About IDEAL Consortium

IDEAL is a consortium of states working together to develop effective distance education programs for adult learners. In 2001, representatives from state departments of education in 15 states met to explore how adult education could take advantage of this new approach to reach adult learners. With little or no experience with distance education, these states saw an advantage to pooling their resources and sharing knowledge. They also recognized the need to seek the assistance of experts to help them achieve their goal. From this early meeting came the idea for Project IDEAL. It was founded in 2002 by Dr. Jere Johnston as a consortium of states interested in developing distance education programs. Over 15 years with the help of his staff at University of Michigan and representatives of member states, over 29 states benefited from Project IDEAL. Upon his retirement, Dr. Johnston selected World Education, Inc. and its EdTech Center as the new home of Project IDEAL, now renamed the IDEAL Consortium.

IDEAL continues to help member states achieve their vision by responding to the needs and interests of consortium membership. It is a dynamic consortium aiming to improve its members’ ability to support and accelerate adult learning inside and outside of the classroom. Learn more about member services.


Our Expertise

IDEAL has played a key role in the growth of distance learning in adult education and brings a unique set of skills to bear on all aspects of distance education. We have a thorough understanding of the kinds of programs and policies that make distance learning a viable alternative for adult learners. Our focus on helping each state clarify and implement its own vision for distance education, combined with our knowledge of what has worked in many states, enable us to help states build successful distance programs.

Over the years we have:

  • Worked with more than 20 states to help them establish tailored distance education programs
  • Developed online professional development courses for members to use in training beginning and experienced distance teachers
  • Created The Handbook of Distance Education (2008), which introduces teachers and administrators to important distance education teaching and learning issues as well as to the steps involved in establishing a distance program
  • Analyzed a wide array of curricula for ESL, ABE, and ASE learners and determined their suitability for distance education; showed states how various curriculum components require different teaching strategies
  • Created the concept of “proxy contact hours” and developed online tools to track the hours to meet the requirements of state and federal reporting
  • Developed a guide to help states modify their e-data systems to accommodate distance learners
  • Conducted annual workshops where distance education professionals share their knowledge, solve problems, and develop new skills to use in their state distance leadership role
  • Worked with state directors on policy options unique to distance education and prepared papers to disseminate their ideas
  • Provided a voice at the federal level regarding inclusion of distance students in the NRS and other policy matters
  • Organized a strand of sessions devoted to distance education and featuring experts from across the country at each year's COABE conference
  • Developed the Distance Teaching Self Assessment, an online self-assessment that teachers and administrators anywhere can use to find out more about distance teaching and assess their skills
  • Collected, analyzed, and reported data on the effectiveness of distance education
  • Published report on New Models for Distance Classes in Adult Education(2015). This  describes the innovations of a number of distance teachers who have identified online tools that promise to better meet the needs of learners than the typical commercial curriculum package.  The report provides classroom models that should be useful for training educators interested in blended or distance learning. 
  • Developed an updated IDEAL Distance Education and Blended Learning Handbook (2016).
  • Updated online courses on distance education for instructors and administrators.