Consumers of a distance learning program include prospective and current students seeking to be qualified as psychologists. Information concerning intent, process, recognition, cost, duration and minimal admission characteristics and any other relevant qualifications must be online and written in terms that are understandable, with opportunity for additional information assigned to proper faculty and staff. Another way to communicate this information is to create a FAQ list posted on the website. Potential applicants should be able to evaluate whether they are the type of individual likely to benefit from a distance learning program and what alternatives there are for a different type of education.
Users of the graduates of the program are prospective employers and credentialing organizations (licensure board, hospitals, insurance companies, credentialing organizations). These users want to know performance characteristics that are likely to be exhibited by a student educated and trained (if applicable) in a distance learning program. Users may want to delineate for themselves the benefits and risks as they consider these graduates for employment, for further training (postdoctoral research or applied professional residencies). Transcripts should reflect which components of the program were offered through traditional methods and those using distance learning technology so that the user can evaluate whether that individual is appropriate for the setting for which they would be hired. While one might argue that there should be no difference if they achieved the established learning outcomes, our current state of knowledge may not be as sophisticated or as developed to make the comparisons needed.
Although the past ten years has stimulated communication among the various regions and countries providing training and employment of psychologists, consistent standards for education and training are less prevalent in Europe (now comprising approximately 45 countries), Central and South America, Asia and the African continent than within the US. Predictably, Australia and New Zealand education and training model is more similar to England than to the US.
Through the alternating international meetings that take place yearly (European Congress/European Federation of Psychology Associations, International Association of Applied Psychology and International Union of Psychological Science), issues addressing distance education in the international arena could be formally explored.
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APA TASK FORCE ON DISTANCE EDUCATION IN PSYCHOLOGY