Professionals and nontraditional learners, who would like to broaden their knowledge, keep abreast with new developments in their professions, or earn a degree, are prevented from achieving their goals because of the time and geographical constraints in attending conventional classes. Distance learning programs overcome such limitations. With new telecommunication and computer technologies, universities can bring the same quality of instruction into the homes and workplaces of active and lifelong learners.
The new media used in various distance learning programs include videoconferencing, video and audio tapes, computer conferencing, fax, telephone, web-based materials, and e-mail. These technologies allow active learners to study in the comfort of their homes and offices at their convenience, enhance the personal communications between faculty members and students, and make available the abundant resources of the Internet and World-Wide-Web.
The importance of distance learning programs can be seen in the substantial increase in the number of colleges and universities offering such programs. In Peterson's 2004 Distance Learning guide, more than 1,100 accredited North American institutions were listed to be offering long distance learning programs as opposed to 700 institutions in 1997. Companies and professionals need to keep abreast of the latest technology in an efficient and effective manner to be remain competitive.
Fairleigh Dickinson University has offered the Master of Science degree program in Electrical Engineering (MSEE) via the Internet and its World-Wide-Web since the Fall 1998 semester. This on-line program builds upon its traditional MSEE program offered for years at the Metropolitan campus.