Communications of the Association for Information Systems


As educational institutions seek to maintain high quality of their course offerings while maintaining steadily growing number of graduates in the new American economy, a natural trend is a readiness to embrace information technology as a method of curriculum delivery. Many U.S institutions find Distance Learning as a means of striking this balance between quality and demand. For them, evidence exists that Distance Learning might well be what is needed to assure that extraneous factors such as location, work schedule, current work load and family pressures would not prevent an otherwise able and willing student from completing a college degree program. With the growing digital divide between the nation's mainstream population and the African American population, an issue rightly becoming a focal point for today's policy makers, it becomes necessary to explore the extent to which the Historically Black Colleges and universities (HBCU's) have embraced Distance Learning (D/L), given that D/L is fast becoming a norm as a supplemental education delivery method in other American universities. This study sets out to examine where the HBCU's are in comparison with other institutions, and attempt to explain why the institutions are placed in this position. The study further attempts to suggest what must be done for the HBCU's to catch up with peer institutions. In the end, we conclude that more than traditional institutions, and given the growing digital divide in the new economy, the answer to closing the gap between the "IT-haves and have-nots" may well lie on the extent to which HBCU's could adopt Distance Learning as an education delivery tool. A further study is suggested as a means of empirically explaining the observed differences and equipping the nation's HBCU's with the tools they need to adopt Distance Learning effectively. A short tutorial on distance learning is presented as an appendix.