The rhetoric of distance education
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Higher education is currently undergoing a paradigm shift, moving from the medieval model to a newer model based on the characteristics of distance education. This change can best be observed in the rhetoric of the documents associated with distance education: course materials, promotional materials; theoretical and historical studies; instructions for course development. The archaeological approach used by Michel Foucault in his histories of the prison, the clinic, and the asylum sets the precedent for such a study. The first two chapters provide a theoretical and historical background for the study of the rhetorical artifacts. Chapter 3 considers the earliest form of distance education, he correspondence course. This chapter emphasizes the growth of the sense of audience in the course materials, the advertisements, and teacher comments. Chapter 4 traces the growth of telecourses, including live interactive, broadcast, and non-broadcast, with an emphasis on the addition of new audiences. Chapter 5 examines the rhetoric of online courses within the context of the general optimism about computer-mediated instruction. These courses move distance education from the “invisible” to the “visible.” Chapter 6 assesses the current state of the paradigm shift and makes predictions for the future.