Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law

First Page



It is not so surprising that traditional institutions of higher education have been relatively slower than businesses, for example, to embrace the potential of the new technologies, and have lost students to those institutions and businesses which have been more willing to change. But technology is playing an enormous role in the shape, size, and direction of education, and it's not waiting for the leaders of traditional institutions--or anyone else, for that matter--to join the club.

This Article examines the scope and impact of that role, specifically as it has developed through a new trend toward online "distance education" or "distance learning." It begins with a look at the changing face of higher education in the United States, which has simultaneously become more important to have and more difficult to obtain--and in demand by a whole new range of students. Next, it shifts to a discussion of how distance education, in seeking to resolve these tensions, has itself become embroiled in the clash between the inevitable change of technology and the enduring traditions of higher education. It then introduces another key side in the conflict by addressing some of the ways in which government has addressed (and misaddressed)the issues presented by distance education. Finally, the Article concludes that while present forms of distance education can themselves benefit from change, the new influence they represent is a valuable addition to education in this country--an addition that's here to stay.