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Distance Education: A Cost Analysis


Distance Education: A Cost Analysis



The costs of three types of transmission technology in distance education are compared, and the costs for equipping and installing a distance education classroom are estimated. Two of the technologies--fiber optics and microwave--deliver two-way, full motion video and two-way audio. The third technology, compressed video, also delivers two-way audio and two-way video, but uses a computer device to compress the signal. Data about costs were collected through interviews with suppliers, users, and technical experts. If full motion video is essential, microwave is the most viable solution for shorter distances. Digital fiber is the best choice as far as quality and capacity are concerned, but high costs tend to negate advantages. Fiber is the most complex to install, and consequently very expensive. If compressed video is satisfactory for the situation, it is the least expensive alternative to install and remains cost-appropriate for longer distances. The standard classroom can be easily adapted for distance education without significant remodeling. A distance education classroom can be equipped for less than 30,000 dollars. Two-way interactive television is expensive to design and install, but neither complex nor difficult to use. Five appendixes provide considerations for distance education systems, specific cost estimates, and classroom design and equipment plans.



Publication Date



Iowa FINE Foundation.


Des Moines, IA



Distance Education: A Cost Analysis
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