Distance Learning Student Interaction

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I am a faculty member at a community college. We offer a number of our computer application courses (excel, windows98, etc.) as distance learning "Open Entry" --meaning that the students can begin ANY time during the semester and finish as quickly as they want. There is no student interaction, no discussion boards, and no chat rooms in these courses. The purpose is for a student to get quickly up to speed with a comptuer application.

Here's the issue -- I have developed an online course on web site development that uses Microsoft FrontPage. I did NOT develope it as "open entry" because I wanted to develop a sense of community and interaction between my students. I am NOW being asked when I am going to "turn" it into an "open entry" class (in order to increase enrollments and get more students through in a semester). I have begun to look for research to defend my position of the helpfulness of student interaction. Any ideas of good sources to back up my position?

Thanks in advance!

-- Terry Felke (terryfelke@hotmail.com), January 24, 2000

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