The main difference between traditional distance education and modern distance education is different educational technologies used in distance education. Traditionally, radio and television are used for distance education. Though system of satellite education still plays a significant role in distance education, it is not as effective and efficient as the distance education system based on computers and network. The Internet accelerates the rate of information delivery. Moreover, the volume of information is much larger than that radio and televisions can offer. The time and place for learning in modern distance education is more flexible.
The Action Scheme for Invigorating Education towards the 21st Century proved by the State Council in 1999 regarded modern distance education as one of the key projects. The target of the project is to set up initially the modern distance education network, to construct a series of backbone courses and to search for a teaching and administration pattern suitable for China's modern distance education through three years of efforts. The network with complete structures will be formed by 2010 to meet the need of education and life-long education system will be set up. Based on educational science and research net and making use of the country's telecommunication net and cable television net, the professional platform has formed through upgrading and conforming. The main tasks are to develop continuing education, provide teaching resources for school's teaching and students' self-learning, improve teaching in poor regions£, make higher education accessible to more people and raise the literary level of the public. The Decision on Strengthening Educational Reform and Boosting Education of Overall Qualification, which was promulgated by the State Council and the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, points out that the government supports the construction of modern distance education based on China educational science and research net and satellite education system and strengthens the construction of practical terminal platform system and campus net or regional net provides opportunities of life-long education for the public with modern distance education and provides education suitable for the necessity of rural and outlying districts. In order to search for the proper modern distance education patterns and to better the modern distance education system, Tsinghua University, Beijing Post and Telecommunication University, Zhejiang University and Hunan University were designated as the key experimental universities and the relevant experiments are being carried out at present.
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