone by, institutions have become more familiar with the cost factors they have to manage. They have seen potential for cost reduction through substitution rather than duplication of online services, greater re-use and sharing of e-resources, increased peer learning, and more standardised production of materials (Laurillard, 2007).

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