Key Terms

Delivery Truck Analogy
by Richard Clark

Diffusion of Innovation
Everest Rogers

Equality in Distance Education

Insights by colleagues

Key Authors

Richard Clark


References related to 

Anderson, T. (2004). Student services in a networked world. In J. Brindley, C. Walti, &

O. Zawacki-Richter (Eds.) Learner Support in Open, Distance, and Online Learning

Environments, 95-108.

Brady, L. (2004). The role interactivity in web-based educational material. Usability

News, 6(2).

Clark, R. (1994). Media will never influence learning. Educational Technology Research &

Development, 42(3, 21-29.

Diaz, D. (2000). Carving a new path for distance education research. Commentary:


Moore, M.G. & Kearsley, G. (1996). Distance education: A systems view. Wadsworth.

Palloff & Pratt, (1999). Building Learning Communities in Cyberspace.


Rovai, P. & Jordan, H. (2004). Blended learning and sense of community: A comparative

Analysis with traditional and fully online graduate courses. The International Review

of Research in Open and Distance Learning, (5)2.

Important article


an article recommended by Dr. Schlosser

Peter Drucker   1998
The future that has already happened.  The Futurist.  32(8) p. 16-18

Heath brothers
Change is difficult

I want to tell you about a statistic that changed my life and afterwards give you some thoughts about making your own data more life-changing. The stat was authored by my colleague Charles Fishman at Fast Company in his piece on the bottled water industry.

First let me give you some backstory: In San Francisco, the city water comes from Yosemite National Park. It’s so clean that the EPA doesn’t require San Francisco to filter it. And it’s cheap: San Francisco city water costs about .0021 cents per ounce. Meanwhile, bottled water costs about 7.9 cents per ounce. So obviously bottled water costs a lot more. But you knew that.

Now, let’s try a thought experiment. Let’s say you buy a bottle of Evian water for $1.35. You drink it and decide to reuse the bottle. Once a day, you fill it up with municipal water. Here’s the question: How many days could you refill that bottle before you would have racked up $1.35 in water charges from San Francisco? You could refill it once per day for 10 years, 5 months and 21 days.

When I read that, my brain exploded. And my purchases of bottled water have probably gone down 80%. Here’s what’s interesting to me: Fishman’s thought experiment isn’t adding any data to these two original statistics. He’s adding drama and depth by putting them in a real-life context. And that’s the fundamental strategy needed to make numbers stick: To drag them within the grasp of our intuition.

Here’s a more business-oriented example. For instance, years ago, Cisco Systems was deciding whether to install a wireless network for its employees. (That’s a “duh” decision today but not at the time.) The network would cost roughly $500 per year per employee to maintain. Is that worth it? Maybe yes, maybe no – we don’t have any strong intuition about $500 yearly expenses.

One employee did something to activate intuition. He figured out that if the wireless network could save the average employee 1 to 2 minutes per day, it would be a good investment. Suddenly, that’s a problem we can think about. Can we imagine a situation where the network might save someone 2 minutes? Almost certainly yes. (Whereas if the network had required 52 minutes of daily savings, that would have been a hard sell.) So bottom line: To make your data stick, you’ve got to drag it within the grasp of your audience’s intuition.

Chip and I wrote a Fast Company column, "The Gripping Statistic," about making numbers stick. There's also a long section on sticky data in the Credible chapter of Made to Stick. Here's a link to the Charles Fishman piece on bottled water that changed my drinking habits. When it comes to depicting data, there's only one place to turn: Edward Tufte's books, especially The Visual Display of Quantitative Information.

How to make ideas stick

How to get "graphic"

Morley, J  2000
Falling through the web:  Inequality to access in distance education.  Education at a ditance.