Making Distance Education Work:

Understanding Learning and Learners At a Distance


Meet the Authors



      George H. Axinn is Professor Emeritus at Michigan State University in the area of International Rural Development.  He has directed major institutional development projects in Nepal and Nigeria, served as Executive Director of the Midwest Universities Consortium for International Activities (MUCIA) and headed the Food and Agricultural Organization’s (FAO) Nepal program for several years, and later the Regional Office for India and Bhutan. Over the years he has taught many different classes on agricultural extension, on non-formal education, and on International Development. He resides in Arizona and regularly teaches a graduate seminar in Michigan via distance education (especially when there is snow in Michigan!). He is also heavily involved in the care and feeding of homeless people in the Tucson area.


      Tim Brannan is Assistant Professor, Department of Teacher Education & Professional Development, Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.  Previously he has held positions as Director, Instructional Technology and Distance Education at Lansing Community College (Michigan) and Director of Staff Training for Michigan State University Extension.  His academic and research background is in distance education and online professional development.  Tim has been awarded several grants to explore the integration of technology in K-12 curriculum from the Michigan Department of Education.


      Jose Chotguis is Professor in the Department of Rural Economics and Extension at the Federal University of Parana (Brazil).  Prior to joining the university he served as a rural extension agent.  Currently he offers classes in agricultural extension to undergraduate and graduate students and serves as Director of the Continuing Education Program that includes distance education graduate courses in Agribusiness, Forest Management, Regional Development, and Natural Resources Management.  His distance education program provides a major learning opportunity for both alumni and professionals throughout Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia.


      Marguerite Cotto is Vice President for Lifelong and Professional Learning at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City, Michigan.  Previously she directed NMC’s University Center - a unique partnership between Northwestern Michigan College and senior universities located throughout Michigan.


      Steve Evans is Senior Television Producer-Director, Communication and Technology Services, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Michigan State University.  In addition he is Director of LearnNet - a web-based video-on-demand delivery network from Michigan State University Extension.


      Diane Golzynski in a member of the staff of the Michigan Department of Community Health and a key contributor to the Michigan Nutrition Network, a multidisciplinary, community-based, public-private collaboration to build and strengthen alliances focused on nutrition and physical activity.  She has been an academic faculty member at Michigan State University (Dept of Food Science and Human Nutrition) and California State University, Fresno (Dept of Food Science and Nutrition).  Her Food Service 2000 distance education program has become an industry standard for the training of food service employees throughout the United States.


      Kathleen Guy is the Executive Director for College Relations and the NMC Foundation of Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City, Michigan.  She is also a partner of the Eaton Cumming Group and a nationally known consultant in the areas of strategic planning and fundraising counsel for nonprofit organizations and community colleges.


      Bernard Gwekwerere is a Doctoral candidate in the Department of Educational Administration at Michigan State University. Previously he served as an Agricultural Extension Specialist and Training Manager in Zimbabwe. His research interests focus on issues of persistence among online learners.  He combines his experience working with adult learners in the developing world and his studies in online learning to research issues of integrating technology and lifelong learning.


      Rory Hoipkemeier is Director of Life Justice for the Catholic Diocese of Lansing, where she attempts to communicate all the Social Teachings of the Church throughout 95 parishes in the state of Michigan. She is a graduate of Michigan State University in Extension Education, Special and Elementary Education as well as Social Studies. She examined community-based radio stations and their role in providing nonformal education for her Master’s thesis.  Her educational interests have led her to teaching in Indonesia and Thailand and homeschooling her own children.


      Simone Jonaitis Simone Jonaitis is the Executive Director for Continuing Education at Grand Valley State University (Michigan).  She has spent most of her academic career in the field of Adult and Continuing Education and has taught and directed programs for adult learners both in the States and in Latin America. She is the past president for the Council for Continuing and Higher Education and has been recognized as an  Outstanding Continuing Educator by the University Continuing Education Association.  Her main interest is enhancing access to higher education and promoting the success of non-traditional learners.


      S. Joseph Levine is Professor Emeritus of Adult Education/Extension Education at Michigan State University. His academic and research background is in the area of adult learning and he enjoys combining that with his long time interest in radio and technology.  He has degrees in music education, guidance and counseling, and curriculum research.  His strong interest in distance education was initiated in 1966 when he received a grant from the Library of Congress to develop the Recorded Aid for Braille Music – a complete learn-at-home recorded method to assist blind learners in playing a musical instrument.  When not designing distance education programs he is usually speaking around the world as an amateur radio operator (W8JRK).


      Stephen D. Lowe is Professor of Christian Education and Associate Dean of Distributive Learning at Erskine Theological Seminary in South Carolina.


      Stanley Mpofu is Professor and Director of the Centre for Continuing Education of the National University of Science and Technology (Zimbabwe).  He has published extensively on many aspects of adult and continuing education, including open and lifelong learning.  His professional career began as a faculty member in the Department of Adult Education at the University of Zimbabwe in 1987. He has also worked in the adult education departments of the University of Botswana and the University of Namibia, where he served as head of department from 2001 to 2003.  He serves on the "Series Editorial Board" of the Institute for International Cooperation of the German Adult Education Association (IIZ/DVV) which produces books with a strong emphasis on African perspectives of adult education and training.


      Zobeida Ramos is Professor and head of the Department of Faculty Development at the National Open University (Universidad Nacional Abierta – UNA) of Venezuela. She has a bachelor and graduate degrees in education, and has developed wide experience as a teacher in secondary and higher education in Venezuela, as well as in the design and administration of distance education programs offered by UNA. She has served as Cluster Coordinator for the Instructional Technology & Distance Education (ITDE) Graduate Program in the Fischler Graduate School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University. Her research interests are in the areas of adult and continuing education, faculty development and curricular and instructional design, especially applied to distance education.


      Diane Sams has been involved in distance education both as a student and a facilitator.  She earned her degree in Human Development from Washington State University's Distance Degree Program, becoming interested in the process as well as the content of the distance education program.  Her graduate studies include the online Master of Distance Education program at the University of Maryland University College (UMUC), with an emphasis on student support and motivation.  She is an exam administrator for UMUC distance education exams and a volunteer member of the family readiness team at a US Air Force family support center.


      Ryan Shaltry has been involved with many areas that support the technical side of distance education.  He is an experienced Internet developer, system administrator, and technology aficionado.  Currently he is a Systems Operations Engineer for a major communications company.


      Lyn Smith is an Educational Designer/Senior Lecturer for the Faculty of Education, University of Auckland. Since1995 Lyn has been involved in the development of distance Teacher Education programs in New Zealand and her passion for  high quality interaction in e-learning has stemmed from this work.  A 2004/5 fellowship allowed her to travel in New Zealand and overseas to study  issues related to the design and evaluation of e-learning environments.  Some consultancy projects have grown out of this work, including advisory work with Australasian organizations and tertiary institutions, and the further development of national e-learning professional networks.


      Gary Teja has been involved in leadership development at-a-distance in the U.S. and Latin America for the past 30 years, most recently through Christian Reformed Home Missions, Grand Rapids, Michigan. He also is director of an online Master’s program at Calvin Seminary and adjunct professor at Reformed Bible College. His hobbies (and therapy) are antiquing and restoring a turn-of-the-century Victorian home in downtown Holland, Michigan.


      Laura Trombley is the Extended Education Representative for the Southwest Region of Michigan State University Extension.  Her graduate studies have been conducted at a distance from Athabasca Univerity - Canada's leading distance-education and online university - with a focus on instructional design.  Her interest in becoming an online student was initially sparked by participation in one of MSU's first distance education courses, conducted via e-mail in 1996.


      Neil VanderVeen is a Senior Instructional Systems Developer with the Camber Corporation and consults with governmental agencies in the areas of program planning and evaluation with particular emphasis on leadership training.  He has previously held positions in training and organization development with The University of Toledo and the State of Michigan in addition to a wide range of consulting clients in the manufacturing sector.




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