JVER v29n3 - Distance Education Programming Barriers in Career and Technical Education in Ohio

Volume 29, Number 3

Distance Education Programming Barriers in Career and Technical Teacher Education in Ohio

Chris Zirkle
The Ohio State University


The use of distance education at postsecondary levels continues to grow, including utilization in career and technical teacher education. Despite distance education's "learn anytime, anywhere" approach, there can be significant institutional, faculty/instruction and student/learner barriers to implementation. This study examined the perceptions of one state's career and technical teacher educators with respect to these barriers. The study also sought to determine demographic characteristics of the educational institutions involved in distance education, including the number of distance education courses and programs offered.

The use of distance education at the postsecondary level in the United States continues to grow. Studies over the past several years ( Lewis, Alexander & Farris, 1997 ; Lewis, Snow, Alexander & Farris, 1999 ; Waits & Lewis, 2003 ) have documented the increased use of distance education as a way in which to deliver courses and programs to learners. In addition, recent studies have shown increases in the use of distance education for delivering career and technical education (CTE) courses, particularly at the two-year college level ( Johnson & Benson, 2003 ).

The use of distance education for teacher preparation has also grown. Teacher preparation courses and programs at a distance are increasing, and some institutions involved with teacher preparation are beginning to provide pedagogical coursework in distance education as part of their programs ( Thompson, 2003 ). Despite growth, the use of distance education in teacher preparation in CTE is still in its beginning stages. However, many colleges and universities across the country are utilizing distance education, in whole or in part, to prepare CTE teachers.

Distance Education Defined

The separation of teacher and learner is fundamental to distance education ( Keegan, 1983 ). According to Holmberg (1978) , it is this separation that differentiates distance education from all other forms of traditional instruction. This separation can occur through a number of methods, which has, in turn, led to a number of terms to describe the process of education in which the teacher and learner are separated, among them distance education, distance teaching, distance learning, open learning, distributed learning, asynchronous learning, telelearning, and flexible learning ( Picciano, 2001 ). A relatively new term, E-learning, has been developed largely as a result of new technological innovations, and describes distance education as "applications and processes, such as Web-based learning, computer-based learning, virtual classrooms, and digital collaboration. It includes the delivery of content via Internet, intranet/extranet (LAN/WAN), audio- and videotape, satellite broadcast, interactive TV, and CD-ROM" ( Kaplan-Leiserson 2000 ). Other definitions of distance education mention bridging the physical separation though the use of some technical medium ( Holmberg 1981 ; Moore & Kearsley 1996 ; Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek 2003 ).

Distance education can be delivered synchronously, in "real time" or asynchronously, in time-delayed mode. The technology utilized in distance education takes many forms. See Table 1 ( University of Idaho College of Engineering, 2004 ; Zirkle, 2003 ).

Table 1
Technology Utilized in Distance Education by Technological Category and Time Mode
Time Mode
Synchronous Asynchronous
Voice telephone, audioconferencing audiotapes and radio
Video real-time moving images combined with audioconferencing (one-way or two-way video with two-way audio) still images (slides), preproduced moving images (e.g., film, videotape)
Data (Computer Applications) electronic mail, fax, real-time computer conferencing, World- Wide Web applications, Internet relay chats (IRC) computer-managed instruction (CMI)
Print not applicable to print media textbooks, study guides, workbooks, course syllabi, and case studies

Data and video options such as Internet-based courses and two-way video are the leading technologies for distance delivery ( Waits & Lewis, 2003 ). With the virtually universal access of the Internet, it is likely that this technology will continue to be the preferred choice for offering courses at a distance.

Theoretical Framework

The ability to learn at virtually "any time and any place" is a major attraction of distance education. Time-bound or place-bound students are able to access distance education courses and programs largely on their own schedules, rather than the institutions'. Although seemingly eliminating the access barriers experienced by traditional students, distance education has its own set of constraints, or barriers for students ( Zirkle, 2003 ).

The framework for this study is grounded in the work of Patricia Cross (1981) , who discussed the reasons why adults participate, and perhaps more importantly, why adults do not participate in learning activities. Cross defined three barriers to learning: Situational, institutional and dispositional. Situational barriers arise from an individual's situation in life at any given time. Institutional barriers are obstacles constructed by educational institutions (often unintentionally) that discourage learners from accessing educational opportunities. Dispositional barriers are related to attitudes and self-perceptions about oneself as a learner ( Cross, 1981 , p. 98).

Despite its long history, distance education has not been the subject of extensive educational research. Early forms of distance education primarily used written correspondence and instructional radio and television, playing a relatively small part in the educational process Zirkle, 2003). Adaptation of Cross' work on barriers to participation and access to learning activities to distance education has been the subject of selected recent studies ( Berge, 1998 ; Berge & Muilenburg, 2003 ; 2003 ; Berge, Muilenburg & Haneghan 2002 ; Cho & Berge, 2002 ; Muilenburg & Berge, 2001 ; Zirkle, 2001 , 2002 ). These studies have continued Cross' focus on institutional barriers and student barriers and have also explored faculty barriers to offering courses at a distance, primarily because of the time constraints on faculty associated with distance education. However, most of the above-cited studies did not examine institutional and student barriers with respect to their impact on CTE courses and programs. Specific research on the utilization on distance education in CTE is still relatively limited ( Zirkle, 2003 ).

Literature Review

Institutional Barriers

With regard to educational institutions, program implementation barriers have been well documented. Garland (1993) and Yap (1996) listed several of these barriers to distance education:

  • Program costs
  • Lack of equipment and support
  • Scheduling
  • Resource availability
  • Technical assistance

Start-up, as well as ongoing, costs for distance education can be significant ( Hall, 1996 ; Van Dusen, 2000 ; Zenger & Uehlein, 2001 ). Studies in agricultural education ( Miller & Miller, 2000 ; Murphy & Terry, 1998 ) have identified these costs. McClelland and Saeed (1986) analyzed these costs in a statewide effort to implement distance education programs in adult and vocational education. Ndahi (1999) , in a study of trade and industrial education faculty, described the impact of the types of equipment and support available for a distance education program and identified it as a significant factor in the unwillingness of faculty to teach at a distance.

Scheduling courses can be a significant barrier to distance education. Satellite technology may have limited channels on which to broadcast. Universities that seek to offer complete degree programs at a distance may have difficulties getting university-wide "buy-in" to offer courses, as illustrated in a study by Zirkle (2002) , in which trade and industrial education majors were able to access courses in their major, but were unable to schedule needed university general education courses, such as physical education, in order to graduate.

Other institutional barriers can include student advising, library services, and scheduling and/or registration in formats conducive to the distance learner. Students at a distance must be provided with alternative means of accessing these services; otherwise, they can be made to feel as "second-class" students ( Zirkle, 2002 ). Distance students may not be aware of some specific course offerings and registration deadlines ( Flowers, 2001 ).

The lack of an effective institutional network of technical assistance can be a significant barrier to offering distance education ( Berge, Muilenburg, & Haneghan, 2002 ). Students who have difficulty accessing online course materials must have access to capable technical assistance, which can be both difficult to staff and costly to provide.

Faculty/Instructional Barriers

Faculty and instructional concerns pervade distance education courses and programs. Many faculty are resistant to offering courses and programs at a distance ( Dillon & Walsh, 1992 ), simply because the process of converting a traditional, on-campus class to distance delivery can take considerable work ( Birnbaum, 2002 ; Paloff & Pratt, 1999 ; Picciano, 2001). Several studies regarding the use of distance education in CTE have highlighted the time constraints associated with distance education programming ( Miller & Miller, 2000 ; Murphy & Terry, 1998 ; Ndahi 1999 ; Ragothaman & Hoadley, 1997 ; Zirkle 2002 ). Many faculty are in need of professional development activities related to technology, and this training may also be difficult to provide at times that meet with faculty schedules. Financially compensating faculty and providing other incentives to encourage the course conversion process has also been investigated ( Franklin & Kaufman, 1999 ; Lynch & Corry, 1998 ; Picciano, 2001 ; Saba, 1998 ; Wolcott, 1999 ). Providing faculty with incentives of some type has been identified as a key to moving any distance education programming forward ( Murphrey & Dooley, 2000 ).

A set of instructional questions regarding the appropriateness of teaching and learning CTE content has begun to emerge. Can psychomotor skills, such as those found in traditional trade and industrial programs such as welding or automotive technology, be taught through distance technology? Can some business courses, particularly those with a focus on interpersonal skills, be effectively taught online? These questions have been investigated by several studies in CTE ( Fann & Lewis, 1997 ; Miller & Webster, 1997 ; Zirkle, 2002 ), with mixed results. While some of the computer-based skills found in business education-related courses can be effectively taught online, many of the skills found in labs can only be obtained through actual interaction with the equipment.

Finally, with respect to CTE teacher education, there has been little research conducted from a faculty perspective related to barriers to the use of distance education for teacher preparation. Recent studies focused on career and technical education have described the characteristics of teacher educators ( Bruening et al., 2001a ) and the use of distance learning in course and program delivery ( Bruening et al., 2001b ) but have not specifically examined barriers to use.

Student Barriers

A significant barrier to the delivery of distance education can be the students themselves ( Hillesheim, 1998 ). Galusha (1998) listed access barriers experienced by students in distance education as follows:

  • Costs and motivators
  • Feedback and teacher contact
  • Alienation and isolation
  • Student support and services
  • Lack of experience/training

The financial cost of taking courses would appear to be an obvious barrier. As college costs continue to rise, students at a distance face many of the same financial constraints of their on-campus counterparts. In addition, many students at a distance are "non-traditional", i.e., they are older, working adults with the challenge of balancing their studies with the demands of family and work ( Grace, 2001 ). For these students, the personal costs may outweigh any financial issues, and educational institutions will continue to see students accessing distance education with significant family/work responsibilities and limited time ( Sikora & Carroll, 2002 ).

Instructor feedback and contact has been identified as a barrier in distance education. The positive relationship between learning and the level of teacher-student contact has been documented in CTE distance education studies ( Miller & Webster, 1997 ; Zirkle, 2002 ), as has the need for feedback and interaction as an integral part of CTE distance education courses or programs (Dooley, Patil, & Lineberger, 2000; Flowers, 2001 ; Murphrey & Dooley, 2000 ; Swan & Jackman, 1996 ).

Students at a distance can feel isolated from one another and may want to be a part of the larger school community ( Galusha, 1998 ). While not greatly explored to date in CTE studies on distance education, Flowers (2001) and Zirkle (2002) noted students' sense of isolation and the lack of interaction with fellow students in their distance education programs. Effective student advising at a distance can be difficult for both the student and

institution, but is an absolute necessity for any successful program ( Birnbaum, 2002 ). This issue has not been examined in CTE distance education studies. However, Irani, Scherler, Harrington, and Telg (2000) stated the need for close examination of the advisement process for distance learners. This need was also documented by Zirkle (2002) who found that students involved in a trade and industrial teacher education program were concerned about getting appropriately advised into courses needed for graduation and teacher credentialing.

Career and Technical Teacher Education in Ohio

The state of Ohio has had a long association with teacher education in career and technical (vocational) education. Ohio's first state plan for vocational education was completed in 1917 and provided for the appointment of state supervisors for the three instructional programs that were to receive Smith-Hughes dollars, along with funding for teacher trainers at The Ohio State University ( Ohio Association for Career and Technical Education, 2002 ). Through the 1920's and into the 1940's, programs to prepare vocational teachers were also based at the University of Cincinnati, the University of Toledo and the University of Akron. During the 1960's, teacher education in vocational education blossomed as a result of funding through the Vocational Education Act of 1963 and the Vocational Amendments of 1968 ( Pinchak, 2003 ). Other institutions were added, including Kent State University and Bowling Green State University. In 1986, data indicated Ohio had 66 teacher educators in vocational education ( Pinchak, 2003 ). In 2004, fourteen Ohio educational institutions, both public and private, had programs to prepare teachers for career and technical education. See Table 2.

As defined by the Teacher Education and Licensure Standards developed by the Ohio Department of Education (2003) , Ohio currently offers career and technical education teacher licensure programs in seven broad teaching areas within CTE. In addition, Ohio offers two pathways to licensure in career and technical education.

Baccalaureate programs can be found in all seven areas at various colleges and universities in Ohio. These degree-based programs, known as "Route A", require general education, content coursework and a teaching pedagogy, including field

Table 2
Ohio Colleges and Universities Offering Career and Technical Teacher Education Programs in 2004
College/University Institution Type
Licensure Programs Offered
University of Akron Public Family and Consumer Sciences (Route A)
Integrated Business (Route A) a
Ashland University Private Integrated Business (Route A)
Family and Consumer Sciences (Route A)
Bluffton College Private Family and Consumer Sciences (Route A)
Bowling Green State
Public Family and Consumer Sciences (Route A) a
Integrated Business (Route A)
Marketing (Route A)
Route B (all areas)
Technology Education (Route A)
Kent State University Public Family and Consumer Sciences (Route A)
Route B (all areas)
Technology Education (Route A)
Trade and Industrial Education (Route A)
Mount Vernon Nazarene
Private Integrated Business (Route A)
Family and Consumer Sciences (Route A)
Ohio Northern University Private Technology Education (Route A)
Ohio State University Public Agriculture (Route A)
Family and Consumer Sciences (Route A)
Integrated Business (Route A)
Route B (all areas)
Technology Education (Route A)
Ohio University Public Family and Consumer Sciences (Route A)
University of Rio Grande Public and Private b Integrated Business (Route A)
Route B (all areas)
University of Toledo Public Health Occupations (Route A)
Integrated Business (Route A)
Route B (all areas)
Trade and Industrial Education (Route A)
Wilmington College Private Agriculture (Route A)
Wright State University Public Integrated Business (Route A)
Marketing (Route A)
Route B (all areas)
Youngstown State University Public Family and Consumer Sciences (Route A)
Integrated Business (Route A)
a The University of Akron and Bowling Green State University have approved programs in these areas, but are not currently accepting students. b The University of Rio Grande consists of a two-year public community college and a four-year private university.

experiences and clinical practice (student teaching) and are available in the following areas:

  1. Agriculture
  2. Health occupations
  3. Integrated business
  4. Family and consumer sciences
  5. Technology education
  6. Marketing
  7. Trade and industry (p.16)

A type of alternative licensure, known as "Route B" is also available to individuals who meet specific work experience and educational requirements. Route B teaching licenses historically have consisted of teachers from the technical trades, such as carpentry, automotive technology, and cosmetology, but recently, in response to changes in the workplace and the economy, more Route B licenses have been developed in health occupations and marketing education. Route B licensure is available in the following fields:

  1. Agriculture
  2. Business
  3. Family and consumer sciences occupations
  4. Health occupations
  5. Marketing
  6. Trade and industry (p.17)

Bruening et al. (2001b) found that almost two-thirds of the institutions involved in CTE teacher education regularly offered courses via distance education methodologies, while the remaining one-third offered distance education courses occasionally. In addition, Zirkle (2003) found institutions across the country offering CTE courses and programs via distance education. However, neither study attempted to examine the utilization of distance education in specific courses and programs, or by type and size of institution (public or private).

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study was to determine the perceptions of teacher educators in Ohio with respect to barriers to offering courses and programs via distance education methodologies and to obtain specific demographic information regarding teacher education programs. Specifically, three research questions were addressed:

  1. What is the present status of CTE teacher education in educational institutions in Ohio with respect to courses and programs offered and numbers of students enrolled?
  2. Which courses and programs in CTE teacher education are offered through distance education technology?
  3. What are the perceptions of CTE teacher educators in Ohio regarding specific barriers associated with offering CTE courses and programs at a distance?


Subject Selection

Participants for the study were selected from a list maintained by the Ohio Department of Education, Division of Career, Technical and Adult Education. The list contained the contact information for all the teacher educators and/or administrators responsible for program delivery in each area of CTE. Twenty-three teacher educators from 14 educational institutions were identified as the population for this descriptive survey research.


The first section of the survey questionnaire consisted of demographic information regarding institution type and size, CTE programs offered, and courses and programs offered at a distance. The second section addressed distance education barriers, and was constructed based on the work of other studies on distance education barriers by Garland (1993) , Galusha (1998) , Hillesheim (1998) , Waits and Lewis (2003) , Yap (1996) , and Zirkle (2002) . Barriers to distance education delivery were divided into three distinct categories: Institutional barriers, faculty/instruction barriers and student/learner barriers. Twelve statements (barriers) were developed for each of the three categories, for a total of 36. A four-point Likert scale was constructed. Respondents were asked to rank their perceptions of the impact of selected barriers as to the amount of impact each had on their CTE teacher education program's efforts to offer courses/degrees via distance learning with the following scale:

1 - no impact for this barrier
2 - minor impact - on isolated occasions, is/was a barrier
3 - moderate impact - is/was a barrier on several occasions
4 - major impact - is/was a consistent barrier

The final section of the survey questionnaire asked respondents to elaborate on any of the previous barriers or provide additional barriers to distance education if appropriate. An open-ended question was utilized.

The research instrument was examined for face validity by a panel of experts. Three faculty at The Ohio State University with teaching expertise and research interests in distance education comprised the panel and reviewed the survey questionnaire. Minor changes were suggested regarding the wording of the barriers and incorporated into the survey.


The survey distribution procedure began in an email delivery format. The teacher educators were emailed the survey instrument, constructed as a Microsoft Word© form. The survey could be saved, and emailed back to the researcher. However, in an attempt to improve coverage and reduce nonresponse ( Dillman, 2000 ), respondents were also given the option of printing the survey from the email and writing their responses and returning it via regular mail or via facsimile. After the surveys were distributed, five individuals did not respond during the initial two-week window requested for return. It was discovered during a follow-up phone call that several of the teacher educators were reluctant to open email attachments from unfamiliar sources due to computer viruses and other security concerns. These individuals were mailed a paper survey with a return envelope, which was returned promptly. With respect to this particular survey, it is unlikely that the use of this "mixed-mode" ( Dillman, 2000 , p. 219) for response purposes lead to any response errors.

Data Analysis

Data were analyzed in three ways:

  1. Demographic data were summarized according to institutional characteristics, numbers of licensure programs, and the number and type of distance education courses and programs offered
  2. Responses to the Likert style questions were input into the statistical package SPSS and analyzed through basic descriptive measures
  3. Responses to the open-ended questions were summarized qualitatively and examined for themes, specific data and other information.


Technology is constantly changing, and distance education is still evolving. Educational institutions are continually entering the distance education marketplace, while some are opting out ( Zirkle, 2002 ). The difficulty of accurately determining, at any given time, the status of courses and programs in career and technical education that utilize innovative technology for distance delivery, as well as barriers to implementation, is recognized as a potential limitation of this study. However, as the use of distance education expands, this study may serve as a baseline for future studies.


All 23 teacher educators responded to the survey questionnaire. Seventeen were returned via email, 4 through postal mail and 2 were faxed. Despite initial concerns with computer security and the need for additional response strategies, all surveys were returned within three weeks.

Since the survey questionnaire contained multiple choices within a Likert scale, Cronbach's Alpha was the method of choice to determine inter-item reliability ( Gloeckner, Gliner, Tocterman & Morgan, as cited in Farmer & Rojewski, 2001 ). Using the Likert-style questionnaire and the data from this study, Cronbach's Alpha was calculated at .90.

Demographics of Teacher Education Institutions

Ohio's teacher education institutions for CTE are both public and private, and institutional enrollments range from just over 1,000 at one private institution to over 50,000 at the state's land-grant university. Individual programs range in size from just six students in one Family and Consumer Sciences program to almost 200 students in one Route B program. Two institutions are no longer accepting enrollments in specific programs. However, overall, teacher education in career and technical education in Ohio appears to have significant enrollments in several areas, except for health occupations, marketing education and trade and industrial education. See Table 3 for the distribution among areas.

Table 3
Numbers of Students Enrolled in Ohio Career and Technical Teacher Education Programs by Area in 2003-2004
Area within Career and Technical Education Students Enrolled
Agricultural Education 195
Business Education 186
Family and Consumer Sciences Education 230
Health Occupations Education 8
Marketing Education 28
Technology Education 103
Trade and Industrial Education 20
Route B (all areas except Technology Education) 443
Totals 1213

Distance Education Courses and Programs

At present, none of the CTE teacher education programs in Ohio offer complete teacher education programs through distance education methodologies. Some individual courses can be found at various universities. Table 4 lists the institutions and their respective courses.

Table 4
Distance Education Courses Offered in Career and Technical Education by Ohio Colleges and Universities in 2003-04
Educational Institution Course(s)
University of Akron Fatherhood
Parent-Child Interactions
American Families in Poverty.
Bowling Green State University Contextual Teaching and Learning
Kent State University Curriculum and Design\Administering
Cooperative Education Programs
Disadvantaged Youth in CTE
Student Assessment and Evaluation
The Ohio State University Administration of CTE
Class and Lab Management in CTE
The University of Toledo Occupational Safety and Liability
Construction and Utilization of Learning
Activity Packets
Strategies for Teaching Technical Theory
Principles of School-to-Work Transition
Wright State University Survey of Vocational Education
Vocational Classroom/Laboratory Management
Selection/Organization of Workforce Education
Curriculum Coordination Techniques in
Workforce Education
Student Behavior Management in Workforce
Curriculum Development for Workforce
Youngstown State University Web Development

Most of the courses listed are Internet-based, utilizing course software such as WebCT or BlackBoard. In addition, The Ohio State University has used synchronous Internet-based videoconferencing with bridging technology to deliver courses to multiple sites.

From a content standpoint, the majority of the courses are focused on teaching pedagogy, not the technical content associated with the areas within CTE. Only the University of Akron and Youngstown State University offer courses in the CTE field of study.

Distance Education Programming Barriers

Institutional Barriers

Respondents were asked to rank their perceptions of the impact of each of the 12 institutional barriers with regard to the ability of their institution to offer courses and programs at a distance. Table 5 lists the means and standard deviations for these barriers.

Table 5
Institutional Barriers to Distance Education as Perceived by Teacher Educators
Institutional Barriers M SD
Support staff to help course development 3.03 .74
Start-up costs for distance education programming 2.75 .92
Strategic planning for distance education 2.70 1.14
Funds to implement distance education programs 2.65 .98
Shared vision for distance education in the institution 2.57 1.19
Technical support 2.39 .89
Climate for organizational change 2.26 1.05
Technology-enhanced classrooms, labs or infrastructure 2.08 .90
Library access to get resources for class 1.56 .99
Local versus out-of-state tuition 1.52 .89
Security issues (computer crime, hackers, piracy, viruses) 1.47 .84
Registration - students' ability to register for classes 1.39 .65

This section elicited only a few elaborations to the listed barriers. One respondent noted the need for a support system to be in place for distance education, stating, "I never seem to get satisfactory answers when I ask about offering a course at a distance. No one seems to know how to get started." Another respondent mentioned the lack of funds for distance education initiatives, "We have enough difficulties staffing our on-campus courses in a satisfactory fashion, let alone have funds to do distance education." Perhaps ironically, despite the reservations about responding to an email survey, the security issue was not mentioned in any further discussion and received one of the lowest overall rankings.

Faculty/Instruction Barriers

Respondents were asked to rank their perceptions of the impact of each of the 12 faculty/instruction barriers with regard to the ability of their institution to offer courses and programs at a distance. Table 6 lists the means and standard deviations for these barriers.

Table 6
Faculty/Instruction Barriers to Distance Education as Perceived by Teacher Educators
Faculty/Instruction Barriers M SD
Time commitment 3.74 .54
Faculty training to implement distance education 3.32 .71
Faculty compensation, incentives, etc. to implement distance education 3.19 .72
Ability to teach career/technical content at a distance 3.14 .76
Faculty level of technical expertise 2.97 .85
Resistance to online teaching methods 2.61 .84
Keeping up with technological changes 2.48 .99
Colleague knowledge/support of distance education 2.30 .97
Concerns with evaluation, testing, assessment, outcomes 2.17 .65
Ability to monitor identity of distance education students 2.13 .87
Intellectual property issues 1.72 .83
Job security issues (faculty will be replaced by technology) 1.21 .67

This section prompted several respondents to add comments. The time constraint was mentioned specifically by two respondents, one who emphatically stated, "I put in an enormous amount of time setting up course materials on the course web site of the course I taught." Another said, "Faculty time availability is a constraint to distance education." Another respondent lamented the lack of available faculty to teach at a distance, stating, "There are not enough faculty to devote to any distance education initiative." One other respondent mentioned other responsibilities that hindered faculty involvement in distance education, citing "It is in our plan to develop distance education courses. The need for new program development keeps bogging us down. We will get there, but not soon enough."

Student/Learner Barriers

Respondents were asked to rank their perceptions of the impact of each of the 12 student barriers with regard to the ability of their institution to offer courses and programs at a distance. Table 7 lists the means and standard deviations for these barriers.

A few respondents added additional comments in this section, mostly addressing the ability to prepare teachers at a distance. One said, "I guess I am old-fashioned, but I want to see the student and the entire educational setting going on all at the same time. I do not feel this can be done to my satisfaction through distance learning." Another respondent mentioned the difficulties of teaching CTE at a distance, by asking, "How do we expect to train technicians at a distance? Better yet, how to interact with people in a teaching setting? I just don't think we can do these things at present."

Table 7
Student/Learner Barriers to Distance Education as Perceived by Teacher Educators
Student/Learner Barriers M SD
Ability to learn career/technical content at a distance 3.37 .64
Absence of an instructor (creates motivation, quality of student work issues) 2.97 .73
Isolation from other students and faculty 2.78 .86
Time constraints associated with job responsibilities 2.61 1.15
Student's level of technical expertise 2.39 1.15
Student's availability of technology (Internet service, computer access, etc.) 2.30 .97
Technology fees (increased costs associated with distance education courses 2.13 1.01
Student support services (help with advising, admissions, financial aid, etc.) 2.08 .99
Monetary issues - paying for courses 1.87 .91
Transferability of credits 1.86 .96
Instructor availability (students' ability to contact instructor to discuss concerns 1.82 .98
Obtaining grades, transcripts and other course-related records 1.34 .71


Demographics of Teacher Education Institutions

Career and technical teacher education programs have been established in all the surveyed Ohio institutions for years, and in many cases, decades. Public institutions have the largest CTE teacher education programs. Two institutions have recently dropped programs from active enrollment of new students, and there may be an overabundance of programs in some areas of CTE, specifically Family and Consumer Sciences, where there are eight active programs. There appears to be a slight need for more preparation programs in marketing education and health occupations, especially since these are areas with potential growth for programming at the high school level. If these teacher preparation programs are not developed, a significant number of CTE teachers in these areas may continue to be trained through the alternative "Route B" licensure, which focuses primarily on work experience as the initial hiring factor, not pedagogical preparation, and still is the largest single program area for Ohio's CTE teachers. Overall, however, with over 1,000 potential teachers in preparation programs, there appears to be a healthy supply of preservice teachers in the state.

Distance Education Courses and Programs

Career and technical education courses at a distance are offered exclusively by state-supported educational institutions. None of the private colleges and universities involved in CTE teacher education offer courses at a distance. This finding would seem to run counter to that found by Bruening et al. (2001b) , who found almost two-thirds of the institutions involved in CTE teacher education regularly offered courses via distance education methodologies, while the remaining one-third offered distance education courses occasionally. This finding, however, is consistent with a recent National Center for Education Statistics study ( Waits & Lewis, 2003 ) that found public institutions are more likely to offer distance education courses than private institutions. This may be due to a lack of financial resources at smaller educational institutions ( Zirkle, 2004 ) or simply because, as one teacher educator at a small college put it, "We are a small liberal arts college, and believe in personal contact with our students. Distance education is not part of our mission."

There are no complete CTE licensure programs offered via distance education in Ohio. This may be due to several factors. Colleges and universities often lack the resources and faculty "buy-in" to offer entire degree programs at a distance ( Zirkle, 2003 ). While one department or degree program may wish to offer a complete program at a distance, securing the needed courses from other areas may be more difficult.

In addition, CTE faculty have had reservations about the use of distance education in teacher preparation ( Bruening et al., 2001b ). The acquisition of the interpersonal skills associated with teaching may be difficult to obtain, as well as the technical content expertise needed by CTE teachers. Until technology develops improvements in some of the present methods used to teach skill development (videostreaming, simulation software, etc.), these reservations may persist.

Barriers to Distance Education

The move to a delivery system other than the traditional on-campus model would require major institutional modification. Most of these changes are reflected in the barriers rated most highly by the respondents. With respect to institutional barriers, respondents seemed most concerned with having resources to implement and sustain distance education programs. While many Ohio CTE teacher preparation programs appear to be functioning well, there seemed to be a preference from the respondents to keep their present program structure viable rather than make a marked foray into distance education. The highest ranked institutional barriers can ultimately be linked to financial resources (or the lack thereof). This finding is consistent with a recent national study on distance education in postsecondary institutions ( Waits & Lewis, 2003 ).

Faculty/instruction barriers had the highest set of rankings overall. The time commitment associated with distance education, faculty training to implement distance education, and faculty compensation and incentives for distance education all ranked highly. This finding is also consistent with other CTE distance education studies ( Miller & Miller, 2000 ; Murphrey, & Dooley, 2000 ; Murphy, & Terry, 1998 ; Ndahi, 1999 ; Zirkle, 2002 ). Perhaps surprisingly, three barriers that have been mentioned prominently in other studies ranked fairly low overall. Intellectual property issues, a debated topic with faculty involved in distance education ( Saba, 1998 ; Simonson, et al., 2003 ), the ability to monitor identity of distance education students and concerns with evaluation, testing, assessment, and outcomes all received little emphasis from the respondents. This may be due to the experience level of the group of respondents as a whole. With few courses and no complete programs offered at a distance, Ohio CTE teacher education faculty may have little personal experience with these barriers, hence the low ranking.

The results from the section of student/learner barriers highlighted the reservations Ohio CTE teacher educators have with the ability of students to learn CTE-related content at a distance, a finding shared by other related studies ( Bruening et al., 2001b ; Fann & Lewis, 2001 ; Miller, 1997 ; Zirkle, 2002 ). Coincidently, the ability to teach CTE content at a distance was also ranked fairly high in the list of faculty/instruction barriers, indicating this group's reservations with the use of distance education in preparing technically-competent instructors. The absence of a "live" instructor in distance education and the perceived issues that scenario creates (a lack of motivation, students not working as hard as they might with an in-class instructor, etc.) also ranked highly. Clearly, many of the respondents shared the perceptions of the one individual who wanted "…to see the student and the entire educational setting going on all at the same time."


Demographics of Teacher Education Institutions

As mentioned, overall the number of individuals in CTE teacher education programs is substantial. However, there may be some areas of concern. First, based on a recent supply and demand study ( The Ohio Collaborative, 2003 ) the number of Family and Consumer Sciences programs in Ohio may exceed the need and has resulted in some extremely small programs. This is perhaps most evident in three of the private institutions offering the program, where total enrollments are six, 12 and 15, respectively. A re-examination of the number of Family and Consumer Sciences programs may be needed. Secondly, only two institutions offer Marketing Education as a Route A program, and there have been shortages of some fully qualified marketing teachers. In partial response to this, in 2003, Ohio developed a Route B license for "Marketing Technology" which allows someone with industry experience to teach some marketing courses that were previously only taught by individuals with full marketing licensure. This may point toward the need for increasing the enrollments in the two existing programs, or developing a Route A Marketing Education program at a third institution. Finally, the need may also exist to develop more Route A programs in the Health Occupations and Trade and Industry areas, as more programs are being developed in these areas at the secondary level in Ohio.

Distance Education Courses and Programs

Based on other data regarding distance education utilization in CTE ( Zirkle, 2003 ), Ohio appears to be behind other states in the number of CTE teacher education courses and programs available at a distance. From this survey, there also appears to be a lack of resources and a sense of "maintaining the status quo" from the respondents. Shrinking budgets, limited institutional support for CTE programs, and the lack of a unified vision for distance education may be a few of the significant reasons for Ohio's current situation. Ohio's educational institutions may wish to look to collaborative models, such as those found with Texas A&M and Texas Tech's "Doc at a distance" doctoral program, Indiana State University's collaborative Ph.D. in Technology Management or the Family and Consumer Sciences Distance Education Alliance, located in Texas, in order to pool resources within the state's educational institutions to offer CTE teacher education. Another possibility would be leadership for distance education program development from the state department of education, which has funded some CTE course development for distance delivery in recent years.

Barriers to Distance Education

With respect to institutional barriers, Ohio's CTE teacher education institutions must look for innovative ways to implement and sustain distance education programming. Overcoming funding and resource allocation issues is a significant challenge. In addition, institutions interested in offering entire degree programs at a distance need to search for ways to have campus-wide support for distance education programs. While a career and technical education program might wish to utilize distance education in its degree program, unless other academic departments are willing to follow suit, the student will be unable to complete degree requirements.

Faculty/instruction barriers must be addressed if distance education efforts are to be successful. Course development time, training to migrate courses to distance delivery, and incentives for development must all be provided if institutions are to move forward with any distance education initiative.

Addressing student/learner barriers is also a key to any distance education effort. Teacher education programs in career and technical education must design solutions to the issues of technical and pedagogical knowledge and skill development. These programs also need to ensure quality of instruction and high levels of interactivity between instructor and students and between students themselves, so student motivation and performance stay at high levels. As new technologies become available to increase quality of instruction and interaction, they should be tested and implemented.


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The Author

Chris Zirkle is Assistant Professor in the College of Education , The Ohio State University , 283B Arps, 1945 North High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43210. Email: zirkle.6@osu.edu. Phone: 614-247-6227.