Televised Postsecondary Distance Education: Factors Influencing Policy Creation and the Effect of New Technologies and Multi-State Educational Consortia on State Policy.


Donald Lee Steward

September, 1995

This national study consolidates descriptive information on televised postsecondary distance education policies current on June 1994 from the 50 states, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The study's purpose is to assist higher education planners responsible for administering academic programs or allocating financial and personnel resources.

Demographic information and inferential statistics were collected from State Higher Education Executive Officer's (SHEEOs) and Wyoming. The adjusted response rate was 71% (35 states). The study found the majority of states (60%) had a policy including televised postsecondary distance education, almost two-thirds (65.7%) had policies governing telecommunications to offer degree programs, and almost half (48.6%) had regulations governing televised distance education crossing into the state. Eighty percent of states did not have an approved distance education plan that included televised postsecondary distance education. Seventy-one percent of responding states do not have a state-wide telecommunications plan. One-fourth of the states reported an approved plan constitutes state policy. When asked to rank 5 broad categories as important reasons to regulate, almost half (47.1%) chose quality first followed by coordinate efficient use of resources, and ensure consumer protection. For states with policies, funding of distance education was important but not necessary. Multi-state educational consortia have had a neutral effect on policy formation in reporting states. New video telecommunications technologies have had a slightly important role in policy formation, especially in the area of technology effectiveness. States reported a very high agreement (sample mean = 4.65) that state level policies are important in fostering televised postsecondary distance education. For states that report a direct regulation approach, 90.9% have policies compared to 50% in market-competitive states, and 46.7% of Laissez-Faire states. Major policy issues have an impact on states with and without policies equally, except in the area of importance of state policies in fostering televised postsecondary distance education.